Why We Must ALL Take Responsibility For Our Health

Imagine if there was a way to turn around the statistics for the 5 largest non-communicable diseases by taking responsibility for some of the choices we are making and choosing to listen to the intelligence of our body. I mean ALL of us, not just those who stand out as needing support once the body has shown how the addictions have broken down the bodies systems.

To date we have given more sway to the intelligence of the mind and thinking that the body follows that intelligence…well that is indeed what we have taken as normal but…we may need to reconsider

Non-communicable diseases (NCD’s) – Diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Respiratory disease, and Cancer kill 38 million people each year and are responsible for 82% of deaths worldwide. These statistics do not yet include the consequent of poor mental health which is now part of the World Health Organisations raft of NCD’s.

Just taking a moment to understand the above, 82% of people die each year because we are struggling to take responsibility for our body, how we treat it and nurture it with food, rest and sleep in a way that helps it even function. I use the word function on purpose, to illustrate the body is in a state of ‘last resort’ before it breaks down, of course there is the other extreme of a well oiled and finely tuned body that is vital and has reserve in the tanks for the more demanding times and days.

The actual function is breaking down because it cannot process what we are consuming by choice.

  • Cigarette Smoke is definitely not harmonious in our lungs. The research on the correlation between use and harm is clear and Australia leads the way in the world with reducing lung disease because of legislation, tax and health initiatives to reduce use of tobacco.
  • Alcohol is used in every doctors’ office, hospital & clinic setting because it is a disinfectant. It is used before an injection to kill germs and yet it is also used as a source of pleasure. Alcohol is a known and documented toxin to the brain, liver and kidney cells. (The body has to process both regardless of the label on the bottle or the marketing campaign.) There are clear effects in the body. Around 1 in 5 (18.2%) Australians over 14 drink at levels that put them at risk of alcohol-related harm over their lifetime.
  • 56% of Australians do not meet physical activity guidelinesThe body is designed for movement, it has joints and muscles which, when we are born glide and slide, rotate and stretch and bend. The more sedentary our life the more our body, like our brain adapts to its environment. The muscle is replaced by fat and the bodies processing systems slow down to a point of, in some cases, not being able to re-boot. Being less physically active puts you at greater risk for type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.

Remember, as the World Health Organisation remind us, these are all lifestyle choices which contribute to the NCD’s that kill 82% of the population worldwide. How do we change these statistics for diseases when one of their major contributing factors are lifestyle choices? As healthcare workers, practitioners and human beings we must ask why are none of our programs working?

I feel there is a deeper level of responsibility being called for here. As practitioners and health workers rolling out these programs, we cannot just tell people what to do, we must understand these addictions for ourselves, look at addiction and these behaviours in our own lives and then when we share the programs with our client can speak from a body that has experience.

I am not saying that if you want to talk to people about addiction to heroin you should have been a heroin addict but you should have an understanding of addictions in your own life and why they are there – what we use the addiction to avoid.

Perhaps some of the more acceptable addictions to look at might be sugar, alcohol, cigarettes, sport, conflict, drama. Yes, trust me you can be addicted to all of them and giving them up can give us a humbling glimpse into addictions and how and why they are there.

From this understanding of what holds us back from being all that we are and having a solid sense of our purpose in the world we can then take a energetic as well as physical responsibility and understand why we see the statistics we do and found programs that offer a more practical, supportive, loving and committed way to live that does not include us as a number of a global statistic on ill health.

2 thoughts on “Why We Must ALL Take Responsibility For Our Health

  1. As someone who has worked in public health and health promotion research for a over a decade I can wholeheartedly support your observation that although well intentioned our current approach to getting people to change their health and lifestyle behaviours has not been effective. I know from experience that presenting lived experience to others is far more supportive than sharing knowledge or supposed best practice, which for most people it just comes across as another ‘to do’ to be added to a long list. Further, the suggestion embedded in many programs is that ‘you are not doing enough if you’re not doing this’ which may not inspire people, but deflate them.
    I would add too that we receive conflicting messages about taking responsibility for our health – the World Health Organisation and health promotion experts call for changes in individual behaviours but public health turns see health as determined by social and economic factors, therefore it is the responsibility of governments to change systems and therefore improve health statistics. Confused? Easy to see why.

    • So true, the message is confusing and I genuinely think they are confused. There are definitely many factors that contribute to someones weight. There is a whole level of corporate responsibility which needs to be spoken about and governments can make that happen rather than wait for them to graciously decide to put people before profits…that may take some time though! so in the meantime looks like we need to be the change we want to see! Thanks for commenting.

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