The world governing body of health gave a precise and concise definition of health, but it is not without limitations, as public health practitioners have critiqued it. Some of the critics that the definition of health according to the world governing body include:
- It defines health as a state (static), but human health is never static. It depends mainly on individual perception of health (illness), medical diagnosis of health (diseases), and societal perception of health (sickness)
- The definition did not consider the environment and other factors that can decide the state of health of an individual.
Considering these two limitations of health definition by the world governing body, it has then called for in-depth research into factors that are important in an individual’s healthy life. These factors are called indicators or determinants of health. Even though health is relative as it cannot be measured as either negative or positive, the absence of a diagnosable disease in a person. Thus, health occurs on a continuum, and there are determinants in every stage of the continuum. These determinants can be studied and carefully watched over to determine the state of health of an individual and arrive at a conclusion that can state the likely occurrence of a disease or not. Doing this will enable health practitioners to ensure the absence of diseases at all levels, but this can only be possible by measuring likely parameters that affect health. These determinants include:
Though the definition of health did not state the role of the environment in achieving good health, the environment plays a vital role in determining man’s health. One of the important leading factors for good health is the environment because men are direct products of where they live. Since man coexists in a habitat with living and nonliving components, it is expected that the environment is conditioned such that it favors the existence and higher chance of survival for man and not for germs or microbes that are in the same environment as a man.
Germs need the body of man for its survival to live as hosts, but their survival is harmful to the survival of man, as it causes many various diseases. Hence, the need for man to make his environment germ free. The early history of public health has considered the importance of a healthy environment as a way of preventing diseases from happening; diseases such as Bubonic plague, cholera, and malaria even have been likened to a dirty environment where the causative agents infect man with the virus or bacterium causing the disease. Therefore, if a man can maintain a hygienic environment and get rid of germs or microbes, he can live in perfect health, void of disease.
The chemical component passed down the family line of an individual has been proven to be a contributing factor to the state of health of a person. This chemical component one inherited from his parent is known as genes. The determinant factor of the gene has explained why some diseases are positive in some people’s family history, and different diseases are present in another family history.
The hereditary component also determines the predisposing factor of some people to certain diseases. That explains why diseases such as glaucoma, high blood pressure, diabetes, and schizophrenia cannot be erased entirely from some lineage. This is because the disease trait is passed down the family line. Thus, a positive family history of the disease.
Food and diet
This is any substance ingested into the body to provide nutrients and energy (calories) for the metabolic activities of men. Food substance varies according to religion, society, and culture of men. Still, the essential thing is that food is consumed appropriately to give the desired nutrient required by man for his metabolic activities. There are six classes of food, and for any food to serve its maximum function, such food must contain the required amount of constituents across these classes of food. Then such food will be considered a balanced diet.
Certain diseases have been highlighted across various ages due to the absence of some food classes, e.g., loss of sight (night blindness) has been attached to a deficiency of Vitamin A in the food, goiter in man is due to the lack of Iodine in food. Some diseases in children are also due to the lack of certain classes of food. For instance, the deficiency of protein in children is the cause of kwashiorkor and marasmus. There are other deficiencies in food, and you can find them on the Well tech app. So, man is what he eats. This is because what man eats determines man’s health, and his health determines what he can eat in the case of diabetes.
Aside from what man ingests or inherits, the kind of lifestyle a man lives also determines his state of health. Certain lifestyles have been considered risk factors for some diseases’ occurrence and prevalence; for example, obesity due to a sedentary lifestyle as a risk factor for high blood pressure.
Lifestyles can result from the job, societal role, and culture in one’s life. For example, a sedentary lifestyle is common among bankers, traders, academicians, etc., which has been a predisposing factor for conditions such as low back pain, and cervical myelopathy. Other lifestyles such as alcoholics and smoking are risk factors for liver cirrhosis and lung disease.
In an attempt to shift people’s attention from lifestyles that are harmful to their health, experts have recommended an alternative lifestyle for all men to be involved. This alternative lifestyle is physical activity or exercise. Research has shown that physical inactivity tends to reduce the blood flow rate and poor venous drainage in the body.
To reverse this course, it is to ensure that humans actively participate in physical activity or exercise. It is not necessarily strenuous, as some people assume. But physical activities range from brisk walks, cycling, trekking, and regular gym activity. They help keep the body fit in good health through good digestion and circulation and also help build strong immunity against foreign bodies that can cause diseases.
healthy living will never occur by chance, and man has an active role in deciding his state of health. Good health goes beyond being absent from the hospital bed. Still, it entails being in the right state of mind, having the ability to do things of interest at the right time, and having a strong immunity to fight the occurrence of any foreign bodies. All these can be made feasible through constant observation of the determinants of health.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Hertfordshire. She is interested in mental health, wellness, and lifestyle.