Lifestyle diseases are diseases of civilization, found mostly in countries which are technologically developed and where the lifespan of the population increases. Long periods of inappropriate relationship of people with their environment bring about these lifestyle diseases which take years to develop, and once encountered do not lend themselves easily to cure.
Why should I be aware of this?
What and how we eat directly affects health , well-being, vitality and our immune system. According to research, human bodies, on an average, are made up of 63% water, 22% protein, 13% fat and 2% vitamins and minerals. It is reflected in what we eat and drink.
Ideally our diet should include about 65% carbohydrate, 15% protein and 20% fat. However over the last 50 years our diet pattern has changed considerably to include lots of processed foods, foods with saturated fat, food with high sugar content and less and less fruit and vegetables.
This has resulted in a typical diet consisting of 28% carbohydrates, 12% protein, 40% fat and 20% sugar. The slow build up of fat and sugar in the body has resulted in a whole range of new lifestyle diseases that were not know over 100 years ago.
Lifestyle diseases are a result of an inappropriate relationship of people with their environment. The onset of these lifestyle diseases is insidious, they take years to develop, and once encountered do not lend themselves easily to cure.
Lifestyle diseases and health
From the 1940's to the late 1990's, heart disease, cancer, and degenerative diseases (diabetes, cirrhosis, kidney failure, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and others) accounted for the maximum number of deaths. Degenerative diseases, which are on the list of lifestyle diseases, accounted for 60 percent of all deaths since the late 1990s. . Death statistics for the United States can be used to determine how lifestyle diseases have been affecting people. . In 1900 pneumonia/influenza, tuberculosis, and diarrhea/enteritis were the top three causes of death in the U.S, with 60 percent of all deaths attributed to infectious diseases. Heart disease was the 4th leading cause of death; cancer was way down in eighth position.
All about lifestyle diseases
Some of the common diseases include Alzheimer’s, artherosclerosis, Cancer, Chronic liver disease or cirrhosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, type 2 diabetes, heart diseases, nephritis or chronic renal failure, osteoporosis, acne, stroke, depression and obesity. According to experts, blood pressure as well as coronary heart condition is increasing amongst youngsters due to overwhelming work demands, which includes late nights and longer hours at work.
Some not so common diseases
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
A painful progressive condition caused by the compression of a key nerve in the wrist, this syndrome is the result of working on the computer endlessly. The median nerve, which runs from the forearm into the hand, becomes pressed or squeezed at the wrist. The carpal tunnel, a narrow, rigid passageway of ligaments and bones at the base of the hand, houses the median nerve and tendons. Symptoms usually start gradually with frequent burning, tingling or an itching numbness in the palm of the hand and the fingers, especially the thumb, index and middle fingers.
Some Carpal tunnel sufferers say that their fingers feel useless and swollen, even though little of no swelling is visible. The symptoms first appear in one hand or both hands during the night, since many people sleep with flexed wrists.
As symptoms worsen, people might experience a tingling sensation during the day. Decreased grip strength may make it difficult to form a fist, grasp small objects or perform small tasks. In chronic or untreated cases, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away. Some people are unable to differentiate between hot and cold by touch.
Persons with diabetes or other metabolic disorders that directly affect the body’s nerves and make them more susceptible to compression are also at high risk. It usually occurs in adults though.
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT)
Though not technically a disease, HRT is a lifestyle fad, which leads to many health complications. Hormone replacement Therapy, as a term, first came up in the 1960’s in the book called Forever Feminine by Dr. Robert Wilson. The book had the theory that menopause was a disease that could be treated by simply replacing the estrogen their bodies had stopped producing, in order to hold back the aging process. But in the last four decades, women have been prescribed HRT for all sorts of reasons not just to stop menopausal hot flushes and night sweats but to improve sex life, their hair and skin and even the morale. The crucial difference between HRT and other hormonal treatment is that HRT is prescribed to counter act the natural reduction of estrogen in the body but studies have now shown that it is actually the opposite. A study in the UK called Million Women Study has shown that HRT has caused 1000 deaths from ovarian cancer in the last decade and a half.. It has been linked with invasive breast cancer, womb cancer, stroke, blood clot and coronary heart diseases.
In a bid to look young, women are using HRT as a preventive measure to look young but legally and worldwide, work on Hormone Replacement Therapy has been discontinued since the mid 90’s.
- Multiple Sclerosis
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is said to be a degenerative disease of the nervous system. IT affects the brain and spinal cord, destroys the myelin sheath, the material that surrounds and protects the nerve cells. This damages, slows down and blocks messages between the brain and the body leading to the symptoms of MS>These include visual disturbances, muscle weakness, trouble with co-ordination and balance, sensations such as numbness and severe memory problems. While no one knows what causes MS, It is said to be an auto immune disease, which happens when the body attacks itself. It affects more women than men and starts between the ages of 20 and 24. It is rising because of the change in habits, lifestyle and bad food habits in people.
These diseases remain indicators of the changing times and the overwhelming problems that we need to deal with on a daily basis, however as sinister as they might seem to be, doctors and scientists are at work, looking for curative measures for most of them.
What can I do?
Maintain health through a healthy diet
- To prevent loss of muscle strength and vitamin deficiency
- To prevent diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, obesity, arthritis and certain cancers
- To help control and/or treat diseases such as Blood pressure, diabetes and other related diseases
- Low energy dense foods, such as vegetables and fruits that contain fewer calories per unit volume of food so that one can eat a large volume of it.
- Consume whole grains, and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
- Have lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs, and nuts
- Avoid processed foods with saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt (sodium), and added sugars.
Maintain health through physical activity and exercise
- Choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly.
- Even a brisk 10 minute walk to the market or office or around office does the trick.
- Join an exercise class. Keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. What's important is to be active most days of the week and make it part of daily routine.
- Recruit a partner for support and encouragement.
- Clean the house or wash the car.
- Do gardening for health – it gives multiple benefits
- At work, replace a coffee break with a brisk 10-minute walk. Ask a friend or colleague to join you.
- Most important – have fun while being active.
In many ways, alternative therapies go a long way in helping alleviate the symptoms of lifestyle diseases. These can include Naturopathy, Acupressure, Polarity Therapy, Aromatherapy, and many others depending on the kind of disease.
- It said about 17 million people die prematurely each year as a result of the global epidemic of largely preventable chronic diseases or lifestyle diseases
- According to WHO, World deaths from "lifestyle" diseases will double by 2015 unless all-out efforts are taken to combat them,
- According to Scientific American, prevalence of cigarette smoking, which sends about 400,000 Americans to a premature death, appears to be stabilizing at about 25% of the population
- Cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, lung diseases and some cancers together account for some 44% of all premature death or twice that of all infectious diseases, worldwide.
- There is a phenomenal increase in the number of breast cancer cases in the past few years, especially in the cities
- Women are three times more likely to suffer from the Carpal tunnel syndrome than men, as the carpal tunnel itself is smaller in women.
The discovery of insulin has played a minor role in the prevention and cure for lifestyle disease such as diabetes. With developed research and modern science, more cures are being found This includes genetic research, stem cell research, promising cancer treatments and many other studies.
- Red meat
- Good Eating Habits
- Processed Food
- Foods that fight pain
- Health Hazards and Good Living
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