November 16, 2006

The Second Most Important Question

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Every morning, the first thing I do is pick up a copy of The Cornell Daily Sun. After two years of reading, it finally hit me. Nowhere in The Sun is there a section about health. Sure, sometimes there are random articles about health. But there is no section or column dedicated to the topic. For such an important topic (especially for college students), I feel like The Sun needs at least something on health. That’s where I come in.

For anyone who has taken Professor Levitsky’s NS 115 class, you already know what he claims to be the second most important question in life – how can I live the healthiest life possible? Like most important questions, this question is loaded with lots of different (and sometimes contradictory) answers. Indeed, the topic of health is diverse and constantly changing. On one day coffee is bad for you, and on the next day it’s good for you. Which is it? Whatever way you look at it, one thing is for sure. Thinking about health is unavoidable. It affects absolutely everything we do. Even that guy that eats five double cheeseburgers at every meal thinks about health. This is because health is not just about eating right or getting enough exercise. In the broadest sense of the word, health is about thinking about your own well-being.

As a result, I will attempt to answer the second most important question in life by providing news, facts, and interesting tidbits related to health in all its forms:

  • Nutrition. Almost everyone has heard the saying “you are what you eat.” To a large extent, that saying is true. Food provides all the energy, nutrients, and building blocks that enable us to live. The cells in the body are constantly breaking down and rebuilding, and they use food as the building blocks and energy source to fuel the process. Because of this, the food we eat has a direct impact on how the body functions, and in turn, our well-being. What you eat can literally kill you. For example, diets high in saturated fat, trans fat, and/or cholesterol have been linked to early atherosclerosis, heart disease, and stroke. And, of course, you always have to watch out for the poisonous mushrooms!
  • Fitness. In Thursday’s edition of The Cornell Daily Sun, an article entitled “C.U. Fails to Make 25 ‘Most Fit’ List” was published. The article cited a fitness survey given to thousands of colleges by Men’s Fitness magazine. Based on the answers given and some other criteria, such as physical education requirements, Men’s Fitness ranked the top 25 fittest colleges. Cornell did not make the list. Cornell may not be the only not making the grade, however. At this very moment, America is facing an obesity epidemic. Americans are getting fatter year after year. Yes, it does relate to nutrition, but it also reflects that Americans are getting less active by the year. The advent of the computer, video games, and television drastically changed our activity level and way of life. Type II diabetes is also on the rise, and is related to obesity. The bottom line is: we all need to get out there and be active. It’s better for our well-being.
  • Mental. So much emphasis has been put on the nutritional and fitness aspects of health these days that we often forget about the arguably most important aspect of health – the mental part. It doesn’t really matter if your blood cholesterol is low if you don’t enjoy life. Likewise, you could care less about your ability to run the mile in 4 minutes if you’re unhappy. This part of health deals with things you can do to keep yourself sane. It’s about forming good relationships and spending time with family. But unlike the nutrition and fitness aspects of health, this aspect is a little less concrete. A lot of people have tried to find the key to happiness in life, but none have been successful.

These are the three broad categories that I will aim to cover while trying to answer the second most important question. There are, however, some things that don’t quite seem to fit into these categories. Sleep, for example, is a major topic in health. Don’t worry, though. I will try and cover these topics as well. As for now, I feel like I should go to sleep for my own health and well-being. After all, it is 3:30 in the morning and I plan on attending my 10:10 class tomorrow. Cheers.