If you keep an eye on the headlines you’d be forgiven for thinking pretty much everything we do increases our risk of some sort of illness. I’ve lost count of the health scare stories of late. Many of them, by the way, are either based on very little solid evidence or tweaked beyond recognition from what the science actually originally reported.
But what if you turn this around? What if you consider that for every negative published headline drawing on evidence to support what we shouldn’t be doing, perhaps there are ten more unpublished headlines that could have focused on evidence that supports what we should?
When it comes to lifestyle change, inspiration is far more powerful a motivator than fear. Nobody wants to stop doing something just because they’re told they shouldn’t do it. Ever wanted something all the more once you knew you shouldn’t have it? Fear of illness doesn’t help either, especially when an ‘unhealthy’ habit brings about much needed stress relief. Just knowing what we shouldn’t be doing isn’t enough.
Inspiration is a totally different story. It connects us to the places we wish to get to, the people we wish to be with and the lives we wish to lead. To be inspired to try something new means to embrace it with joy and spontaneity, enabling association with positive goals and hopes for the future. Chances are, it will lead to a small change each day. And small daily changes can in the end make a big lifestyle difference.
Did you know that you can reduce your risk of every one of the world’s major chronic diseases by almost 80% through your lifestyle alone? That’s truly incredible. What’s more, you have the choice to do so.
Choice is a powerful thing. Here in the UK, with relative ease, we can purchase any number of incredibly nutritious and delicious fresh foods, including a wide variety of vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, meats and fish, from a wide variety of sources. If we choose to do so. Most of us can also access, within fairly easy reach, countryside or parkland to explore, be physically active and get some fresh air and sunlight, as often as we choose to do so.
We’ve never had it so good. Everything we need in order to live well and healthfully is already on our doorstep, if we choose to see it. Not only this, thanks to the medical advances of the past century, we are also largely protected from succumbing to the infectious illnesses that afflicted so many of our ancestors. I wonder if one day these choices and benefits will still be ours for the taking.
So for now, why not embrace them?
I don’t think the answer to good health needs to be complicated. You don’t need to spend all your time and energy on the latest fad diet or health craze. You can if you want to, but get the basics right first. Medicine has advanced in so many ways and will continue to do so, yet the most powerful and fundamental principle remains: prevention is always better than cure.