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Features of a Healthy Individual

Info: 1091 words (4 pages) Essay
Published: 19th Sep 2017 in Health

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Part A is ‘Read the ‘Nutrition and Diet’ science box (provided in the attachment, page 21) summarize the main points in your own words (approximately 100 words).

Part A

The healthy diet can be subdivided into different functional components. There are those that comprise the major elements vital for the respiratory processes, such as carbohydrates and fats, and the proteins which are largely responsible for physical bodily maintenance. Carbohydrates provide the major energy elements with simple carbohydrates being easily assimilated into the blood stream and thereby into the respiratory pathway of the cell, and the complex carbohydrates being more resistant to digestive processes and thereby providing a longer term energy substrate.

Fats also provide energy with unsaturated fats being a more healthy option than saturated ones.

Vitamins and minerals are required in milligram quantities and facilitate vital specific metabolic processes in the body. Vitamins are categorised into water and fat soluble varieties

Part B is ‘using examples from Chapter 3, (provided in the attachment chapter 3 is on page 35) describe some psychological factors that are influences on the health of the individual’ (approximately 600 words.)

Part B

The health of an individual is the sum total of many disparate processes. Some of these processes can be influenced by the behaviour of the individual and this, in turn, is capable of being determined or modified by the beliefs, emotions and cognitive state of the individual as well as the environment. (Finlay L et al. 2005). Other factors are largely immutable such as the individual’s genetic make up which is determined at birth and despite recent advances in the field of gene therapy, is largely unchangeable.

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Personal choices are subject to many internal and external factors. If one considers alcohol as an illustrative example then clearly the level of alcohol intake of an individual is ultimately a matter of personal choice, but this can be influenced by belief systems which, in turn, can be modified by social pressures and other factors in the environment. Belief systems can be overridden or modified by compulsion or craving.

A person may find that they drink alcohol when under social pressure such as being in a group when everyone else is drinking, but equally may not drink when they are alone. Alcohol has the added complicating effect that it directly affects a person’s state of mind (and therefore actions) in a variety of complex ways. It initially disinhibits a person but then, in higher doses, causes confusion and suppression of higher mental functions. Factors that were relevant in a sober state are not necessarily valid when significant amounts of alcohol have been drunk. A person may have the knowledge and belief that two drinks in an evening are sufficient for their perceived needs, but when they have had those two drinks, factors such as social pressure, a desire for tension release or relaxation, or perhaps a reduction of inhibitory thoughts, may culminate in an increased desire for more alcohol. This can be a vicious circle to the point where the toxic effects of alcohol become apparent. (Cheng A T A et al. 2004)

There is a large body of evidence which details the effects of the misuse of alcohol on the body. Heart, liver and neurological problems are the commonest sequelae. The development of such complications may prove to be an additional factor in a person’s decision to change their lifestyle. The development of obvious heart or liver disease, which impacts on an individual’s quality of life, may prove to be a catalyst in modifying their drinking habits.

Some individuals may have an “addictive personality”. While there is controversy about the actual definition of this trait, there seems little doubt that it exists. Such “addictive” people are far more likely to overindulge or persist in habitual or obsessive patterns of behaviour and drinking alcohol is an area where such patterns have been identified and observed. (Echeburua E et al. 2005)

Genetic factors have been implicated (but not proved) in this addictive personality. Genetic factors have also been positively implicated in the variation of effect that alcohol has on the body. Some people appear to have greater tolerance to the effects of alcohol than others. This, in part, is due to genetically determined variations in the ability of their bodies to metabolise alcohol. (Wall T et al. 2003)

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These are some of psychological factors which seem to be generally accepted as being relevant in considerations of alcohol. There are clearly a great many other elements, as demonstrable risk factors include a higher risk of habituation in adolescents and adult men, particularly those with a family history of alcohol addiction, unemployment, marital problems, lower educational level certain ethnicities and cultural attachments. The exact causes of these associations is not clear and is likely to be a complex interaction of many factors, but most authorities agree that psychological factors are amongst the strongest influences on the desire to take alcohol. (Hawkins J D et al. 1997)


Cheng A T A, Gau S F, Chen T H H, Chang J C, Chang Y T (2004) A 4-Year Longitudinal Study on Risk Factors for Alcoholism. Arch Gen Psychiatry, February 1, 2004; 61( 2): 184 – 191.

Echeburua E, Bravo De Medinar R, Aizpiri E (2005) ALCOHOLISM AND PERSONALITY DISORDERS: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY. Alcohol and Alcoholism 2005 40 (4): 323 – 326

Finlay, L., Pearson, C. and Ram S. (2005) Understanding

health, Milton Keynes, The Open University

Hawkins J D, Graham J W, Maguin E, Abbott R, Hill K G, Catalano R F. (1997) Exploring the effects of age of alcohol use initiation and psychosocial risk factors on subsequent alcohol misuse. J Stud Alcohol. 1997; 58 : 280 – 290

Jung J (2001) The Psychology of Alcohol and Other Drugs. A Research Perspective. Alcohol and Alcoholism Vol. 38, No. 1, pp. 98 – 99, 2003

Wall T L, Carr L G, Ehlers C L (2003) Protective Association of Genetic Variation in Alcohol Dehydrogenase With Alcohol Dependence. Am J Psychiatry 160 : 41 – 46, January 2003


26.9.08 Word count 1,023 PDG


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