The NHS in the UK is over burdened and just about at breaking point. Our Doctors, Nurses, and many other healthcare workers within the organisation are overworked, overstretched and exhausted. General Practice is in decline because quite frankly, who would want to do a job that has so much responsibility with such little reward. Many of our qualified Doctors are leaving to work in better and more rewarding positions abroad, and many GP’s are leaving roles within surgery to practice in other private healthcare settings.
Whilst our population are living longer with advances in modern medicine, much of this extended life is borne out in ill-health, with an ever increasing percentage of the population suffering chronic disease brought on as a side effect of western living. It is this sickness and chronic health that is causing much of this burden as people live with not just one disease, but people are living with multifactorial chronic illnesses.
Much of this chronic disease and strain on the NHS resources is as a result of the rising levels of obesity. We have evolved from a time when food was scarce and we were hunter-gathers, burning excess calories in pursuit of daily food, into a world where there is an abundance of choice, of energy rich food with very little effort required to source it. In fact, we can stay seated in our cars whilst we are handed it through the window! Choices are in front of us everywhere, not only in physical form but adverts on billboards, TV, radio, we are influenced by all kinds of different inputs. Daily lives also play a part in what choices we make, time constraints, cultural choices, peer groups, and finally of course the matter of money. So, it is clear to see that it isn’t easy for us to always make the right choices given the environmental influences and stimuli around us.
In a YouGov Poll commissioned in 2005, one in seven adults believed that they had little or no responsibility for their own health, with 25% of them blaming food and drink companies for obesity! Furthermore, two in five cited their GP as being responsible for their health, and one in nine said the Government should be responsible! Admittedly it is an old poll, but it is doubtful that much has changed.
However, isn’t it time that WE took control of our health and stopped turning to an overburdened NHS to find all of the answers for us? Change is certainly not easy, but then neither is managing insulin levels, or suffering with worn out arthritic knees due to obesity. These conditions are avoidable with simple changes, and before I get shouted at, yes that is a broad sweeping statement. There can be underlying more complicated conditions that lead to some of these chronic conditions, but in the main, I stand by the fact that many of these conditions are avoidable and improvable with some simple changes. An appointment at the GP surgery is not necessary for someone to get more fruit and veg in their diet. Agreed there are financial barriers, but it costs around £5.00 for a burger meal from a well known fast-food outlet, and with many supermarkets cutting the cost of fresh produce this can go along way. Maybe they aren’t organic but it is a step in the right direction.
We are a machine that is designed to move and a gym membership or personal trainer is not needed to do this, just get out of the door and walk. There are very simple small things that you can do that will impact and make big changes upon your health. Choose a better quality of food, preferably organic but just increasing the quantity of your daily intake would be positive upon your health. Try to choose good quality protein, grass fed wherever possible. Remember, what ever the animal has consumed by way of growth hormones and antibiotics, if they eat them then you eat them too!
Of course, there may be more to it in individuals that are already suffering with a chronic disease, and a consultation with a health professional may be prudent before starting any exercise plan, and may help you make a more targeted approach. However, preventative measures are easily applied, and even if you have started with symptoms of ill health due to poor nutrition, a consultation with a nutritional therapist may be the right route to take. Make sure that you check out their qualifications and ensure they are a member of BANT.