The topic of health, and what constitutes to being healthy, is overwhelming and ambiguous. I remember, around 7 years ago, my Stepdad telling me that Scientists had confirmed bacon as healthy. However, over the last 7 years, I have read that Scientists have changed their mind’s about bacon hundreds of times. 7 years, on and I am still in the dark about the pig derived meat.
This is just one example the of many changing opinions about the definition of healthy food. I am pretty sure that, if you entered ‘water is unhealthy’ into Google numerous articles, swearing that their facts are based on real scientific data,would appear. Consequently varying and clashing opinions on exercise, stress levels and other lifestyle factors have been put forward; each person behind the opinion claiming that their opinion is the only correct one. This paints a picture of how the overall term ‘health’ is not a fixed definition, but rather a word that’s up for interpretation.
My Great Nan died at the age of 90. She hardly touched the products of pharmaceutical industries, ate produce from her own farm (which included full fat dairy, meat, fruit and veg), walked for at least 30 mins (in the countryside air), and drank herbal teas by the gallons. Also, she adored a bread, butter and sugar sandwich. Was she healthy? It depends who you ask. Personally, I think she was incredibly healthy as she was mentally sharp, mobile and pain free till death. Occasionally, she suffered from joint pain. Her inability to accept change was the major reason why joint pain occurred, and her consumption of diary products was the minor reason.
Confused? Well, I believe that peoples illnesses, diseases, aches and pains are due to their inner negative (unhealthy) emotions being translated into a physical form. More on this in my next post (which I urge you to read). However, in this post I will revert back to the exterior health of a person as, although I feel it is of lesser importance than mental health, it is still needed to obtain optimal well being.
So back to the main topic of discussion. The aim of this post is not to try to convince the reader what lifestyle is the healthieast, but to open the reader’s mind up to different outlooks and how they have evolved. I have selected a few areas that have been exposed to extensive research and that are relevant to most of us.
As I started with an example of bacon, it feels appropriate to firstly discuss the topic of food. Wind back a mere hundred years, food was scares, nutritional information was limited and diets within a community were very similar. People choose their food on the basis of what was available and tasty. Fridges for household were only invented in 1913 therefore food was fresh and local. Eating 3 times a day was the norm, with the last meal being a sit down dinner with the family.Patatoes, bread, fatty meat, butter, cheese, vegetables and fruit were staple foods. Back then, health meant being fit and healthy to work and most people met the criteria. The avaerage woman was a size 12.
Fast forward a 100 years, we now have an abundance of nutritional information. The Government preaches that a healthy diet should contain little cheese and fatty meat, a significant amount of whole grain, lots of fruit, lots of vegetables and supplements such as multi-vitamins. Food can now be frozen and kept in cupboards, safe to eat for years. We eat between 1 meal to 6 meals a day, at a range of different times and rarely at a dinner table with your family. It is hard to describe a typical diet, the array of food available to consumers is emmense. However, processed food dominates diets; these foods contain corn syrup and wheat. Lastly, superfood has emerged which is an umberella term to describe food that has exceptional health benefits.The Government finally knows what is healthy and believes that the food that was consumed by previous generations was unhealthy (cheese is bad, fatty meat is bad and butter is definitely very bad). Our definition of health is what the media portrays it to be. Health now is focused on how you look.
All this marvellous insight has lead to statistical increases in health. The average woman is 2 sizes larger, diabetes has increased, heart attacks have risen, pressure on the NHS has rocketed and overall it is very strange if someone doesn’t have something wrong with them. So although we have a greater access to food and healthcare we should be healthier, but are we?
Lets move on to another area that has changed over the years: smoking. When cigerettes first came on the market they were being advertised as the got to have item; they were cool, fashionable and some even claimed they were good for your health. Today, the health sector has declared a war on the cool accessory. Doctors have realised that they have over 42 carcinogens and that smoking is associated with a multitude of diseases. This is another great example of how things can not be stuck in one box: the content of each box needs to be reviewed for time to time.
Lastly, lets discusss exercise. Seems everyone is an expert on the topic, or at least has a very strong opinion about it. Rewinding, yet again, 100 years, the Goverment was not concerned with immobile fat citizens. It didn’t need to as they didn’t exist. Although physical activities were on the rise, it was not deemed ‘unhealthy’ if you didnt’t want to participate. On the other hand, in 2016 most people feel the pressure to be a frequent gym goer and the Government loves to highlight the benefits of exercise. Interestingly, exercise has become fashionable; just like cigarettes were.
(Maybe the goverment is trying to tell us that exercise is the key to beating obesity because they know that it is such a hard thing to stick to, and therefore not enough obese people will do it to prove that the goverment is just hiding behind the claim. What the goverment should really focus on is dwelling into the minds of the obese and fishing out the real reason why they over eat. But as mentioned earlier, I wil discuss this later.)
There is much more to say on the topic but I wanted to get the reader thinking. Perhaps make them more open to different lifestyles. Before preaching to everyone that eating chocolate is bad and avoiding cheese, stop and think that at one point they were considered healthy, (or are for some people; if you’re climbing Mount Everest, and only have chocolate, then it will be the healthiest food as it will give you energy and thus allow you to survive) and who knows maybe in a couple of weeks Scientists will class one of these foods as a Superfood. And therefore more importantly than going with the health trends of the year, perhaps we should focus on what makes us truly happy (and if you think that everyone would result eating pizza and not moving an inch then you are wrong because no one ever feels radiant after a binge). If we shift to this mind frame then we will be happier, and happiness leads to health.