Tattva Talks: Is it time we embraced holistic health?

We all know that good food and activity form the bedrock of a healthy mind and body. Amid our global health crisis, many around the world are starting to awaken to the idea that holistic health must be a lifestyle choice, rather than a cure when it's too late. Tattva asks the question: Have we created a society where we are too apathetic to take personal responsibility, or are we too comfortable with our access to a public healthcare system that will catch us if we fall?

In a live videocast, four health and fitness experts came together to discuss whether now more than ever, we need to consider, or rather embrace, holistic health.

Fitness enthusiast Harsha Sri-Ramesh from Tattva Press was joined by Dr. Rajiv Chandegra, general practitioner, Dilan Patel, stage 4 cancer survivor and founder of DNA Fitness UK, and Snehal Shah, a science journalist who recently conducted first-of-its-kind primary research into the regulation of Ayurveda in the UK.

“Holistic health is all about looking after the mind, body and soul. It's how we live day by day and interact with the environment around us,” said Dilan Patel.

Educating the masses

According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the wellness market has grown 12.8 per cent to a $4.2 trillion industry in just two years. Although it seems there has been a complete shift in attitudes towards holistic health, with a rising popularity in ancient alternative practices such as yoga and Ayurveda, there is still work to be done to create global awareness and a culture of wellness.

“Education and environment have the power to affect a cultural change and help us engrain health and wellness into our lifestyles, but what stops holistic health from becoming a widespread phenomenon ” asked Harsha Sri-Ramesh.

Despite general consensus by the panel on the need for mass awareness and myth busting of common misconceptions around health, science journalist Snehal Shah raised some pressing concerns about how difficult it is to cut through the noise and the need for a top-down approach from public health institutions.

“When we talk about education, we think about schools, but so little of what we know about the world comes from a classroom. We consume information throughout our everyday lives, from friends and family and the people around us, from our communities and environments and social media, to TV and advertising. When we subconsciously internalise this information and these ideas, we can't trace them or see the context to verify them. It seems to come from the people we trust, and so we trust it.”

Personal responsibility

Losing weight and managing the underlying health conditions which make us vulnerable to Covid-19 remain a public health priority. Faced with an extreme health crisis, the UK's National Health Service (NHS) has been actively pushing exercise and healthy eating as key components for overall wellbeing. “But why do we not have good discipline when it comes to our health ” asked Harsha Sri-Ramesh.

“It is so unfair to expect people to take the onus on themselves for their health. We talk about discipline, time, choices, but do people actually have these resources? What if someone doesn't have the time to exercise every day or the money for a gym membership? How do we count macro nutrients in our mums' daals? These aren't exceptions, these are most people's everyday lives,” said Snehal Shah.

A fair but unhealthy system

Hailed as the most important part of the UK's welfare state, the NHS was founded on the basis of clinical need, not an individual's ability to pay. This may make it a 'fair' system, but has the collectivisation of health led to a healthier nation?

“There's a difference between health and healthcare. The system currently doesn't allow for a consultant to gain a full understanding of a patient's lifestyle and the external factors which affect their health so there is always an onus on cure rather than prevention,” said Dr. Rajiv Chandegra.

Prevention over cure

GWI's findings show that the wellness industry now contributes to 5.3 per cent of global economic output, so our interaction with more intentional, integrative and holistic health is clearly becoming less episodic. “How can we get more excited and proactive about our health ” asked Harsha Sri-Ramesh.

“We can all agree that we need discipline even more in our lives now than previous generations. We can see it as a positive rather than a burden that we're putting on ourselves,” said Dr. Rajiv Chandegra.

“Look at your body as a car. If you keep it in the drive way for prolonged periods of time without turning it on, you won't be able to use it when you need it. Our bodies are machines and we either use them or lose them,” said Dilan Patel.

“10,000 steps a day, being mindful about what we put into our mouths and taking time to meditate are a good starting point.”

by Vidhu Sharma

*Tattva Press is an independent publisher with a mission to nurture aspiring authors and ideas at the frontiers of Indian culture.

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