Working hard, earning a living, saving money, and investing for the future – these are the building blocks of financial security that we meticulously lay down. But hold on a sec, what about securing something just as important – our health and well-being down the road? Let’s face it, huffing and puffing after a short stroll or surrendering to the couch because of frequent illness isn’t exactly the future we had in mind. If you didn’t sign up for that, then why let it creep up on you?
In the midst of the bustling streets, soaring skyscrapers, and the palpable energy of urban life, lies a challenge that is silently gripping the urban Indian population – lifestyle diseases. These health adversaries have stealthily made their way into our lives, presenting a modern-day health dilemma that demands our attention. In this blog, we embark on a journey to delve deep into the world of lifestyle diseases, comprehend their impact on our lives, and explore effective strategies to navigate this intricate health puzzle.
Lifestyle diseases: The silent killer
Sadly, little importance is given to lifestyle diseases. But just so you know India is now officially in the danger zone. Research backed by ICMR says more than 1/ 10th the people in India suffer from diabetes, 35% from hypertension and 28% from high cholesterol levels.
What is even more worrisome is that over 40 million people die of lifestyle diseases every year, which if we look at the bigger picture, is 70% of the deaths worldwide.
Did it scare you? Because we surely are scared as much as we are concerned.
What causes lifestyle diseases?
As the name suggests, lifestyle diseases are caused by unhealthy daily habits and choices. The probable reason why people undermine lifestyle diseases is that they take years to develop and get worse. You may even consider it as a slow poison that you never realised you took. If you are somebody who has a sedentary lifestyle and has poor eating habits, you are at risk. Even if you are a workaholic, it doesn’t spare you. A sedentary job that involves you sitting at your desk all day long makes you most prone. Not to mention the stress that tight deadlines and unrestrained working hours give you is the cherry on the cake you wouldn’t want to have a bite of. Unlike infectious diseases that result from external factors, lifestyle diseases are largely attributed to our own behaviours and lifestyle patterns. These ailments, which include heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and more, tend to develop gradually over time, often undetected until they have established a significant presence within our bodies.
The sedentary saga: Office chairs vs. physical activity
Remember those carefree days of childhood when the playground was our sanctuary, and physical activity was a natural part of life? Fast-forward to today, where the playground has been replaced by the office cubicle, and screen time trumps outdoor play. The rise of sedentary lifestyles is one of the key contributors to the urban health dilemma. Hours spent hunched over screens, seated in chairs, or confined within the walls of an office have resulted in a significant decline in physical activity.
Spices vs sugar: The dietary dilemma
India is renowned for its rich culinary heritage, characterised by an array of spices that ignite our taste buds and narrate stories of culture and tradition. However, amidst the symphony of flavours, sugar has managed to secure a prominent spot on our plates. From the sweetness in our chai to the delectable desserts, sugar has quietly found its way into our daily diet. The rising consumption of sugar-laden foods and beverages has led to a surge in diabetes cases, underscoring the need for a delicate balance between our love for spices and our vigilance against excessive sugar intake.
Stress and health: A love-hate relationship
Stress, the ubiquitous guest in the urban milieu, is a double-edged sword that can either motivate us or drain us. The modern urban lifestyle, characterised by relentless schedules and overwhelming responsibilities, often creates chronic stress. While some stress can be a driving force, chronic stress can pave the way for a range of lifestyle diseases. As the heart races to meet deadlines and the mind juggles multiple roles, learning to manage stress becomes paramount for our overall well-being.
Other poor lifestyle choices that make you more susceptible to lifestyle diseases include:
You don’t sleep enough
Remember the times when you were reprimanded or taunted for sleeping? Turns out, you were only doing something healthy. You can’t be blamed for that, can you? But the blame is certainly on you if you have a poor sleeping schedule on purpose. If you happen to sleep late because you have Instagram to scroll or friends to call, knowing you have to wake up early, you are guilty. Just so you know, an adult needs at least 8 hours of sleep. If you are giving your body anything less than that, you are putting it at risk – a risk that won’t show itself for years, but later on.
Frequent drinking (and smoking, even if it’s not frequent but occasional)
Picture this. After burning the midnight oil all week, it’s finally Friday. You don’t have any plans for the evening but you decide to make one. After all, is it even a Friday if you don’t go out drinking with your corporate buddies?
It started on a Friday, and since it was Saturday and Sunday later, you drank too because you did not have to go to work. You drank three days a week. So, this means you have put extra pressure on your liver. And what happens when somebody is put under pressure (think, it must be relatable for you), you fall sick. To make things clearer for you, you are making yourself more prone to liver disease.
And shall we come to smoking now? So, if you are planning to take a puff of a cigarette just because you haven’t had it in a while, you are not making a healthier choice. Every puff you take is increasing the risk of a number of diseases. Not just cancer, or lung disease but your skincare nightmares such as pigmentation and premature ageing.
You don’t exercise
Exercise is painful, isn’t it? After all, you have to exert yourself and put yourself through the discomfort. You don’t even need it because you are lean and slim. Not to mention, your 9 to 5 job doesn’t even allow it.
If you have one of these excuses for not exercising, congratulations, you are only inviting lifestyle diseases.
Exercise improves blood circulation and strengthens your heart. The increased blood flow increases the oxygen levels in your body. This can diminish the risk of heart disease and help you avoid high cholesterol, high blood pressure coronary artery disease, and heart attack. Not to mention, exercising increases your stamina and strength. This means you will be more strong, active and healthier than your fellows when you cross 60. You will be jogging when your fellows are exhausted and gasping for breath.
Solutions for the Urban Health Dilemma
Thankfully, the journey toward healthier living in the urban landscape doesn’t necessitate an upheaval of our lives. Instead, it calls for a series of intentional choices that collectively shape our well-being. Here are some practical steps that can help us navigate the urban health dilemma:
In a world of fast food chains and takeout options, reconnect with the joys of home-cooked meals. Incorporate a colourful array of fruits and vegetables into your diet. Just as the diversity of India’s landscapes is breathtaking, a diverse diet is equally invigorating for your health.
Move your body
Swap those elevator rides for stair climbs, and trade binge-watching TV shows for invigorating walks in the park. Physical activity need not be a grand endeavour – even a dance session to your favourite tunes can contribute to a healthier lifestyle.
Amidst the clamour of the city, find moments of tranquillity and reflection. Whether it’s savouring the aroma of your morning coffee or practising mindfulness exercises, cultivating awareness can be your gateway to serenity.
In the urban race, sleep often takes a backseat. Yet, a good night’s sleep is your body’s way of recharging and rejuvenating. Treat sleep as a non-negotiable appointment, just as you would with a business meeting.
The urban landscape is teeming with opportunities for community engagement. Join local fitness classes, yoga sessions, or sports groups. Not only will you stay active, but you’ll also forge meaningful connections in the process.
As urban Indians, we find ourselves at the intersection of tradition and modernity, heritage and innovation. The understanding of lifestyle diseases presents us with an opportunity to harmonise these facets of life, ensuring that our health remains a priority even in the midst of the urban hustle. By making incremental changes that align with our fast-paced lives, we can bridge the gap between urban living and holistic well-being. So, whether you’re sipping your morning chai overlooking the cityscape or navigating its vibrant streets, remember that your health is the cornerstone of your lifestyle journey – a journey that promises growth, discovery, and a healthier you.