In a week when the Royal kiss is the main thing that seems to be on the front pages, of course in my mind I start to consider writing an article on the change from communicable diseases to noncommunicable disease within the last century.
It’s only recently that medicine as we know it has taken its hold in our healthcare model as many of you probably know. Between the 16th and 19th Century changes started to happened where we had clear advances in medical science, which in some respects you would think with the investment that is involved and what is now spent it would have led to improvement in our health. But history shows otherwise.
Why with all this focus on science and medical advancement has it not brought greater health? Why are we not full of vitality, glowing, fit, slim and all looking amazing?
Because of the evolution of lifestyles, we now eat highly processed foods, which are nutrient deficient which is a rather large foundation of our health pyramid. Ignoring your diet and thinking it doesn’t make a difference to your health is like ignoring how important petrol is to your petrol driven car!
In the past, a higher amount of our foods were plant-based, which naturally bring a whole host of benefits. I see a large number of people who eat little plant-based produce, and some who struggle to eat any at all.
We are more sedentary than we’ve ever been. Sitting is the new smoking, most of us are sitting for long stretches of our days, and having less exercise than we’ve ever had. With more office-based seated jobs, we have children used to sitting all day at school and with their play activities now going into a seated job and therefore they feel that being seated for long times across their day is the norm, but this has only been a recent change in the wider historical picture.
Even in the most unpopulated of area’s it’s now found to be hard to get away from the pollution of toxic chemicals that we are endlessly surrounded with. With them being in nearly every product we have from our furnishings to toiletries, cleaning products, and even the air we breathe, it’s become hard to avoid becoming toxic.
We now get less sleep and it’s seen as a hindrance to getting on with life rather than one of the most important things you can ever do. When I suggest children are to come off their devices earlier in the evening, I’m told that’s going to be impossible to do. Just today I had a conversation with a child that outlined how they were awake at 4.30am because a text from a friend had woken them up, and so they were very tired and had an exam to do today. Their answer was to drink a caffeine based drink to resolve something that could be resolved by taking away mobile devices from children who aren’t able to stop themselves from using it during the night.
Stress is pretty much a factor in everyone’s lives now, and people are trying to create balance, but more often than not this just means adding more things to the todo list! The stress levels in our society have to be at epidemic proportions and only we can change this by saying enough is enough.
Loneliness in our increasingly connected world is an irony that also can’t pass us by, we do more things on our own in front of a screen than ever and our social connection are often with people so far away that we can physically connect outside of a 2d environment. There has been a fragmentation of families and communities in the past few decades, leaving many people struggling when we would have been surrounded previously with a network of support.
So outside of all this, the World Health Organisation has identified that the number one global health threat is no longer a communicable disease, but noncommunicable diseases which include depression, diabetes, cancers etc.
These are largely preventable, and within our own responsibility to change. So we’ve had an evolution in our lifestyle but not in medicine, which really isn’t keeping up with the changes. We focus on sick care and have created a disease and sick care system where even the people working within it are ill and overworked. How can they give you health advice when they are also ill from a system that isn’t helping them live a balanced life? Don’t believe me, look at the suicide rates of our doctors. Our sick care system is one that we can no longer afford to have, we need to refocus it we really do, and start to take responsibility to move it towards a health care system. One that promotes and helps health. Great health, and actually knows what that looks like because they epitomise it themselves, by having vitality and energy.
We have a medical model that is reductionist, taking every part of the body separately, giving each illness a label, and not connecting the dots. Rather than taking pills and potions, it’s time to focus on healthy choices that make a difference, that should be the focus of our government as well, we should be assessing lifestyles and have the tools to actually help people change. It’s time to become the practitioner in your own life and take responsibility for your healthcare, rather than supporting a sick care system where once you are in, you rarely get out of.