How to define health?

Did you ever think about what would be the most sophisticated machine ever designed? I feel it’s the human brain & then it’s hardware, the human body. Thus defining health in a simple way becomes a bit challenging as it’s too complex to simplify. Still, we shall try to define it, but before that, please watch this TED talk by a renowned Indian cardiologist & his perception of being healthy.

Your health is governed by your Environment | Prof. BM Hegde | TEDxIITHyderabad

Do you agree?

So health is a holistic concept that can be defined based on its environment. As doctors, we have always dealt with diseases. That’s the reason most of us doctors are more unhealthy than the common person.

When it comes to being healthy, it’s the daily small habits that keep us healthy. Thus being healthy is not one-time magic. It’s a continuous process that takes years to become healthy or unhealthy.

So what exactly does the environment mean?

Yes, it includes the following :


The food we eat turns to become our bodies. So it’s really important about the process by which it came to our plate from the farm. Thus we need to be more cautious about How the food was grown rather than what we eat?

The second aspect of food is How we eat our food? Which is the most neglected part. It is one of the most important life processes for a healthy life. As per many surveys, people who tend to finish their meals in less than 5 minutes tend to gain weight faster & also face digestive problems. So it’s recommended to eat mindfully, taking 10 -15 minutes per meal.

The most important aspect is the food timings as our physiology works based on circadian rhythms, which in turn regulates our hormonal balance & even sleep patterns. Its recommended to finish dinner at least 2- 3 hours before going to bed. Thus giving us good sleep, which in turn is the best recipe for weight loss. Even fat burns consistently & considerably during REM sleep which is deficient in the present Netflix societies. In addition, a study of more than 70,000 Japanese adults reported that eating dinner within 2 hrs before bedtime at least three times per week associates with a 36% increase in odds of being obese.


Sleep is one of the most neglected but most important processes to keep us healthy. As per research, even a weeks duration of inadequate sleep can make us push into the prediabetic zone. Moreover, sleep is the thing that comes to us automatically for free. Here comes the concept of CIRCADIAN RHYTHM, which plays a major role in maintaining our immune system. Sleep & circadian rhythms are intricately related.

“How to sleep better?” itself can be written into some books, but we will discuss it briefly here.

First, we need to live in houses that are well ventilated where fresh air & sunlight mimics the external environment. So temperatures need to be cooler at night & warmer during the day. As per research, individuals, when kept continuously day & night for a few months at constant temperatures, get their CIRCADIAN RHYTHM disrupted, thus creating sleep disturbances. Even getting exposed to white light from modern day lights disturbs the rhythm of sleep as our retinas are very sensitive to the blue spectrum in white light & which alters our hormonal physiology.

The second thing is the timing of food consumption before sleep also impacts sleep quality. It alters the physiology when eaten close to sleep time, altering sleep patterns.


We always think about the quality of food we eat, the water we drink, as important. Did you ever think about the importance of how we breathe?

We breathe around 14000 – 15000 times daily. Do you think is it significant?

Let’s watch this short video & then go ahead.
The correct way to breathe in:


So breathing affects the way our physiology works. For example, when we take deep, slow breaths, it kicks in the Parasympathetic System, thus relaxes & nourishes our body with enough Oxygen for body cells. In case we take rapid & shallow breaths, it kicks in the Sympathetic system initiating the flight or fight response. Our body is designed so that stress automatically changes breath patterns kicking in sympathetic, thus altering our physiology.

Rapid breathing even raises the Cortisol, Insulin mimicking the diabetes state. Thus if it happens chronically leads to diabetes & Obesity. Is it really important to know about the most important life process which takes place around 15000 times a day? Shall we learn to breathe slowly & deeply?


What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it’s fame and money, you’re not alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you’re mistaken. As the director of the 75-year-old study on adult development at Harvard, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness and satisfaction. In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from the study and some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a fulfilling, long life.

What makes a good life? Lessons from the longest study on happiness | Robert Waldinger

His core message is to have deep, meaningful relationships which can keep us happy. Do you agree?

So finally, How can we define health? Is it too complex?

I feel it’s too simple to be missed. Our Health is a product of daily habits, not once in a lifetime transformations. It includes day to day tiny habits like living in well-ventilated homes, doing some physical exercise daily, getting enough sunlight, eating on time, sleeping on time & finally having honest, healthy & deep relationships with family & friends. Thus health is very holistic to be treated by a specialised doctor, who can help only when we get sick but not before that.

The doctor can really help a patient if he can predict the problem & prevent it as much as possible, which the ancient school of Ayurveda advocated.

There was an old saying that common sense is not a common practice.

Do you agree?

References :

1. Why we Sleep ? (Matthew Walker)
2. Breathe (Belisa Vranich)
3. Ayurveda – The science of self-healing ( Vasant Lad )
4. What doctors don’t get to study in medical school (Dr B.M Hegde)

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