Full text of renowned cardiologist Prof. BM Hegde’s talk: Your Health is Governed by Your Environment at TEDxIITHyderabad conference. In this talk, Professor Hegde breaks down misconceptions about health, and leaves us questioning what health actually means.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here:
Professor B.M. Hegde – Medical Scientist, Educationist & Author
Well, knowledge advances, wrote Karl Popper way back in 1950s, not by repeating known things but by refuting false dogmas. This is how knowledge advances.
For example, it was said by Ptolemy in the second century that the sun goes around the Earth, which was followed for 500 years, up until Copernicus came and said, no the other way around. So this has been going on like this.
In medicine, and in the area of health, this myth is perpetuating for nearly 2000 years now, from the time of the reductionist science of Descartes.
What is health? There’s a definition by called Alma-Ata definition of health. Health is absence of this disease, that disease, all kinds of diseases.
If you analyze this, it’s just a business definition. Because if you want to know whether you’re healthy or not, it was go for a checkup. And that’s a big business, because you’re checking up the whole population of the world if you really can. Because if you are treating only the ill people, it’s only a few million on a given day.
So that’s not the definition. But Indian system of Ayurveda for thousands of years had a beautiful definition, which simply means, in a sense, if you have enthusiasm to work, enthusiasm to work, mark my words, and enthusiasm to be compassionate, you are healthy.
You can have a disease because all of us have disease. If I now scan all of us for a cancer cell, each one of us will have more than five to 10 cancers already inside, but they don’t become clinical cancers and kill you, they die themselves.
And this is a very important thing. So on a given day, nobody’s totally healthy, which if it means that without disease.
So this definition of health is very convenient, because you can know yourself in the morning, get up and ask: Do I want to go to work today? Or do I have to go to work? If you say… and I have… I want to go to work, you’re healthy.
Do I have to be compassionate? If you say yes, I have to be compassionate, that’s compulsion. I want to be compassionate. And if you want to be compassionate, you’re healthy again.
Now, having said this, I must tell you the myths in the area of health. When you go and see a doctor, the first thing he asked is, did your father have cancer, did the father have stroke, he had a heart attack, you get frightened. If any one of these is positive, you start dying that day, I may get a cancer, I may get a heart attack, I may get this, I may get a stroke.
All this is myth: you and your parents have nothing in common. Because you’re not come from your parents. Actually, this is the Indian thought. Children do not come… belong to parents, they come through parents. But our ancestors are not our parents but the germs.
This world for the first 2000 billion years was run by only germs. And every other planet is like that. And these are the germs which are very compassionate and they donated their DNAs to us to make the first nucleated cell called the zygote that you and I were on the first day we were made in the mother’s womb.
And that one cell has become a colony in you of 120 trillion cells, in association with thousand 200 trillion germ cells. So for every single cell of yours, that’s human cell, you have 10 germ cells, so we are germs.
And this germ theory, propagated by the western medicine to use antibiotics as medicines, is the one that is killing mankind all over the world, because of superbugs.
Now germs are our friends. And germs have brought us here, and we belong to them. So you don’t have to worry about your family history of this disease or that disease. Because there’s a big myth going on saying that your genetic analysis, your genome studies, genetic engineering, stem cell study, preserving your cord blood of your child, preserving your dead body, et cetera, et cetera, is a multi-billion dollar industry. All that is a myth.
What is true today is if you’re healthy today, you’re lucky. If you’re unhealthy today, you’re lucky. There’s nothing that you can do to preserve your health or continuous… but one thing is, health is environmental. Health is not genetic, you’re not inherited from your parents.
Health is purely environmental. In this context, we again talk of and we have been talking about the risk factors: your heart disease, your hypertension, diabetes, body weight, height, weight, mass index, your girth to the abdomen, girth of your… you know, all kinds of things we talk about.