What is it?
According to the main health-related entity in the world, the World Health Organization, “health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not only the absence of diseases and illnesses.” Therefore, it encompasses well-being in its 3 most important spheres and also brings the reflection that it is not enough not to be sick to be considered healthy.
How to measure health?
This, although not only considered as physical health, has some biological and biochemical markers that attribute it a “good general condition”. Some of them are intrinsically related to the patient’s nutrition, such as fasting glucose, lipid profile, serum vitamin and mineral levels, platelet and blood cell count, among several other tests. In addition, there are a series of subjective and objective protocols and evaluation tools to quantify it and also evaluate the improvement of patients when they are in primary or hospital care.
What influences health?
Nowadays one thinks of the term in a very broad way and it is perceived that several spheres of human life can interfere in the “quantity” that a person or a people possesses. These are the so-called social determinants of health, which show that often the environment is lived and the life that is taken are much more relevant than the individual choices of each human being. Among the determinants, general socioeconomic, cultural and environmental conditions are understood as the major determinants of a person’s health status, such as the education they received, their work environment, unemployment, basic sanitation, social health services and their housing. The social and community networks of each individual are also important, in addition to their lifestyle. Some factors are hereditary and also interfere with well-being, such as age, gender and family history.
Is there a relationship with nutrition?
More obviously to everyone, good nutrition is an essential item for maintaining physical integrity and ensuring longevity, but today there are also associations between nutrition and mental health, which is an important part of this WHO concept. They have realized that some foods that are part of our diet can influence our genome, and there is already evidence that a good quality diet, with fresh and low foods in ultra-processed foods, can positively influence our mental health.
What is the relationship between nutrition and mental health?
Article: MARMOT, Michael et al. WHO European review of social determinants of health and the health divides. The Lancet, v. 380, n. 9846, p. 1011-1029, 2012.