As a medical student, I think a lot about “health”. The term, what it means and how it is defined to each individual. I feel that the definition of health can vary greatly from one person to another. No two individuals view their health in the same way. It’s a unique concept to each of us.
The origin of the word health comes from the word “hǣlth” which means “whole”. How often do we look at our health in this context? Modern medicine rarely views the whole person when designing a treatment plan; instead individuals are placed in boxes based on disease. To me, health is a culmination of all of our habits, good and bad. Health is not dished out by doctors or found in prescriptions and supplements. Those things are merely adjuncts to our everyday life. How we live life determines how we experience health.
The World Health Organization recently tweeted that the four major factors that influence your risk of non communicable diseases are tobacco use, physical inactivity, harmful use of alcohol and unhealthy diets. What does that tell us? Each of those four habits contributes to diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney failure, and lung disease to name a few. Essentially, any non communicable disease is preventable.
When looking at health in terms of these four risk factor, I feel that each one can be viewed as an attainable goal. Whole life changes can lead to health of a whole person.
And remember, the words of Benjamin Franklin “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”