How to Keep Cancer at Bay? (Blog-4)
Updated: Dec 13, 2022
How Healthy Are We?
Health in its holistic definition is not just the state of being without any physical illness or disease. The World Health Organization defines health in its constitution (2006) as "a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity". Holistic well-being is more than what is covered by this definition. Health is a dynamic state of affairs. It cannot remain as it should be in a static condition for a long time. It has to be nourished, practised, and maintained every day.
Health has a range of situations over a scale that needs to be fostered with continued care and with a sense of awareness in mind. Health ranges from a baseline good to a well-balanced optimum condition. If it is not cared for regularly, it deteriorates gradually. To enjoy a healthful life, we must make efforts to keep up our health condition with frequent healthful activities, such as healthy eating, physical exercise, adequate sleep, stress management, etc. At the same time, we have to avoid unhealthful practices such as exposure to health risk factors or situations, such as smoking, not taking adequate sleep, taking excessive stress, using drugs, indulging in an unhealthy environment, etc.
The adoption of healthful activities and avoidance of unhealthful practices help us keep away unwanted ill health consequences. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. These include but are not limited to the availability of adequate green spaces, safe walking trails, bike paths, hiking tracks, availability of pure water to drink, clean air to inhale, facilities of periodic screening for unpleasant health conditions, especially, cancer screening that is the topic of our focus here.
Still, some factors remain beyond both individual and societal controls, such as genetic predisposition for cancer, exposure to certain cancer-causing viruses and toxins, or other chronic diseases. But still, there are ways to overcome these static factors, with adequate planning and actions taken early. We are going to discuss these in the following sections.
Is Wellness Different from Health?
The Global Wellness Institute defines wellness as ‘the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.
In the sense of holistic health, most wellness models have identified multiple mutually dependent dimensions: physical, mental or emotional, intellectual, social, environmental, occupational or vocational, financial, relational (marital, familial), cultural, spiritual, so and so. While every dimension has an impact on the other dimensions, for enjoying a complete state of health, one must take care of all aspects upon which it depends.
(University of Waterloo, n.d.)
1. Physical Health: Our physical health mostly depends on the foods and drinks we consume. As the old saying goes “we are what we eat.” Research has identified that over 50% of all cancers are related to our foods and about 75% of the immune system lies in the gut. So, if we want to improve our natural protection against cancer, we must take care of the foods and drinks that we are taking and the associated body system – gastrointestinal tract or gut that deals with these.
Of course, the physical health of a person depends on other aspects to which the body and mind are exposed. Among these, one must recognize the usefulness of optimum physical activities, adequate rest and sleep, personal hygiene, and cleanliness. Besides, stress-free life is a prerequisite for physical health, and here comes the link of physical health to mental, socioeconomic, and other dimensions of health.
Wellness research in the physical dimension has explored other aspects that include the ability and determination to care for one’s physical health, safety, and quality of life by responsible decision-making, adequate self-care, and seeking medical assistance when warranted. You should have the ability to know when we are not physically well and when to take appropriate actions. One must recognize how personal behaviours are inherently linked to maintaining optimum physical health and wellness.
In summary, our physical health and wellness include, but are not limited to:
Regular physical activities or age-specific exercises
Consuming nutritious diets
Drinking adequate potable water
Having an adequate healthy sleep is required for the age
Maintaining effective personal hygiene
Maintaining an agreeable intimate relationship
Avoiding harmful habits
Avoiding substances that are detrimental to health
Taking adequate precautions to avoid preventable injuries
Recognizing and responding to ill health and any symptom of disease in a scientific manner
Regular physical checkups, particularly cancer screening.
In the next blog, I am going to explore the other dimensions of health and wellness. (Blog#4)