Even though the misnomer "lifestyle" might indicate luxurious living, lifestyle diseases do not discriminate between the rich and the poor. India, being a developing nation, already has a burden of infectious diseases and to add to this, it has become an unenviable destination to some of the world’s most dangerous lifestyle diseases.
Type 2 Diabetes - The fact that India is regarded as the "Diabetes Capital of the World" should put every self-respecting Indian to shame. The land and civilization that gave the world the science of Yoga and Ayurveda should have to face such ignominy by its current citizenry is nothing short of an unforgivable disgrace. Overuse of processed flours and refined sugars, compounded by a not-so-helpful genotype, puts Indians at an unprecedented risk of insulin-dependent diabetes.
Hypertension - High blood pressure affects, according to one survey, more than 100 million Indians. This is associated with the Indian's love for savoury snacks that invariably contain high amounts of salt. Other contributing factors are work and societal stress and obesity.
Obesity - Indians (more so, the youth and young children) are prone to obesity, which by itself opens up a new Pandora's Box of maladies. Indians have a high visceral adiposity (fat deposits) than the Caucasian population and even with a lower Body Mass Index (BMI) we become prone to a group of disorders called Metabolic Syndrome.
Heart Diseases - High levels of cholesterol (LDL) and triglycerides in the Indian diet (due to the high consumption of butter and ghee) can lead to atherosclerosis (deposition of fats on the inner walls of the arteries), leading to cardiac ailments like heart attack and stroke.
Cancer - Smoking and alcohol consumption increases the risk of lung and other types of cancers. Also occupational hazards like contact with certain harmful chemical pollutants can induce cancers.
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease - A disease characterized by shortness of breath and a persistent cough and sputum production, COPD is often caused by inhalation of chemical irritants like those found in the smoke while cooking, tobacco smoking or other chemical irritants in certain manufacturing facilities.
A new branch of biological sciences called "Nutrigenomics" is coming to the fore, which studies the interplay of the chemicals in our food with our DNA. These chemicals can associate with our genes at the cellular level and create unhealthy situations for the individual, sometimes leading to increased risk of being afflicted with one or the other lifestyle disorders.
"Live Healthy," might perhaps sound too simplistic a solution for today's complicated scenario, but it signifies the key to our wellness. It tells us to eat healthy, exercise and keep our minds energetic and happy. If we make healthy lifestyle choices, we may be granted the boon of longevity and not the curse of a disease.