The World Health Organisation (WHO) has identified India as one of the countries that will report the majority of lifestyle disorders in the near future. Lifestyle diseases are becoming more common these days and affect 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:
WHO says that heart disease is the single biggest cause of death in India. This occurs due to abnormal functioning of the heart muscle and blood vessel walls. Heart disease is most often caused by too much cholesterol and triglycerides in the body. A diet full of junk foods, smoking, and drinking, along with an inactive lifestyle, contribute to heart disorders. Heart disease can be managed with a proper diet and exercise. Regular 30 minute exercise reduces the risk of the disease. Foods that are high in saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, and sodium have to be avoided.
The diet should include foods that are rich in omega-3 3-fatty acids. A Mediterranean diet – which comprises fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean protein like fish, is highly preferred. Stress is said to be one of the significant causes of heart disease. Thus, stress management becomes a very important lifestyle intervention. Practising yoga or meditation provides inner peace. Breathing exercises help with anger management. Caffeine consumption should be minimised or avoided.
The elevated blood pressure levels in the body are caused mainly by overuse of salt in the diet, increased stress levels, and obesity. Hypertensive patients are more susceptible to other health complications like diabetes and heart disease. Blood pressure higher than 140/90 mmHg is defined as hypertension. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet has been particularly designed to help people reduce blood pressure.
Salt restriction (to nearly 5 g/day), regular exercise, a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and low-fat, and stress reduction are all important in hypertension management. Monitoring blood pressure regularly is also an important step in the management of this disease.
India has been ranked as the second-highest nation for having obese individuals, which is a very significant matter of thought. Obesity is a dangerous condition that 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 likely to get this disease because they eat poorly, smoke, drink too much alcohol, don’t exercise enough, are stressed out, and don’t get enough 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 them 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. The causes of cancer are still controversial. Some theories say that genes have a lot to do with whether or not someone gets cancer. But studies show that smoking and unhealthy eating habits are known to be the major reasons for the 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 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 by 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 a 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 kidneys, eyes, 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 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.