What is the meaning of health?


The meaning of health has evolved over time. In keeping with the  biomedical perspective, early definitions of health focused on the theme of the body’s ability to function ; health was seen as a state of normal function that could be disrupted from time to time by disease.


Health can be defined as physical, mental, and social well-being, and as a resource for living a full life. It refers not only to the absence of disease, but the ability to recover and bounce back from illness and other problems. Factors for good health include genetics, the environment, relationships, and education.


Predominantly, the word “health” refers to a state of complete emotional and physical well-being. … Health can be defined as physical, mental, and social well-being, and as a resource for living a full life. It refers not only to the absence of disease, but the ability to recover and bounce back from illness and other problems.


An example of such a definition of health is: “a state characterized by anatomic, physiologic, and psychological integrity; ability to perform personally valued family, work, and community roles; ability to deal with physical, biological, psychological, and social stress”.


Then in 1948, in a radical departure from previous definitions, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed a definition that aimed higher: linking health to well-being, in terms of “physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.


Better health is central to human happiness and well-being. It also makes an important contribution to economic progress, as healthy populations live longer, are more productive, and save more. Many factors influence health status and a country’s ability to provide quality health services for its people.


Mental Health


Mental health is the level of psychological well-being or an absence of mental illness. It is the state of someone who is “functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioural adjustment”.


The World Health Organization   describes mental health as “a state of  well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community“.


Physical Health

Physical health is the state of being free from illness or injury. It can cover a wide range of areas including healthy diet, healthy weight, dental health, personal hygiene and sleep. Physical health is vital for overall well-being.


An important way to maintain your personal health is to have a healthy diet. A healthy diet includes a variety of plant-based and animal-based foods that provide nutrients to your body. Such nutrients give you energy and keep your body running.  Nutrients help build and strengthen bones, muscles, and tendons and also regulate body processes (i.e Blood Pressure). Water is essential for growth, reproduction and good health.  Macronutrients are consumed in relatively large quantities and include proteins, carbohydrates, and fats and fatty acids.  Micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – are consumed in relatively smaller quantities, but are essential to body processes. Making healthy food choices is important because it can lower your risk of heart disease, developing some types of  Cancer, and it will contribute to maintaining a healthy weight.


The Mediterranean Diet  is commonly associated with health-promoting effects due to the fact that it contains some bioactive compounds like phenolic compounds, isoprenoids and alkaloids.


Physical exercise enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It strengthens muscles and improves the cardiovascular system. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are four types of exercise: endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance.




Sleep is an essential component to maintaining health. In children, sleep is also vital for growth and development.  Ongoing sleep deprivation has been linked to an increased risk for some chronic health problems.  In addition, sleep deprivation has been shown to correlate with both increased susceptibility to illness and slower recovery times from illness.


In one study, people with chronic insufficient sleep, set as six hours of sleep a night or less, were found to be four times more likely to catch a cold compared to those who reported sleeping for seven hours or more a night.  Due to the role of sleep in regulating metabolism, insufficient sleep may also play a role in weight gain or, conversely, in impeding weight loss.  Additionally, in 2007, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is the cancer research agency for the World Health Organization, declared that “shift-work that involves circadian disruption is probably Carcinogenic to humans,” speaking to the dangers of long-term night-time work due to its intrusion on sleep.  In 2015, the National Sleep Foundation released updated recommendations for sleep duration requirements based on age and concluded that “Individuals who habitually sleep outside the normal range may be exhibiting signs or symptoms of serious health problems or, if done volitionally, may be compromising their health and well-being.”


Emotional health

Emotional health is an important part of overall health. People who are emotionally healthy are in control of their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. They are able to cope with life’s challenges. … Being emotionally healthy does not mean you are happy all the time. It means you are aware of your emotions.




Impact of health on intelligence


Health can affect intelligence in various ways. Conversely, intelligence can affect health. Health effects on intelligence have been described as being among the most important factors in the origins of human group differences in IQ Test scores and other measures of  cognitive ability.  Several factors can lead to significant cognitive impairment, particularly if they occur during pregnancy and childhood when the brain is growing and the  blood-brain barrier of the child is less effective. Such impairment may sometimes be permanent, sometimes be partially or wholly compensated for by later growth.


Developed nations have implemented several health policies regarding nutrients and toxins known to influence cognitive function. These include laws requiring protection of certain food products and laws establishing safe levels of pollutants (e.g. lead, mercury, and organochlorides). Comprehensive policy recommendations targeting reduction of cognitive impairment in children have been proposed.


Improvements in nutrition (often involving specific micronutrients) due to public policy changes have been implicated in IQ increases in many nations (as part of the overall Flynn Effect –  The Flynn effect is the substantial and long-sustained increase in both fluid and crystallized intelligence test scores that were measured in many parts of the world over the 20th century),  such as efforts fighting iodine deficiency.



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