Lifestyle Diseases

Diet and lifestyle are major factors thought to be the reason behind many diseases. In recent decades, life style has become an important factor that affect our health. According to WHO, 60{23de89c06d92e5f29ea817eabc964c4828010d5afa6837b2369b0f9cccf283fb} of factors related to individual health and quality of life are correlated to lifestyle. Millions of people follow an unhealthy lifestyle, hence, they encounter illness, disability and even death. Drug abuse, tobacco smoking, and alcoholdrinking, as well as a lack of or too much exercise, lack of rest, stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation may also increase the risk of developing certain diseases, especially later in life.

Lifestyle diseases are defined as diseases linked with the way people live their life. These are non-communicable diseases. This is commonly caused by lack of physical activity, unhealthy eating, alcohol, drugs and smoking. Diseases that mostly are a reason of our lifestyle are heart disease, stroke, obesity and type II diabetes. Globally, 14.2 million people between the ages of 30-69 years, die prematurely each year from diseases related to an unhealthy lifestyle.

The most common familial causes of these lifestyle disorders are related to diet — consuming unhealthy foods, uncontrolled eating, overindulgence on artificial sweeteners, processed foods, and junk foods. In addition, addictive habits like tobacco smoking, eating paan, consumption of alcohol, irregular sleeping habits, very limited exposure to sun and fresh air, stress and modern-day urbanization have made matters worse. The most frequently observed lifestyle disorders are diabetes, obesity, hypothyroidism, cancer, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), etc.

The amount and duration of physical exercise, the type and time of work, irregular sleeping habits, poor posture, etc., are few factors which decide the onset of these lifestyle disorders. Increased hours in the work place, more stress, easier lifestyles with minimum physical exercise, smoking, dependence on junk food, are some of the causes to add to the burgeoning list of red list to an unhealthy body and mind.  Activities like smoking and alcohol in the youth can lead to a reduction in the individual’s stamina and in the long run, is likely to cause multiple diseases.

To live a healthy lifestyle, you need to make healthy drink and food choices, exercise regularly, get quality sleep, stay hydrated, manage stress, think happy thoughts, laugh, quit or stop smoking and get regular medical check-ups.  Tips to help you move toward a healthier life include:  eat more vegetables, drink water not sugary drinks, meditate to reduce stress and make exercise fun or work out with a friend.

An interesting thing about lifestyle disorders is that they are reversible and if identified early, can be treated well. To overcome the burden of these diseases, experts in Ayurveda encourage a positive lifestyle and practicing  the following habits:

Eat more of green veggies, fresh fruits, calcium & fiber rich foods.

Switch to whole grain/multi grain flour.

Reduce your portion size and eat at regular intervals (every 2 hours).

Eliminate or at least try to limit the consumption of oily food.

Replace junk food with healthy snacks.

Drink plenty of water

Practice Yoga and Meditation on a regular basis and avoid unnecessary stress and anxiety.

In addition to that Ayurveda offers various regimens that must be followed. They include:

– Dinacharya (daily regimen) –

1. Wake up early at least 1 hour before sun rise. Never suppress nor forcefully void the natural urges. It can lead to many diseases. For defecation one should always use toilets and it should not be done in open grounds. 

2. Usage of fresh stick of Neem (Azadirachta indica), Khadir (Acacia catechu) etc. can clean teeth, and vanish foul smell. Fill mouth with Triphala decoction or other medicated oils. It prevents excess thirst, improves taste and maintains oral hygiene. It is also useful in managing the mouth ulcers and dryness commonly seen in Diabetes patients.

3. Exercise or vyayam should be done till sweat rolls down from neck, forehead etc. Exercising early in the morning can help remove stagnation in the body and can help recharge and rejuvenate your body and mind for a productive day. Take bath half to one hour after exercise.

4. Eat freshly cooked food in a clean environment, preferable sitting on the floor while eating.

5. Sleep for 6-8 hours a day.Proper sleep provides health and longevity. Improves complexion and glow. Too much sleep and too little sleep, both are not good for healthy living. Generally day sleeping is not advisable.

– Ritucharya (seasonal regimen) –

Ayurveda stresses a lot at the role of seasons on the body and advises that we must change our daily routine depending on the seasons. This is known as Ritucharya. It helps in preserving the health as the season changes.

During the summer season, drink plenty of liquids like coconut water, sugarcane juice, buttermilk or atleast 10 glass of water a day. Eat light food, avoid hot, spicy, oily meals and opt for foods high in water content including fruits, salads, soups and buttermilk.While going out, wear a white handkerchief or use an umbrella to block sunrays.

During winters, massage the skin with mustard oil before taking bath. Avoid cold foods.Eat plenty of green vegetables and seasonal fruits.Cream of milk/ Ghee is good for cracked lips.

During monsoons, use clean drinking water (boiled and cooled). Avoid too much exercise and moving about in the sun after a spell of rain. Wear light and clean clothes and try to keep the rooms devoid of humidity.

–  Rasayana (rejuvenation) therapies –

1.Make daily exercise a routine.Exercise for a minimum period of 30 minutes daily, which can be split into intervals.

2. Form a habit of using stairs.Include exercise in your routine work, develop a habit of walking e.g. to school, market, friend’s house, workplace etc.

Take good care of your body – it’s the only place you live in. Periodic health check-ups can offer a thorough analysis of your current health status. Moreover, it also helps in early diagnosis and timely treatment of any kind of illness. Schedule an appointment for a comprehensive health check-up once in every 6 months. Take charge of your health before it’s too late.

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