NON-COMMUNICABLE

Our open refusal to exercise increases lifestyle diseases

85% of all deaths recorded in low, middle-income countries

In Summary

• Those aged between 30 and 70 have been revealed to be more susceptible to these killer diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and HIV/Aids. 

• Majority of affected countries already struggling with illiteracy and economic strain.   

A basket of fruits.
HEALTHY FOODS NOT CHOSEN: A basket of fruits.
Image: FILE

Lifestyle diseases are increasingly becoming a global health concern. Statistics indicate that they are to blame for 14 million annual deaths.

Those aged between 30 and 70 have been revealed to be more susceptible to these killer diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and HIV/Aids with 85 per cent of all deaths occurring in low-and-middle-income countries.

Since the majority of these countries are already struggling with abject poverty, hunger and illiteracy, the added economic strain that lifestyle diseases bring about where the spread of communicable diseases is worrying and has direct adverse implications on economic growth and development. 

Thanks to this reality, Kenya is experiencing a worrying epidemiological transition. Fertility rates are being dented due to swelling morbidity and mortality rates attributable to communicable disease epidemics such as diabetes, cancers and cardiovascular diseases, stress and chronic respiratory diseases. 

Cardiovascular diseases and cancer have lately caused alarm across the country. Varying voices and opinions have blamed the quality of food, water and our overt reluctance to exercise. Science rather than opposing voices should guide and provide direction on how the diseases can be tamed.

About a decade ago, cardiovascular diseases and cancer caused slightly less than 10 per cent of deaths in the country, a proportion that has crossed a digit in Kenya and beyond.

With technology, which has enabled humanity to understand diseases and provided cures, we should reverse some of the already existing lifestyle conditions ailing and driving humanity to an early grave. The answer needed is our willingness to change. We should check and improve our nutritional dietary, sleeping patterns, physical activity and stress management, which are the major echelons for therapeutic lifestyle modification.

Since lifestyle diseases are acquired through modifiable behaviour, personalised lifestyle medicine is the panacea needed most to prevent and manage their development and prevalence. It is the ignorance of these otherwise simple and easy to adopt practices with strict dedication and discipline that has seen the number of non-communicable cases swell.

Healthy diets are key to good nutrition and are a function of prolonged healthy life. Eating foods with dense nutrients especially cereals in their whole-grain, high-fibre form and balancing energy intake with the necessary physical activity is important in maintaining a healthy weight.

Enough consumption of fruits, vegetables and legumes with adequate folic acid intake alongside avoidance of high-calorie foods that have traces of trans-fats and sugar and limiting the intake of sodium and cured meats are viable interventions in improving one’s health.

Adequate and quality sleep is equally essential in maintaining optimal health and wellbeing. Sleep complements healthy eating and regular exercising. When one gets enough sleep, they have work output, better concentration and less stress. It has the potential to lower the likelihood of gaining weight and the risk of contracting related diseases. 

 

Researchers, Lower Kabete