I was having a phone call with a good friend the other day. We were talking about many subjects, but the general theme was health. He asked how I would define overall health – how healthy am I – or, how healthy is anyone?
It got me to thinking about it – how do I define overall health? Obviously, if I pass a medical physical, I could consider myself healthy. But is that all there is to it?
I had a Navy flight physical every year for 31 years and passed every one of them. I also had a dental check-up with each flight physical and twice a year physical fitness test.
When I go to my doctor for my annual physical, it does not include a dental check-up or physical fitness testing. I must go to my dentist for an assessment of my dental health. I am on my own initiative to determine my personal physical fitness. I do not believe an annual general medical physical is the definitive answer for overall health.
I go to my dermatologist every four months to get screened for any new actinic keratoses or any potential skin cancers. I had two surgeries this year to remove skin cancers from my right hand. My regular physician does not examine me for pre-cancers for which I have a predisposition. This is another indication that a regular medical physical is not the perfect indicator for overall health.
I add several blood tests to my physical each year that my doctor does not specify – highly sensitive C-reactive Protein, homocysteine level, vitamin D3, and occasionally one or two more. The normal panel of blood tests ordered by my physician is not totally indicative of overall health.
I am not asked to do flexibility tests during any physical – as I did in my early Navy flight physicals. Flexibility is an indicator of total health, yet it is not checked unless you have something wrong and complain about it. Emotional health is not usually checked either. I am sure there are a few other things that could be checked that I cannot think of at this moment.
The Navy and other military services require a semi-annual test for physical strength and endurance – push-ups, sit-ups, and a 1.5-mile run. I passed every one of those but always wondered why the run in the Navy was limited to 1.5 miles. Most people can push their limits for fifteen minutes and pass that test without much effort.
If I had designed that test, I would have set it up to run for one hour and measure the distance run rather than set an arbitrary short distance – but I am not in charge of setting those standards. I would have added pull-ups to the annual tests also – I believe the Marine Corps does have that requirement.
Blood tests, dental, emotional, strength, endurance, and other things determine some aspect of overall physical health. If you never schedule an annual medical physical, how do you really know how healthy you are? You do not!
You might feel good, but you cannot feel blood pressure, cancer, or heart disease. Half the people with heart disease die without ever having any symptoms. I was on a Zoom meeting recently. One of the participants had some recent chest pains. He went to the doctor for the first time in eight years. He probably thought he was in good health and did not need to get a check-up annually.
If you are taking any prescription medicines, can you really say that you are 100% healthy? I have been fortunate that I have never had to take any prescription drugs except for a specific
time to address a temporary malady.
I believe prescription medicines add more problems than they solve with the side effects of each drug. Sometimes you never have a symptom but read the fine print to see what could be going on without you feeling it.
What about supplementation? Fifty to one hundred years ago our fruits and vegetables were loaded with vitamins and minerals. Over time, a lot of those nutrients have been removed from our foodstuffs to make them look better and last longer in the logistics process from the farm to the grocery.
Eating green vegetables with your meals does not give you the same nutrient value that your grandparents enjoyed. Supplementation is needed to some degree for a lot of what we need – this is my belief. A deficiency in vitamin D3 or B12 can cause lots of problems. We live in a world of nutrient deficiency and supplementation is a good, effective way to remedy those deficiencies.
Unless a testing protocol is established to test many aspects of your physical and mental health, I do not think that one test fits all to determine how healthy you might be. I believe you must decide what is important to be tested and have it tested so you know where you stand.
Sometimes your insurance will pay for these tests. If you really want to know how healthy you are, you will have to foot the bill for the remaining tests. Some tests can be done annually and others less often – based on your assessment.
F. M. ‘Red’ O’Laughlin, III, is a researcher, author, and public speaker. He speaks on health and wellness, aging, personal growth, and motivation. Red states often that, “If you treat symptoms, you will always treat symptoms. You must treat the cause of a problem to correct it.” I research what happens at the cellular level in the human body, biochemically speaking. I look for cause and effect relationships. I identify the causes of health problems. I write and speak about those causes and the potential options for correcting those problems.