Perceived wisdom, is it always entirely logical?
Posted on 13th October 2021 at 07:38
There are so many examples of perceived wisdom, in other words, things we accept without a second thought. Sometimes they fall into the category of “well everyone knows that, duh (!)”, perhaps coming from those around us or in the media. Sometimes they’re much more personal, often only making sense to the person concerned. And we can all think of examples of the latter, although it’s always easier to see them in other people, rather than ourselves…
As so often is the case, many of the things we automatically accept as true appear very different under closer scrutiny. And, not surprisingly, there are some perennial favourites we hear over and over again from Clients as well as friends and family. So, this week, we’re going to take a closer look at a few of the most popular ones.
Let’s start with an easy one, if someone is slim then they must be healthy. And, while this can be the case, it isn’t automatically so. Sometimes the person is fortunate, perhaps having a naturally fast metabolism or strong constitution. Perhaps it’s down to lifestyle choices, doing many of the “right things” so they enjoy a little more leeway with other, less positive, habits. Or it may be age related, with many – healthy (!) – older people becoming slimmer as they get older, as muscle tone and bulk are lost as part of the natural ageing process.
Slipping down the health scale, perhaps they’re a heavy drinker or smoker, both of which reduce the appetite with all too predictable results. As do many drugs, both prescription or otherwise.
Bumping down further, many ongoing or chronic illness are also associated with muscle or weight loss.
As always, it’s about looking a little closer to see what’s going on with that particular person, rather than making an all too easy – and potentially erroneous – assumption.
Which leads us neatly on the exact opposite, if someone is overweight it means they must be unhealthy. While, sadly, this is all too often the case, again, it isn’t automatically so.
An easy example of where this assumption can lead to completely the wrong conclusions is the use of the BMI, Body Mass Index to determine whether someone is overweight – or not (!). If you’ve had a medical or joined a gym in the last few years, then chances are you’ll have been given your BMI. It’s used as a quick way to measure a person’s tissue mass – bulk (!) – and so highlight excess weight or Obesity.
Unfortunately, BMI doesn’t differentiate between different types of tissue. In other words, between fat and muscle. So, those with a high muscle bulk, such as sportsmen and body builders, are classified as overweight or obese on their BMI simply because muscle weighs much more than fat. When the amount of muscle they carry is added into the equation, it’s obvious that their so called “unhealthy” weight doesn’t indicate an increased risk of health problems. Quite the reverse.
Added to this, BMI doesn’t show where the weight is being carried. For many years it’s been known that the general shape of your body is a good indicator of health problems. Whether you’re an apple, carrying excess weight round the middle, or a pear, with the weight carried further down. To find out more about BMI and a much simpler way to measure possible Obesity and it associated health risks click here.
So, once again, it’s about taking a closer look at the person themselves, particularly their daily lifestyle choices, which tend to answer the question themselves without needing to look any further…
Now, let’s move on to a more subtle one which we’re seeing increasingly often in mainstream media. It’s that an absence of symptoms means someone is healthy. In other words, if someone isn’t exhibiting the symptoms of a particular illness – or any illness – then they must be in good health.
However, in our view at least, being healthy is so much more than this. True health brings a sparkle to the eyes, an abundance of energy and enthusiasm for life. Sadly, these days, how many people could honestly say that this applies to them?
Added to this, if someone is relying on medication of some sort – whether over the counter or on prescription – to be “symptom free” can that really be described as healthy? In our view, “no.”
Why is this? For the simple reason that if the person stops taking the medication then the symptoms reappear. So, the symptoms aren’t being cured by the medication but supressed which, in turn, means that the disease process is continuing but without any external symptoms. At best, it could be said that the medication is improving their quality of life NOT restoring it. And, as always, changes to any medication should NEVER be done without consulting your GP first.
In a similar vein is that never having a Cold or Flu means someone is healthy. And, again, it may do. However, it also assumes that having the occasional acute illness, such as a Cold or Flu is a “bad thing.”
While no one likes spending a few days “under the weather”, the occasional bug is not a bad thing. To start with, it gives the Immune System a good work out and keeps it up to date with all the bugs in the environment around us. Added to this, it acts as a good detox. Think of all the snot, catarrh and mucus!
Over the years, we’ve also noticed that those with an ongoing or chronic health problem often don’t seem to be susceptible to the bugs doing the rounds. With a full Immune System response needing a huge amount of energy to mobilise, it’s almost as if they don’t have enough “spare” energy to mount one. We talked about this very different way of seeing things a few weeks’ ago, to find out more, click here.
Let’s finish with one that’s much more a case of personal perceived wisdom, although it’s the one we hear most often, in all its unique forms (!). It’s usually in response to a suggestion that, perhaps, a certain lifestyle choice – or choices (!) – may not be the best one for that particular person. Is likely to be contributing – negatively – to whatever it is they would like help with.
And it usually comes in one of two forms. Sometimes it’s along the lines that they’ve always done whatever it is and it’s never been a problem before. While this may appear to be true at the moment, it’s easy to forget that damage begins well before the first signs become apparent, leaving us blissfully unaware until it’s too late. So, turning a blind eye to whatever it is, doesn’t mean there may not be consequences further down the road.
Alternatively, they point to someone else who has done exactly the same thing without any ill effects, which means so can they. With there being so many different reasons and variables involved as to why the other person hasn’t seemed to suffer any ill effects – or, more accurately, hasn’t visibly done so to date (!) – it’s impossible to determine what the outcome is likely to be. So, really, it’s just another case of turning a blind eye and hoping for the best…
We’ve only scratched the surface of perceived wisdoms and are sure you can think of many examples of your own. If we’ve encouraged you to take a closer look, that’s great. If not, a sequel to this post may be the answer!
As always, the choice is yours.
Photograph by unknown author
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