Non-communicable diseases have become a major public health concern. Some can even refer to it as a pandemic. Annually, 41 million deaths are attributed to non-communicable diseases. Initially, these diseases were reserved for the older age group.
However, statistics have shown that there is an increased incidence of these diseases in younger people. You might wonder why we are having more cases; one of the major culprits is the eight-letter word- LIFESTYLE.
For instance, while many bodybuilders use the best supplements for bulking to build muscles, others consume unhealthy diets as they try to gain body mass. And there is a correlation between unhealthy diets and Non-communicable diseases. To learn more, keep on reading.
What are non-communicable diseases- NCDs?
In literal terms, non-communicable diseases refer to diseases that cannot be transmitted from one person to another. However, the term NCD is more encompassing and is used to describe a group of diseases that do not result from an acute infection but run a chronic course and often require long-term treatment and management. The cause of these diseases is attributed to a complex combination of metabolic, genetic, environmental, behavioral, and physical factors. The major types of Non-communicable diseases are Cardiovascular diseases (like heart disease and stroke), Diabetes Mellitus, cancers, chronic lung diseases, etc.
How is lifestyle linked to non-communicable diseases?
When discussing the risk factors for NCDs, there are two types we look out for. They are:
The non-modifiable risk factors are those that we have little or no control over. Family history, genetics, age, sex, and race are typical nonmodifiable risk factors.
On the other hand, modifiable risk factors are those that we have control over. This is where the issue of lifestyle comes to play. Physical inactivity, unhealthy diet, obesity, alcoholism, and cigarette or tobacco smoking are some of the modifiable risk factors.
Physical Inactivity and NCDs
Get up and move! A sedentary lifestyle has become the order of the day in our society. It is important to stay active regardless of age. Take a walk, go for a jog, pace around, exercise, and just ensure you try to stay active. A sedentary lifestyle has been linked to obesity, deep vein thrombosis, type II Diabetes, hypertension, cancer, etc.
Unhealthy diet and NCDs
Our go-to comfort food and pastries might end up causing us discomfort in years to come. Over the years, our choice of meals has largely tilted towards sugar-dense and fat-packed meals. An unhealthy diet has been implicated in non-communicable diseases like obesity, type II diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke.
This isn’t to say that we should cut off these meals. Nonetheless, their consumption should be reduced to the barest minimum.
Smoking and NCDs
Whether tobacco or cigarette smoking, there are little or no benefits to smoking. In contrast, you will be doing yourself and the people around you a disservice. Tobacco smoking has been strongly associated with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD comprises chronic bronchitis and emphysema. Also, smoking has been associated with lung cancer and cancers of the esophagus, stomach, bladder, liver, etc.
It is also important to understand the concept of passive smoking. Passive smoking is characterized by unwillingly breathing in smoke from the cigarette, tobacco, or pipe of an active smoker or environmental smoke. Unfortunately, passive smoking is also associated with increased risks of these NCDs. Therefore, it isn’t enough to abstain from smoking. It is equally important to reduce contact with smoke.
Alcoholism and NCDs
Going out with friends to celebrate on a Friday night or occasional drinking at a party or get-together isn’t so bad. The problem lies with consistent drinking and overdrinking. While overdrinking can be seen as a sign of maturity, alcoholism has been associated with certain malignancies, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and liver diseases.
Indeed, non-communicable diseases are not due to lifestyle habits alone. But, we need to make a conscious effort to do our part by maintaining a healthy lifestyle. You have nothing to lose by adopting a healthy lifestyle.