Oliver's Blog

Monday 1st January 2018

Creating Health For All


Those of you living in the UK will be familiar with hearing about the crisis in the NHS – the latest being the Red Cross reporting a ‘humanitarian crisis’ in hospitals, with patients having to sleep on trolleys in corridors etc. Then this turns into a political football with Jeremy Corbyn accusing the conservative government of not giving enough money to the NHS, and Theresa May saying they have already put an extra billion into the NHS etc, etc.

Both are missing the main point here! The real issue is not that successive governments have not put enough money into the NHS, but that the ‘ wait until people become ill and then spend money on treating the illnesses’ approach to health has become prohibitively expensive. Long-term we need a change in approach to investing in health and keeping people well, and then the costs of treating illness could be reduced rather than increased.

Many within the NHS are now realising that there needs to be a massive shift to preventing illness through healthy lifestyle changes. To take just one example, NHS spending on treating diabetes and its complications currently costs around £17 billion a year, or 10% of the total NHS budget. By 2030 the number of people with diabetes is expected to double, so we will need to find an extra £17 billion just to treat this one illness. This is madness! Type 2 diabetes is an avoidable disease - of the thousands of people I have met practicing a macrobiotic way of eating and living over the last 36 years, I have not met one who has developed type 2 diabetes.

Here at the International Macrobiotic School we work hard to fulfil the macrobiotic dream of creating health and happiness for all. Macrobiotics is generally considered to have been started by George and Lima Ohsawa in the first half of the twentieth century, as a way of using the Oriental approach to having a healthy and fulfilling life available to everyone. It uses yin and yang to understand how nature and ourselves work, has some neat methods of assessing our own health by looking at the face, hands, hair and other outward signs, and a thorough knowledge of how to change our internal condition with specific changes in diet, exercises, and life style changes.

For me it has worked well, I am seldom ill, I have not had flu for 36 years, I have made two visits to a doctor, the first early on in my days of macrobiotics when I had a headache for 3 days, and a second time to confirm that the pain in my side from being punched by my martial arts instructor was from cracked ribs! Oh and I had a nurse glue together a cut above my eye after deciding to run into the wall while playing squash some time ago. So I have used NHS services for 20 or 30 minutes in 36 years. Through my macrobiotic practice I have created little drain on its resources!

Forward thinking leaders in the NHS are now actually recommending a pretty healthy diet and way of life – have a look at the latest ‘Eatwell Guide’ which you can find at www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Goodfood/Pages/the-eatwell-guide.aspx recommending a plant based wholefoods diet. With one third vegetables and fruit, one third whole grains, pasta and other starchy foods, one sixth higher protein foods especially beans and pulses and also fish and a small amount of meat, and about a tenth diary food or plant alternatives, plus a little vegetable oil. This is getting close to what macrobiotics has been recommending for decades!

If the whole nation ate according to this Eatwell Guide, there would be a dramatic reduction in illness, and lower rates of the all too common degenerative diseases of heart disease and stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis etc. What a pleasant world this would be if all these problems became rare illnesses, rather than the norm. Then we could focus on enjoying ourselves, and putting our energy into the things that deeply fulfil our happiness and spirit.

If you are looking for ways of getting healthier, getting in touch with the deeper purpose of your life, or healing present health problems, we would love to see you on one of our short courses of 1 to 5 days. If you would like to go on a journey of discovery into your own health and being, and train to guide and assist others on their path to greater health and happiness, then please consider our three year training programme. If you have questions about any of these courses do get in touch and we will be happy to help you with more information.

Wishing good health and happiness to you all,

Oliver Cowmeadow