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These 5 Diseases Are On the Rise, Here’s How to Fight Them

Lifestyle diseases are like slow poison, and Shining India is rapidly falling prey.

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A big bowl of fries, Netflix and coke. Sounds heavenly, right? Except that too much of this can wreak havoc on your body. Unhealthy eating patterns and lack of physical exercise are behind the alarming increase in lifestyle diseases, especially among young people.

As packed tiffins make way for “pizza” and “burger” from canteens, outdoor activities get replaced by endless internet browsing and television bingeing, young adults find themselves caught in a web of lifestyle disorders – most of which are irreversible. Though some may argue that life expectancy has increased over the years, a good question to ask would be whether it has translated into increased well-being.

The facts state otherwise, painting a rather dismal health scenario:

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  • There are 69.1 million people with diabetes in India, according to the International Diabetes Federation.
  • In past 10 years, the number of obese people has doubled in the country, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4).
  • 1 in 5 women in India (15-30 years of age) suffer from PCOS, according to a pan India study conducted by Metropolis Healthcare Ltd.
  • About 25% urban and 10% rural Indians are hypertensive, according to Journal of Human Hypertension.

1. Diabetes

Lifestyle diseases are like slow poison, and Shining India is rapidly falling prey.
Diabetes is witnessing a surge in India over the years. 
(Photo Courtesy: IndiaSpend)

India has the highest number of diabetes patients, with the country now known as the diabetes capital of the world. Like almost everything, diabetes in India is also caught between the quintessential rural-urban divide, with urban India reporting more cases and expectedly so. Sedentary lifestyle and urbanisation have together paved the way for the diabetes epidemic in the country, which is only getting worse with time.

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2. Obesity

Lifestyle diseases are like slow poison, and Shining India is rapidly falling prey.
Obesity is on the rise in India, particularly in the metro cities. 
(Data Source: IndiaSpend)
India is home to 9.8 million obese men and 20 million obese women, according to a study published in The Lancet journal in 2014. Urban India holds the obesity baton firmly in comparison to its rural counterpart. 31.3 percent or almost a third of urban women are obese with rural women accounting for 15%, according to the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-4).

Though there are a host of factors behind obesity, physical inactivity and faulty diet are the two main culprits. And it doesn’t stop there. Being obese makes you more susceptible to diabetes, heart diseases, infertility and more. But here is the good part; obesity is reversible and with regulated diet and controlled physical exercise you can lower your BMI for a stronger, fitter body.

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Consumption of fatty and high-sugar foods is one of the main reasons for obesity. Today, everywhere that we go food is readily available and the portion sizes are HUGE. You do not need to eat just because it is there and one serving can be shared.
Dr Rupali Datta

Dr Datta also advises picking up exercising from a young age.

Children should be encouraged to get involved in some structured physical activity for at least 30 minutes daily, even during exam time. Young adults must find the time to do 30 minutes of daily exercise .The benefits of exercise are far greater than just weight maintenance.
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3. PCOS

PCOD or Polycystic Ovary Syndrome is the bane of modern-day women are forced to live with. A cause of insurmountable concern for women, it is often caused by unhealthy lifestyle patterns leading to obesity and insulin resistance. What makes PCOS alarming is its ability to render women infertile and long-term irreversible health conditions.

What starts mostly as irregular or absent periods is also accompanied by changes such as weight gain, fatigue, unwanted and sudden growth of facial hair, hair thinning and a host of hormonal imbalances leading to irritability, mood swings and even depression. Unfortunately, the advancements of medical science haven’t been able to devise a treatment for PCOS yet but there sure exist mechanisms for regulating the disorder – most of which involve dietary changes and ample physical activity.

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We need to do moderate exercise for at least 150 minutes a week or 75 minutes of vigorous activity a week with strength training for all major muscles twice a week – yes, this is what it takes to stay healthy. Any advice that only one is enough is certainly misleading.
Dr Rupali Datta
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4. Hypertension

Lifestyle diseases are like slow poison, and Shining India is rapidly falling prey.
Indians are consuming more salt than the permissible limit. 
(Photo Courtesy: IndiaSpend)

Hypertension is striking people as young as 20. Fast-paced lifestyles coupled with high stress levels is making young people more prone to hypertension. Though hypertension runs in families, experts argue that it can be solely related to lifestyle choices with smokers, drinkers and people with sedentary lifestyle at maximum risk. According to an IndiaSpend report:

An average Indian consumes 10.98 grams of salt per day – 119% more than the recommended limit of five grams per day by the World Health Organization.

According to clinical nutritionist Dr Rupali Datta:

Hypertension, Diabetes and Obesity, individually and together spell HIGH RISK for medical problems like cardiac diseases, renal failure, stroke and others.

She further adds, “It is very easy to avoid the onset and control these problems by doing just three things i.e. maintaining a healthy weight, eating healthy and exercising regularly.”

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5. Stress

Why stress, you may ask? But why not? It is single-handedly responsible for increasing a number of lifestyle disorders so much so that it needs to be talked about as one. Rising aspirations, unhealthy almost cut-throat competition, crazy work hours and the overarching fear of failure bundled with pressure of expectations (self and society) make stress levels shoot up. Uninhibited social media consumption is also behind the surge in stress and anxiety levels in youngsters.

Medicos have been crying themselves hoarse over the rising patterns of stress among youth and teenagers. Premature greying of hair, dark circles, PCOS, are all reportedly related to unprecedented levels of stress in young adults.

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Time to Bell the Cat

By now you probably know the culprit. While the mere thought of gorging on cheese-dipped fries and the oh-so-delicious pizza could make you weak in the knees, an unabated consumption of junk food could mess with your body big time.

Couple this with next-to-nothing levels of physical exercise and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Combine junk food consumption and lack of exercise with long bouts of smoking and drinking and you would have dug your own grave.

What’s the Solution?

Lifestyle diseases are like slow poison, and Shining India is rapidly falling prey.

Dr Rupali Datta stresses the need for healthy eating to keep these diseases at bay.

Eating healthy is so easy for us Indians, our traditional meals are perfect. Nutrients from whole grains, pulses and legumes, fresh vegetables and milk all add up to health and protect us from diabetes, hypertension. Eat as much as your body needs not as much as you want to.
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Goodbye, Sugar... Goodbye, My Sweet

Instead of sugary juices, keep whole fruits in the fridge, cut some vegetables and make home dips with curd, lemon, and vinegar, much better snacks than chips and matthi. Fast foods and junk foods provide empty calories and no nutrition. Fad diets are not sustainable, we need to learn healthy eating habits for life, not 10-15 days.
Dr Rupali Datta

Not just healthy eating but eating right is also crucial. According to Dr Datta, “skipping meals especially breakfast is a bad idea. Eat at the right time, fix meal timings and stick to them. Dinner should be no later than 8pm. Choosing nutrient-rich fresh foods rather than refined, processed versions is a no-brainer.”

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