Although from time immemorial, the importance of a healthy lifestyle was recognized by mankind, it is only during the last 2 decades, their profound influence one's lifestyle has in the prevention and treatment of various chronic ailments has come to be realized.
In a landmark paper published by Dr. A. Ramachandran, eminent Diabetologist, titled "Indian Diabetes Prevention Programme" he demonstrated that by adopting a healthy lifestyle consisting of exercise and diet modification the onset of diabetes can be prevented in a vulnerable population.
It is not how long you live, but how well you live that is important.
Adherence to a disciplined lifestyle early in life could effectively prevent or reduce the severity of many chronic metabolic disease life obesity, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, stroke, airways disease and joint disorders.
Key Factors In Lifestyle Modification
A Simple exercise like brisk walking for 30-45 minutes every day is the single most important factor in preventing a number of chronic ailments. Exercise plays a vital mode in improving the function of the heart and the lungs, facilitate tissue oxygenation, improve circulation to the limbs and prevent clot formation, keep the joints supple, provide a sense of well-being and in short benefit practically every organ in the body. The 'healthy fatigue' induced by exercise can also obviate the need for sedatives in those who are used to these medications for sleep.
2. Diet Modification
The ancient adage 'we must eat to live, not live to eat' is a succinct reminder as to what one's attitude to food should be. It is important to maintain an optimal BMI and to prevent accumulation of 'visceral fat' by paying attention to one's waist circumference. Accumulation of visceral fat and increasing abdominal obesity has been shown to reduce longevity and even cause sudden death by obstructive sleep apnoea.
In teenage girls with polycystic ovary syndrome weight reduction alone can cure the condition.
3. Smoking cessation
It is gratifying to note that over the last few years the incidence of smoking has come down significantly. We no longer encounter a 'smoke screen' when we enter a restaurant or the corridors of a movie hall. The concerted efforts by the medical fraternity, Govt, Media and other Social Welfare Organizations have successfully curbed this menace to a great extent.
Needless to say tobacco in any form could spell danger to practically every organ in the body.
4. Personal Hygiene / Hand Hygiene
Lastly, the importance of maintaining personal cleanliness and hygiene cannot be overemphasized. In a society which eats using fingers rather that fork & spoon keeping the hands meticulously clean is of paramount importance. Hand hygiene should be taught and inculcated at the primary school level. A number of tropical infective, protozoa, and helminth related illness could be prevented by keeping hands clean.
Article by Dr. Raghavan
General Physician, Kauvery Hospital