If you, like me, are not glued to Love Island, then we seem to be in the minority. A cursory scan of the mainstream media will tell you that it has many people obsessed, not just with the quest for love of the contestants, but also with their appearance.
It’s no secret that the contestants are not selected for their need for love and companionship, or indeed their theories on the post-modern nature of a world in which intimacy is sought in the most public way imaginable.
As we all know, it comes down to how they look.
We are bombarded with messages in the media about our bodies, particularly at this time of year when we are all supposed to be ‘beach body ready’.
There are many questions that bother me when I think about this. Among them are whether Curtis is at all trustworthy and why Tommy can’t make a cup of tea. But the question that bothers me most is whether there is actually an unbreakable correlation between physical appearance and health.
Does being ‘beach body ready’ mean you are in tip top condition?
The answer, according to health professionals, is no. Not at all. The relationship seems to be a lot more complicated than you might think.
According to genetic scientists, internal health is the greatest determinant of wellbeing, based on your DNA. You may be predisposed to certain illnesses, or you may be gifted in different areas. But how you live your life will affect this.
Through a science called epigenetics, you can actually affect your gene expression through diet, exercise, sleep and other lifestyle changes. You may not look like an Adonis, but the ability to measure the changes to your capabilities and resilience will provide positive reinforcements that keep you well.
A key indicator here is biological age versus chronological age. In other words, how old does your body act compared to your actual age. Many people look good on the outside, but internally their bodies can be stressed by yo-yo dieting, over-exercise causing injury because they are predisposed to inflammation, and chronic sleep deprivation from being glued to social media.
Many people even turn to extreme methods such as fat burners and steroids to create what they consider an ideal image. Epigenetics can measure the impact that these methods are having on internal health such as DNA and organs, in the short-term and the long-term. Extreme measures such as intense dieting and weight-loss solutions can hugely impact long-term health and nutritional deficiencies for example.
The more you know about your body, the better. I took a DNA test with our health science client Muhdo and learned things I could not have possibly known before. Now I am confident my lifestyle keeps me fit and well and maximises my potential (as limited as it may be), although I continue to turn down increasingly desperate pleas for me to appear on Love Island.
The good news is that this message increasingly is getting out there in the media. There is a growing backlash against the need to have a ‘perfect’ body and the shaming of those who don’t have one. If we can take the message further and promote internal health over external health, we will be doing a lot more good for the nation’s wellbeing than pushing idealised, and for most people, unachievable body images.