Most Common Lifestyle Diseases In India
What is lifestyle disease? Lifestyle diseases are characterized as diseases that occur primarily due to unhealthy daily habits and are a result of an unhealthy relationship with food. The main causes of lifestyle diseases are bad food habits, lack or poor physical activity or movement or overindulgences in exercise, lack or poor sleep or insomnia, stress, bad body posture, environmental toxins and lack of purpose or meaning in life compromising spiritual health. It is imperative to understand the importance of nutrition to understand what is lifestyle disease and help prevent lifestyle diseases.
Some of the most common lifestyle diseases are the following:
Obesity:A BMI higher than 25 implies one in the obese category. Unhealthy eating habits, no physical activity, compromised digestion and stressful lives can impact this lifestyle disease. Obesity is also related to high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, breathing issues and diabetes to name a few.
Heart diseases:Any abnormality that affects the heart muscle and blood vessel walls is referred to as heart diseases. Few causes are high cholesterol levels as a result of consumption of high cholesterol foods or imbalance of the fats, high blood sugar levels resulting in increased body fat percentage, insulin resistance and diabetes and smoking or consuming tobacco.
High Blood Pressure: Some very common reasons of high blood pressure genetic factors, obesity, stress and most importantly unhealthy eating habits that include excess consumption of sodium and processed foods.
Type 2 Diabetes:Obesity is closely linked to diabetes. Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease that results due to unhealthy habits and lifestyle choices.
Liver Cirrhosis:This can be defined as a group of liver disorders. Liver health can be severely affected by heavy alcohol consumption, environmental toxins such as plastics or consumptions of wrong foods.
Gut or digestive disorders:: The gut plays a significant role in digestion, immunity, obesity, hormonal health, stress and moods. The total surface area of the digestive tract is approximately the size of a studio apartment. Hence, the foods we eat and the environment we live in has deep impact on our digestion. Our digestive health can easily be compromised with wrong or unhealthy food and lifestyle choices leading to inflammation in the body and attracting health disorders.
Ways to prevent lifestyle diseases
Choose real foods:Include whole unprocessed foods like whole grains, cereals, pulses and millets. These foods rich in fibre, help in slow release of blood sugar levels, and sustained energy levels resulting in blood sugar balance. They are anti-inflammatoryfoods which can help to lower the inflammation in the body which is the root cause of many lifestyle diseases.
Fermented food: Add in fermented vegetables like fermented cucumber, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and raddish. These vegetables are loaded with the friendly bacteria that live in our digestive tract and they help to make essential vitamins in the body like Vitamin B and K. They also make substances like short chain fatty acids that help to lower inflammation in the body and are responsible for the production of immune regulating compounds for the optimal functioning of the body. Consuming these 1-2 tablespoons with lunch and dinner can be beneficial.
Add coconut oil:Coconut oil is the building block of the thyroid hormone and helps it to function optimally. The thyroid gland is responsible for the various functions in our body that include -metabolism influencing body fat percentage, regulation blood pressure, immune function, energy levels, detoxification and highly beneficial for fertility in both men and women. Coconut oil helps to lower the inflammation and also inhibits the growth of bad bacteria in the gut. Coconut oil can be consumed in soups, vegetable smoothies, tea, coffee, lukewarm water or as a paste made with turmeric and black pepper.
Add the right kind of spice in your life:High blood pressure is on the rise. The misconception to treat this lifestyle disease is dropping all salt. You would be happy to know that this ingredient that adds taste and life to our foods is not the devil when eating in the right amount. Use adequate amount of salt in cooking and try low sodium salt and other herbs and spices to flavour the foods.
Use turmeric: This is the most potent anti-inflammatory popular ingredient in our kitchen. Turmeric helps to break down the food for better absorption and helps to lower the inflammation in the body. This can be added to every food or in hot milk or as a paste mixed with honey and coconut oil with a pinch of black pepper for better nutrient availability.
Green tea:Green tea is a great source of antioxidants and has been shown to boost brain function and help protect the body from cardiovascular disease. Much of green tea’s beneficial effects are attributed to being a great source of catechin, a phytochemical. When lemon juice is added to green tea, it can help increase the bioavailability of catechins by up to five times! Consuming 2-3 cups of green tea in a day is beneficial.
Tomatoes:These are a great source of a phytochemical called lycopenewhich is shown to have beneficial effects on the body’s health and immunity including cardiovascular health. Cook tomatoes in olive oil to increase lycopene bioavailability.
Vegetable juices to your routine: Collectively, they are a powerhouse of energy. They help to detoxify the liver and eliminate toxins that can lead to lifestyle diseases. For example - a green veggie juice like spinach with a citrus fruit like orange or apple along with some good fats like flax and healing herb like ginger taken first thing in the morning is beneficial.
Healthy snacks:Choose healthy snacks made of whole unprocessed foods such as pulse and millet such as chillas, dosas, sprouted dals and bean salads like kala chana salad or steamed moong sprouts over processed foods.
Some other lifestyle measures that you can integrate in your lifestyle are:
- Ensure 7-8 hours sleep
- Indulge in yoga and/ or meditation
- Regular exercise
- Pursue a sport
- Do more of what you love
- Expose yourself to natural light
Food is information; it determines the quality of cells, tissues, organs and body. And lifestyle is medicine. When these two tools are integrated with an intent of self care or self love, can create magical results in the healing process of the body.
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