Health is an extremely ambiguous word today. We see politicians making claims, we see physicians making claims, we see gyms and supermarkets making claims. So what exactly is health?
Health back in 1800-1850 meant living and “thriving” by avoiding major plaguing diseases and creating offspring before dying at the ripe age of 37. We developed the stethoscope during this time and the smallpox vaccination was more readily available to everyone.
Health in the second half of the century developed at even more rapid rate due to our ability to create and administer more and more vaccines. We also started to understand that germs were causing infections and started to develop sterilizing techniques to avoid them.
By the 1900-1950, the life expectancy reached 47 years. If you were able to avoid or survive the wars and diseases, you were in good shape to see 50 years of life. The country was getting smarter. The advances in medicine were becoming reliable. We were starting to see an entirely new meaning of health.
In the second half of the century, we saw a tremendous jump in health. Life expectancy rose to 68 years. Medical technology started to extend the life of older people. In 1977, St Jude Medical implanted their first mechanical heart valve. Also, organ donation became another resource to save lives.
So this brings us to the 2000’s. Female average life expectancy is 81 years and males at 76 years. Also, according to the World Health Organization, the US doesn't even rank in the top 10 countries for life expectancy. I briefly touched upon how science and medical technology was extending our lives over the past two centuries and although we still continue to advance our technology and medical practice, we have lost sight of one major thing. Keeping people healthy. We have, what most experts refer to as, “sick care.” We know how to mitigate disease, we have drugs to cover up symptoms, we have a system that is reactive rather than proactive. In medical school, exercise and nutrition are not taught. If these topics are being included in the curriculum, its only been an addition as of the past ~5 years.
So, what is health in 2016? What does health mean to most people? What does health mean to you?
Health in 2016 and health to most people stimulates more feelings about the lack of health rather than an abundance of it. It’s overwhelmed with terms like high blood sugar, high blood pressure, heart attacks and is saturated with diagnoses like obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. People are living longer sicker years.
But that’s not what ‘health’ is supposed to mean. Health is supposed to be and feel vibrant and energetic.
Health to me and health to people who are currently healthy (meaning they have never been told they have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, are overweight, or need to change their lifestyle) is described as vibrant and energetic. We invest our time, money, and energy to get personal trainers, nutritionist, therapists, and we love to take care of ourselves. We carefully use food for fuel, we’re exercising to strengthen our hearts and minds, we’re already thriving, and we're striving to be better versions of ourselves every day. We are the movement that are utilizing fitness wearables, endlessly searching for answers about nutrient consumption, and maximizing our workouts and mental stimulation.
There appears to be a split between the “sick” and the “healthy” when we talk about health. We have people who have all of these signs and symptoms of illness and then we have people who are self-sufficient in addressing their health and are flourishing.
Why is it that we have this split? Why is it that we have a split between people who take responsibility of their health and people who don’t? I could sit here and defend Darwin for days and weeks and argue, “well, survival of the fittest.” However, I’m more invested and in love with the future of our country and of this world to leave it at that. All humans, regardless of socio-economic background and education, deserve to feel vibrant and energetic. It’s called human unalienable rights. We all deserve to live and thrive.
We all deserve to have support, guidance, and knowledge when it comes to health. The people who are taking responsibility for their own health are the leaders. Global Joy is a working on making it easy to facilitate and access this kind of care and guidance for the rest of the country. We will get there. We will make a difference. We will impact health care and improve the lives of Americans.
I wish you all health and happiness today and every day after this one. xo