Often we find excuses for not living a healthy life. Especially individuals with a strong family history of diabetes, blood pressure, heart disease think that they are bound to inherit the disease due to genetic predisposition and can’t do much to change it. But actually, not all is determined by the DNA and investing in a healthy diet and lifestyle definitely yields long term rewards.
Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of mortality across populations. The Global Burden of Disease study has estimated CVD death rate of 272 per 100 000 population in India which is higher than the global average of 235 per 100 000 population. In India, heart diseases progress rapidly, occur at an early age and often result in death due to improper care . Although initially it was considered an urban disease, now poorer states and rural areas are equally affected. Cardiovascular disease prevalence in India has increased due to increased buying ability and availability of foods (especially cheap processed foods ) , tobacco use and low fruit and vegetable intake especially among those from lower socioeconomic background
A recent study published online in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that inherited risk of heart diseases can be cut by half if we maintain a healthy body weight, quit smoking, exercise regularly and eat healthy. It showed that you can overcome negative effects of genes by taking positive steps towards health while the reverse is also true; you can undo the benefits of good genes by following unhealthy habits.
Healthy habits that were found to have protective effects in heart diseases were:
- No smoking
- Exercise (minimum once a week )
- Healthy diet (consisting of fruits, vegetables, fish and whole grain)
- Being non-obese /normal body weight
Do not be disappointed if you have inherited disease risks, there is more hope than despair. Environment and genes; nurture and nature together lead to the manifestation of disease. So at least one of them is in your hands.
It is often said that ‘it is the journey that counts more than the destination’. This is very true for health- when we make earnest efforts towards leading a healthy and wholesome life, we can be certain of success. Every little step counts, every sacrifice matters and in the end you reap the benefits of your hard work. Longevity is not the ultimate goal, but we are talking about leading a life free of disease and suffering!