Are you healthy?
Dr. Pranav Bhagwat.
Consultant, Nagarjuna Ayurveda Clinic, Aquem, Margao.
Consultant, Oorja Wellness Center, Comba, Margao.
Professor, Gomantak Ayurveda College, Shiroda, Goa.
Visiting Consultant: Vedalife, Germany; Lavanya, Russia.
Dharmaartha-kaama-mokshanam Aarogyam moolam uttamam //
To live a fruitful life, one has to be healthy. To enjoy wealth, to enjoy nature, to enjoy duties,to fulfil desires, to attain celibacy - ultimately to enjoy life; health is of paramount importance. But then what are the parameters of health? How do we know we are healthy? Are the terms healthy and disease-free one and the same? You may think that every year I do whole body check up and its normal. So I am healthy. I do MRI of whole body, I do liver function tests, I do tread mill tests and echocardiographies, I do sonographies, I do kidney function tests, I do this test and that test; ultimately I get the bunch of reports which weighs not less than a fat novel and I find the results absolutely within normal range and I am normal. And you are satisfied and with the file in one hand and the packet of oil spilling samosas, you come home to have a good night’s sleep.
Is it a real result on which you can boast on for the coming year?
Of course not!! If you read the fine print, you would understand that many of these tests are just the picture of the body at that particular moment. Not only that they are not one hundred percent foolproof, but sometimes , they give a false negative results.it all depends upon the sensitivity and specificity of the tests. It is subject to many variables like pre-anaytical factors (e.g. Collection of a sample in appropriate way); analytical factors (e.g. timely calibration of the equipments) and post analytical activities (e.g. reference intervals). And above all, every lab writes, ‘please correlate clinically’. It means the lab value and your clinical diagnosis together give a fair idea about your health, not only the lab tests. So, do the value of lab tests and investigations should be totally refuted? No way, but they have only 25 percent of value in the diagnosis of the patient.
Then can we devise a simple and fairly reliable method of assessing one’s health on day to day basis? Can we find out whether we are healthy today? What are the criteria of health? What are the factors that keep us healthy? What is health?
Yes, one by one we will solve these problems.
What is health? Health is the not only absence of the disease but complete physical , mental, social and spiritual wellbeing. WHO says so and our own Indian medical science called Ayurveda has described health in the same manner 5000 years ago.
What are the factors to look for complete health? All the biological functional factors, the metabolic factors, the channels in the body, the non-accumulative waste products, happy mind, blissful soul and fully functional sense organs determine health. Well, it’s a long list and has to be so considering profoundly complex mechanism responsible in building the human tissues.
Now let’s go to the prime question of today: whether I am healthy or not, TODAY?
Let’s formulate a questionnaire:-
All these questions will give you the clear cut idea of your body and your mind. It’s very important to have a healthy body for a healthy mind. Ancient Indian physician named Charaka wrote : those who are well nourished, who have muscular and well differentiated body, those who can sustain heat and cold, hunger and thirst, exercise and rest, who have good digestion and metabolism do not easily get affected by the diseases.
And now, by these multiple criteria of health are we really healthy? Can The contemporary medicine lead us to the goal of health? Unfortunately, the answers are in negative. And since we don’t have any idea about the real criteria of health, we think that our diet and lifestyle is correct unless and until we fall sick. Many a times, the concept of happiness is wrong in our life. We feel that being able to eat at five star joints, being able to travel first class, being able to access any kind of pleasures unlimitedly is happiness. Ultimately we land into troubles. We get diabetes and hence the sweets we have to avoid; we get high blood pressure, so now once-in-a–week-samosa also is banned; we get heart ailments, so no fried stuff, no siesta. The same things which we thought were pleasures or happiness, we have to abandon, many a times for whole life time. Is this real happiness? the happiness is real when it brings happiness.
Then how will one know whether the happiness he is getting is real or virtual? Simple test; one should ask oneself whether the pleasure one is indulged in is wholesome? Is it salubrious? Isn’t it simple? I will give you an example- the ice-creams at night are unwholesome. So maybe they give us temporary pleasure, but they are not bringing happiness. That means they are unhealthy. Very simple. Our grandmas told us that pray before you lunch. Isn’t it healthy? Yes, definitely. It brings concentration to the food and the cephalic phase of digestion is already taking its course.
To finish up, let me give emphasis on the observing oneself, looking inside oneself rather than depending on the outer tests which can be biased owing to multiple human and non-human factors involved. The simple questionnaire given above can very well describe one’s health and pinpoint specific areas which need correction citing probable threats. So , it is a kind of SWOT analysis.
Ultimately, what is the take away message?
Leave everything behind and start observing your health.
- dr. Pranav Bhagwat