What is ‘Healthy’ and ‘Unhealthy’?

Ever since being a fat kid (hot pocket diet as a child), I have always been curious about physical exercise, diet, and health.

But when people talk about “health” — things/foods/lifestyles which are “healthy” versus “unhealthy” — what do people really mean to say?

Health‘ as a modern notion.

I honestly haven’t been able to find an ample definition for the notion of ‘health’.

For example, when people are talking about “health” — talking about “healthy” versus “unhealthy” — are they talking about…

  1. Health as bodily fat percentage?
  2. Health as your life expectancy?
  3. Health as your everyday physical energy/vigor?
  4. Health as your BMI (body mass index) compared to the rest of the population?

I have no idea– but my critique about health is this:

Health is generally a moralistic critique.

For example, everyone loves to tell you NOT to do something because it is ‘unhealthy’ — because it conflicts with their world-view.

Be skeptical of the critiques of others

For example, when people say that eating a lot of meat is ‘unhealthy’, are they telling you this because they genuinely care for your health and want you to maximize your personal lifespan? Or because they are anti-meat eating?

Or when someone tells you that drinking a lot of coffee is ‘unhealthy’, is it because they don’t like drinking coffee, and thus they don’t think you should drink “too much” coffee?

Obvious things

I think it is obvious to say that injecting yourself with lots of heroin is “bad” for you, as it gives you a high likelihood of death. Similarly, doing certain “hard drugs” seem to be “unhealthy” because an overdose can actually lead to death.

Are we trying to maximize our own personal lifespan?

Let us assume the maximum human lifespan is around 120 years. Is the point of ‘heath’ to ensure the highest potential for you to live those 120 years?

Healthcare (society)

The practical reason why the state/society wants you to be ‘healthy’ is because you have an effect on the state-wide healthcare system.

For example, let us assume that I drink 10 diet cokes a day, and subsist mostly on Twinkies, white bread, cheeseburgers, organic potato chips, and cheesecake. I will probably have a higher risk of getting a heart attack, and if I get admitted to the hospital for a (triple) bypass surgery, this will cost the state a lot of money (and be taxing on the healthcare system).

Define health for yourself

For myself, I want to feel the maximum amount of physical and mental vigor/energy everyday. To me, that is my definition of ‘health’.

I want the supreme “healthiness” — in which I am sharp, aware, keen, and have a spirit of overflowing thriving (all day, everyday). I want a strong sense of gratitude, a strong sense of self-confidence, and a strong sense of hope/optimism for today and the future.

There is obviously no ultimate definition of health which applies to everyone, nor should there. Define health for yourself– and optimize your own personal life to maximize your own personal definition of health for yourself!


My thoughts on Ketogenic Diet >