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What Is Healthy?

The beginning of each year is a time of renewal—time when we reflect on the past year and aim to make improvements for the next. Usually this is focused on improving personal health. All year long we work hard in our day-to-day lives and it is easy to sacrifice our own health while we focus on other responsibilities. But what exactly is “healthy?”

A complex topic
A good place to start is to discern what comprises good health. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity,” whichis widely agreed upon to be the most basic definition of health. But health is a complex topic and we humans need to categorize everything. Health is further divided down from physical, mental and social well-being into subcategories such as genetics, career, environment, etc., in an attempt to gauge what makes up health. The bottom line is that everything impacts health, good or bad! Good health is when all these various aspects of life are in balance. According to WHO, good health “is a state of optimal well-being that is oriented toward maximizing an individual’s potential.”

But what makes us healthy?
Everywhere you turn these days, there is another book or scientist or study claiming yet another stance on what is healthy and what is not. If you look at diet alone there is a seemingly endless supply of various takes on the “optimal” diet with strict guidelines of what not to eat and what to consume more of. Paleo, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, protein-focused, carb-focused, I could seriously go on for pages! And this is just diet. What about how much or what types of fitness are best? Sunscreen or no sunscreen? Fluoride or no fluoride? Coffee or no coffee? Man, this all gets so confusing!

There is certainly not a clear and concise answer. The amount of conflicting studies, opinions, and data makes it obvious that there is no solid answer to what is healthy across all aspects of health. There is plenty of well done science out there but it is very important to not just take someone’s word for it in regards to studies. The cycle of conflicting studies is endless. So what do we believe?

No magic recipe
I have had an autoimmune disease for about 10 years. For the majority of that time I have sought out every possible bit of information on autoimmune diseases, various forms of natural medicine, optimal diets, scientific studies, natural remedies and anything else that could help me get to the bottom of my disease. My conclusion is, and of course this is just my opinion, that there is no one definitive answer to all of our health concerns. There is no magic recipe for “perfect” health. Sure there are a lot of things that all health practitioners and fields of thought can agree on, but there is no step-by-step process to create perfect health. But I do believe there is a foundation by which each person can tailor their particular needs for providing their own individual optimal health.
Of all the countless books, classes, and practitioners I have studied, they all have these things in common:

  1. Eat your fruits and veggies! They should also be as clean and whole as possible.

  2. Avoid artificial and processed foods of all kinds.

  3. Be conscious of your food and surrounding environment.

  4. Get dirty and spend time outdoors.

  5. Remove yourself from technology, periodically.

  6. Be active.

  7. Spend time with family and friends and laugh!

  8. Rest and de-stress.

  9. Personal hygiene is important.

  10. Be present—live in the moment.

Health in many ways is like love. There are certain characteristics that all versions of these two concepts have but they are obtained and expressed in as many different ways as there are unique individuals. When you use “love” in a sentence to someone, they generally understand what you mean. But the details of the concept of love are unique to the individual, just like the concept of what is healthy differs from person to person. Someone might thrive on a vegan diet while a person with a similar body type might feel best on a meat-based diet. Throw in food allergies, genetics, socio-economic status, attitude, perceptions, and it quickly becomes clear that such a diverse and individually unique species as humans will have vastly varied concepts of what is healthy.

There will always be things that are certain in health. After all, we are all humans and we share many traits. But next time you are obsessing over what path to take in regards to improving your health, do the research, talk to physicians of varied backgrounds and schools of medicine and most importantly, listen to your body and how you feel. Whatever health promoting product you might need, regardless of trends, Willy Street Co-op will be here to provide wholesome natural food, wellness products, a sense of community, and all the smiles you can handle. To good health this year!

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