How healthy are you?
Things may have been a little rough over the past few years, but compared to people in war torn or famine ridden countries we are doing pretty well. The more affluent a country is the more the population strives for self-satisfaction. So I guess a person in a famine area might just want a good meal, whereas you and I are probably searching for this ever looming notion of ‘happiness’. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to be ‘happy’, but often we forget about the most important ingredient of happiness. Health. If you don’t have your health it soon puts other areas of your life into perspective. Getting that promotion in work or buying a new dress no longer seems quite as life-affirming when you are confined to a hospital bed.
Health is not a particularly tantalising subject, but it is important to talk about it! Or actually maybe I should expand on that; it’s important to think about the disconnect between your perception of health and its reality.
Our business as nutritionists is very much focused on helping people to lose weight and get fitter. But one aspect that often gets forgotten in the rush to make people slimmer is whether they are healthy. BMI (body mass index) is a term most of us will recognise, but unfortunately we are much less familiar with more realistic measures of overweight and health such as waist measurement, blood pressure, cholesterol tests and scans. BMI does nothing to tell you about what is actually going on inside your body.
Scientists from the Mayo Clinic found that normal weight individuals with a high belly fat could face a greater risk of heart disease than obese individuals who carry a proportionate degree of fat around their waist.
You might be in the overweight BMI category, but perfectly healthy. Scarily there are many slim individuals walking around thinking they are really healthy when in actual fact their health might be a ticking time bomb. When you are overweight and unhealthy you will generally pick up on it a lot quicker than if you are slim and unhealthy. Why? There is no flashing danger sign greater, than being overweight. Your doctor will pick up on it, you will be conscious of it; friends and family will subtlety mention it. But, what about when you are lucky enough to have slim genes, but unlucky enough to have a family history of certain chronic medical conditions and the tendency to be less than vigilant about your diet. Chances are years could go by before you attend a doctor because you look healthy…looks are deceiving though.
Health is not just about what size you are, it’s more about your lifestyle and how you live your life. But let’s not forget about the importance of genes either! Just 2 years ago a friend of mine sadly passed away, he was very slim, verging on thin, and succumbed to stomach cancer. He didn’t smoke, didn’t drink very much, but simply was unlucky. If he had been overweight and a bit more conscious of his health would he have attended the doctor before it had progressed so far? Who knows. Health is not to be taken for granted. You need to feed your body properly and give it an MOT (health check) every now and again. Make it a priority to have a general check-up at least once a year.
Pick up things early and don’t leave it too late. Life isn’t a dress rehersal, get the most out of it now. If you don’t have your health, it can be more difficult to play with the kids, get a job, do the things you love. If you do have a health problem it is especially important to look after yourself. Eat well, exercise, go for regular health checks and give yourself the best insurance you can against chronic conditions.
If you ask yourself just one question today let it be "how healthy am I?"
SLÁINTE (GOOD HEALTH)!