Health is wealth is old saying. We must consider it as an investment and dedicate time and efforts to make it a success. For a common man investment means something to do with the money. He works hard to earn money and invest it for future use. However, health is more important than wealth. Its said, ‘if wealth is lost nothing is lost; if health is lost something is lost’. Only healthy people can earn money and enjoy it. Wealthy, but not healthy, will only help to increase the earnings of hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. Unfortunately, most of us don’t give due importance to health. Experience shows that health is the last priority in today’s busy and competitive world. Our unhealthy life styles are responsible for today’s upsurge in chronic diseases & increased number of deaths and disabilities. Its time to think about our own health and work consciously to maintain it. Its time to treat health as an investment.
Health investment is akin to financial investment. In health investment, our health is our wealth. Ageing is akin to Inflation. As value of money goes down with time due to inflation, the body functions and health status also decline with time due to ageing. (Kindly refer to article ‘Ageing & You; Know the facts’ for effects of ageing). Our life styles are our instruments of investment. Investment in bad instruments will ruin you of money & bad life styles and habits will ruin you of your health. The goal of financial investment is to beat inflation and generate wealth. Health investment goals are aimed to beat the effects of ageing and enjoy a healthy life till 100 years at least. A constant watch is required to maintain wealth as well as health. Health, thus is an investment. We have to dedicate efforts to make it a success.
Strategies for Health Investment
WHO defines health as ‘state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not just absence of diseases or infirmity‘. The health investment should be aimed to attain a state of positive health for hundred years of life at least. The guidelines enumerated are applicable to all age groups, but has special significance for people above 35 years of age. After this age hypertension and diabetes start occurring in population. In Indian population the process starts a bit early, after 30 years of age.
Food is the basic need. We eat continuously from birth to death. Our diet is the main factor affecting our health. A balanced diet, low in calorie & high in fruit and vegetables (especially green leafy vegetables) is key to good health. One should avoid fast foods junk food, soft drinks and high salt foods.
Today’s world has become mechanized and physical activity is the biggest casualty. Sedentary lifestyle makes us prone for obesity, heart attacks diabetes & hypertension. To live long and healthy, we have to adore physical activity. We have to find ways and means to remain physically active. One can use stairs instead of lift. For short distances, its better to walk or use bicycle. One hour daily should be dedicated for exercise at least four days in a week. Prepare and adhere to the schedule. An exercise program should be a mix of stamina building, strength building and flexibility building exercises. For stamina one can do aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming, bicycling, dancing or brisk walking, depending on the age group. These exercises can be done twice/thrice a week. For maximum benefits the activity should last for twenty minutes. Strength building exercises include weight training, push ups, sit ups etc and Yoga. 15-30 minutes time should be dedicated to deep breathing exercises. An exercise program should be able to exercise all joints and muscle groups in the body. No tailor made solution can be given. Dedicated efforts will be required to maintain regularity.
Adequate sleep is important for good health. During sleep repair of body systems take place. New connections in the brain are developed based on day’s experience. 6-8 hours sleep is a must for everyone. Lesser Sleep will result in chronic sleep deprivation which triggers stress mechanism in body. Research indicate that sleep deprivation leads to obesity, hypertension, diabetes and cancers. Adequate sleep as per biological clock should be taken to remain healthy and prevent diseases.
Weight is the balance between calorie intake and calorie expenditure. Obesity is the biggest killer in the modern world. It predisposes an individual to hypertension, diabetes, cancers, gall stones, sleep apnea, stroke and so on. BMI value (Wt (kg)/ height square (meters) more than 25 is not good. One should maintain his BMI between 18-25. BMI value 22 is best. For further reading one can refer to the post Obesity Harms: Do you Know?
Keep Waist Line Thin
Waist circumference should not be more than 90 cm in males and 85 cm in females (applicable for Asian Indians). Waist to hip ratio should be maintained at less than 0.9 for men and 0.8 for women. Waist line more than the recommended value puts you at risk of metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases like Hypertension, Diabetes etc.
Get Yourself Checked Up Annually
Once a year medical check up is important. Diabetes and hypertension are often diagnosed only during routine check ups. After the checkup, abnormalities should be corrected by suitable adjustment in life styles/advise of the doctor. Blood values of following test should be maintained.
Blood Values for Healthy
|Parameter||Value ( mg per 100 ml of blood)|
|Blood Sugar (Fasting)||<100|
|Blood Sugar (Post Prandial)||<120|
|HDL (Good cholesterol)||>50|
|LDL (Bad cholesterol)||<130|
Tobacco has destroyed mankind since ages. It is responsible for more than 60 lakhs deaths annually world wide due to lung cancer, mouth cancer, heart attacks and stroke. Only Tobacco companies are benefited by use of tobacco products. Consuming tobacco is akin to committing suicide.
Alcohol is another agent of miseries in the world. It has ruined humanity physically, socially and morally. It is responsible for road accidents, crimes and diseases. If unavoidable, restrict consumption to not more than 2 drinks (small) per day for men and one drink for women. Never drive after alcohol consumption.
Adopt Responsible Driving
Don’t mix driving and drinking. Its dangerous not only for you but also for others. Drunken driving is main cause of road accidents. In USA drunken driving accounts for 31% of road traffic deaths. In country like India, 1.34 lakhs road fatalities occur annually out of which 70% fatalities are due to drunken driving.
Take Care of Your Teeth
If you have to live long, teeth must be cared well. Brush your teeth daily at least twice; morning and after dinner or before going to sleep. After meals one must rinse vigorously to dislodge impacted food particles in mouth. Once a year dental check up is recommended.
Wash Your Hands Frequently
Frequent hand washing protects against spread of common cold and other infections. One should wash hands during following rituals:-
- Before, during & after meal preparation
- Before meals
- After using toilet
- Before and after caring for someone who is sick
- Before and after treating a cut or wound
- After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
- After blowing nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After touching an animal, animal feed or animal waste
- After touching garbage
Be Aware of Your Illness
Chronic illnesses may affect you in spite of healthy life styles. You can blame your genes, but one has to face the reality. One must gather as much information as possible about its pathology, symptoms, complications, management and prevention. A good knowledge is the first step to tame a disease. One must take the medicines regularly without missing the dose. Keep your doctor informed about various medicines being prescribed to you.
Improving Mental & Social Health
In present era computers, TV and other electronic devices have reduced the physical distances, but the distance between family members has increased. In earlier days in India, there used to be only one TV in the whole street. All the people used to gather and gossip. In present times there are TV in every house and may be in each room. Family members are not talking to each other. People have reduced socializing in favour of their favourite TV shows. In bigger cities we do not even know our neighbours. Children instead of playing outdoors are playing video games or browsing internet. We have become more materialistic. We are struggling hard for success, primarily measured in terms of money earned. The level of aggression and frustration has increased and level of happiness has decreased. Reduced communication and cut throat competition has lead to enhanced stress levels and its consequences. There is enough evidence to link aggressive & ambitious personalities (called type A personalities) to diseases like hypertension, diabetes, heart attacks etc.
To reduce stress and improve social and mental well being there is need to devote quality time to family members and friends. Old saying that families that pray and eat together will never be unhappy is true even today. To reduce stress and its effects, recreational activities, exercises, yoga and meditation are helpful, but unfortunately people do not have time for such activities. Anger management is important not for others but for oneself. Faith in god (irrespective of religion) is a powerful tool to reduce stress. Indian philosophy gives us wisdom that could help in stress reduction. It tells us to surrender to god. Whatever you are doing, dedicate it to the service of god. Whatever happens will be for your good. Bad times are testing times of your faith. It also tells us to work selflessly without expecting the result, since the results are beyond our control. Firm belief in these principles will change the attitude of your life (it has changed mine).
One of my friend forwarded an interesting post in WhatsApp. The post is reproduced as it is.
Shivio, an 80 years old Italian goes to the doctor for a check up. The doctor is amazed at the shape the guy is in and asks. How do you stay in such great physical condition?. “I am Italian and I am a cyclist and that’s why I am in such a good shape. I’m up before daylight and out cycling up and down the highways. I have a glass of vino and all is well”. ‘Well’ says the doctor. I’m sure that helps, but there’s got to be more to it. How old was your father when he died?’ Who said my father is dead? exclaimed Shivio. The doctor is amazed. ‘You mean you are 80 years and your father is still live. How old is he? ‘He is 102 years old’ says Shivio. He cycled with me this morning, went to beach for a walk, had little vino and that’s why he is still alive’. Italian,… cyclist.. ‘Well’ the doctors says. How about your father’s father? How old was he when he died’. Who said my Nonoo is dead? Shivio replied. Stunned, the doctor asks, ‘You are 80 years old and your your grandfather is still alive? Incredible! How old is he?. ‘He is 123 years old’, said old Italian Cyclist. The doctor is getting frustrated at this point. So, ‘I guess he went cycling with you this morning too’? ‘No, he couldn’t go this morning because he is getting married’. At this point the doctor is close to losing it. Getting married? Why would a a 123 year old guy want to get married? Who said he wanted to get married…. He had to!!!!!. …. the girl got pregnant, replied Shivio.
We wish that people in the world should be as fit as Shivio’s grandfather. Its said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Medical research has proved beyond doubt that chronic diseases like hypertension, diabetes, cancers etc are amenable to prevention by changes in life styles. Since these diseases are main cause of disabilities in old age, adopting healthy life styles will help to prevent them or at least delay their onset and complications, prolonging the disease free period of life. Inspired by the secrets of centenarians and backed by the research, guidelines have been compiled in this article to enable us to live long without diseases and disabilities. This article is an attempt to remind you of your obligation to look after your own health. We have sacrificed enough for the sake of manufacturers of pharmaceuticals, soft drinks, junk food, cigarettes and alcohol. Its time to act selfish and take care of ones own health. Remember, no one can eat for you, no one can exercise for you; you and only you are responsible for your health. Adopt healthy lifestyles, maintain excellent health and be a winner for life.
‘REMEMBER HEALTH IS WEALTH AND IT IS TAX FREE’
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