Good Health is Best Gift to Ourselves

(Written for WA Business News and ‘The West Australian’ -  Christmas 2007)

Next week will see the time of many festivities and the giving of gifts, as our country celebrates Christmas 2007.

As we reflect on one of our state’s most successful business years ever and we look forward to enjoying the holiday season and the giving of gifts at Christmas, perhaps we should pause for a moment to consider giving ourselves the most important gift of all this year – the gift of good health.

The great paradox, is that whilst millions of families in the third world countries face a daily battle just to receive the most basic nutrition, many middle and upper class families in Australia are facing a new – but just as devastating- threat; that of obesity and degenerative disease caused by a lifestyle that has been just too good!

Last year a World Health Organization report showed that whilst the world has made significant progress in reducing the incidents of infectious and viral diseases, the degenerative diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer are killing people in their late forties and fifties at an alarming rate. Children are now also suffering from diseases caused by our excessive lifestyle!

Whilst most people are only too aware of the dangers of the notorious diseases such as typhoid, diphtheria and cholera, they seem unaware that more than over 143 million people around the world now suffer from diabetes, and 165 million people wake up every morning to the debilitating effects of arthritis.

Cancer now affects one in every three people by the age of 75 years, yet almost 50% of all cancers could be avoided if we took simple steps to improve our diet; exercised regularly and stopped smoking.

In a country where wealth creation is now ‘king’, it has become all too convenient to allow our doctors to assume responsibility for our health, as we enjoy the ‘good life’.

For many of us within the business community, we see these degenerative illnesses as ‘things’ that have invaded our bodies, and consequently rush to the doctor to seek scientific treatment and drugs so that we may be ‘fixed’. The reality is that we should see these illnesses as the end result of  ‘processes’ that have resulted from our lifestyles habits involving smoking, a lack of exercise, excessive stress and a poor diet. These outcomes can be changed, of course by our own actions and choices.

How often do you hear a friend complain of arthritis, or high blood pressure for example, and simply put these illnesses down to ‘getting old’? Most people are amazed to learn just how many degenerative diseases are directly related to ‘getting old’…. In fact there are probably none!

It is tragic that most of us know at least someone who has been struck down with a lifestyle-related disease at 45 or 50 years of age, leaving their families devastated and without an income. So this Christmas we can give ourselves the magnificent gift of ‘empowerment’ by reclaiming our health from the worlds crumbling health systems and the public hospital queues.

I was diagnosed with cancer in 1993 and in some respects cancer was, for me, a ‘gift’ as it forced me to question why as a then 42 year-old business executive I was struck down with not only this shocking disease, but that I also suffered with other degenerative diseases’ such as blood pressure, stress and arthritis.

During the past twelve years I have learned that by taking better care of ‘me’ I would not only ensure that my quality of life would improve but that I would also be around long enough to enjoy my retirement and to watch my children grow!

So as you look forward to this Christmas, plan to give yourself the most important gift of all this year: Make a commitment to stop smoking, to drink a few more glasses of fresh water and add a freshly squeezed juice each day instead of more coffee; take a little exercise and laugh a lot more. In doing so you can then help your 80,000 billion cells look after you for many years to come.

Ross B. Taylor
December 2007


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