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Whose job is it to keep you from getting sick?

Oh dear…were banging the ‘personal responsibility’ drum again! Feels like déjà vu…

A while back I asked ‘what saves the most lives - fire fighters or smoke alarms?

Let’s revisit this topic, and dig just a little deeper. It seems to me that in many, perhaps most, areas we grasp the idea that prevention is better than cure. We fit smoke alarms to our homes, we buy soft furnishings treated with fire retardant, we teach our kids not to play with matches, we all do our best not to leave candles unattended and so on. The UK Fire Service spends a good chunk of it’s budget on “undertaking preventative activities to reduce the risks of fire; and carrying out safety inspections of business premises” to prevent fires happening in the first place.

The UK Police service spends time and money on crime prevention, community policing and public safety. The HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has become a standard part of doing business in our country, and together with RoSPA (Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents) these organisations do good work to reduce injuries and accidents in the UK, in businesses and homes.

And the NHS, to be fair, does promote a healthy lifestyle - they tell us to eat our 5-a-day, they offer resources and advice to help people to stop smoking, they tell the British public to drink less alcohol, and that alcohol contributes to cancer and more, they offer advice on weight loss and they promote regular exercise, clearly stating “Exercise is the miracle cure we’ve always had, but for too long we’ve neglected to take our recommended dose.”

So, our national emergency services are clearly ‘bought in’ to the idea that prevention is better than cure. I think we all are - I mean, no one buys a car and never gets it serviced, never has the tyres replaced, never tops up the windscreen wash, never has new brake pads put in, never puts fuel in it. No one does that. After a few days, weeks, months or years, what use would that car be if you never looked after it, never did any maintenance? Of course, it would be useless.

As a society, we get it, this idea that we have to do maintenance on something to keep it running well - worn tyres and worn brakes are a recipe for an early grave should you be required to make an emergency stop in wet weather…yet obesity, a lack of fitness, insulin resistance and high blood pressure are a recipe for an early grave too, and yet so many people will pay to get their car serviced every year, but they never commit to that same level of maintenance for themselves.

Whose job is it to keep us from getting sick in the first place?

RoSPA and the HSE do their best to give us safety advice and to ensure our work places and public spaces are safe, but ultimately is it RoSPA’s fault if I drive too fast on poor tyres in wet weather and I have an accident? No, of course not. That would be my fault.

And so the NHS tell us to maintain a healthy body weight, they tell us to stop smoking, to drink less alcohol, to exercise regularly and to eat a healthy diet - but if we choose not to do those things and then we wind up obese, with insulin resistance, and high blood pressure, with heart disease and cancer developing inside us, well then whose fault is that?

If driving on bald tyres with poor brakes is your own fault…surely failing to exercise, drinking too much and eating a poor diet, and winding up in poor health as a result, is your own fault too?

I spend a good deal of my time promoting personal responsibility. At the end of the day, it doesn’t make me hugely popular, but the truth is that our own health outcomes, good and bad, to a great extent, are our own choice. Some accidents happen and that’s just damned bad luck. Some heinous ill health happens that is beyond anyone’s control…a child with cancer, a worker was accidentally exposed to a pollutant, someone picked up a nasty tropical virus on holiday. These things are horrible, and they are just shitty bad luck, they are not that person’s fault. I truly think we should all be grateful we have the wonderful people at the NHS to help us when these things present themselves in our lives.

Thankfully, most days I am not that unfortunate, I enjoy excellent good health. I am working every day to proactively look after my own health outcomes. Every day I am eating well, exercising, not smoking, not drinking and not taking drugs. Every day I eat my vegetables, I eat my oily fish, I drink plenty of water and make time to workout. I take time to learn about healthy living and healthy ageing, I read up on cancer prevention, heart disease prevention and how not to develop other diseases.

I take, and accept, full responsibility for my own health outcomes.

What about you?

Are you doing all you can to prevent ill health in the first place? The Mother Nature’s Diet lifestyle is designed to be easy, sustainable and enjoyable, and it incorporates the best practices identified by research for living a preventive medicine lifestyle. Mother Nature’s Diet is for everyone, all the answers are there in the 12 Core Principles - are you following this advice and looking after yourself the best that you can?

To your good health!

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