Beware of 'lifestyle disease'

Your medical report says you’re on the verge of a lifestyle disease. Don’t panic. You can arrest deteriorating health before it gets too bad.  It’s the lifestyle hazard of our times — eat what you can, drink to relax, sleep on the commute and dial a pizza when deadlines loom. And the annual medical report shows cholesterol bordering on dangerous, sugar levels higher than average and raised blood pressure. You’re on the borderline and need to pull back before things turn fatal. Nutritionist Neha Gehi tells what you need to know.



You have it if: Your fasting glucose level is between 110 and 126. Full-fledged diabetes invites more serious problems such as sight, kidney and heart problems.

Symptoms: Fatigue, increased thirst, hunger, mood swings, blurred vision, increased urination, wounds take longer to heal and yeast infections.

Arrest warrant

– Start light exercises such as walking to lower blood sugar normally.

– Fiber aids digestion of fats and sugar. Eat green vegetables, lentils and beans.

– Eat more natural food and less processed foods. Fresh fruits and veggies should make up 50 percent of your diet.

– Stick to white meat instead of red. Eat it fresh, grilled or baked rather than fried.

– Switch from white sugar to brown and from white flour to mixed grain and brown rice. Carbohydrates should make up only 25 percent of your diet.

– Dump aerated drinks and packaged juices.

– Check your blood sugar regularly.

– Cut sweets to once or twice a week.


Blood pressure

You have it if: Your blood pressure is between 125 and 140 mmHg (considered borderline). It can shorten your life by as much as 16 years. If escalated to high blood pressure, it can cause blindness, heart attack, kidney disease, and stroke. Reasons can be genetic, lack of exercise or overuse of salt.

Symptoms: High blood pressure is called a silent killer because it occurs without any symptoms. It can go unnoticed until it leads to fatal complications such as heart attacks or strokes. However, some people experience hot flushes, dizziness, shortness of breath and blurred vision.

Arrest warrant

– Eat low-fat dairy foods and veggies.

– Cut down on salt.

– Increase intake of calcium (low fat dairy), magnesium (green leafy vegetables), omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish/ Omega-3 supplements) and potassium (fruits and vegetables).

– Work out (moderate intensity) for at least 30 mins a day. It improves blood circulation and reduces stress. Don’t jump into a high intensity workout if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.

– Stop drinking and smoking.


You have it if: Your lipo-protein profile says your total cholesterol level is between 200-239 mg/dL. Cholesterol builds up on arterial walls, hardening them. Eventually, they become narrower, constrict blood flow and put you at risk of heart diseases. Cholesterol levels are also determined by age, gender and heredity factors. As we get older, blood cholesterol levels rise.

Symptoms: There are no outward symptoms of high cholesterol. If you are overweight, eat a fat-rich diet or are genetically disposed towards it, you should get checked regularly to catch it early.

Arrest warrant

– Go on a low fat diet. Avoid fried and food items rich in margarine and butter such as biscuits, cakes, etc.

– Switch from coconut oil to groundnut or rice bran oil for daily cooking.

– Don’t put ghee or oil on rotis or dal.

– Switch to low-fat milk and cheese.

– Being overweight increases risk of high blood cholesterol greatly. Lose weight to lower LDL and total cholesterol levels and increase HDL. Just one hour of physical activity will do it.

Three steps to health

Nutritionist Rujuta Diwekar suggests these steps to get a grip on your condition.

Sleep an hour early: Lack of sleep or irregular sleep can have a visible impact on health. Get into bed an hour earlier than usual to get more time to calm frazzled nerves and repair the cells.

Close gaps between meals: Fasting and  feasting — where you skip meals and gorge when you get the chance — makes blood sugar unstable. It also makes you crave starchy, oily and salty  foods. Small meals provide a constant stream of sugar to keep you energized. Increase the  number of times you eat by cutting a meal in half. Instead of having two chappatis at 2: 00 p.m., have one at 2:00 p.m. and another at 3:00 p.m.. Stop picking from  your colleagues’ dabbas. When you are satiated, you won’t give in to urges.

Do the homework: There is  conflicting advice on everything but talking to your doctor or reading medical sites will make  you aware of whether borderline diabetes could expose you to another lifestyle hazard. You will recognize symptoms, e.g. fluctuating blood sugar can make you cranky, and know when to take remedial measures. Also read up on the side-effects of the medication you need to take. This may egg you on to get a handle on your health. Be vigilant; don’t miss check-ups.


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