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Published: Tuesday 29th of October 2013
What exactly is health? We are all familiar with this concept but struggle to define it, that’s because it is in part hard to determine a healthy person. How do you get to be healthy? The concept of a salutary person is difficult to define as there are many ways to gain health; however, the distinction between a person who’s living and a person who’s dead is obvious. Some ways to achieve good health are obvious whereas some are less apparent, but either way, we ought to become familiar with the concept of health so that we can live as best we can.
Ways of defining health have changed and seen an evolution over the years, so it really depends on the perspective you can take. From a biomedical point of view, a healthy body is one that is functioning as it is supposed to and one whose function has not been compromised and disrupted in any way, e.g. through an infectious disease. Early definitions that encompassed this biomedical point of view also began to include examples of people’s psychological and physical needs, as well as the ways they could achieve the things they want without compromise. Soon the WHO was defining health as linking it to social and mental well-being, not only having the absence of diseases and infections. Eventually, explanations of health have come to include all of these things, plus also the abilities to fulfill people’s everyday lives, so there is a whole lot more to health than staying alive. By the 21st century, the concept of health was broad and expanded on from the much traditional aspect that focused on prevention of disease as a determinant of health. Health as a concept was now based largely on both medical expertise and self-assessment, e.g. people could ask themselves things such as “am I achieving my goals as best I can?” People could also feel healthy, despite having chronic illnesses which would be a more positive outlook to have and would serve them well.
How can society determine a healthy individual? It is clear that health is not only based upon physical attributes but also due to mental ones too, so some of the main determinants of health include one’s social and economic situation, individual personality attributes, genes, and behaviors as well as the physical environment around an individual. People have recognized that a healthy life is maintained through the application of scientific methods and medicine as well as the lifestyle choices of societies and individual being. According to the World Health Organization, many popular determinants of people’s health have been their income, education, social environment, physical environment, coping skills, personal health practices, genetic makeup and the amount of social support available around them. Determinants of health are largely based on three categories: lifestyle, environment and biomedical aspects.
As with determinants of good health, there are many determinants of ill health too. There are numerous health issues all over the world but the most common is the disease. People who have the most debilitating diseases or chronic illnesses are the ones that are often the most unhealthy, e.g. cardiovascular diseases, diabetes or cancer. Other contact bases infections are also indicators of poor health, e.g. AIDS and Malaria.
Another huge problem for health is malnutrition, especially amongst children and younger groups, as well as bodily injuries such as broken bones and burns – all of these, can vastly reduce a person’s quality of life. People can also take poor choices that reduce their quality of life – poor lifestyle choices are often determinants of ill health, e.g. excessive alcohol consumption or cigarette smoking.
If one is physically healthy but they cannot realize their own abilities, cope with stress, work in a productive manner or be able to achieve their own goals, then they aren’t likely to have sufficient mental health capacity. Mental health is just as important as the physical side and deserves the same level of care and attention.
It is sometimes difficult to define mental health with ease or define its problems but a mental illness is generally deemed to affect cognitive, behavioral and emotional states, interfering with a person’s productivity and lifestyle. Often, being mentally ill can severely impair a person’s functioning as well as those of the community around them. In rare and unfortunate cases, severe mental illness of one person can be the death of many others, e.g. suicide bombings or high school gun rampages.
Mental health disorders are quite common, with large amounts of people suffering from diseases such as ADHD, depression, anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, PTSD, and autism. Often people can experience these conditions because of pressures from their society and social environment, often the most common causes are biological factors, life experiences (e.g. abuse and trauma) and family history. Fortunately, there are a lot of different ways that mental health problems can be treated and prevented, e.g. through therapy and community health programs.
It is often difficult to define with accuracy about how exactly a person is to live to be healthy, but there are still some pretty obvious ideas that can be taken on board to live a healthy life.
Diet is very important if you are trying to maintain your physical health. Besides from refraining to consume poisonous substances, a healthy and balanced diet includes a variety of food groups (carbohydrates, protein, fats, sugars vitamins and minerals, nutrients) as well as ample hydration so that your body is able to function as best it can. Eating some certain kinds of healthy foods, e.g. those that have high levels of antioxidants can help prevent unwanted diseases too. Making the right choices about what to eat is important to prevent unwanted health problems as well as maintain a healthy weight.
It is also important that one makes sure they incorporate some exercise into their lives to go along with their diet. Physical exercise not only increases endorphins in the brain that lead to good psychological health, it also strengthens muscles and makes the cardiovascular system function like clockwork. Physical exercise needs to be carried out on a daily basis and according to the World Health Organization; exercise can be carried out to build upon strength, endurance, flexibility, and balance.
A healthy person is also one that gets enough sleep for their age. Newborns and children need plenty of sleep for growth and development, but adults will need slightly less. It is all relative to age, but sleep deprivation has been shown to increase illnesses as well as reduce the ability to recover from illnesses. Studies by the International Agency for Research on Cancer have also found that sleep depriving lifestyle choices like engaging in long shifts at work can have a carcinogenic function and lead to a significant likelihood of developing cancer. Individuals who get the proper amount of sleep tend to live longer and have significantly fewer health problems overall.
Health science is a fairly new discipline that encompasses two essential ideas, developing a better understanding of health-related issues and developing better knowledge to improve our prevention of diseases and better cures. Both of these ideas require a holistic approach to many different disciplines such as biology, pharmacology and applied sciences such as biomedical engineering. Any interventions and activities carried out to improve health based on health science are provided by practitioners in various professional disciplines but can also be provided by companies and schools.
Public health is concerned about threats to the wellness of a community or population, varying on different scales of what constitutes the “public”, from the scale of a small group of people to the large scale of a continent. Public health’s issues encompass many sub-fields and work is often multidisciplinary, operating with and alongside numerous professionals and experts in their fields. Public health interventions serve to manage and prevent injury, disease and various other things that would constitute to be unhealthy. An overall aim of public health professionals is that health problems are prevented from happening or re-occurring. An example of this on a small scale could be handing out flu awareness leaflets in an office whereas, on a larger scale, condoms could be handed out to uneducated people in less economically developed countries to help prevent the spread or emergence of HIV and AIDS. There can be many other ways for public health officials to work on community goals, e.g. by providing adequate education to empower people to sufficiently make their own choices as best they can.
The disparity of wealth, the socioeconomic status around the world and political problems between countries need to be taken into account in public health provision. There is no use, for instance, of donating thousands of tons of medical supplies to a country if their corrupt government will just sell these on instead of distributing them to those that need it. Often, a major issue is the access available for people to healthcare systems and the emergency response available to a community.
Public health has had a positive impact on the world and will continue to do so if sufficient policies are developed and frameworks are regulated to ensure that officials can do their work the best they can.
Health is a concept that spans across many different topics. There are numerous ways that a person can be defined as healthy and unhealthy, encompassing physical and mental aspects. The best ways of staying healthy are to eat well, exercise, get ample sleep and engage in positive and fulfilling mentally engaging activities. Any global efforts to increase health must follow structured frameworks and an increase in the education of ordinary people.