What Does Health Really Mean?
The definitive guide to healthy living and vitality
Everyone I come across believes that they are healthy.
But here’s the rub. Most are not.
They believe it because of the amount of myths that perpetuate regarding what actually health is.
Health is a state a being, not eating “low fat” dietary products or being conned into having energy drinks touted as essential to having the energy to live. Each one quite frankly are sub optimal at best.
There is a world of confusion, or so it seems. In reality it simply comes down to this. We have allowed ourselves to trust others before ourselves.
The countless people who I have talked to who said they don’t know what to eat.
Well I am calling them out on it. Because they do. They have just allowed someone else to take responsibility for what they eat, so they don’t have to. That means it isn’t “their fault” if they put on weight or have no energy, it is someone elses.
I KNOW everyone knows what food is healthy. Everyone knows broccoli is better than chocolate or water is better than fizzy drinks. It’s the other mindless brain washing that confuses people.
So lets define health and see what you think. As I invite you to read this article and reply via my email address in the bio at the end with your own comments and frustrations and views.
As a performance nutritionist and health coach I come across a myriad of people, each one believing they are healthy and this may well be true. However, there are others who have a different view.
Some think moderation is key, some think living in solitude and living 100% clean and living off the land without external influence is health, others still have no idea what health is or simply don’t care, usually to their detriment.
Then there are the lies sold to us from those companies who are only interested in manipulating our insecurities to take our hard earned money.
Everyone has their own idea or definition of health and there have been endless discussions about what contributes to health and how to improve it. So here is what I believe to be true.
So what is health anyway?
What is it defined as? And can we really define health as a whole or is it a unique experience?
One dictionary defines health as “the state of being free from illness or injury”. But I think it is much more than that. Health isn’t about surviving as is suggested by the definition above. I think it is way more.
The world health organisation defines health differently…
“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.”
This is more in line with what I believe to be true, so lets delve in further.
For me there is just way more to what health means… More than most people realise.
Let me start with a little story…
My journey towards health started when we (my wife and I) had the truth read out to us one day….
“You cannot have kids naturally.”
That is something you just don’t want to hear… wanting something you are told you cannot have. As humans that usually makes us want things more. Have you ever deprived a child of their favourite toy? You get what I am saying right?
My wife and I had been trying unsuccessfully for a few years and so visited our doctor. After some tests it was revealed that the problem was mine.
Well ain’t that typical!
My little swimmers well, didn’t know how to swim! You see there are 3 factors to the health of sperm… Morphology (shape), Motility (ability to swim) and amount produced. All 3 factors showed up in my army or lack thereof. There were very few, they had no idea how to swim and it seemed they were all hunch backs!
Not something you want spelled out, a truth that I didn’t want anyway.
However, I was unwilling to accept that as black and white. I wanted to know if there was another way. I wanted to know what had caused my problem and set about finding out.
I am not one to accept defeat or accept that what I am told is true without exhausting every other avenue first. So we tried IVF treatment twice, but both times it failed. As I said when you cannot have something, you want it more. When it is something as precious as a child, then it is a bitter pill to swallow.
I can be very stubborn
And partly out of the guilt I felt thinking the problem laying at my door (which it didn’t really, I didn’t do this on purpose, I just felt that way because of the circumstances) I started researching for a way to conceive naturally. Now you could argue the valid point about fostering or adopting a child at this point and many people have and we looked into it, but I just wasn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet and neither was my wife.
As it turns out I did find a way. I started reading about and studying nutrition, I contacted nutritionists, I went to see one and found out that something could be done. I learned that what we ingest has a major impact on our health. It’s not just about the food, but the chemicals used in crop spraying, what actually is in our water supply, what we cook in etc. etc. I sought out nutritionists who were experts in this field and as a result now have a healthy 11 year old son.
This was all down to nutrition, yes, it is THAT powerful!
Now I see nutrition as PART of health, not all of it. There is so much more to it that the majority of people do not realise, however nutrition is a vital part and it is very powerful as I have explained.
It is not just what you eat (or more appropriately ingest) it is about how well you digest your food to get the nutrients you need, it is about proper hydration, breathing correctly, emotional balance, getting enough sleep, rest and recovery, how you are handling stress, how you move as well as what you let into your head.
THEY ALL PLAY A PART
That is why your health is not just a one trick pony, it is multifaceted. It is all about finding a balance in all areas of your life, not just one or two.
It’s about having all the bases covered and being VERY truthful about where you are and what has to improve to tap into your vast power and becoming the pinnacle of health.
How do you define health?
What health means differs for many people. Some simply believe that you are healthy because you are not sick, there is no disease present, well not one defined by the medical profession.
But health is way more than not having a disease. You can still be disease free and live a sub life, a life devoid of laughter, passion, fun, love, energy and vitality (to name just a few).
You can have your physical health, eat well and rest, but have poor relationships and be unhelpful.
Or you can have the opposite, being of poor health and diet, poor sleep but enrich their lives through deep connections with others, having fun and making a difference to other people’s lives.
Ideally we are looking to encompass the best of both examples, and yet, few people strive for it
So is health really just the absence of disease?
I don’t believe so. It is not about focusing on what you don’t have (disease), but what you do have. Health is about living a full life, to have the energy to accomplish anything. To have the power to face any challenge. To allow yourself to grow and become more than you are. Disease just does not come in to it. To claim you are healthy because you are not sick is robbing you of your life and vitality. There are other things at play that can prevent you from living a full healthy life without being diagnosed with some condition.
“The microbe is nothing; the terrain is everything.”
Louis Pasteur (who invented pasteurisation) is the god father of what today’s modern medicine is based on. He noted that germs were the source of viruses and disease and his “germ theory” is what is used today in modern medicine.
He based his whole theory on the prevention of germs and disagreed with the above statement made by his contemporary Claude Bernard until his deathbed. Louis Pasteur then admitted that the above statement was actually true, that when a body is in homeostasis or balance and in strong health with a strong immune system it can look after itself and kill the germs that lead to viruses and diseases.
But Pasteur’s initial work on germ theory had already become most prevalent, and still is, which is why Doctors try and kill all germs with drugs and keep hospitals sterile. Thankfully, more information is coming to the forefront all the time about healthy gut flora, probiotic foods, strengthening immunity, and preventing disease.
Our bodies are living ecosystems full of bacteria which sustain our lives. Healthy colonies of good bacteria help protect us from bad bacteria, and without the good flora we have little defence. People with severely weakened immune systems have to be careful not contract pathogenic germs, yes; but the normal ideal is to have a strong immune system that wards off pathogens that we come in contact with every day, without needing to hide from them.
Is Perfect Health Possible?
Heath and what it means is so diverse that maintaining a true balance of everything that contributes to it can be challenge… but NOT impossible.
I believe we have to look at all areas of our lives.
Balance – Your relationship with yourself, your family and your friends. Being honest and transparent, don’t buy into gossip or lies, the sensationalism that people seem to thrive on these day. Strive to tell the truth, starting with what you tell yourself. This is so easily dismissed, to avoid judgement from others we take to wearing masks and live lives that others want us to live and not what we were placed on this earth for. Make sure you are present with everyone close to you, be fully immersed in your connections with others, do not go in distracted, but maintain total focus.
Body – What we eat/drink and exercise. Everything to give ourselves the best performing body we can with a strong immune system to ward off everyday bugs. We were built to move, not sit all day on our backsides. Remember Nutrition can give life, it is that powerful, never neglect it. Assess yours. What stories do you tell yourself as to why you cannot give something up that doesn’t serve you? Challenge yourself!
Being – What we do to BE ourselves. To put ourselves first, to attain our own happiness and fulfilment. This may sound selfish but if you are not 100% healthy both physically and mentally then how can you give 100% to your partner or kids? Things such as meditation, practicing mindfulness, spiritual study, journaling affirmations and visualisations can have a massive impact on your health and help you focus and believe in who you are. Holding onto negative emotions can manifest itself into all manner of things including diseases and is well proven.
Business – YOUR business. What you were put on this earth for. Your passion, your purpose. Identifying who you are and who you are going to show up in the world as. Are you aligned with who you were meant to be? Are you providing your knowledge and your uniqueness to the world or are you hiding it away? Become very clear on your value and how to share it with the world.
If we are out of balance or out of alignment in one area it affects all other areas. To expand, you have to contract first. You have to shed the superfluous, get rid of the unnecessary, minimise the excess and remove the redundant so you are left with the essence of your being. Only then you can expand. Address the unhealthy areas in your life and change them.
Should you be selfish to attain your health?
I think you should.
It is difficult to give 100% to other areas of your life such as family and friendships when you are not 100% yourself.
If you have ever been on an aeroplane, you are told at the start of every flight that in the case of an emergency you must fit your own oxygen mask first before attempting to help others, for very good reason as I am sure you’ll agree… you cannot help anyone else before you help yourself.
This applies to your life too.
Your health is much more than having an illness. It is about LIVING and cutting the things loose that stops you from doing achieving a full life. It is about being brutally honest and finding the truth to YOUR happiness and your purpose for living. Health is about having good eating habits and exercising. It is increasing real connections to the people who matter the most to you and being present, without distraction. It is about being outside in nature as much as possible and also releasing negative emotions and exploring who you really are.
You have more power than you can possible imagine.
What you may not realise is that having your health gives you that power.
BE Mindful, live your dreams, live your life, live your purpose and (most importantly) attain your health.
Stockton, S. (2000). The terrain is everything: Contextual factors that influence our health. Clearwater, Fl. Power of One Publishing.
Lost history of medicine: http://www.mnwelldir.org/docs/terrain/lost_history_of_medicine.htm
Unique Healing 2®: A Guide for Eliminating Your “A-Z” Symptoms, Weight problems, illnesses and addictions by Donna Pessin
Eat, Move & be healthy by Paul Chek.
Nutrition and physical degeneration by Weston A Price
Emotional Intelligence 2.0
Why Zebras don’t get ulcers by Robert Sapolsky
The Optimum Nutrition Bible by Patrick Holford
Natural Solutions To Infertility by Marilyn Glenville