The Meaning of Health and Wellness and Why It Is Important For Us
Meaning of Health and Wellness
Take charge of your health and be on the path to wellness. Health and wellness mean the ability to live life fully with vitality and meaning. Wellness is optimal health and vitality, encompassing physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, interpersonal and social, and environmental well-being (Fahel, Insel & Roth, 2007). Prevention is always better than cure. People now have a greater awareness about their own health and about taking care of their bodies.
We can all make lifestyle choices that can minimise the risks for chronic diseases such as diabetes and heart diseases. Smoking is one of the leading preventable causes of death and it is followed by poor diet and inactivity. We can choose to follow a healthy lifestyle that would increase the quality and years to our lives.
A lifestyle based on good choices and healthy behaviors maximises the quality of life. It helps people avoid diseases, remain strong and fit and maintain their physical and mental health as long as they live.
Nutrition as a Healthy Choice
One of the choices for holistic health and wellness is proper nutrition. The food choices you make will significantly influence your health throughout your life. Choosing a healthy diet helps to support maximum fitness and to protect against lifestyle diseases. You have total control over your diet so you need to choose foods wisely to ensure maximum health.
The body requires protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and water. A diet containing adequate amounts of all essential nutrients is vital because various nutrients provide energy, build and maintain body tissues and regulate body functions. Below is a table with the six classes of essential nutrients.
The Six Classes of Essential Nutrients
Form important parts of muscles, bone, blood, enzymes, some hormones; repair tissues, help in growth; supply energy
meat, fish, poultry, eggs, milk products, legumes, nuts
Suply energy to cells in brain, nervous system, and blood; supply energy to muscles during exercise
breads and cereals, fruits, vegetables, milk
Supply energy; insulate, support and cushion organs; provide medium for absorption of fat-soluble vitamins
animal foods, grain, nuts, seeds, fish, vegetables
Initiate or speed up specific chemical reactions within cells
abundant in fruits, vegetables, grains and also in meat and dairy products
Help regulate body functions; aid in growth and maintenance of body tissues
found in most food groups
Transports chemicals; regulates temperature; removes waste products
fruits, vegetables and liquids (preferably water)
Healthy eating enhances our ability to enjoy life to the fullest by improving overall wellness, both physical and mental. Choosing a healthy diet also helps to avoid obesity. Obesity is associated with a number of disabling and potentially fatal conditions and diseases. When some people overeat, they may have feelings of guilt, anger and discouragement. Out of control eating can erode self-confidence and can lead to depression. Many people who are "overweight" are also "overfat" and the health risks they face are due to the latter condition. Managing body weight is about balancing calories consumed with calories expended in daily activities - eating a moderate diet and getting regular physical activity.
Different Types of Fat
We must be aware however of the different types of fat and the different effects on our health. Saturated and trans fatty acids raise blood levels of low-density (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, which can increase the risk of heart disease. Unsaturated fatty acids lower LDL. Monounsaturated fatty acids (olive and canola oils) may also increase levels of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, which can provide greater benefits for heart health. In order to reduce the risk of heart disease, it is important to choose unsaturated fats instead of saturated and transfats.
The best way to reduce saturated fat in the diet is to lower the intake of meat and full-fat dairy products. To lower transfats, decrease the intake of deep-fried foods and baked goods made with hydrogenated vegetable oils. It is recommended that liquid oils rather than margarine or shortening be used for cooking. Monounsaturated fatty acids, as found in avocados, most nuts and olive, canola, peanut and safflower oils, improve cholesterol levels and may help protect against some cancers.
Enjoying food and eating well is a major part of a healthy and happy life, but as everything else should be done in moderation. Eat well and remain healthy.
Please note that the source used for some of this useful information was: Fit & Well, Fahey, Insel & Roth, 2007