Health is a condition where disease and infirmity aren’t fully present. Some common definitions have also been used over the years for various purposes. Today, the most commonly used definition is “a state of complete health wherein all the systems of the body are functioning well with appropriate nutrition.” The definition of “complete health” is so broad that it’s become the standard against which the quality of life evaluations are compared across cultures and countries. With so much focus on healthy living, it’s no wonder that some health professionals refer to the process as “holistic health” instead of just the more conventional “fit and healthy” approach.
Holistic health care, however, goes beyond “fit and healthy” and into areas not commonly associated with the term. This approach takes into account the totality of the person and considers the effects of both internal and external factors on the person. The belief is that illness is an effect of how we perceive and treat our bodies. Thus, a holistic approach to health problems helps to bring them into perspective as part of a larger picture of wellness.
Although this broader definition has been accepted across many cultures and countries, the specifics vary. For example, while the definition of chronic disease may include any of the following, it is typically limited to those diseases or conditions that affect a person for longer than six months. These include cardiovascular, respiratory, digestive, genitourinary, neurological, and infectious diseases. Other diseases that may be included under the definition of chronic illness are those that produce significant symptoms or signs during a specific time period or those that have no known cure.
The next area that the definition of health affects is what it defines as feeling good. The current definition of feeling good (which can also be called a positive state) is separate from the definition of health as a whole. According to the American College of Nutrition, “feeling good refers to the pleasant experience that enhances health.” Many experts agree with this assessment, which points to the important health benefits of eating a healthy diet and regularly exercising.
A third aspect that the definition of health relates to is mental health. The mental well-being of a person often relies on the ability to make good decisions and to enjoy a healthy lifestyle. According to the American Psychological Association, “A healthy state of mind is associated with self-esteem, confidence, and motivation, whereas a negative state of mind is related to negative emotions, feelings of depression, and decreased self-esteem.” In addition, the definition of health promotion considers the value of education and the promotion of wellness among adults, which can help prevent the spread of disease among susceptible peers.
Clearly, the definition of health is far more complex than the simple statement “I feel good”. In fact, the area of public health and wellness is vast and continues to grow as new infectious diseases are developed and as researchers look for methods of preventing and treating them. However, as any healthcare professional will tell you, prevention is the best medicine, because you don’t have to fight a disease once you’ve gotten it. However, if you do become infected with an illness, learning about the symptoms, following the proper treatment protocols, and managing the infection in a way that allows you to live a healthy life course is the best course of action for managing disease.