For the start of a New Year, all of us are thinking of one thing — making positive changes that bring health and joy, success and prosperity into our life.

To achieve success and prosperity, to reach our maximum potential as a human beings, we must preserve our health that we are blessed with – Dr. Lavanya Aribandi,Chief Medical Officer, eKincare

What is health?

Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

Not going into in-depth scientific research, we can generally say that health is a result of  

  • Our genes,
  • Our Habits & Lifestyle and
  • A bit of Luck

We take our health for granted and focus on acquiring other seemingly more important materialistic things. Good Health is not appreciated until illness knocks the door.

Man spends first 40 years of life earning money while putting his health, well-being and relationships at risk. Later, he spends all that hard earned money in a desperate attempt to get his health, well-being and relationships back, which is not always possible.

All of us want to be healthy and prevent diseases from striking us. This is universal to human beings across the globe. In this modern era of increased prevalence of Lifestyle diseases, we cannot postpone taking the required steps to prevent these diseases from troubling us. In the area of lifestyle, there is a lot of scope to make small steps and gain big benefits.

The dilemmas many people face:

  • How do I prevent disease?
  • Which actions and choices give me better returns in the form of health benefits?
  • Which habits make a difference, so that I invest my limited time and energy in forming those habits?

The function of protecting and developing health must rank even above that of restoring it when it is impaired —Hippocrates

Insight into preventive aspects of diseases.

To understand prevention, we need to understand risk factors.Risk factors for a disease can be non-modifiable or modifiable.

Non-modifiable risk factors – You can do nothing about altering these risk Factors. They are not under your control.

Example: If either or both of your parents have a history of hypertension, you are at increased risk for developing hypertension compared to a person whose parents did not have hypertension. But there is nothing you can do about these genetic traits. This is true for many other diseases that have genetic predisposition.

Women have higher risk of developing osteoporosis (a condition that causes brittle and weak bones, increasing the risk of fractures) compared to men as they age. If you are a woman, you can do nothing to modify this increased risk.

Modifiable risk factors – By changing your lifestyle, habits and taking some other preventive measures, you can modify these risk factor, i.e decrease your risk of getting disease.

Example: Being obese is a risk factor for developing hypertension. By losing some weight, a person who is obese can decrease his/her risk of developing hypertension.

Smoking is a risk factor for osteoporosis. By quitting smoking you can decrease your risk of developing osteoporosis..

We will list some of the modifiable risk factors in this article.

Let’s look at the current scenario of lifestyle before we think of modifying anything.

Physical and mental well-being is often a result of the choices we make. In modern society, in the era of packaged foods, easily available fast foods, it is easy to fall prey to these easy choices and develop unhealthy food habits.

With lack of footpaths, dependence on modern transport systems and increasingly sedentary desk jobs,  the average physical activity level of Indians, specially the Urban Indian, has steadily gone down.

Unhealthy food habits coupled with sedentary life is causing increase in prevalence of obesity. Today, India is the third most obese country in the world.

With fast paced life and long commutes, having only 24 hours in a day, people often sacrifice sleep to have more work hours.The number of hours an average Indian sleeps in a day has gone down in the last few decades. Lack of sleep has been linked to obesity, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and road traffic accidents.

Today all societies, both from developed and developing countries, are battling with chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, asthma and cancer, which are mostly a result of our unhealthy habits.  Some habits are adopted at the level of the individual. Examples: Bad food choices, lack of exercise, erratic sleep schedules, smoking, alcohol intake etc. Some habits are adopted by us as a societyExamples: Burning of fossil fuel and increasing deforestation leading to increased pollution, inappropriate antibiotic use in humans, and livestock leading to antibiotic resistance.

With this understanding of the the modifiable risk factors, let’s look at some of the positive changes we can make in the current scenario to improve our health and well-being.

Changes in our lifestyle:

  • Diet,
  • Exercise,
  • Sleep

Changes in our habits:

  • Smoking,
  • Alcohol intake,
  • Illicit drugs
  • Hygiene related

Better Utilization of the available health resources:

  • Seeking health advice from a Physician
  • Following vaccination schedule
  • Getting evidence based age-appropriate screening for diseases

As for the changes that we need to make as a society, we need to stay engaged with the political and administrative authorities, both as an individual and as part of social/political organizations. We need to steadily impress upon them regarding the need to bring the required positive changes in our governing rules, to make a positive and lasting health impact on our communities.

When it comes to taking proactive steps to improve our health, let us say “ Any change is better than no change” and keep striving at it. Today is the best day to make a start. What say!

– Dr. Lavanya Aribandi, Chief Medical Officer, eKincare

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