When you think of diseases, your mind may imagine cancer, AIDS, tuberculosis, and other conditions that you think are the real bad guys.
While those conditions are certainly dangerous and every possible measure should be taken to prevent them, there are some conditions that are far more common, equally dangerous, and more importantly, preventable.
These are commonly referred to as lifestyle diseases.
The symptoms of lifestyle diseases are often subtle and tend to develop slowly over time, and hence do not cause an alarm until its late.
The solution to lifestyle diseases is a healthy lifestyle. By adopting a few simple lifestyle changes, you can avoid type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and heart disease.
Fact: Lifestyle diseases are preventable and sometimes reversible
Lifestyle diseases are a major healthcare concern in India. It is projected to become a large-scale issue over the next decade if sufficient steps are not taken to educate the population.
Lifestyle diseases are a major burden on the individual and their families.
An analysis of 1517 research studies revealed that families of individuals affected by lifestyle and chronic conditions have a significantly lower quality of life as compared to families of healthy individuals. (Golics, 2013)
Research has shown that taking care of one’s own health is not only beneficial to the individual, but to their families as well.
Here are some numbers to support the point:
- 98 million: The number of people in India who may have type 2 diabetes by 2030.
- 69.2 million: According to the World Health Organization (WHO), were the number of people living in India with type 2 diabetes in 2015.
- 135 million: The number of individuals who are affected by obesity in India.
- 2.8 million:Deaths are reported as a result of being overweight or obese.
- 25-33%: of the population in India are hypertensive.
- 54.5 million: Estimated prevalence of CVDs in India in 2016.
Good news: These conditions can be prevented, and sometimes reversed with simple lifestyle and dietary modifications.
The top four life changing habits
Lifestyle diseases are strongly linked to an individual’s lifestyle choices. Diet, physical activity, and habits like smoking and excessive intake of alcohol are some of the factors that have been repeatedly linked by multiple studies as having an association with lifestyle conditions.
The top 4 lifestyle habits to watch for:
1. Unhealthy eating
2. Excessive alcohol intake
4. Lack of physical activity
We will refer to these habits, their influence on top lifestyle disorders, and methods to keep them in check repeatedly in this series.
Small day-to-day changes like taking a brisk 30 min walk, for example, have been shown to reduce the complications associated with diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
You are in control of your health
Lifestyle diseases can be prevented before medical intervention becomes necessary. This means that you are the boss. Your body will listen to you as long as you take care of it well, and give it the necessary resources to be the best version of itself.
Here are some more numbers from the Center For Disease Control (May 2019):
- Lose 7-10% of your current weight: This can cut your chances of developing type 2 diabetes in half.
- Walking briskly for 30 minutesevery day reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 30%.
- 20 minutes of physical activity per day, can lower blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg in people with high blood pressure.
- Eating a diet that is rich in vegetables can lower blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg in people with high blood pressure.
If every individual starts walking 30–60 minutes/day, he/she will spend about 150–300 kcal. This will lead to loss of weight of 3–5 kg in a year. A loss of about 5–7% weight can prevent the onset of diabetes by about 58%.