Modern Life, Vitality And Illness - The Relationship Between Lifestyle, Health And Disease. The Benefits Of A Healthy Lifestyle And Risk Factors For Disease.

Health And Lifestyle

Health and Lifestyle

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has reported that non-communicable diseases are now the leading cause of death worldwide. Heart disease, diabetes, cancer, respiratory diseases and depressive illness are the most prominent, underpinned by increasing global obesity.

WHO also states that these epidemics could be significantly reduced, with millions of lives saved, through reduction of four main behavioural risk factors: unhealthy diet; physical inactivity; tobacco use; harmful use of alcohol.

These diseases are sometimes referred to as 'Diseases of affluence' and are generally those illnesses and health conditions which are commonly observed with increasing wealth in a society. Also known as "Western diseases" in contrast to so-called "diseases of poverty", which mainly result from and contribute to human impoverishment.

Diseases of affluence consist mainly of chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and other health conditions for which personal lifestyles and societal conditions associated with economic development are believed to be important risk factors. They include : diabetes type 2 diabetes, obesity, respiratory diseases, cardiac disease, cancer, cerebrovascular disease, hypertension, peripheral vascular disease, alcoholism, gout, and a variety of allergies.

They also include depression and several other mental health problems associated with increased social isolation and lowered levels of psychological and emotional wellbeing existing in many developed countries. Most of these conditions are interconnected - for example, obesity is thought to be a risk factor for many other illnesses.

In contrast, diseases of poverty tend to be mostly infectious diseases, resulting from impoverished living conditions. Examples include tuberculosis, asthma, and intestinal diseases. However, 'diseases of affluence' are now becoming increasingly common in developing countries also. They include obesity and cardiovascular disease and, compounded by infectious diseases, they further increase global health inequalities.

Diseases of affluence are now becoming more prevalent in developing countries whilst diseases of poverty are declining as longevity increases and lifestyles change. In 2010, nearly 80% of deaths due to NCDs — including heart disease, strokes, chronic lung diseases, cancers and diabetes — occurred in low and middle-income countries.

Lifestyle And Disease - Causes

Diseases of Affluence -Lifestyle and Disease

The risk factors associated with the increase of these 'urban' diseases appear to result directly from technological changes and they include:

  • Reduced physical activity, often due to increased use of motor vehicles and sedentary office jobs involving no physical labor
  • Consumption of larger amounts of food, with decreased physical effort exerted in order to obtain a moderate amount of food
  • Availability of mass produced, high calorific, low-cost food (in contrast to the lower caloric food found in subsistence economies)
  • More high fat and high sugar foods present in the diet of affluent developed countries
  • Higher intake of meat and dairy products
  • Increased consumption of refined foods and flour products, such as white bread or white pasta
  • More processed, cooked, and commercially provided food products which have replaced seasonal, freshly prepared, locally available foods
  • Physical inactivity
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco and misuse of narcotics
  • Longer life-spans
  • Weakened immunity due to increased protection from exposure to infectious agents throughout life.

Healthy Lifestyle - Benefits

By changing lifestyle permanently, individuals can reduce their own risk factors and increase their future health.

Better lifestyle habits reduce our risk of illness and enhance our life and wellbeing - with more vitality and a decreased risk heart disease.

A healthy lifestyle also enhances our emotional and psychological condition - helping us to feel more motivated with increased self confidence, leading to a better quality of life. Such lifestyle changes make us feel healthier and happier.

It is now common knowledge just how important a healthy lifestyle is in preventing illness and how our choices are critical in determining our health and lifespan.

A healthy lifestyle is essential for all age groups and serves to decrease the risk and delay the onset of declining health in the elderly. By slowing down the aging process it enables the older generation to remain fit and healthy, thus assisting their longevity.