What is Health?

Health refers to an overall state of physical, mental and social well-being that transcends disease or infirmity; although medical professionals tend to view health in this manner. Furthermore, it can also be seen as a resource and ability for an individual to fulfill their values and needs within society; its significance being an issue at the core of many human rights, public health and social medicine initiatives.

Hippocrates was one of the pioneering figures of Greek medicine during the classical period; his definition of health encompassed harmony between soul and body. According to him, illness resulted from disruption of natural balance in life, and could be restored with proper diet, hygiene and exercise – one of his contributions was pioneering the idea that physical well-being was essential to an enjoyable existence.

However, one major criticism of this definition is its failure to take into account that few, if any, people ever experience total physical, mental, and social wellbeing at any one time. Furthermore, this may contribute to overmedicalisation by pathologizing suboptimal health states.

Numerous authors have proposed alternative definitions of health that emphasize its holistic nature. French physician Antoine-Joseph Canguilhem’s idea of normality as the definition of health emphasizes our dependency on our environment while asserting that it’s up to each person individually to define his/her own healthy lifestyles rather than for medicine to dictate them.

Many modern definitions of health center around the idea that healthy individuals function within expected limits for their age and gender, with an ability to balance inner forces with potentialities while experiencing either satisfaction or dissatisfaction with society interactions. Thus, health is considered as an interwoven phenomena composed of multiple systems.

When writing about health, it is best to avoid using technical terms and medical jargon that will reduce readability and may confuse readers. Instead, provide either a short explanation of each concept in plain-English, or provide a link to an in-depth article that discusses them further.

As part of an effort to appeal to a broad readership, it is also vital to avoid dispensing inappropriate medical advice. This can be achieved by including a general disclaimer at the bottom of an article, or by making sure articles covering specific conditions clearly state they should not be taken as medical advice. An article about blood tests should never advise readers to seek medical care if they experience certain symptoms. Information should be presented in an individual article about each condition, for instance “When to Seek Medical Help for a Specific Symptom” or “Identify and Manage Health Concerns,” to provide readers with access to expert knowledge in making an informed decision when it comes to seeking medical help or not. This ensures that readers have all of the knowledge needed when making this important decision.

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