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December 18, 2012
You can never predict what will happen tomorrow, let alone in the coming year. But some health issues can be avoided by just maintaining a healthy lifestyle. For a healthy 2013, we speak to healthcare professionals, who share handy tips on how to prevent some common and serious diseases.

Diarrhoea

In this fast-paced world, having a healthy meal seems like an impossible task, which leads to problems like food poisoning and inflammatory bowel disorder, leading to diarrhoea. “Excessive intake of certain foods and junk food can lead to diarrhoea,” says Rekha Sharma, president, Indian Diabetic Association and director, Clinical Nutrition And Diabetes Foundation.

What you can do: Eat at short intervals and avoid high-fibre and deep-fried foods. “Have khichdi or rice with curd and vegetables like potatoes and carrots,” says Sharma. “In terms of fruits, eat bananas, apples or pears. Avoid fruits with fibre and seeds like papaya, guava and pomegranate.” If a busy schedule does not allow you to take some time to have a meal, then indulge in healthy fluids. “Drink lots of fluids like water, soups, low fat buttermilk, coconut water and fresh lime water,” advises Sharma.

Cardiovascular and respiratory diseases

An unhealthy diet, pollution, stress and smoking can lead to heart disease, strokes and peripheral vascular and respiratory diseases.

What you can do: Aashish Contractor, HOD, preventive cardiology and rehabilitation, Asian Heart Institute, advises junking nicotine if you are a smoker. Limiting the intake of salt and sugar can also help your heart. “Exercising daily is a must, at least for 30-45 minutes. Be physically active, climb stairs instead of taking the elevator once a day,” says Contractor. “Don’t stress too much, and take frequent breaks or short holidays to unwind and relax.”

Dehydration

We may not skip meals to remain healthy, but at times we forget to include liquids in our diet. Factors like loss of fluids from the body, diarrhoea or hot weather can lead to dehydration.

What you can do: “Sip on small amounts of fresh lime with some sugar and salt and continue to drink at short intervals. You can also have soups, fresh fruit juices, coconut water and buttermilk to prevent dehydration,” says Sharma.

If you have a rigid exercise regime or play a sport, Sharma advises lots of water or fresh juices during breaks. Besides liquids, you can also consume solid foods like broccoli, tomatoes, cucumber, watermelons, bananas and strawberries. However, avoiding dehydration doesn’t mean having artificial beverages or caffeine, which Sharma says you should strictly avoid.

Chest congestion

With increasing pollution and frequent seasonal changes, allergies, flu and viral infections are bound to happen. “If you ignore these symptoms, it can lead to chest congestion,” says Sanjeev Mehta, chest physician, Lilavati Hospital.

What you can do: “In spite of hectic schedules, make sure that you get adequate rest and the required amount of sleep. Increase the intake of fruits and vegetables like pineapples, oranges, cauliflower, asparagus and spicy foods like chilli and black pepper. Go for regular walks and inhale steam,” advises Mehta.

Osteoporosis

Lack of calcium or eating disorders such as bulimia (over-eating) can lead to osteoporosis, which can be avoided with a change in your diet. “It is important to eat good amounts ofproteins, calcium and vitamin D for a good bone structure, so that osteoporosis does not strike early,” says Sharma. 

What you can do: Consuming calcium-rich foods like milk, cheese, yogurt, beans, whole grains, fish and almonds can help avoid the problem to a great extent.

Diabetes

Significantly less active lifestyles, refined and processed diets and obesity can lead to diabetes. “A diabetic need not follow a special diet. It is just important to regulate your diet and understand the principles of diet management,” says Ishi Khosla, clinical nutritionist and director, Centre for Dietary Counselling.

What you can do:

Include plenty of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, pulses and moderate amounts of low-fat dairy, nuts, seeds and lean meats in the diet to curb or avoid diabetes.

Khosla says that almonds, rich in vitamin E and other powerful antioxidants, may have a role in treating diabetes. So carry them with you and pop some whenever you can. “The easiest way to prevent getting diabetes is by eating small, frequent meals to maintain blood sugar control and exercising for at least 45 minutes a day,” says Khosla.