HEALTH

Have we focused on the wrong things?

Mental health disorder, burn out and stress, cancer, cardiovascular diseases are increasing. We build new hospitals. Wouldn't be more effecitve to focus on preventive actions? Yoga, ayurveda, meditation, better sleep, clean food and healthy relations that make us thrive.

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REDESIGNING HEALTH

Let's paint a new narrative

I think our approach to health should be preventive, holistic and adapted to the individual. 

What happens if we focus on designing a new way of living and working that promotes health, instead of building new hospitals and prescribing more anti-depressants and medicines?

Modern Western doctors and medicine are great for injuries and some types of diseases. But the most common health issues today are caused by our lifestyle: cancer, heart diseases and stress. And while our hospitals struggles to cure those conditions, the number of people affected increases.

Why aren't we focusing on preventing those diseases? Can we learn from Eastern practice of ayurveda?

What if we fed our gut real food?

What if we took time to rest and restore?

What if we were in tune with ourselves and our emotions?

What if we led balanced lives?

Toxic food no problem if happy mind and vice versa.

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A MIND-BLOWING APPROACH: AYURVEDA

Holistic, individual and well-tested

The first time I heard of Ayurveda, a friend of mine told me I was a Vata type. Curious as I am, I did some research and quickly learnt that Vatas should avoid raw vegetables and too many nuts. Alas, most of what I ate was raw food and nuts -which I loved - so I ditched the whole idea, unwilling to give up on my habits.

Fast forward 6 years, a stressful work at a law firm made my immune system collapse. I was sick every month and the doctors just gave me another medical certificate.

We all know our doctors work wonders. They can fix a lot. And they do it well. But it seems like the biggest challenges to health today, namely our lifestyles, is somewhat tricker to fix. I became desperate and scheduled a consultation with an ayurvedic practitioner. It was a game changer. Wow. In 90 minutes she got a deeper understanding of my health and told me when to go to bed and get up, what foods to prioritise or avoid, what exercise were suitable for me etc. Surprisingly enough, she turned me into a morning person. 

The term Ayurveda is derived from the Sanskrit words ayur, meaning life, and veda meaning knowledge. Ayurveda is knowledge about life. According to Ayurveda, there are three main body types, Vata, Pitta and Kapha. Vata is air and space. Pitta is fire and water and Kapha is water and earth. Most of us are a mix of these types, but usually two dominates. It affects our body constitution, the way we sleep, digest our food and behave. 

It sure is a different way of approaching health but once you realise it works, you keep diving deeper. When you identify your own body type, you also get a deeper understanding of how your sleep, digestion and personality influence your life.

Perhaps more interestingly, Ayurveda also tells you ton about the imbalances you might have. Whereas in our society you're usually either sick or well, Ayurveda identifies six stages going from perfectly healthy to seriously sick. A practitioner can see when you are just a little bit out of balance and advise you on how to find balance again. Small imbalances can be recurrent colds, slight headache, IBS or always waking up around 2-3 am. That way, we learn to recognise the signals our bodies are sending us before it is too late.

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DISINFORMATION IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE

No it's not an absolute truth

The title will stir up indignation. In the current paradigm, many people think of science as THE TRUTH. If something is science-based, we assume it is valid and correct. And sometimes it is. Like the fact that almost 100% of researchers agree on climate change. In other cases, it won't hurt to add common sense and scepticism to the mix. Who is funding the research? What studies are emphasised? In whose interest are the results? What parts are written about in the media? There are ample opportunities for money being paid for the "right" results to be shown. So much money involved. Massive interests. I have worked as a lobbyist and later with lobbyists in Brussels. I've seen how it works. 

WHY 10 000 STEPS IS NOT THE SOLUTION

It is often a very limited set of things that have been studied. Is it even is possible to take a wide range of factors into account. Also, scientific results seem to change a lot. Is fat good for you? What fat? How many eggs should you eat? How many steps should you take? How many hours should you sleep? Results differ. If you want to live science-based, you may have to change behaviour often. What if learning to listen to your body could give you the answer of how many steps you should take on this particular day? If we just implement what the latest study said, we risk losing touch with ourselves and our individual ever-shifting needs.

BUT WE CAN TRUST HARVARD, RIGHT?

More importantly, there have been numerous scandals in the science field. One in particular fascinates me. In the 1960s, the sugar industry paid Harvard scientists to minimise the link between sugar and heart disease and instead blame heart diseases on saturated fat. The review of research, published in a prestigious journal was based on studies chosen by the sugar industry. It was all a deliberate strategy and the message to the scientists was clear. Just take a moment to let that sink in because it is rather alarming. It was simply immoral and corrupt.

Dietary recommendations and subsequent research have been largely influenced by the sugar industry's lobbying, for decades. Indeed, for long people were recommended to eat low-fat high-sugar food - something that may have speeded up the level of obesity. Now we know more and health authorities say too much sugar can lead to cardiovascular disease.

The three scientists received $50 000 (today's value) and bought themselves nice vacation houses in ... 

It wasn't until the 80s that researchers had to disclose how studies were funded. One of the corrupt scientists was the chairman of Harvard's nutrition department. Another one later became head of nutrition at the US Department of Agriculture where he played a role in dietary guidelines. 

IT'S PERVASIVE 

The Harvard story is just an example. There are more. The food industry has not stopped trying to influence researches in order to sell more of their products. Coca-Cola has paid millions of dollars to researchers who minimised the link between sweet drinks and obesity. Candy producers pay for studies to make people think kids who eat candies don't weigh more. 

Big pharmaceutical companies are typically most interesting in selling their products, not making sure people are healthy. Also here, numerous scandals.. 

GENTLE RECOMMENDATIONS

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HOW TO COPE WITH STRESS

Another way of living

La la la

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WOMEN'S HEALTH AND FOOD

Admit it's been ignored

Now that we've started to realize women's bodies and health have not been studied the same way men's have. We are paying the effects with our health. Although the health care system has yet to acknowledge the e

 

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