Lifestyle changes are a must to reduce the risk of acquiring dementia later in life: HCFI

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A balanced lifestyle can keep both physical and mental health in good shape

New Delhi, 27th May 2019: The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a set of guidelines indicating that a range of lifestyle modifications may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. The guidelines put the focus on regular exercise, a healthy diet, and controlling obesity, diabetes and hypertension. The need of the hour is to raise awareness on the importance of taking preventive measures in averting the risk of dementia and other diseases.

Dementia can be defined as a group of symptoms involving loss of memory and other thinking skills. The WHO has termed it as one of the greatest global challenges for health and social care in the 21st century.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Lifestyle has a major role to play in the health and well-being of a person. It’s not just physical health that benefits from a balanced lifestyle, but also mental health. Dementia is usually regarded as a part of the normal aging process, but it is not always so. The condition is also associated with lifestyle factors. The risk of dementia can be reduced by simple yet effective lifestyle modifications. A healthy lifestyle adopted early in life builds up the cognitive reserve for later. It is also important to advise our family and friends to start making positive changes for a healthy old age.”

The WHO guidelines are aimed at healthcare providers who can advise people. They have been listed under various categories such as low to moderate, strong, and low to high, based on the quality of evidence available and the strength of recommendations.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “It is important that you engage in regular mentally stimulating activities to keep those brain cells up and running. This is particularly beneficial for those who have crossed their 40s. Try doing light brain stimulating tasks like crossword puzzles, quizzes, daily reading or anything similar that interests you. For older individuals, it is advised that they engage their mental reserves through social engagement and exercise.”

India has an ever-growing elderly population, out of which 1.6 million are suffering from Alzheimer’s. This number is only expected to triple by 2050. At an individual level, each one of us must take proactive steps towards a better lifestyle.

Some tips from HCFI

  • Maintain a healthy weight by eating healthy and indulging in regular physical activity.
  • Eat mindfully. Emphasize on colorful, vitamin-packed vegetables and fruits; whole grains; fish, lean poultry, tofu, and beans and other legumes as protein sources plus healthy fats. Cut down on unnecessary calories from sweets, sodas, refined grains like white bread or white rice, unhealthy fats, fried and fast foods, and mindless snacking. Keep a close eye on portion sizes as well.
  • Exercise regularly. Aim for 2½ to 5 hours of brisk walking every week. You can also try vigorous exercises like jogging for half that time.
  • Keep an eye on important health numbers. In addition to watching your weight, keep a check on your cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as blood pressure and blood sugar.

Healthy diet and lifestyle can help avert metabolic disorders: HCFI

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Avoid exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals and consumption of processed food

New Delhi, 22 May 2019: A recent study has found that people exposed to chemicals have an increased risk of acquiring metabolic disorders. They found that certain chemicals can lead to impaired liver function and thereby an increased likelihood of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. The need of the hour is to raise awareness about the incidence and prevention of metabolic disorders.

Common additives used to manufacture plastics can be found in everyday items including milk, bottled water, instant coffee, perfume, makeup, shampoo, toys and food packaging. Exposure to certain chemicals called endocrine disruptors can also cause infertility and other issues.

Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “Our internal and external environment can affect our metabolism. Our bodies are composed of five elements, and all of them are responsible for different functions. For example, air and space affect movement; fire and water affect metabolism; and water and earth affect all secretions and structures. The three negative emotions that are responsible for diseases include ‘ignorance, hatred and desire.’ Physical sickness is caused by hatred, which further leads to disharmony of the bile. Diseases that stem from the middle and upper part of the body are caused by the mental emotion called hatred. In Ayurveda, this is called as ‘Pitta’ disorder and the person experiences metabolic and digestive issues. They can also be caused by eating unhealthy food or exposure to harmful chemicals and substances.”

A less commonly known source of an endocrine disruptor called bisphenol A (BPA), is paper money. Present in trace quantities, BPA is a chemical found in some plastics and other consumer products. BPA may be associated with behavioral and reproductive issues.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “The incidence of metabolic syndrome was low in the Vedic era. People kept a weekly fast with no carbohydrate intake. They followed a vegetarian diet which was preventive in nature. The only example of probable metabolic syndrome in mythology was of Lord Ganesha with increased abdominal circumference with preference for eating sweets or laddoos.”

Ganesha pooja is incomplete without the use of durva grass, consumption of bel, katha (cathechu) and jamun. In Ayurveda, these are known to possess anti-metabolic syndrome properties (insulin sensitizers).

Some tips from HCFI

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your height.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.
  • Limit sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams a day (one teaspoon of salt) and get plenty of potassium (at least 4,700 mg per day) from fruits and vegetables.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all.
  • Reduce stress.

Half of Indians unaware of their hypertension status and have not received a diagnosis

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The condition is a silent killer and damages other organs over time

New Delhi, 14th May 2019: According to a recent study, only 3 out of 4 individuals in India with hypertension have ever had their blood pressure measured. Only about 45% had been diagnosed, and only 8% of those surveyed had their blood pressure under control. More than half the number of Indians aged 15 to 49 years with hypertension were not aware of their hypertension status. The awareness level was lowest in Chhattisgarh (22.1%) and highest in Puducherry (80.5%).[1]

Hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, a leading cause of death in India. It is defined as a repeatedly elevated blood pressure exceeding 140/90 mmHg. Hypertension generally doesn’t cause any outward signs or symptoms but silently damages blood vessels, and other organs. There is a need to create awareness about the fact that hypertension is not a disease but a sign that something is wrong in the body.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “The prevalence of hypertension in Indian adults has shown a drastic increase in the past three decades in urban as well as rural areas. It is important to get an annual checkup done after the age of 30 even if you have no family history of hypertension, are not diabetic or don’t have any other lifestyle-related disorder. For those in the high-risk category, a checkup is advised every month. Hypertension can be prevented provided a person makes necessary lifestyle changes right at the outset. It is also imperative to spread the message of prevention and encourage people across various age groups to check their blood pressure at regular intervals.”

Some signs and symptoms of hypertension include dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, fatigue, and sometimes chest pain, palpitations, and nosebleeds.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “High blood pressure imposes an up-front burden in people who know they have it and who are working to control it. It adds to worries about health. It alters what you eat and how active you are, since a low-sodium diet and exercise are important ways to help keep blood pressure in check. Some people need medication and may need to take one or more pills a day, which can be a costly hassle.”

Some tips from HCFI.

  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight for your height
  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains
  • Limit sodium intake to under 2,300 milligrams a day (one teaspoon of salt) and get plenty of potassium (at least 4,700 mg per day) from fruits and vegetables
  • Drink alcohol in moderation, if at all
  • Reduce stress
  • Monitor your blood pressure regularly, and work with your doctor to keep it in a healthy range

[1] Research published in PLOS Medicine, and carried out by researchers at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Heidelberg Institute of Global Health, the University of Birmingham and the University of Gottingen.

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