What factors determine how healthy we are?
Posted on July 01 2020,
Optimal health isn't always easy to achieve. It turns out that one's health is determined by many different elements (some out of our control). These factors stretch far beyond whether or not we can be motivated to go to the gym or eat well.
WHAT FACTORS DETERMINE HOW HEALTHY WE ARE?
Adverse Childhood Events (ACE)
It turns out that difficulties in our childhood can influence how healthy we are into adulthood. The more adverse childhood events an individual experiences in their younger years, the higher their risk for poor health outcomes such as mental illness, drug/alcohol abuse, diabetes, cancer and heart attacks (Hughes et al. 2017).
Genetic & Epigenetic Predispositions
Our DNA sequence accounts for 10% of our health status. Up to 90% of our health status is influenced by our environment i.e. things we expose ourselves to in life have the power to influence our gene expression (Kelly & Shull 2019). These factors can include nutrition, level of physical activity and tobacco to name a few. For example, studies show that exposure to cigarette smoke can make breathing airway cells more susceptible to genetic mutations known to cause lung cancers.
Your local environmental conditions also influence your health status. Things such as air pollution, second-hand smoke, water supply, food deserts, war, pandemics, famine and earthquakes can play a huge part in how healthy and well you are (Kelly and Shull 2019).
Lower socioeconomic status correlates with poorer health. What’s more, people in racial minorities have less access to health interventions (Elmore et al. 2013).
People with higher education have a better ability obtain, read, understand and use healthcare information in order to make better health decisions and follow instructions. Those with low 'health literacy' have increased hospital admissions and visit their GP more often (Vernon et al. 2007).
It's important for someone like me, other health & fitness professionals AND you, to understand the these determinants. Recognising these with help us to make positive change in ourselves and our communities.