What is health and what does it have to do with disease

Health is a hot topic in any day and age, especially now. As a species, our primary instinct and goal is survival and health helps yield high survival rates. But what is health anyway and what does it do for me?

Here is what health is not: it is not the absence of disease.

Disease is only an acute, short-term variable. Long-term, it is not even the most important one. As I started to really look into it, my preconceived and, seldom questioned, learned norms have shattered one by one. I’ve learned to consider that going beyond equating health with the absence of disease is a must.

There are many people living with disease and living healthy lives at the same time. So how do you build and preserve your health in the presence or absence of disease? The first step is really getting a grasp on what health really means. Call it from an evolved Darwinian position.


Current theories posit health as a balanced concoction of the physical, mental, and social state. I believe that this state is temporal and that it slides on an adjustable scale. Where and how we adjust our own scale helps us survive and live as good of a life as possible.

We’re constantly exposed to diseases – from light ones to complex ones, to chronic ones. We navigate them like oceans – always in movement just not always in a storm. If this were all that was to health, we would be venturing into a futile effort to achieving it.

If, instead, health is a state of balance we should learn to understand and control it. How many of us are capable to do this well? We can continue to let medicine take care of the diseases, but we should take care of the rest. And with that consider the following: your body, your home, food, friends, family, various interactions with people, money, hygiene, vanity, status, empathy, belonging. These may not be on your list when thinking of health. Add them on.

Medicine operates very much like law:  it steps in and fixes (or tries to fix) the problem only when the disease presents itself. In our legal system, unless a crime has been committed,  corrective punishment cannot be inflicted.


If you’re “sick”, medicine makes you “healthy”. According to this, you can only be either one or the other. I used to think this polarity is true and blissfully ignored over 75% of what makes you live healthily. This meant that I only cared for 25% of my health needs.

 

I dedicate my thoughts and this April to the discourse of true health and how to hone your own.
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