AskDefine | Define unhealthy

Dictionary Definition

unhealthy adj
1 not in or exhibiting good health in body or mind; "unhealthy ulcers" [ant: healthy]
2 detrimental to health [syn: insalubrious, unhealthful]
3 not conducive to good health; "an unhealthy diet of fast foods"; "an unhealthy climate" [also: unhealthiest, unhealthier]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. characterized by, or conducive to poor health
    The villagers lived in unhealthy surroundings.
  2. sick or ill
    He was an unhealthy child.
  3. tending to corrupt
    He liked unhealthy reading material.
  4. characterized by disturbed mental health
    He had an unhealthy interest in fire.


conducive to poor health

Extensive Definition

The definition was updated in the 1986 WHO "Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion" to say health is a "resource for everyday life, not the objective of living", and "health is a positive concept emphasizing social and personal resources, as well as physical capacities.".

Aspects of Health

Physical Health

Physical fitness is good bodily health, and is the result of regular exercise, proper diet and nutrition, and proper rest for physical recovery.


A strong indicator of the health of populations is height, which is generally increased by improving nutrition and health care, and is also influenced by the standard of living and quality of life. Genetics is also a major factor in people's height. The study of human growth, its regulators, and its implications is known as Auxology.

Mental health

Mental health refers to a human individual's emotional and psychological well-being. Merriam-Webster defines mental health as "A state of emotional and psychological well-being in which an individual is able to use his or her cognitive and emotional capabilities, function in society, and meet the ordinary demands of everyday life."
According to the World Health Organization, there is no one "official" definition of mental health. Cultural differences, subjective assessments, and competing professional theories all affect how "mental health" is defined. In general, most experts agree that "mental health" and "mental illness" are not opposites. In other words, the absence of a recognized mental disorder is not necessarily an indicator of mental health.
One way to think about mental health is by looking at how effectively and successfully a person functions. Feeling capable and competent; being able to handle normal levels of stress, maintain satisfying relationships, and lead an independent life; and being able to "bounce back," or recover from difficult situations, are all signs of mental health.
Encompassing your emotional, social, and—most importantly—your mental well-being; All these aspects—emotional, physical, and social—must function together to achieve overall health.

Determinants of health

The LaLonde report suggested that there are four general determinants of health including human biology, environment, lifestyle, and healthcare services. Thus, health is maintained and improved not only through the advancement and application of health science, but also through the efforts and intelligent lifestyle choices of the individual and society.
A major environmental factor is water quality, especially for the health of infants and children in developing countries.

Health maintenance

Achieving health and remaining healthy is an active process. Effective strategies for staying healthy and improving one's health include the following elements:


Nutrition is the science that studies how what people eat affects their health and performance, such as foods or food components that cause diseases or deteriorate health (such as eating too many calories, which is a major contributing factor to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease). The field of nutrition also studies foods and dietary supplements that improve performance, promote health, and cure or prevent disease, such as eating fibrous foods to reduce the risk of colon cancer, or supplementing with vitamin C to strengthen teeth and gums and to improve the immune system.
Personal health depends partially on the social structure of one’s life. The maintenance of strong social relationships is linked to good health conditions, longevity, productivity, and a positive attitude. This is due to the fact that positive social interaction as viewed by the participant increases many chemical levels in the brain which are linked to personality and intelligence traits. Essentially this means that positive reinforcement from a third party make one more socially adept, in control, and relaxed physically and mentally, all of which are proven to effect the nervous system(UHF).
Sports nutrition
Sports nutrition focuses on how food and dietary supplements affect athletic performance (during events), improvement (from training), and recovery (after events and training). One goal of sports nutrition is to maintain glycogen levels and prevent glycogen depletion. Another is to optimize energy levels and muscle tone. An athlete's strategy for winning an event may include a schedule for the entire season of what to eat, when to eat it, and in what precise quantities (before, during, after, and between workouts and events). Participants in endurance sports such as the full-distance triathlon actually eat during their races. Sports nutrition works hand-in-hand with sports medicine.


Exercise is the performance of movements in order to develop or maintain physical fitness and overall health. It is often directed toward also honing athletic ability or skill. Frequent and regular physical exercise is an important component in the prevention of some of the diseases of affluence such as cancer, heart disease, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, obesity and back pain.
Exercises are generally grouped into three types depending on the overall effect they have on the human body:
Physical exercise is considered important for maintaining physical fitness including healthy weight; building and maintaining healthy bones, muscles, and joints; promoting physiological well-being; reducing surgical risks; and strengthening the immune system.
Proper nutrition is just as, if not more, important to health as exercise. When exercising it becomes even more important to have good diet to ensure the body has the correct ratio of macronutrients whilst providing ample micronutrients; this is to aid the body with the recovery process following strenuous exercise. When the body falls short of proper nutrition, it gets into starvation mode developed through evolution and depends onto fat content for survival. Research suggest that the production of thyroid hormones can be negatively affected by repeated bouts of dieting and calorie restriction. Proper rest and recovery is also as important to health as exercise, otherwise the body exists in a permanently injured state and will not improve or adapt adequately to the exercise.
The above two factors can be compromised by psychological compulsions (eating disorders such as exercise bulimia, anorexia, and other bulimias), misinformation, a lack of organization, or a lack of motivation. These all lead to a decreased state of health.
Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness can occur after any exercise, particularly if the body is in an unconditioned state relative to that exercise and the exercise involves repetitive eccentric contractions.


Hygiene is the practice of keeping the body clean to prevent infection and illness, and the avoidance of contact with infectious agents. Hygiene practices include bathing, brushing and flossing teeth, washing hands especially before eating, washing food before it is eaten, cleaning food preparation utensils and surfaces before and after preparing meals, and many others. This may help prevent infection and illness. By cleaning the body, dead skin cells are washed away with the germs, reducing their chance of entering the body.

Stress management

Prolonged psychological stress may negatively impact health, such as by weakening the immune system. See negative effects of the fight-or-flight response. Stress management is the application of methods to either reduce stress or increase tolerance to stress. Certain nootropics do both. Exercising to improve physical fitness, especially cardiovascular fitness, boosts the immune system and increases stress tolerance. Relaxation techniques are physical methods used to relieve stress. Examples include sexual intercourse, progressive relaxation, and fractional relaxation. Psychological methods include cognitive therapy, meditation, and positive thinking which work by reducing response to stress. Improving relevant skills and abilities builds confidence, which also reduces the stress reaction to situations where those skills are applicable. Reducing uncertainty, by increasing knowledge and experience related to stress-causing situations, has the same effect. Learning to cope with problems better, such as improving problem solving and time management skills, may also reduce stressful reaction to problems. Repeatedly facing an object of one's fears may also desensitize the fight-or-flight response with respect to that stimulus -- e.g., facing bullies may reduce fear of bullies.

Health care

Main article: Health care. See also Public health, below
Health care is the prevention, treatment, and management of illness and the preservation of mental and physical well being through the services offered by the medical, nursing, and allied health professions. According to the World Health Organization, health care embraces all the goods and services designed to promote health, including “preventive, curative and palliative interventions, whether directed to individuals or to populations”. The organized provision of such services may constitute a health care system. This can include a specific governmental organization such as the National Health Service in the UK, or a cooperation across the National Health Service and Social Services as in Shared Care.

Natural health

In alternative medicine, natural health is an eclectic self-care system of natural therapies concerned with building and restoring health and wellness via prevention and healthy lifestyles. Natural health includes breathing Buteyko Method, chiropractic, naturopathy, herbalism, homeopathy, massage therapy, relaxation techniques (e.g. Yoga, Tai Chi), accupuncture, sauna, aromatherapy, ayurveda medicine, and Kneipp therapy.

Workplace wellness programs

Workplace wellness programs are recognized by an increasingly large number of companies for their value in improving the health and well-being of their employees, and for increasing morale, loyalty, and productivity. Workplace wellness programs can include things like onsite fitness centers, health presentations, wellness newsletters, access to health coaching, tobacco cessation programs and training related to nutrition, weight and stress management. Other programs may include health risk assessments, health screenings and body mass index monitoring. Mostly overseen or not mentioned is a group of determinants of health which could be called coincidence, hazard, luck or bad luck. These factors are quite important determinants of health but difficult to calculate.

Public health

Public health is "the science and art of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organised efforts and informed choices of society, organisations, public and private, communities and individuals." It is concerned with threats to the overall health of a community based on population health analysis. The population in question can be as small as a handful of people or as large as all the inhabitants of several continents (for instance, in the case of a pandemic). Public health has many sub-fields, but is typically divided into the categories of epidemiology, biostatistics and health services. Environmental, social and behavioral health, and occupational health, are also important fields in public health.
The focus of public health intervention is to prevent rather than treat a disease through surveillance of cases and the promotion of healthy behaviors. In addition to these activities, in many cases treating a disease can be vital to preventing it in others, such as during an outbreak of an infectious disease. Vaccination programs and distribution of condoms are examples of public health measures.

Role of science in health

Health science is the branch of science focused on health, and it includes many subdisciplines. There are two approaches to health science: the study and research of the human body and health-related issues to understand how humans (and animals) function, and the application of that knowledge to improve health and to prevent and cure diseases.

Where health knowledge comes from

Health research builds primarily on the basic sciences of biology, chemistry, and physics as well as a variety of multidisciplinary fields (for example medical sociology). Some of the other primarily research-oriented fields that make exceptionally significant contributions to health science are biochemistry, epidemiology, and genetics.

Putting health knowledge to use

Applied health sciences also endeavor to better understand health, but in addition they try to directly improve it. Some of these are: biomedical engineering, biotechnology, nursing, nutrition, pharmacology, pharmacy, public health (see below), psychology, physical therapy, and medicine. The provision of services to maintain or improve people's health is referred to as health care (see above).

See also


  • WHO (1979) Health for all.
  • WHO (1980) WHO Chr., 34(2)80
  • WHO (1986) Concepts of Health Behavior Research, Reg. Health Paper No.13, SEARO, New Delhi
  • WHO (1978) Health for all.
  • UNDP, Human Development Report 1999, Oxford University Press
  • UNICEF,2001 State of world's children, 2001
  • WHO (1979) Health for all.
  • Evang, K. (1967); In health of mankind; Ciba foundation; 100th symposium, Churchill, London
  • Last, J.M (1983) A Dictionary of Epidemiology, Oxford University Press
  • Raska, K (1966), WHO Chr., 20, 315
unhealthy in Arabic: صحة
unhealthy in Bambara: Kɛnɛya
unhealthy in Bengali: স্বাস্থ্য
unhealthy in Belarusian: Здароўе
unhealthy in Bosnian: Zdravlje
unhealthy in Breton: Yec'hed
unhealthy in Bulgarian: Здраве
unhealthy in Catalan: Salut
unhealthy in Chuvash: Сывлăх
unhealthy in Czech: Zdraví
unhealthy in Danish: Sundhed
unhealthy in German: Gesundheit
unhealthy in Estonian: Tervis
unhealthy in Modern Greek (1453-): Υγεία
unhealthy in Spanish: Salud
unhealthy in Esperanto: Sano
unhealthy in Basque: Osasun
unhealthy in French: Santé
unhealthy in Friulian: Sanitât
unhealthy in Galician: Saúde
unhealthy in Hindi: स्वास्थ्य
unhealthy in Croatian: Zdravlje
unhealthy in Bishnupriya: সাউডে
unhealthy in Indonesian: Kesehatan
unhealthy in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Sanitate
unhealthy in Icelandic: Heilsa
unhealthy in Italian: Salute
unhealthy in Hebrew: בריאות
unhealthy in Kannada: ಆರೋಗ್ಯ
unhealthy in Haitian: Lasante
unhealthy in Latin: Salus
unhealthy in Latvian: Veselība
unhealthy in Lithuanian: Sveikata
unhealthy in Limburgan: Gezóndheid
unhealthy in Hungarian: Egészség
unhealthy in Macedonian: Здравје
unhealthy in Malayalam: ആരോഗ്യം
unhealthy in Malay (macrolanguage): Kesihatan
unhealthy in Dutch: Gezondheid
unhealthy in Japanese: 健康
unhealthy in Norwegian: Helse
unhealthy in Pushto: روغتيا
unhealthy in Polish: Zdrowie
unhealthy in Portuguese: Saúde
unhealthy in Romanian: Sănătate
unhealthy in Quechua: Qhali kay
unhealthy in Russian: Здоровье
unhealthy in Sicilian: Saluti
unhealthy in Simple English: Health
unhealthy in Slovak: Zdravie
unhealthy in Slovenian: Zdravje
unhealthy in Serbian: Здравље
unhealthy in Serbo-Croatian: Zdravlje
unhealthy in Finnish: Terveys
unhealthy in Swedish: Hälsa
unhealthy in Tagalog: Kalusugan
unhealthy in Thai: สุขภาพ
unhealthy in Turkish: Sağlık
unhealthy in Ukrainian: Здоров'я
unhealthy in Urdu: صحت
unhealthy in Yiddish: געזונטהייט
unhealthy in Zeeuws: Gezondeid
unhealthy in Chinese: 健康

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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