What Is Health And Wellness? And What Is Optimal Health?

 

 What Is Health And Wellness? And What Is Optimal Health?

Most people would agree that their health is one of the most important things in their lives. It seems obvious, right. But we all have a tendency to take it for granted, just cruising along on auto-pilot, not really giving a thought about having to keep the ‘machine’ (your body!) running smoothly.

Until it doesn’t run smoothly. Then all of a sudden your health is the highest priority! 

Frankly, most of us take our health for granted. We don’t ever think about it until we experience some sort of crisis, whether that be crippling back pain, or even just a bad head cold.  Then all of a sudden our health is VERY important. Why is that? Why don’t we give our body a single thought until it breaks?

Well, it is really quite simple. A decline in our health limits our freedom to do the things we want to do! From being active, to simply enjoying our family and friends.

Put simply, having good health allows us to do the things we love. Another way to say it is that our physical health directly affects every aspect of our lives. 

 Fun Cycling

However, most people simply do not understand exactly what good health means. How do we know what good health is when the only time that most of us think about it, is when we don’t have good health?

So how do you define good health?

Is your idea of health measured by how you feel, how far you can run, or how many push-ups you can do? Is it the amount of pain you are in (or not in)? Or is it an all clear from your doctor?

Well, here’s the thing. Being healthy is not merely the absence of pain or disease. I am sure we all know someone who could not be described as being particularly healthy, but they have not been diagnosed with any particular ailment. Maybe you feel this way yourself?

In fact the World Health Organisation defines health as:

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being

and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

 

So true health is more than just ‘not being sick’. It is a state where you are at your absolute best.

Then what is the best way to measure our level of health?

Health can be better measured by how well you function; physically, mentally, and socially.

It could also be measured by how well the individual cells, tissues and organs in your body function. If they were all working perfectly, easily doing the jobs they are supposed to do, you would be enjoying optimal health. If, at the other extreme, they are not working at all, you would be dead, and it is too late. But what about the middle ground, that space between functioning perfectly (optimal health, which I will call Point A) and not functioning at all (dead, or Point B).

The modern view of health is that we all fit on a continuum, or scale, that is basically a line between these two extremes (Point A and Point B). Someone who is closer to Point B (not functioning well) is more likely to be experiencing symptoms of ill health and would probably have sought out treatment. Someone close to Point A is more likely to feel good and be able to do all the things they enjoy.

health scale

So good health occurs when we are as close to Point A as possible.

What about someone who is somewhere in the middle, maybe at 75{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}, if we say Point A is 100{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} and Point B is 0{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}. This person may eat what they like, occasionally exercise and generally feel quite good. They get the occasional aches and pains, and their energy levels aren’t what they used to be. They are not experiencing any obvious symptoms that would send them to the doctor, but parts of their body are only functioning at 75{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999} and unless they are actively doing something to improve their health (level of function), they are usually headed in the wrong direction towards Point B. Remember, the closer we get to Point B, the higher our chance of feeling sick and developing disease.

 

Therefore, if we want to get closer to the good end of the stick, Point A, we need to improve the way our body functions, right? So how do we do that?

Well firstly, we need to stop doing things that are unhealthy, and do more healthy things. I know that sounds too simple, but it really is that basic when it comes down to it. All the little things add up, and I highly recommend reading this book to see how powerful that really is. For example, and I am using a bad example, if you went out right now and bought a cheeseburger and ate it, do you think you would have a heart attack? Probably not, right. In fact you could do that every day for a while and be fine, but eventually that bad health choice is going to wind up in the emergency room.

The immediate effect is zero, the cumulative effect is everything.

The same goes with making healthy choices. If you go for a 30 minute walk today, is that going to have a dramatic effect on your health tomorrow? No. But do it every day and you will be much healthier than if you didn’t, and quicker than you think!

You can read all about healthy choices and the benefits of walking by clicking the links. But I also want to talk about spinal health and how it affects our overall wellbeing.

This gets a bit in depth, but it will help you understand why spinal health is so important.

SO we have already discussed that good health equals good function. But what actually controls function? What controls how all the parts of our bodies actually work? For example, how do the muscles in our legs know to contract at exactly the right time with exactly the right force to send us easily walking down the street? What tells the cells of your stomach to make more acid to digest your breakfast? Why does your heart rate increase when the muscles need more blood due to exercise?

Every magnificent thing that your body does (mostly without you even knowing it) is controlled and coordinated by your brain and nervous system. Everything!

Nerve signal


Super fast electrical signals speed along the nerves from your brain and spinal cord out into your body. These electrical signals tell your body exactly what it needs to do, at exactly the right time, to function at its best. This amazing piece of equipment gets it right every time. Its intention is never to fail or make us sick, but to keep us functioning perfectly. UNLESS there is something causing interference or interruption to the transmitting of these electrical nerve signals. If your body is not getting the correct messages from the brain, it cannot function at 100{95f364b8aea3ba4afb976a81c1dcc2e8147daac1866ef443968911255633a999}, unfortunately sliding you down the slope toward a lower level of body function, or a lower level of health, and closer to Point B.

 

 

 

O.K., just to recap, health is a state of optimal physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease. It is a measure of how well your body and all its parts are functioning and adapting to change. This is all perfectly controlled and coordinated by our brain and nervous system. Our body and nerve system is not designed to eventually let you become sick, but rather it is ‘programmed’ to keep us alive and thriving. If there is any interference to these nerve signals, the body cannot function at its’ best, resulting in a decrease in health, which may or may not be obvious to the owner of the body, depending partly on where you are between Point A and Point B.

But where can nerve interference come from?

We all know that our skull protects our brain. However, what about your spinal cord? It is also protected by bone, your spinal vertebra bones! But the 24 vertebra of your spine are movable and can potentially press onto the nervous system causing nerve iritation. Everyone knows that a spinal cord injury is a bad thing, but if the bones of our spine are just slightly out of their correct position or if they are not moving correctly, that can be enough to interfere with the normal signals that speed along your nerves. And we now know where that is going to take us. This is why you need to look after your spine!

Spinal Nerves

Nutrition, exercise, adequate rest and positive mental attitude are all very important for health. Nevertheless, without the basic elements of your body functioning correctly, you simply cannot be at your best. Nerve interference could potentially be decreasing your health without you even being aware of it!

How do we know if we have any nerve interference? Frankly, most of us have it to varying degrees, and it can start at a young age. So unless you have never fallen over, tripped, come off your bike, sat for long periods, etc. then you can assume your spine is not perfect. That is why everyone should be doing regular spinal exercises. Just like brushing your teeth every day, spinal health exercises are essential for maintaining better health. It is an important piece of the health jigsaw puzzle.

 

Modern medicine is great for covering up the symptoms, while doing little to improve the actual function (health) of our bodies. Pharmaceuticals do not want to cure you, but rather, keep you on expensive medication for the rest of your life. True ‘health care’ is different, it is about improving your health and wellbeing, by getting you closer to Point A through making healthy choices. Because, as we know, the better your body functions, the more freedom you have to do the things you love, and the less likely you are to get sick in the first place.

If you have any questions, or would like to share your own experience, please leave us a comment below.

Also, if you have found this article helpful, please share it so we can help even more people! Thankyou.

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10 Comments

  1. Wow! Great information here, really enjoyed it. I’ve started living in Japan since October last year, and I walk everyday. Lots of steps, would be lying if I said I did not feel anything different. We really need to do it frequently I guess.

    Thanks for the read!

    • Hi Filbert,

      Glad you liked the article, just remember, a little bit every day. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy NOT to do, that is where we get caught out! Sometimes you just have to force yourself to do that little bit.

      All the best,

      Dr Brad

  2. “The immediate effect is zero, the cumulative effect is everything.” This line says it all.

    We never know how much our body serves us until we lose it. My dad, who has been away for work for 1.5 years now, had a pinched nerve for several months last year……it was horrible. Apparently it happened at work, when he went behind a machine to fix it and turned the wrong way. He thinks that’s what happened. And for MONTHS he couldn’t walk 100 metres without having to take a break. He would leave his office, walk a bit and then sit on the sidewalk. To hear what he was going through, and he was away from his family at the time, it was heartbreaking. The Slight Edge book looks like it would be a good read, thanks for recommending and great post 🙂

    • Hi JeAnn,

      Sorry to hear about your dad. I see this kind of injury everyday and it can be debilitating.
      I really recommend you tell him about my course, it has been so successful in helping back pain sufferers, and it is all about a little bit every day!

      Kind Regards,

      Dr Brad

  3. This is a wonderful article and reminder of how important our bodies are. My father is a good example of what you are illustrating here in your article. My father was always a real tough guy. He refused to allow body aches and pains get in the way of what he wanted. He would not complain and just pretend everything was fine. Well, he passed away suddenly from heart failure and we did not see it coming. It has been a little over a year since we lost him.

    Thank you for your article and reminding how important it is to not ignore those little signs.

    • HI Stephanie,

      Sorry to hear about your dad.

      Our bodies are constantly giving us feedback and little signs on how we are doing. Most of the time they are very subtly like a little ache or pain, or maybe some mild indigestion. Things are usually getting pretty bad, or have been let go for too long when it gets to the stage of acute pain or severe heartburn etc. etc. It’s just the alarm bells going off LOUDER!

      The more we are attuned to the subtle signs, and the more we are willing to act on them, the better we can maintain good health.

      All the best,

      Dr Brad

  4. Great post Brad
    After years of running, rugby, martial arts etc and being injury free, now in my late thirties it all seems to be catching up with me and the last 4 or 5 years it’s been one injury after another. I like to think I’m still in fairly good shape but I went to see a Chiropractor last month who highlighted just how out of align my spine is, being ex military a correct posture is beaten into you and I thought that was still the case but she showed me how my hips and shoulders weren’t level and how my head didn’t sit squarely on my shoulders, (it made me feel like a bit of a freak) but I’m now more conscious of this and do exercises to try align my spine correctly.
    I’d like to hear your opinion on Chiropractors and if you think they have a holistic approach.
    Many thanks

    • Hi Dan,

      Some chiropractors do take a more holistic approach, whilst others only specialise in treating back pain (or neck pain, headaches etc).

      I am a Chiropractor, and I also have a degree in Medical Science. I see my role as promoting optimal spinal health, because this affects our overall health and well-being. I also offer advise on exercise and nutrition because I have done a LOT of extra study in these areas. My goal with everyone is to have them enjoying their life to the fullest, without the restriction of preventable health problems.

      I have found chiropractic to be a fantastic gateway to be able to do this because of its natural, holistic approach. I am certain that spinal health is so vital to overall health that I believe everybody should have their spine checked and be educated about optimal spinal health.

      Hope this helps,

      Dr Brad

  5. This is very in-depth article about how one’s health and well being affects our body especial our nervous system and brain. This is something I never actually gave enough thought. This post just gave me different point of view of health affecting my body.

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