Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a condition of full mental, physical and social well being and not simply the absence of sickness and disease. A number of definitions have also been used over the years for medical purposes. However, when a health problem is complex, often resulting from a mixture of causes and effects, it is difficult to establish a clear definition. The best definition, therefore, is the definition put forward by WHO: “the state of healthy mind with optimum health.”
This broad statement encompasses a wide range of approaches to health and includes aspects such as life course management, prevention, screening and epidemiology. However, the specific diseases and conditions that WHO has determined to be part of the definition of “healthy mind” include those that develop over the course of a person’s life, even when healthy. These are the common age-related diseases such as osteoporosis, arthritis, cardiovascular disease, cancer and many others. Some of these are also related to factors outside of a person’s life course, for example stress and sedentary lifestyle. Prevention is also a key element in this definition. There are numerous approaches to preventing and managing diseases and conditions that arise during a person’s life course and a brief description of some of these is given below.
Heart Disease: This is the first aspect of this list that every person should understand. Most deaths in industrialized nations are due to cardiovascular disease, in particular heart disease, which can either be acute or chronic. By maintaining a regular and sufficient level of exercise, and avoiding tobacco use, increasing the amount of fish and other seafood eaten, consuming enough plant-based foods, including those with carbohydrates, and reducing the amount of saturated fat in the diet, there is a good chance that heart disease will be prevented and its risks minimized. There is a range of ways to keep your heart healthy and keep it functioning properly.
Cancer: This is a major concern in today’s world and is one of the major causes of death around the world. Although there is no cure for cancer, treatment includes chemotherapy, radiation, surgery and symptom-based care. Prevention is to a certain extent the same as maintaining a healthy weight and by being aware of and not adding to the factors that increase your risk of contracting any disease, cancer is easier to manage.
Maintaining a good health is difficult, especially in today’s world, however there is a lot that we can do to improve our general health and wellbeing. The above categories of diseases are all interrelated, so it is important to be educated about the whole picture and try to adopt a proactive stance to reduce your risk of getting any of them. It is also important to be aware of any changes in your body as a result of illness, for example if you experience an outbreak of an illness, you should know what symptoms to look out for. If you are able to detect an outbreak before it flares out of control, it is likely to have a lasting effect on your body and reduce the chances of it spreading to other parts of your body. By adopting a preventive approach to illness, you can dramatically reduce the impact that it will have on your body.
The above examples are all relevant to the definition of “defined health” and the level of its importance for all people. To sum up, healthy diet, regular exercise, balanced sleep, and avoiding alcohol and smoking are all associated with a reduction in the risk of many illnesses and a decrease in the number of people with a defined health status. This means that there are now more people living with better health than ever before in history. It is a goal of public health, through education and prevention strategies, to ensure that all of society’s health needs are met, for the future generation and into the future.