Our health: are we thriving, or merely surviving?
There is a big difference between being healthy (thriving) and being kept functional via the intervention of modern medicine (surviving).
Are we thriving? As a species, we are. The poor ol’ planet is struggling to keep up with us. But are we thriving as individuals? What does it mean to be healthy anyway?
Many think of good health as merely an absence of obvious illness. I’ve heard someone responding to the news of a guy they knew having just had a heart attack with “But he was so healthy!” He obviously wasn’t healthy—it’s just that his illness hadn’t shown on the outside.
Let’s not forget that many diseases are hard to diagnose, and many others only show symptoms once they have progressed to a certain stage.
Diet and our health
Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, the link between the Western diet and chronic disease is irrefutable.
Even so, how often have you heard people say they would rather die a few years earlier than worry about what they should and should not eat? Or, that they don’t care about prolonging their life because they can’t imagine old age being very enjoyable? These same people might describe the horrors of rest homes and the less than dignified nature of being a burden to family and society.
To me, this misses the point. Eating healthy is about gaining the benefits now—the increased energy, strengthened immunity, and resistance to injury. These are the attributes of good health. This is what it means to thrive. Longevity is only a beneficial side effect! When we are old and healthy, life will still be productive and enjoyable.
Our typical Western diet does not provide us with the optimal range of nutrients for optimal health. We therefore have to be smarter when it comes to getting adequate nutrition; smarter still to gain optimal nutrition.
So, do we want to thrive, or merely survive?
- World Health Organization. Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic Diseases. WHO Technical Report Series 916. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2003.
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Tira Cole is a nutritionist, wellness coach, researcher and educator. Compassionate and nurturing by nature, her mission is to help as many women as possible work with their body's innate wisdom to live a healthful and empowered life.