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Is it a Right path to address today’s lifestyle diseases (Heart disease and Diabetes)?

India, particularly Chennai is currently undergoing rapid transition. The signs were everywhere: from the multiplying of swanky malls, to the explosion of fine dining western restaurants, the entry of a lengthening list of international luxury brands and a middle class that indulged itself like never before and thus, we all ended up with more ‘style’ than life. Today, the Western way of life has contributed to Western type of diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. This lifestyle has not only changed our quality of life but also our foods.

Rice is a staple food for south Indians. In addition to being consumed in some form in almost all the three meals of the day, it contributes a significant proportion to our total calories. But, would being a staple food and contributing major calories make it a healthy food (quality)? A recent study conducted in Southern India has shown that people who consumed white rice is more prone to diabetes and increased risk for heart diseases. The quality of white rice that we consume today is unwholesome. In spite of research findings, food manufacturers continue to process rice by polishing – a process that strips the bran, germ layer and more importantly, the many essential micronutrients (thiamine, magnesium, Vitamin E) as well as dietary fibre, all to increase storage life by up to 25 – 30%.

So, what can be the best alternative for white rice which we take either in our sadams or as idli / dosa / paniyaram? Unpolished rice or brown rice (Raw/parboiled) or hand pounded rice are ideal alternatives. Is it acceptable and tastier? Of course!!! Granted that it takes times to adjust to any alternative, a gradual inclusion of brown rice in your diet can reap health benefits. Apparently, replacing brown rice in place of white rice at least 1 serving/day, decrease your risk of diabetes mellitus and heart diseases. Additionally, an inclusion of healthier options like fruits, vegetables, healthy fats and plant proteins along with healthy and quality of rice can build your immunity making you stronger and healthier.

Having a great healthy meal without regular physical activity is not going to be really helpful. Physically inactive people are nearly twice as likely to develop heart diseases in comparison to those who are active – even if there are no other conditions or habits that increase your risk for heart diseases!!!!! A lack of physical activity in the long run will only lead to more visits to the doctor, more hospitalizations, and more medicines for a variety of illness.

The good news is that physical activity can protect your heart in a number of important ways. Regular activity – something as simple as a brisk, 30-minute walk everyday – can help reduce your risk for heart diseases. It has been reported that 10,000 steps per day is recommended to prevent chronic diseases. We must however know that in reality, 10,000 steps per day can burn up to 250-300 kilocalories which is an equivalent of 2-3 idlies consumed (Size of the idly and intensity of walking will also definitely affect calories). Isn’t this reason enough that we should set realistic goals 

Finally, without a calm and relaxed mood, it’s difficult to make people adapt to healthier lifestyles with better food choices and increased exercise. It has been shown that while negative mental states such as depression, anger, anxiety and hostility harms the heart, optimism, life satisfaction, and happiness was associated with reduced risk of heart diseases. A positive approach can definitely help to prevent many lifestyle diseases. And today, yoga, meditation and relaxation therapies have helped to develop positive approach. However, these sessions are generally offered for 30 – 60 minute sessions but translating these into real life situation is wiser.
Overall, there is a need to translating all three factors – FOOD, MOOD & EXERCISE – in the day to day lives of man to make him feel empowered. After all, life is always on “CALL” – Continuous Awareness on Learning Lifestyles for better health today and tomorrow.

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