Health is a holistic concept that involves three key components – body, mind and spirit. It is a wholesome concept that dictates how well we live, rather than how long we live. A long life becomes meaningless if it is riddled with illness.
Good health is the greatest asset we could ever have. It is something to be treasured and zealously preserved. It is that exquisite state of being where no particular part of our body repetitively seeks our attention in an unpleasant manner. And so it follows that the paradox of good health – ill health and disease, in layman’s terms is simply a lowered level of health. It is the reverse process of wellness to illness.
Nature is glorious. Our bodies are our greatest guides to healthy living, if we would only learn to listen to them.
We instinctively know what is good for us and what is not. Did you know that out of the approximately eighty-four lakh species living on earth, mankind is the only one that relies so heavily on medication for survival and sometimes, for even a comfortable existence? Modern day medicine has trained us to be hyper focused on treating consequences, often at the cost of doing what actually works- which is, investigating the cause of our ailments, and then investing time, effort and money in rectifying them.
Let me tell you about our lifestyle and its irrefutable connection to good health, or a lack thereof. The idea is so simple that it is mind-boggling – we are what we make ourselves to be. If it is an undeniable fact that a healthy lifestyle can guarantee most of us good health, then the opposite also holds true- an unhealthy lifestyle is the primary precursor to disease and illness.
This is what most people fail to be aware of.
We wait until lab reports declare a life sentence of diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer etc., to take it as a call to action; to either clean up our act, or become a pill-popper for the remainder of our lives.
The relationship between health and lifestyle mainly refers to our habits pertaining to food, sleep, physical activity (amongst other factors) that form the fabric of our daily life.
As a nutritionist, my main focus here would be the massive impact food has on our well being, although I would wrap up this article with a few golden rules to follow if attaining that lofty goal of “perfect” health is what you seek.
- What qualifies as good food? Edible items that:
- have more nutrients, less waste
- can be enjoyed independently without the addition of too many condiments
- has the ability to go bad/ rotten
- has a high water and fibre content
- and basically has life in it can be considered as healthy, positive foods that helps nurture us.
This definition as the criterion for good food automatically eliminates all packaged and processed food items, which by their very nature, go against everything described above.
- Another rule of thumb regarding food is to eat when you are hungry, and chew every mouthful thoroughly – it is near impossible to over eat if you follow this rule to the letter. Remember, mindless regularity in eating is not the goal here, rather, regulated eating is.
- When it comes to food, less is more. The subtler your meal is, chances are, the higher its potency. Avoid causing traffic jams in your metabolic system by dumping excessive and unnecessary quantities of food that will only wreak chaos resulting in pain and discomfort.
- Begin to consider sunlight as an energising source of nourishment to your entire being. Take maximum advantage of living in a country that has this natural gift all year round.
- Understand the connection between healthy sleeping habits and your sense of general wellbeing. Know that you spend the major part of your sleeping time in a dream state. So, when it comes to sleep, without a doubt, quality trumps quantity. To get a good night’s restful sleep, regularise your sleep timing, maximise exposure to daylight during the day, minimise exposure to blue light during the night, have dinner early, physically exert yourself in some form or the other and optimise your bedroom environment into a sleep-inducing one.
- Did you know that 10% of our respiration occurs through our skin? Wear comfortable clothing that will let your skin breathe. This means, say yes to natural fibres and no to synthetic ones.
- Physical activity is an integral part of good health and immunity. There’s just no two ways about it; you simply have to get moving. Try your utmost to maintain a calorie deficit which, put simply means, burn more calories (through activity) than you consume (through food).
- Last, and most importantly, allow nature to run its course. If you feel that good health always gives you the slip, stop, take a deep breath, do a 360, and start over. Take charge of your life, listen to your body, be aware of the power that it contains within it and allow nature heal you.
Always remember, that every organism has the magical mechanism of self-repair and self-improvement, and we humans, fortunately are no different.
Ramya is a Chennai based Registered Dietitian, Lactation Counsellor, and the Founder and Director of Nectar Integrated Health Services. She holds a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and Dietetics, as well as post- graduate Diplomas in Hospital and Healthcare Management, and Clinical Research. She is also a certified Diabetes Educator. She is also trained in the ketogenic diet, and is the Founder and Chief Organiser of the International Breastfeeding Conference, Chennai, which has had a successful run of three consecutive years. She is a proud recipient of a number of awards including the India Healthcare Award for the “Most Promising Nutrition Expert in Chennai”.
*All images used in this article are either Eyra’s own design or widely and freely available on the internet.*