Srinagar: Forty-five-year-old Qurat (name changed) was struggling with obesity. On top of that, her blood sugar levels were five times higher than normal. A year later, she found herself on insulin.
“My reports were disappointing. I felt I would end up with a multi-organ failure due to uncontrolled blood sugar and weight issues,” she said.
Four months down the line, she is way more upbeat. Besides a reduction in weight, her blood sugar levels are also under control. She attributed the improvement to `lifestyle medicine’.
While much of conventional medicine focuses on treating disease, lifestyle medicine, a less known concept in Kashmir, takes a more holistic approach. Also, with the number of lifestyle disorders such as hypertension, heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, obesity, this branch of medicine offers a healthy solution.
“Lifestyle medicine (LM) involves the use of evidence-based therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, and avoidance of risky substance use, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the chronic disease that’s all too prevalent,” said Dr Rabbanie Tariq, Preventive Medicine Physician, who is promoting Lifestyle Medicine in Kashmir.
For instance, in the case of a 20-year-old Danish (name-changed), who suffered from insomnia and binge eating, the intervention of lifestyle medicine brought a considerable improvement in two months.
“He was given a proper sleep schedule with changes in diet, asked to avoid late-night sleep, told how to develop a bedtime routine with reduced screen time before bed and also the usage of blue light filters in the evening hours,” the doctor said.
Dr. Rabbanie pointed out that usually if a patient’s health deteriorates, a list of medicines may be required to address the problem.
“How about if we looked at the root cause of disease– the common denominator of all these different conditions plaguing the current health care landscape. These include ultra-processed foods which are deficient in fiber; a diet lacking in fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes; foods with high levels of cholesterol, saturated fats, trans fats, and animal proteins; obesity; inactivity; insufficient sleep; stress; loneliness and social isolation; chronic low-grade infections; smoking; family or work conflict; and finally purposeless living,” he said.
Dr. Rabbanie said researchers have developed Dietary Inflammatory Index by studying the effect of different foods on inflammatory markers. “In lifestyle medicine, it makes sense to address the underlying causes, rather than just the results of chronic systemic inflammation. This often eliminates the need for a whole plethora of medicines as general health improves,” he said.
LM Medicine doesn’t only promote Lifestyle modifications but with the already existing conventional medical therapy, it focuses on lifestyle-related interventions as well.
A recent study titled `Prevalence of Risk Factors of major non-communicable diseases of Kashmir Valley’ among the adult population found a high burden of risk factors of non-communicable diseases was conducted at GMC, Srinagar.
It found the high burden of risk factors of non-communicable diseases with 1 in 4 of the study participants smoking, engaged in low physical activity, 1 in 5 hypertensive, 2 in 5 overweight or obese, 1 in 3 (approximately) having higher waist to height ratio.