• Jared Ng

Why You Should Start A Healthy Lifestyle Change Now

For yourself. That's it. Plain and simple. Or to be less selfish, for your family and loved ones as well. When you are unhealthy and sick, not only do you have to suffer and live in pain. Your family members taking care of you will have to go through it as well and it puts them under a lot of stress. Stop giving excuses as most of this sickness and poor health can be avoided in the future if you start putting in the work to lead a healthy lifestyle now.


Just look at the table below. In the early 20th century, the leading causes of death were due to infectious diseases caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites. This was due to poor sanitisation and lack of modern healthcare such as antibiotic drugs. In 1918, millions of people around the world died from a virus known as influenza.



Fast forward to today, the leading causes of death in the US and the industrialised world are no longer due to infections, but to "lifestyle diseases". Heart disease and cancer, mostly result from people's behaviour and the ways in which they live.


For example, heart disease results primarily from poor diet, lack of cardiovascular activity, smoking cigarettes, high stress levels, high blood pressure, and high blood cholesterol. Apart from that, an unhealthy lifestyle is also the root of many lung disease (smoking), type 2 diabetes, and obesity (poor nutrition). Suicide and accidents are also usually due to stress, drug or alcohol abuse.


Engaging in regular physical activity can help reduce the risk of chronic diseases, prolong life and enhance your quality of life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), physical inactivity is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality (accounting for 6% of deaths globally), whilst obesity is responsible for 5% of global mortality.


A major characteristic of many lifestyle diseases is that they are chronic diseases, meaning they persist for years or life. They lower the quality of life and shorten the life span. It will also affect your family and is costly to the healthcare system.



Poor Diet


Leading the list of life-shortening behaviours is poor diet. Nowadays, people are consuming less fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and higher amounts of processed meat, salt, and sugar than ever before!


Just take a look at the table below. These numbers have been on a rising trend since 1992, and will only continue rising. Most of this diseases are not due to infections but rather, "lifestyle" diseases, which result from people's behaviour and habits. This means that you have the power and ability to change and it is totally within your control.


According to the 2010 National Health Survey conducted by the Ministry of Health, 39.1% of Singaporeans (aged 18–69 years) are physically inactive and of these, 10.8% are obese.


A typical fast food meal (burger, fries, and a soft drink) easily contains 1000 calories, which is about half of the average individual's energy requirements for the day. Although small amounts of saturated fat is needed, a fast food meal is packed full of saturated fat, which contributes to heart and blood vessel disease. It also contains an excess of salt. This is why a frequent diet of fast food meals can lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes.


Apart from that, the sugar from soft drinks is also problematic. Not only do sugar-sweetened beverages have no nutritional value, they increase the added sugar unnecessarily in your diet. They can easily be replaced by healthy beverages such as water (Bonus: it's free) and tea.



Smoking & Tobacco



Next on the list is smoking. Smoking cigarettes, cigars, and other harmful substances contributes to death caused by cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pneumonia. Oh just a reminder, even if you are a non-smoker, but stand near your friends when they smoke, you are also at risk as second-hand smoke (the inhalation of other's exhalation of smoke).


The tobacco industry profits financially from causing harm to people. Most smokers begin their first puff since their teens, whether it be peer pressure, or just out of curiosity. On top of that, movies also portray the main character with a cigarette or cigar as "cool" or "manly". Sometimes, people use smoking as a form of social activity. After smoking for some time, the habit sticks with them and it becomes a challenge to quit.



Type-2 Diabetes


Type-2 diabetes is a worldwide problem that has increased over the years and is still on a rising trend. Many research has shown that type-2 diabetes can be prevented or controlled by changing lifestyle and dietary pattern. This is why people are encouraged to eat healthily and engage in physical activity such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator.



Shortsightedness



Another lifestyle disease that most people are affected but don't come to their minds is shortsightedness or myopia. Many children and adults in modern societies have to wear glasses or contact lens to correct their poor vision.


During our ancestor times, acute vision is needed to forage and hunt for food, and corrective lenses were unknown. During early development, a child's eyes adapt to the visual information the eyes receive from the environment. However these days, majority of the children watch or play with their smartphones, tablets, and laptops, which all require close-up vision. This causes a strain on their eyes and results in myopia developing at an earlier age.



Final Thoughts


Always remember that starting a new habit is always the hardest. However, as long as you persist, you will gradually feel better and start to see the results, which reinforces the good habits. Before you know it, these healthy habits are part of your day-to-day lifestyle.


The earlier you begin, the higher the chances of you being able to prevent or even reverse some of these lifestyle diseases. You also get to live and get more out of life by being in a healthy state.

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