Health is the state of being bodily and mentally vigorous and free from disease. To maintain this a particular level must be sustained to keep it in a proper or good condition.(1) A healthy body is an organism that is working to its optimal capacity and functionality, so all its systems are working perfectly and in harmony.(1) Homeostasis is the scientific term given to how a system regulates its internal environment and tends to sustain stability,(2) this coupled with external factors such as diet, exercise, mental health and illness are crucial in maintaining a healthy body.
The most commonly used method to define a body’s health is the body mass index (BMI), The BMI is an equation of weight divided by height.(3) However this method does not determine the percentage of fat and therefore does not give the complete picture of the body’s health. It is therefore vital to have a measure of muscle to fat ratio and other key elements such as, diet, mental health, fitness and age when determining the overall health of a body.
Having a healthy body can mean simply not being ill, as health can be taken so much for granted and only considered when illness starts interfering with people’s everyday lives.(4)
For those who are born healthy, it is the choice’s that are made throughout life that will determine the standard of health. (4) As people’s bodies vary between individuals it is hard to perceive which is healthy, but just to look at a person you can usually see whether they are not in good health; for example, you can tell an obese person due to their increased weight and body mass.
The same can be said for a person with anorexia as they will be chronically thin.(6) A person’s skin is another major indicator when detecting a person health as the skin is linked to many organs in the body and facilitates the elimination of certain wastes. (3) If organs in the body struggle to get rid of waste then this shows up on the skin as a rash.(3) In addition it also shows a negative response to stress or to lack of vitamins (A, C, & E), Minerals (zinc) and other dietary essentials. (1)
The key to leading and promoting a health life is a balanced diet, exercise and making sensible decisions around pathogens and toxins. (6)
A balanced diet should consist of a variety of foods including plenty of fruit, vegetables, starchy foods and some protein-rich foods (containing the essential amino acids) such as meat and fish. It is also important to ensure the intake of all the essential vitamins and minerals especially if your diet of choice is vegetarian or vegan (B12 supplement is required). (7) It should also be low in fat (especially saturated fat) salt and sugar. The problems with saturated fatty foods such as fast foods are they increase the amount of cholesterol in the body. (7) Cholesterol is a lipid, mostly made by the liver and is vital for the normal functioning of the body but an excess amount leads to health concerns such as heart conditions, obesity, diabetes and even cancers.(7) Other fats such as omega 3 (unsaturated fatty acids) are vital for cognitive function and the nervous system, it is instrumental in ensuring a high enough absorption level of fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, needed for resistance against infection.(5) They also promote healthy skin, eyes, heart, and circulation, blood clotting and strong bones.(7)
Exercise is important because even if a person has a balanced diet they may still gain weight. It is a simple equation of calories in, versus calories out. (3) Exercise improves the body’s strength and builds muscles, this improves the basal metabolic rate and in turn will increase the amount of calories a body burns when resting. (8) Exercise also improves heart rate by pumping blood around the body faster; this process improves the circulation and will deter cardiovascular diseases and as the heart is a muscle it is necessary to keep it strong, especially as a person ages.(8)
Mental health can be improved with exercise because of the endorphins that are released in the brain thus giving a person a positive boost. In addition, relaxation, emotional well-being, problem solving, and coping with life challenges are essential in maintaining good mental health. (6)
Poor sleep can lead to some health problems as serious as diabetes, heart disease and obesity; also minor ailments are headaches, sore joints, irritable bowel syndrome, constant drowsiness and decreased cognition, so getting enough sleep every night is critical to maintaining a healthy body. (9)
For a person to maintain health it is advised to do things but in moderation, (4) like salt for example, every cell needs it to function but in excess it causes high blood pressure which can lead to heart attacks, strokes and kidney disease. (5)
A toxin which increases the risk of various chronic diseases, such as heart disease or cirrhosis, is alcohol.(11) It is an addictive psychoactive drug that causes a change in perception, mood, consciousness, cognition, and behaviour.(10) In moderation can cause minor health conditions like bad breath, insomnia, weight gain and black outs.(11) If abused heavily can cause psychological problems like depression and can increase violent and abusive behaviour.(10) Internally it works directly on the central nervous system, impairing brain function and over time, excessive alcohol consumption can destroy brain cells, resulting in various degrees of brain damage. (12)
Smoking cigarettes can cause many problems such as mouth cancer, lung cancer, cardiovascular disease and premature death.(13) This is due to the poisonous toxins in cigarettes; they include nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide, with nicotine as the addictive ingredient.(10) Smoking this cocktail of poisons can cause cells in the body to stop working correctly and so lead to an increase in disease and death.(14) In 2008, smoking caused 83,900 deaths in England alone.(13) Thankfully the legislation has changed and people may no longer smoke in enclosed public places (as of the 1 July 2007) saving the non smokers from breathing in second hand smoke.(13)
To summarize; the main contributing factors to maintaining a healthy body is a balance of nutrition in relation to energy output. Also the different choices that a person will make throughout their life can be detrimental to whether they live a healthy lifestyle, so eating a healthy diet and having regular exercise whilst refraining from consuming poisonous toxins like cigarettes and alcohol will help a person to maintain a healthy body.
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