Health could be defined as an optimal state of the body and mind. This is the ideal definition but the word ‘health’ can also be relative at times. As a diseased state improves but has not as yet resolved, a person may consider themselves to be healthier or feel healthy compared to when the disease was at its worst. A person with a minor ailment may consider that they are healthier than a person with a serious or life-threatening disease.
Health and Homeostasis
Health should be evaluated according to the state of equilibrium in the body known as homeostasis. With homeostasis, the body’s systems are functioning optimally. This does not refer to just one organ or system but all as this contributes to the body’s functioning as a whole. Therefore health can be equated to homeostasis. In this sense, it can be assessed and monitored independently. For example urine tests will verify that the kidney and urinary tract is functioning. Blood tests can verify that other parts of the body are working independently and so on.
Health is a State of Mind
It is often argued that the state of health is a state of mind. After all, people who are not ill believe they are unwell and experience symptoms based on this belief. They may even exhibit clinical signs that can be independently verified (psychosomatic). This is more frequently seen in patients who are emotionally or mentally stressed, anxious, depressed or have other mental health problems. Conversely, people who are happier and not as stressed seem to be less likely to exhibit these imaginary states of disease with perceived symptoms (psychogenic).
Apart from the mental state contributing the perception of health, it has been noted that mental health directly contributes to the likelihood of developing certain diseases. This may also be associated with other factors in mental health diseases – eating inappropriately, lack of exercise, chronic or excessive use of prescription and the likelihood of substance abuse. All of these factors in conjunction with one’s mental state can contribute to health or disease.
Therefore mental health has become a major factor in assessing a person and the likelihood of a diseased state arising.
Health is the Way You Live
It is known that a person who can maintain a health body weight, exercise regularly, eat healthy nutritionally balanced meals and avoid the alcohol, drug or nicotine use is more likely to be healthy and stay healthy for long. All of these factors are in the control of a person from childhood or at least early adulthood. These lifestyle factors therefore determine one’s state of health in forthcoming days, weeks, months, years or even decades. Therefore it can be argues that health, apart from being maintained in the here and now, is also determined by one’s present actions and its impact on the future state of health.
Article reviewed by Dr. Greg. Last updated on April 24, 2011