Today is World Health Day. The World Health Organization (WHO) deemed today the day to look at health across the globe and revisit health problems plaguing our world.  First,let’s start with the definition of health – “A state of complete physical, mental and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” I will go a step further and say that health is also a clean environment, access to health care, access to healthy, clean, fresh foods, and emotional stability. Without a stable environment, and access to care and healthy food to sustain us, our health status in the world is marginalized.

The United Nations General Assembly agreed to a resolution proclaiming the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition from 2016 to 2025.  The resolution aims to trigger intensified action to end hunger and eradicate malnutrition worldwide, and ensure universal access to healthier and more sustainable diets.  Diets that nourish the body, not diminish.

We want to foster environments that nurture people, not kill them.  The analysis demonstrates that 23% of global deaths (and 26% of deaths among children under five) are due to modifiable environmental factors.

Across the globe, health has become the imperative. I know we are constantly bombarded with health advice, health statistics, and health crazes, forgetting that our health is the greatest gift and commodity we have.  Once it is compromised by disease, an accident, or emotional breakdown, we have a fight on our hands to recover.

Working in the field of health and wellness allows me to work with diverse populations in the United States and other countries. I see many people take their health for granted, especially many people living in the United States where there is access to plenty of high-fat junk foods and sugar.  Living in moderation does not cross our minds. We intake unhealthy foods daily, do not exercise, smoke, and drink heavily; and our stress levels are through the roof, which keeps us on a continuum of physical and mental chaos.

This year, the World Health Organization is calling us to action to stop the rise of diabetes which is affecting world health.  The number of people living with diabetes has nearly quadrupled since 1980 to 422 million adults, with most living in developing countries.  There is a need to prioritize prevention and treatment for diabetes, and prevention begins with healthy lifestyle habits, which starts with healthy choices.

Remember, prevention begins before diagnosing a disease.  When one goes to the doctor and participates in biometric screenings (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose testing), one has moved into the realm of diagnosing diseases.  Prevention starts earlier with eating fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish, drinking plenty of water, daily exercise, and stress reduction. Prevention happens on the front end, not the back.

From the United States to Brazil to Thailand, diabetes is one of those chronic diseases that is now wreaking havoc on individuals, families, and global healthcare systems.

We must begin to operate in healthy environments to reduce chronic disease risk factors. The WHO endorses just that by promoting physical activity, healthy diets, and strengthening national capacities to help people with diabetes receive treatment they need to manage their conditions.

“If we are to make any headway in halting the rise in diabetes, we need to rethink our daily lives: to eat healthily, be physically active, and avoid excessive weight gain,” says Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General. “Even in the poorest settings, governments must ensure that people are able to make these healthy choices and that health systems are able to diagnose and treat people with diabetes.”

Diabetes is a chronic, progressive, non-communicable disease (NCD) characterized by elevated levels of blood glucose (blood sugar).  It occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough of the insulin hormone, which regulates blood sugar, or when the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. It causes blindness, loss of limbs, cardiovascular disease, nerve damage (neuropathy), kidney damage (nephropathy), eye damage (retinopathy), food damage, skin conditions, and Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

Millions of cases of diabetes are brought on because of diet driven obesity, which then drives other chronic diseases.  Living healthfully is a choice. A choice to choose feeling good and living with quality versus one of just existing.

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