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Do You Feel Well? Do You Feel Good?

April 22, 2017
Plain English Version

Group of children playing in a pile of autumn leaves.

Health is mind and body. It is also the world around you.

The good in germs

 A human begins life in the womb of the mother. The world of the fetus is what the mother takes in as food, air as well as her feelings. Experts have come to believe that the more natural these things are, the better off the newborn will be.

 There is some new thinking is about germs (called microbes by scientists.). First, germs as noted in the world of the womb. Next germs in the mixture of goods the baby absorbs through breast-feeding. And then there is the baby in the home.

Homes are worlds of germs. Scientists say the more the better. If the pacifier falls on the floor, wash it off. But do not boil it to make it sterile. Exposure to the world – both inside and outside the house – helps the child’s body build resistance to illness. For example, researchers have found that asthma rates go down when children have less, not more, hygiene in their life.

So the experts are trying to convince parents that a more natural – exposed – life is better for kids.

Ideas for better lives

Others experts are looking at how the world influences the way people feel. It is all about stress. For example, a woman wants to deal with an abusing husband. She can start with the police. That will not be easy. Or, she can go to a place where they know all about abuse. The police are there. So are doctors, social workers and lawyers. That is a place where her stress is more likely to be reduced. Her world is a better place.

There is a movement. It is “Health in All Policies.” It is about stress. Take conditions such as asthma, substance abuse, sex diseases, liver problems and H.I.V. They become worse because of stress. Stress makes being poor even harder.

The new idea is to make community health a goal. How do you do that? No one knows for sure. A good way is to start thinking about how to do it. For example, making getting to the job easier. Allowing people to feel useful by tending a garden. Creating outdoor space so people can walk and meditate.

The focus on health care has always been on exercise, good eating and healthy lifestyles. All of that is vital. But how to think about people, the world they live in and how to make it positive? That is a challenge people are taking up.

Sources: The New York Times April 17, 2017, April 19, 2017

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