Karin & David Henderson

21362 River Road

Maple Ridge, B.C.

Canada V2X 2B3

604-463-8666 (PST)

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Why Do We Have To Be Healthy?


I received this unusual question and though you might be an interested in this thought-provoking idea. (I suspect it was part of a class project.) Indeed why should we be healthy…what is the opposite or alternative? The word “health” encompasses several parts of your being: physical, mental, social.


Mosby’s describes it as “a condition of physical, mental social well-being and the absence of disease or other abnormal condition. It is not a static condition; constant change and adaptation to stress result in homeostasis”. Homeostasis is defined as “a relative constancy in the internal environment of the body, naturally maintained by adaptive responses that promote healthy survival”. (All of these definitions come from Mosby’s 5th Edition.) We always assume health is only physical, but it also includes your social and mental health. Physical fitness or health is defined as “the ability to carry out daily tasks with alertness and vigor, without undue fatigue and with enough energy reserve to meet emergencies or to enjoy leisure time pursuits.” The social aspect refers to “the ability of an individual to fit in with the expectations of a particular group, .acquiring beliefs, habits, values and acceptable modes of behavior, etc.” Webster defines health as “the state of being hale, sound, or whole, in body, mind, or soul; especially, the state of being free from physical disease or pain.” I won’t go into this in more detail...I just want you to understand that health is not just about your physical body. It has to include your mental and social state as well.


Being a nurse and an OR nurse at that, I never gave this question any thought. I dealt with people who had problems all day long. I saw them before the surgery with their families and afterwards to check on them. In between we worked to correct their problem. My world was made up of sick people. My environment was isolated and controlled. I thought I did a really good job. I was certainly very busy, but we all get a wake up call. Mine happened when my management position was eliminated and I found myself on the outside of this very isolated and controlled environment…and had some difficulty adjusting to the changes that presented themselves. Now I faced healthy people, but with a mindset that still needed to talk about illnesses and how to deal with them. I taught about heart health…or unhealth as it would be. I taught about cholesterol management. I taught people how to look for diabetic symptoms and what might keep them at bay. I measured everything I could: blood pressures, glucose (blood sugar), and cholesterol. I taught about cancer and women’s health...I taught about men’s health, although these clinics were so sparsely attended I felt I really shouldn’t be paid! I taught a lot of things, but I don’t think I realty taught about “health.”


I took health for granted, never sparing a thought for its presence or absence. I took it for granted in myself and for others. As I grew older and hopefully wiser, I still paid little attention to it. I merely thought it was inevitable that my family and I would eventually come down with any one of the major illness groups and spend our last days in discomfort. I didn’t realize I had a choice. My colleagues and I all spoke the same language. I wonder if any of them knew more and didn’t share this information…


But lives change.  And so does your thinking when you face illness with a close family member. Suddenly you realize they have “become” sick. That’s an action word: not just a thing. And this is happening, right now and you wish you could stop it. But you don’t have any idea where to start. Our medical community is still not inclined to teach prevention as opposed to treatment.


If you recall the original definition, you realize that health is not just about your physical being. It is as much how you think for yourself: (mental) you realize how much your environment influences you (social).  You realize how important your beliefs and values are in your life: how crucial they are to your identity. You suddenly start to pay attention to stories about people getting better instead of dying or getting worse. You learn that being unhealthy means that a part of you is technically degenerating, getting worse, not functioning as it should. You become aware of unusual opportunities. You realize how fragile your life is and how much you want to have health back again.


I work with people who have Parkinson’s, Fibromyalgia, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), etc. but my passion is to help people with dizziness, vertigo, hearing fluctuations and tinnitus. But for all these people, just managing to get through a day is hard work and takes tremendous determination. Their days are filled with fatigue: the kind you simply can’t imagine. The lack of energy to get on a housecoat let alone a full outfit. If you have ever had the flu, you might appreciate the feeling. But this lasts day after day, with no hope for relief.  Or what about the young adult just starting college and finds his foot dragging a bit; it doesn’t work like the other one. And he gets a diagnosis of MS. Or the active sports guy (or gal) who ends up with a spinal cord injury and is paralyzed for ever.  These examples are physical in nature, but each has a huge mental and social component to it. What motivation is there for the person whose ear screams periodically and he can’t get away from it. How tiring! How aggravating! Or the gal trapped in the wheelchair with MS who now can’t be independent any longer. No longer will she be able to look after her family as she has always dreamed she would. I know all of these people would love to have “the state of being hale, sound, or whole, in body, mind, or soul; especially, the state of being free from physical disease or pain.” Those are huge reasons to be healthy or to restore health.


I want to present you with an unusual idea and then a challenge. I am now convinced we can maintain health. We can prevent degenerative conditions. We can nurture our bodies in ways to keep them healthy…to BE healthy. To get your health back in all ways: physical, mental, and social. Even the AMA has agreed it can be done.


But the way I see it, many people, including some in the medical community, don’t know it’s possible. If they do, they don’t produce tools or resources for their patients that make this information easily accessible. If they would like to believe it, they don’t know how to find helpful information. So wouldn’t it make sense for you to do research on what your body needs to BE healthy, and then find ways to give it those “ingredients”? Here is one place to start your research. 


This will be one of the best and most effective resource tools for your “library”. For example, if your workshop was short on some supplies, you would make a list and get it filled. If your kitchen cupboards had some empty spots, you would make a list and shop for them, and replace them into the cupboard. I see this as being entirely possible for your body. So how do you go about finding out what is missing? If you are able to do all the things in the definition of health, then you are fine. If not, you need to look at your lifestyle and do some research on the mental, physical, or social deficits. But I’ll tell you now, that in my experience, once the physical part is looked after and made “better”, the rest seems to fall into place very quickly and with great appreciation!


I have heard amazing stories about children with ADHD and Autism whose symptoms have lessened considerably. I know people with all sorts of other degenerative conditions who took remedial action.  That basically included feeding these bodies the missing ingredients… How did they find what was missing? They assumed that because of the severity of their condition, they would need a lot of support. And they gave their bodies proper foods. In the final analysis you know that all your body needs is food of the right type, and enough of it. Don’t we eat lots of protein before a test? Or drink lots of juices? And eat salads? We instinctively know that steroids aren’t exactly healthy for you body. And maybe the drugs you take are adding chemicals but no food value. Changing your health knowledge and perspective isn’t going to happen overnight. But if you choose to be healthier, it will reflect in many areas of your life, especially in your attitude and behaviors. Would it not be worth doing some focused research? You may end up with a big shopping list if your body is really challenged, but it is worth the trouble of finding ways to get your health back. You do have choices. You have a good brain and intuition that will guide you. If you compare a life with fibromyalgia and life of health, I know which you would choose. Health is getting up each day, anticipating doing all your goals for the day, with energy a positive attitude and confidence that you are safe, happy, and fit. I feel anything less than this is “unhealthy” and your body has mechanisms already in place to restore you back to health. So why do we need to healthy? It’s our natural state of being.


By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.



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