Health is one of those things that we often take for granted until it is no longer there.
The word health is a bit of an umbrella term and there is no specific way of obtaining it or maintaining it, mainly because it is as unique to us as our own fingerprints.
The classical definition of our optimal health according to the World Health Organisation is
“A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
I would suggest that health is not an all or nothing state where we either are or we aren’t healthy, but instead I would suggest health is something we are constantly trying to achieve and improve upon.
Imagine it a bit like a range of 0 to 100 where 0 is dead and 100 is absolute perfection of health that we are continually trying to achieve.
Since our bodies are constantly evolving and adapting to the environment we are in we can continuously keep improving our health but never quite achieve perfection as there will always be that little bit more that can be improved upon.
We can achievably reach our optimal health, a state where we are not only free from disease or injury, but have a sense of wellbeing and zest for life by constantly working on improving the components of health.
To me, health comprises of three components;
All three of these components go hand in hand and to some extent will all influence and support each other much like a tripod will fall over if one leg is taken away.
The structural component of health is your frame; your muscles, bones, joints and anything else that you can physically touch and manipulate.
As an osteopath our philosophy is that if the body is in good alignment and free moving, it allows for proper flow of blood and nutrition around the body leading to a healthy supply of nutrients, resulting in good quality tissues.
By having a supple and mechanically efficient body, you will be free to move with all the joints and muscles working well together.
When something doesn’t move well it leads to an increase in tension and friction of the structures around the area.
The emotions are an often overlooked component of health, which explains why there is such a huge issue at the moment in dealing with growing mental health problems in this country.
Your thoughts and the emotional state your thoughts put you in can have a direct effect on your physiology. For example, if you ever picture a stressful situation, perhaps a time when you were in conflict with someone, you may notice the surge of adrenaline through your body just from thinking about that situation. Your muscles may go hot which is the increase of blood flow, your heart rate will shoot up and so will your breathing.
On a daily basis your thoughts will affect your physiology. Every time you have a negative thought about someone, or you get annoyed at something, or you worry about a certain situation, it affects the chemicals that your body releases.
Now imagine the effects of doing this multiple times a day, every day for months or years. It will have an effect on the organs and systems around your body.
For this reason it is important to work on your mind and improve your emotional responses to situations.
Chemical components of health can include internal and external factors.
Internal chemical factors would include hormones and toxins within the body.
External factors would include the food and drink or anything else you consume, the chemicals you put on your body and hair and also the air you breathe.
In order for your body to build a good quality, strong structure, it needs good quality nutrients. Imagine trying to build a house made out of rotten wood and brittle bricks.
Every single cell in your body needs certain nutrients in order to function properly. A collection of cells forms Tissue and Organs. So for your organs to work well, the cells that make them up need to be working optimally.
A good supply of nutrients to every cell in the body and effective removal of waste products from the cells will ensure healthy cells. Without a good supply of nutrients to the cells or organs, the body will look to take the nutrients it needs from other sites within the body.
This may be fine for a while, but eventually symptoms will start to show.
The Essentials Of Good Health
We will go into more detail in future blog posts but for now, here are the basics.
Being healthy doesn’t mean you have to be restrictive in what you eat.
If you eat a variety of food and make sure it is always natural (it was grown, swam, ran or flew) then you will be giving your body a wide variety of nutrients.
Allow yourself some treats once in a while but don’t overindulge.
We are designed to move; to walk, run, bend, stretch, twist, push and pull.
But technological advancements have made us lazier and more dependant on technology than doing things ourselves.
Most of us spend all day sat down; whether driving to and from work, at work or even at the gym.
Being tight and unflexible will set you up for injuries. Prevent many injuries by increasing your flexibility.
But at the same time being weak may lead to something tweaking when your body just can’t handle the strain, so also work on increasing your strength.
Improve Your Mind
This is not an easy thing to do and there are many, many ways to improve your mind.
Find what works for you, whether that’s meditation, being alone somewhere quiet or actively studying your thoughts through a programme or retreat.
Simply smiling is a good start to boost your mood and change your thoughts from a negative to a positive frame of mind.
I will go into further depth in future posts about how to improve specific aspects of your health.
We will cover nutrition, exercise, hormones, weight loss, toxins and much much more.
If you were to take anything away from this it should be this;
Work towards a balanced life. Eat an abundant variety of natural foods and limit processed foods and chemicals. Exercise when you can, even if it is only 10 minutes a day, and lastly work towards a healthy mind and positive emotions.