Rethink Health - December 2010

News through the GoodHealthKeeping lens

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Wellbeing and the Big Society

The Prime Minister has just announced that our national wellbeing is to be measured from April next year. He is trying to set the quality of life alongside the quantities we already measure, such as GNP and economic growth. 

This is a great idea in principle, but it may not be in the right hands. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) will lead a debate called the National Wellbeing Project which will seek to establish the key areas that matter most to people’s wellbeing. Indicators of public health, educational attainment and equal opportunities could end up being recycled as measures of wellness. And that would be a pity.

The PM is very clear that wellbeing can be strikingly at odds with circumstances. A calamitous earthquake, for example, may destroy the quantities of life yet enhance its quality, through the emergence under pressure of real community values and actions. Snow, such as we are enjoying this week, can at the same time disrupt our routines and lighten our hearts. Out shopping today, people were much chattier than usual. Strangers  engaged me in conversation on three separate occasions!

During The Health Experiment, a network TV series we made in Northampton with Anglia TV about 10 years ago, we asked people to rate their wellbeing by marking a bar on a page, somewhere along its length. The extreme right denoted perfect wellness. Crude though this was, it did seem to tap directly into some sense of self. The values correlated closely with other improvements in diet, weight and fitness, which were measured independently. However, while these other measures surged initially then began to wane with time, general wellbeing grew exponentially. The experience of being part of the experiment did things for people, that were hard to measure otherwise but very obvious to me as presenter. I was very sorry we were too far away to nurse this community feeling on a bit further.

Wellbeing undoubtedly reduces our reliance on the Welfare State. My NHS GP drug prescribing was half the national average, based only on a positive attitude and modest alternative options. Much more could be achieved in a favourable culture, which I hope we are about to receive.

We all need to look for opportunities to contribute to The Big Society. Heaven knows we need to change the way we live and think, and what we value. The PM is thinking globally, which is a brave start. It's up to us to act locally.

Tomatoes and Bones

It may come as a surprise to learn that tomato, and in particular tinned or bottled tomato juice, deters the thinning of bones. It was news to me.  It's the lycopene, apparently - one of the many anti-oxidant materials to be found in fresh vegetation, particularly those that are vividly coloured.

There must be limits of course, determined by appetite as much as anything else. But in today's rather dirty world you can hardly eat too many anti-oxidant foods. They help you clean up pollutants and make them harmless enough to excrete. As a result several of them - perhaps all - resist or even reverse the tendency to develop cancerous changes. Likewise, they appear to deter ageing in general, of the eye for example and perhaps other special senses.

Indulge yourself richly - though not just in tomatoes. Peppers, greens, parsley, - most fruits and vegetables, indeed - deserve your attention equally.

Sudden Climate Change

We have had a look at the data we have collected from our "Local Warming" project. Many thanks to those of you who have faithfully contributed these readings, which Pamela has collated.

Our move from Louth to Newark cannot have helped things. The huge variations over the last ten years have obscured any steady trends they may contain. Neveretheless, severe weather seems to be coming to this country earlier and earlier. 

A rumour reached me this week that the Gulf Stream may actually have begun to fail this year. One scientist dates the event to 15th June, though he has been shouted down by many of his peers. Unsurprisingly there has been no official comment one way or the other. This is just the sort of news that would cause panic buying!

Dilution of the salt water from the Caribbean with fresh meltwater from the Greenland glaciers is thought capable of disrupting the flow of warm water across the surface of the Atlantic, which normally hits the British coast and keeps our climate much milder than that of countries on the same latitude, such as Canada. An Arctic British winter may, paradoxically, result in this way from global warming which is rapidly melting glaciers on the north polar land masses.

We have radically reduced our own reliance on gas and publicly generated electricity. We wear more woolens than we did. The car spends more time in our garage. The collective effect of all our personal efforts to consume less has to make a difference, eventually. Don't give up!

Bank Details

Since several of the business accounts we have used in the past are now all operated by Santander, we have decided to consolidate some of them. In particular, the account entitled Good Healthkeeping is no more.

If you need to send us a cheque for any reason, such as the fee for a hair mineral analysis, please make it out to P Mansfield.