Health and Well-Being

Health is a condition of mind and physical well-being where infirmity and illness are absent. It implies a standard of body, mind and spirit and also involves the apprehension of mortality. The concepts of health have become more complex as people have become more aware of their health and the need to take preventive measures to keep it that way.

Health is an umbrella term that encompasses different aspects of life. One can speak of the physical, emotional and mental health. Emotional well being pertains to the capacity for happiness and emotional balance. The physical is related to healthy eating habits, personal hygiene, sleep and exercise. Mental aspects include self-awareness, decision-making and ability to concentrate.

There are many factors that determine health status. These determinants can be genetic, lifestyle choices, environmental, physiological, and medical determinants. The determinants can also be combinations of these. For example, physical comorbidity, which refers to a combination of both genetic and environmental factors that result in one person having a disability or condition that may affect his or her ability to function normally in daily life, is one of the determinants of poor health status.

A person’s diet can have an impact on his or her health status. The type of food consumed and the frequency of intake can have a direct impact on health conditions. Stress, whether emotional or physical, has been considered a major determinant of health status by most studies. Although the relationship between stress and health conditions is still controversial, studies have shown that there is a strong link between stress and the prevalence of several types of chronic illnesses, such as coronary artery disease, type II diabetes and cancer. Psychological stress, which is the result of overwhelming frustration or sadness, is associated with an increased risk of psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.

An unhealthy diet and a high-stress environment are clearly linked to poor health status. In developed countries, where stress is widespread, the prevalence of chronic illness and premature death is higher than in less-stressed countries. This phenomenon could be attributed to the higher rate of chronic diseases found in countries with high levels of stress. One way to prevent this is to adopt a healthy diet and a low-fat, low-cholesterol and high-fiber diet, both of which are promoted for public health.

Poor physical health has been found to be associated with a variety of social problems, such as poor self-image, poorer work performance, and unemployment. Mental health, in turn, has been found to be associated with good health, with people displaying higher mental health (in both general and specific domains) having better health conditions and a higher quality of life. These results come from a number of studies focusing on the interdependence of the two domains. Poor physical health is associated with higher rates of mortality and disability; in turn, those with good health are more able to participate effectively in society and contribute to economic productivity. Mental health is positively associated with higher educational achievement and better employment opportunities.