The World health Organization (WHO) has located India as one of the countries that are going to report most of the lifestyle disorders in the near future. Lifestyle diseases are becoming more common these days and affecting the majority of the Indian population. The major lifestyle diseases identified in India include Heart disease, Hypertension, Obesity, Diabetes Mellitus and Cancer. The factors responsible for this drastic increase in lifestyle disorders are an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, poor sleeping patterns, smoking and increasing stress. Apart from the elderly population, our younger generation is also prone to these diseases. The most effective method to manage or prevent the progression of these diseases is through making some simple changes in the lifestyle.
Lifestyle Medicine is defined as the use of lifestyle modifications in the treatment and management of lifestyle diseases. Such changes include dietary interventions (proper nutrition), adequate exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, and a variety of other non-drug methods.
The major lifestyle diseases are explained in detail below:
According to WHO, Heart Disease is reported to be the single greatest culprit in India. This occurs due to abnormal functioning of the heart muscle and blood vessel walls. Elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the body are the major markers for heart disease. Diet full of junk foods, smoking, and drinking along with an inactive lifestyle contributes to heart disorders. Heart disease can be managed with proper diet and exercise. Exercising regularly for 30 minutes decreases the risk for the disease. Foods which are high in saturated fats, Trans fat, cholesterol and sodium have to be avoided. Diet should include foods which are rich in omega 3-fatty acids. A Mediterranean diet – which comprises of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein like fish are highly preferred. Stress is said to be one of the significant causes for heart disease. Thus stress management becomes a very important lifestyle intervention. Practicing yoga or meditation provides inner peace. Breathing exercises help in anger management. Caffeine consumption should be minimized or avoided.
The elevated blood pressure levels in the body are caused mainly due to overuse of salt in the diet, increased stress levels and obesity. Hypertensive patients are more prone to other health complications like diabetes and heart disease. A blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg is defined as hypertension. DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been particularly designed to help people reduce blood pressure. Salt restriction (to almost 5g/day), regular exercise, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and low-fat coupled with stress reduction is very important in managing hypertension. Monitoring blood pressure regularly is also an important step in the management of this disease.
India has been ranked as the second highest nation to have obese individuals which are a very significant matter of thought. Obesity is a dangerous condition which makes an individual more vulnerable to other lifestyle diseases like diabetes and heart disease. A Body Mass Index greater than 30 kg/m2 is defined as Obesity. Indians are more susceptible to this disease due to an unhealthy diet, smoking, alcohol consumption, inadequate exercise, stress and lack of sleep. Maintaining a healthy weight according to Body Mass Index (BMI) coupled with an active lifestyle helps to prevent obesity and other health issues at bay. Obese individuals should refrain from having fatty foods and replace the same with more fruits, vegetables, and fibers. Drinking plenty of fluids helps to flush out toxins from the body.
Thousands of people in India die every year because of cancer. Causes for cancer are still controversial. Some theories state that genetic factors play a major role in the occurrence of cancer. But studies show that smoking and unhealthy eating habits are known to be the major reasons for an increased occurrence of this terminal disease. There are different types of cancers but the common among them are lung, breast and skin cancer. Lung cancer develops due to excessive smoking whereas skin cancer occurs due to overexposure to the harmful radiation. People can lower the risk of developing cancer by following some preventive measures like eating healthy foods (rich in omega 3 fatty acids and antioxidants), maintaining a healthy weight, quit smoking and drinking only in moderation.
Type 2 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes is caused due to increased blood sugar levels in the body resulting from an inability to use insulin. Diabetes can be easily managed by effectively controlling its various risk factors such as smoking, obesity, and sedentary lifestyle. The diet should include plenty of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Non-fat dairy and lean meats should be included. Foods that are high in sugar and fat should be restricted. Carbohydrates turn into sugar, so it is important to keep a check on carbohydrate intake. It is also necessary to keep a daily routine for each meal. If untreated Diabetes can damage other organs like kidney, eye, heart etc. Individuals with diabetes are more likely to develop cataracts which result in gradual loss of eyesight and a cataract surgery is required to restore vision. The cost of cataract surgery depends on the lens implant used and also on the facilities available in the hospital.
Tips to avoid lifestyle diseases in a glance
Balanced Diet and weight management: Nutritious diet helps in maintaining a healthy weight which is a solution for most of the lifestyle disorders.
- Exercise: Regular physical activity helps in ensuring overall health. People can participate in any wellness programs or go for a walk for an hour.
- Stress Management: Yoga, meditation, music, work life balance, adequate sleep, proper nutrition etc. are few healthy habits. If needed, it is necessary to opt for counseling to get rid of stress.
- Get rid of addictions: Although it is difficult, always try to stay away from addictive habits like smoking, alcohol etc.
- Regular health checks up: It is important to keep a check on one’s health regularly. Health checkups and blood tests should be performed religiously.
- Get educated: Knowing more about lifestyle disorders helps to maintain a healthy lifestyle and stay away from the lifestyle diseases.