There is no doubt that “Health is wealth”. Health is not the mere absence of disease. It is a state of physical, mental, social, spiritual, environmental, and financial well-being. Healthy habits make a big difference in the achievement of health. People who adopt a healthy lifestyle especially from the very beginning live healthier, happier and longer lives than those with unhealthy lifestyles such as unbalanced poor diet, inactive sedentary habits, obesity, smoking, drinking and other intoxicants are more likely to die prematurely from obesity, heart problems, stroke, diabetes complications, cancers and other diseases.
What Is A Healthy Lifestyle?
Prevention is better than cure. A healthy lifestyle includes:
1. Healthy diet
2. Healthy physical activity
3. Healthy (normal range) body weight
4. Adequate restful sleep
5. No indulgence in smoking drinking or substance abuse
Whenever we talk of planning anything, our thoughts go to the foundation which must be strong and so we must have a strong foundation lasting a century. The foundation of good health is laid in the womb of the pregnant mother and the mother must be provided good healthy nutrition and a stress-free environment. The First 1000 days of life (270 days in the womb of the mother and two years after birth) are most crucial and must be given cognizance. Optimum feeding which means exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and continued breastfeeding with homemade nutritious food from the family pot up to two years or even beyond is the mantra for laying the healthy foundation.
Nutrition is the most important aspect of a healthy lifestyle and will be considered in some detail. “Healthy mind in healthy body” or “You are what you eat” are true aphorisms even today.
Junk Foods And Health
Fast foods are designed for ever-ready availability, use, or consumption with hardly any consideration for healthy qualities. Junk foods are unhealthy foods that may be deficient in proteins, vitamins, minerals dietary fiber and loaded with high fats, salts and sugars, and calories (HFSS is WHO term), harmful additives, preservatives, and coloring agents. These foods (packaged or not) are well known to cause obesity and non-communicable diseases.
Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has specially coined a new term (acronym) JUNCS (quite resembling the old term junk) with a very expressive and inclusive meaning:
J: Junk foods
U: Ultra-processed foods
N: Nutritionally inappropriate foods
C: Caffeinated, colored, carbonated foods and beverages
S: Sugar-sweetened beverages.
Why Junk Foods Are Becoming Popular?
Many factors especially, it is now fashionable for the youth of today to eat out and to show it off. Fast urbanisation, burgeoning middle class, both parents working, wrong role model parents, always willing to eat out as a family, nuclear families lacking care of the grandparents increase in the number of working moms, youth and adolescents inclined to experiment and media influence.
Healthy Living: How To Avoid JUNCS
- Parents or caretakers should never offer junk food as a reward or gift to the children.
- Don’t opt for junk food more than once a week or at least reduce the quantity.
- Don’t watch TV or mobile phone when eating food.
- Eliminate trans-fats and reduce free sugars to less than 5 per cent of the total calories.
- Freshly cooked home food with minimal addition of sugar, salt and saturated fats.
- Energy drinks are not intended for children and adolescents and not recommended before and after strenuous activity.
- Water should be the main drink for quenching the thirst.
- No fruit juices recommended before one year of age. Encourage intake of local or regional fruits.
- Coffee should be completely restricted until five years of life.
What Is Healthy Eating?
It practically means avoiding fast fatty foods like pizzas, pasta, burgers, fries and other junk foods, and sugar-sweetened drinks as these are rich in calories, fats, sodium, preservatives, and additives. Ensure a balanced diet by including all groups of food like cereals, pulses, roots, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, tubers, milk and milk products, eggs or meat in moderation and oils, fats, sugars sparingly and anything that provides us the required nutrients for every day. Please ensure three meals a day – breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But breakfast is most important; it should be eaten like a king and not taken hurriedly. Try never missing the breakfast.
Any homemade food lovingly prepared with self-selected fresh and natural ingredients with all the nutrients in a loving company is the best. Avoid nagging discussions while enjoying the family or friendly mealtimes. No screen watching while enjoying meals. Let, us, all promote a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating through health education and literacy in the community. Governments should also ensure the manufacture and sale of healthy foods.
About the author: Dr. V. K. Ahuja, Past President, Breastfeeding Promotion Network Of India, Sangrur. Dr. Ahuja is also the Past Vice President of the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP), Punjab.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.
NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollution, waste management, plastic ban, manual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.