Written by Hannah Hempenstall, Wellness Writer
Ask the average Australian if they’re healthy and most will answer yes. But in the past 15 years, our intake of fruit and vegetables has declined. In fact, according to the Heart Foundation, we have a 92.9% inadequate intake of veg. 
These statistics skim the surface but what they indicate is that we’re not particularly involved in, or engaged with, our health.
In 2016-17 there were 11 million hospital admissions in Australia. That’s 31 million days of patient care.  We seem comfortable assuming ‘we’ll be right’ and then when we do end up in hospital we’re happy to leave it to the heavily pressured nurses and doctors to fix us.
Take cardiovascular disease (CVD) as an example. According to the Heart Foundation, in 2012 CVD received 11.1% ($5billion) of the budget – the largest percentage spending on any one group of diseases. 
Can we really consider ourselves healthy when (a roughly equivalent) half of the population is in hospital at some point during the year?
Preferring to believe we’re well means we don’t have to change. But being well or unwell isn’t the problem. What’s at the heart of the issue, is how we view healthcare and what we think it means.
For many it’s the thing we call on that fixes and treats us when our minds and bodies become unwell. But what if we were to look at it in a different way? By shifting our thinking a few degrees, it’s possible to create a wellbeing strategy that doesn’t wait until we’re sick.
You could say that if we ate more veg, consumed less salt and got more exercise that those heart issues would melt away. But there’s more to health than fruit and veg.
In her book, Can You Die of a Broken Heart, surgeon Dr Nikki Stamp reveals what she’s learned from performing thousands of heart surgeries. “The heart may not be at the centre of the soul of our emotions, but it is most definitely affected by them.”
What she’s inferring is that we are a body-mind system, not just a body. So how do we connect these seemingly gaping dots so that we don’t become a Heart Foundation statistic?
Unfortunately, (and probably a big part of the reason why we neglect to take action), there is no guarantee of life and no single way to ensure wellness.
What we can do however, is become educated patients.
Research shows that when we take our health into our own hands and consult with an extended healthcare team, our welfare changes for the better. 
Functional medicine – where traditional meets allopathic – is where the greatest progress is being made, and it’s rising in popularity because we’re realising the old way isn’t working. The Health Lodge in Byron Bay is pioneering the way in Australia by offering integrated wellness programs including an in-house retreat.
Taking Wellness Into Our Own Hands
The crisis care provided by hospitals is vital, and no naturopath will claim to be able to help you if you’ve just sliced your foot with the lawn mower, but if we want to get well and stay well, we need to recognise that we are a body-mind system.
Maintaining wellness as a ‘foreground perspective’ is key. Ask yourself: what are your beliefs about health? Do you think <Everyone in my family has died of cancer so I probably will too>, or perhaps it’s less obvious than that.
When we unconsciously believe that someone else will take care of us if we fall ill, we’re missing a vital opportunity that only exists when we choose to be co-creators of our wellbeing: true freedom.
The way forward is for each of us to realise <we> are the CEO of our <own> healthcare system.
Seeing practitioners as our teammates we can begin by asking them to help us facilitate optimal health, and by inviting them to share their knowledge and educate us on new ways to think, act and behave.
The Health Lodge team includes integrative doctors, naturopaths, psychologists, bodywork therapists and an onsite yoga studio. Twice a week the entire team meet to discuss their patients and how to treat them with a best practice, collaborative approach.
When patients and practitioners work together in this way, we become part of an interconnected system that benefits not just the individual, but the collective. It doesn’t mean as patients we must believe everything we’re told, it’s about learning how to decipher what’s right for us while respecting the education and knowledge of the experts.
Working this way inevitably opens our eyes to a new formula for wellness with a bonus side effect: decreasing the pressure on our national healthcare system.
So whether you’re suffering from chronic fatigue, post-natal depletion, chronic allergies or a can’t-put-your-finger-on-it sense of ill health, The Health Lodge in Byron Bay is here to help you find your personal road to wellness. Book online or for more information contact us on 6685 6445.