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By Johannes Helmold
Being healthy is kind of a mysterious thing. Some people can drink alcohol all the time and smoke cigars in between and live long and relatively healthy, whereas nutrition-nut individuals always eating organic food and abstaining from habits that would be detrimental at times die early. Genetics definitely has an influence on how long we live and how well we do internally, but there are many other factors that strongly affect our health. Let us explore the general, intrinsic, and extrinsic factors that affect our well-being.
To get facts straight, the most influential factor affecting our health is our socioeconomic status (40%). After this comes, in order, health behaviors (30%), environment (10%), family genetics (10%), and finally healthcare (10%) (What Affects Our Health?). Socioeconomic status involves race, education, and poverty level. We are often born into an unhealthy status, or land into one due to economic situations. Not surprisingly, healthy habits such as exercising, good eating, and meditation reflect the second most influential factor. But it seems that many people with a low socioeconomic status cannot afford to engage in these health behaviors. Clean air, clean water, a lack of toxicity, safety, and green materials all help to maintain our health as well, reflecting the third most important factor for our health status. Maybe somewhat of a surprise, genetics is the fourth most essential factor, with predisposition playing a role. Slightly less influential is the standard of healthcare we have, which is curious to think about, since we spend enormous amounts of money on it.
Next, we will get into more detail about the intrinsic and and extrinsic factors affecting our health. Intrinsic factors involve elements within our body that can possibly create diseases and other harmful processes, whereas extrinsic factors comprise aspects of the outer world that can influence our health. The main intrinsic factors are malfunctioning body parts, hereditary diseases, hormonal diseases, and allergies. In terms of extrinsic factors, we got nutritional disorders, infections by microorganisms, habit-forming substances, and environmental pollution (Shetty, Satya). I think “habit-forming substances” needs a bit more explanation. Drinking alcohol, smoking marijuana or cigarettes, sniffing glue, or hard drugs could be classified as habit-forming substances. They are usually addictive and are intertwined with popular lifestyles.
We have been mostly delving into physical health, but mentioning mental health is also key. In fact, many specialists believe our mental and physical sides are interconnected. Let us take depression. If an individual is showing signs of depression, they have a “67% increased risk of death from heart disease” and also a “50% increased risk of death from cancer” (Mental Health Foundation). With a more severe issue like schizophrenia, people with this problem “double the risk of death from heart disease” and are “three times the risk of death from respiratory disease” (Mental Health Foundation). On a more everyday level, stress can cause a large amount of emotional, physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms. There are too many symptoms to mention here, so I will give a run down of the most essential. For emotional symptoms, we have “becoming easily agitated, frustrated, and moody, feeling overwhelmed, like you are losing control or need to take control, having difficulty relaxing and quieting your mind”; in terms of physical symptoms, we can list “low energy, headaches, upset stomach, including diarrhea, constipation, and nausea”; with cognitive symptoms, we have “constant worrying, racing thoughts, forgetfulness and disorganization”; and finally for behavioral symptoms, we can name “changes in appetite—either not eating or eating too much, procrastinating and avoiding responsibilities, increased use of alcohol, drugs, or cigarettes” (WebMD) . As you can see, stress creates a complex of damage for an individual.
What makes one person healthy and another person unhealthy involves a multitude of factors. Socioeconomic status, health behaviors, environment, genetics, and healthcare are the tip of the iceberg. There are a myriad intrinsic and extrinsic factors that affect our health, and our mental health is also interconnected with our bodily state. With socioeconomic status being the most driving factor for health, it seems doctors and other professionals related to keeping the health of people above water should focus on raising the socioeconomic status of their locales.
“What Determines Our Health.” What Affects Our Health?, www.healthdatamatters.org/health-overview.
Shetty, Satya. “What Are the Various Factors That Affect Our Health ?” 81 Words Paragraph for Kids on DANCE, www.preservearticles.com/201012261711/factors-affecting-health.html.
“Physical Health and Mental Health.” Mental Health Foundation, 20 Nov. 2017, www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/p/physical-health-and-mental-health.
“Stress Symptoms.” WebMD, WebMD, www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-symptoms-effects_of-stress-on-the-body#2.
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