Terms healthy and proper diet are often interchanged freely. In practice, there’s no difference, but I’d like to write a few words on their meanings. Up until recently I avoided the term healthy and utilized the term proper, simply because I hadn’t completely made up my mind on what the definition of health should be. I still haven’t, but sometimes you need to compromise.
Current definition provided by World Health Organization is:
„Health is a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.“ (1)
The problem I have with this definition is that it does not take into account the genetic and environmental factors, without which it’s impossible to set a reference value (optimal health). Let me explain:
A person is born with no legs, but other than that, all bodily functions are in perfect shape, along with good mental health and a socially active life. According to the definition mentioning infirmity, that person is not healthy. If you ask me if they’re healthy or unhealthy, I don’t have an answer.
Maybe an even better example:
A person is born with a genetic „error“, which, regardless of ideal life choices (nutrition, physical activity, sleep, rest…), predisposes that person for lung cancer. Is the person healthy? Is the person healthy before the cancer occurs, even if they know it will? Do they become unhealthy only after the cancer occurs? I don’t have answers to that at this point, and I don’t claim I ever will. I’m not so sure if answers should even be found.
That’s why I consider health a very hypothetical term. I don’t want to transfer its incompleteness to diet, feeling it might result in a tendency to unnecessarily perfect it, which isn’t possible.
However, considering the fact that the term healthy diet is too widespread to be avoided, and to be realistic, sounds better than its alternative, hereby I completely accept the term.
Ok, but what is healthy diet? A diet that allows for optimal health, taking into account genetic and environmental factors That says a lot, doesn’t it? More on that in the next series on Definition of a healthy diet.