What is the background and definition?
Lifestyle related diseases such as hypertension, diabetes and obesity have been on the increase in sub-Saharan African Countries including Nigeria
Life expectancy in most African countries including Nigeria has been on the decline largely due to the combined effects of both lifestyle related communicable and non-communicable diseases
Lifestyle generally means a pattern of an individual’s behavioral choices and practices with respect to daily life activities that are related to elevated or reduced health risk.
What are unhealthy lifestyles?
Physical inactivity: The human body was designed to be physically active. The physically active lifestyle of humans in the stone-age and the subsistence farming lifestyle of the people in rural areas might have accounted for the near absence of lifestyle related diseases in the early 60’s among African rural tribes. Human beings have now invented tools and machines that virtually carry out most daily activities.
Poor diet and nutrition: Lack of or inadequate food leads to malnutrition while too much food coupled with inappropriate eating pattern lead to overweight and obesity. High level of salt intake predisposes one to hypertension and poor water intake is known to result in mild chronic dehydration and stress. Diet low in fruits and vegetables could lead to the deficiency of essential vitamins and mineral such as potassium, calcium and vitamin A which are risk factors for hypertension and night blindness. Fast foods often referred to as junk food tends to have preservatives including high level of salt with its risk of hypertension. Regular consumption of large quantities of red meat, and saturated oils increases the risk of hypercholesterolaemia, coronary heart disease and gouty arthritis
Alcohol consumption: Alcohol in high quantity causes damage to most organs in the body. Different preparations have different quantities of the agents- the beers have lower content of alcohol as compared to the spirits (Hots). Some local brews such as (Ogogoro, Goskolo, Kankai) have high alcohol contents and other toxic components.
Tobacco: The prevalence of tobacco use is on the increase especially in developing countries where few laws restricting its use exist. Non- smokers who are unfortunate to breathe its smokes often referred to as passive smokers also suffer from tobacco related diseases. Both chewed and sniffed tobacco also have high amount of the dangerous disease causing components. The wide range of its chemical components causes; Cancers of the lungs, throat, oral and bladder and pancreas. In the respiratory system it causes chronic bronchitis and emphysema. It also increases the risk of pneumonia and worsens asthma.
Stress: Stress refers to daily pressures of life and how one perceives, believes, reacts and copes with them. Although one needs a certain level of stress to perform well, chronic stress is however detrimental to health and responsible for so many medical conditions.
Sexuality: Unhealthy, unsafe sexual practices is a risk factor for sexually transmissible diseases
Sleep: Poor sleep is associated with depression, heart disease, stroke, obesity.
Anybody can make the choice of personal lifestyle for disease prevention, health maintenance and management of chronic diseases.
How can one have a healthy lifestyle?
Each of the healthy lifestyle in the box below should be practiced to enjoy good health.
Get about 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity at least 5 days a week, preferably every day,
Quit smoking, if you are a smoker,
Use alcohol only in moderation, if at all - limit to 2 servings/day for men, 1 for women,
Lose 5% to 10% of body weight, if overweight or obese,
Achieve weight loss by reducing calories intake by varied choice of food (reduce about 500 kcal per day) and gradually increase physical activity to 60 minutes per day,
Consume a diet rich in vegetables and fruits, at least 2 fruits, 3 vegetables per day.
Choose whole-grain, high-fiber foods (at least half of grains as whole grains),
Limit intake of saturated fat to <10% of energy, trans fat to <1% of energy, and cholesterol to <300 mg/day by choosing lean meats and vegetable alternatives, fat-free (skim) or low-fat (1% fat) dairy products and minimize intake of partially hydrogenated fats,
Consume fish, especially oily fish, at least twice a week,
Minimize intake of beverages and foods with added sugars.
Sleep is important for various aspects of brain function, which includes cognition, concentration, productivity and performance
What could be done at home?
Healthy lifestyle of exercise, sleep, stress management, healthy diet consumption, healthy sexuality, spirituality, relationship management, healthy digital behavior, humour, music, cleanliness can be practiced at home to prevent diseases and as an important part of self-care in the management of all chronic diseases.
When should medical care be sought?
Medical help should be sought if you are overweight, obese, have poor sleep, eat excessively, pass excessive urine, smoke, under excessive stress, take alcohol, have sedentary job, gaining weight suddenly or have chronic diseases for which you are currently not being treated by a medical expert.
What will a medical doctor do to manage your unhealthy lifestyle?
The doctor will ask questions to understand your unhealthy lifestyle, examine your whole body to know the extent of the problem and carry out an investigation to arrive at the diagnosis. Healthy lifestyle practices will be prescribed with or without medications.
How can unhealthy lifestyles be prevented?
It is better to start healthy living early in life before diseases set in. Children and adolescent should practice healthy lifestyle at home, school and everywhere to prevent or delay chronic diseases related to unhealthy lifestyle in adulthood. Adults irrespective of their health condition should practice healthy lifestyle to prevent disease, remain fit, maintain health, manage disease and prevent complication of diseases. Healthy lifestyle should cover all dimensions of wellness as below.
What are other similar conditions?
Other similar activities such as meditation, breathing exercises, body massage, positive mindset, love of nature are important for healthy living.
Diseases such as cancer, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, arthritis, heart diseases, depression, anxiety, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung diseases can be prevented by healthy lifestyle.
Speak to a Doctor today about any other medical concern you have by registering on https://www.kompletecare.com and take advantage of our online consultation. With KompleteCare™, a Doctor is just a click away.
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