If they don’t take care of themselves, lifestyle diseases can slowly creep up and suddenly disrupt their lives.
Lifestyle diseases are chronic diseases that are largely caused by unhealthy and sedentary habits such as poor diet, physical inactivity, and tobacco and alcohol use.
Following a combination of good habits can help women keep lifestyle diseases — also known as non-communicable conditions like type-2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, high cholesterol and stroke — at bay.
While regular physical activity can help with weight management, eating healthy food gives the body the necessary nutrients to fight such conditions.
Here's your daily checklist of things to do to maintain a healthy life.
Following an active lifestyle can be beneficial in the long run. Being physically active can help maintain a healthy weight, boost the mood, reduce the risk of chronic diseases and improve overall well-being. Include walking, running, jogging or swimming to the workout regime and ensure you get some weight training at least once a week. Engaging in a 45-minute moderate workout daily is recommended. "Women should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise per week," says Dr Aruna Muralidhar, Senior Obstetrician and Gynaecologist at Fortis Hospital, Richmond Road, Bangalore.
Follow a balanced diet
A healthy and balanced diet can provide the necessary nutrients to the body and keep diseases at bay. Include seasonal fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats in your daily diet. Also, limit the consumption of processed foods, saturated fats and sugary drinks. A simple way to ensure you are eating well is to add fruits and vegetables of different colours to your plate. It can help maintain good health and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Dr Anu Joseph, Senior Consultant - OBG & Fetal Medicine at Kauvery Hospitals, Electronic City, Bengaluru, recommends that younger women include more rice, roti and potatoes in their diet. Women in the middle-age group should increase the intake of protein by adding dal, paneer, milk, meat and fish. She urges elderly women to have more calcium and mineral-rich food like eggs, milk, and other fruits and vegetables. Also, ensure you have three litres of water every day.
Smoking can harm nearly every organ in the body. It is also considered a major risk factor for chronic diseases like lung cancer, heart disease and stroke. Women must avoid smoking and second-hand smoke.
Limit alcohol consumption
An occasional drink may be harmless, but consuming excessive alcohol is detrimental to health. It can lead to liver diseases like cirrhosis and cancer. Dr Muralidhar suggests that women limit their alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day.
Get enough sleep
A proper sleep cycle can aid in overall well-being. Aiming for seven to eight hours of sleep per night will help women in the long run. To ensure you fall asleep on time, follow sleep hygiene practices like avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bedtime. Follow a fixed sleep schedule daily.
Try stress management techniques
The stress hormone, cortisol, can cause physical and mental harm. It is known to spike blood glucose levels and force the brain to utilise the glucose and repair tissues. Women should find healthy ways to manage stress using meditation, yoga or other relaxation techniques like spending time in nature, says Dr Niti Raizada, Senior Director, Medical Oncology & Hemato Oncology, Fortis Group of Hospitals, Richmond Road, Bangalore. Such practices reduce the impact of stress.
Get regular health screenings
It's also important to seek support from healthcare providers, friends and family members from time to time. Getting regular health check-ups is crucial to overall well-being. They can detect potential problems early, which make the treatment more effective. Besides regular check-ups, women should get health screenings for breast cancer, cervical cancer and osteoporosis.
Yearly basic health check-ups should include blood tests, a visit to the gynaecologist and ultrasound scanning. Pap smears for cervical cancer screening and breast examination are the other tests that women should undergo regularly to keep lifestyle diseases at bay. The regularity of these check-ups depends on the age group of women.
Practice safe sex
Practising safe sex is important to avoid sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unplanned pregnancies. Women should use condoms or other forms of contraception to protect themselves.
It's never too late to start living healthy. Adopt these changes gradually and consistently over time for best results.