Kristie L. Kahl: Can you explain how maintaining a healthy lifestyle helps before a diagnosis, during treatment and beyond that?
Dr. Navya Nair: Absolutely. So maintaining a healthy lifestyle is just so important in all stages, cancer prevention, and even after a diagnosis and while someone's undergoing treatment. So a healthy diet. So well balanced diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, lean meats, getting regular cardiovascular exercise, avoiding toxins like tobacco, limiting alcohol use can reduce your risk of ever getting a cancer diagnosis. So for example, we know that tobacco use is directly linked to lung cancer risk. Having a healthy BMI reduces your risk of getting endometrial cancer. So these are how some of these healthy lifestyles can prevent you from getting a cancer.
Now, you also asked how this can help once someone has a diagnosis and they're in treatment. You know, having a healthy body allows you to get through some of these really tough treatments. And, you know, I often explained to my patients that a big cancer surgeries often is like running a marathon and having a really fit body before allows you to get through that better and have less complications. And much like surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, these are all things very tough on the body that having a strong body. And the other important part that I didn't talk about yet is having a healthy mind and having strong support systems outlets for stress and anxiety. In some kind of practice of reflection, whether you do yoga meditation, is mental health is just as important as physical health, especially when dealing with cancer.
Kahl: Absolutely. So from the exercise standpoint, we know exercise is good. But can you give some examples of how people can stay active because I think there's always a misperception that you know, we you need to run a mile or two miles but I think we can go simpler than that. So can you give us some examples for our patients?
Nair: Absolutely. Yes, so it's important to get a heart rate up. So however you like to do that. So for some people they like to run. Some people hate to run maybe you prefer to swim or both. Go for vigorous walks. Go for a bike ride. The goal is to get your heart rate up for 30 to 60 minutes about three to four times a week.
Kahl: Absolutely. And then similarly with diet, why is diet important when it comes to when you're in treatment, but also those long-term effects? And are there examples of the types of diets that our patients should be seeking?
Nair: So really, it's a well-balanced diet with, you know, balance of the different food groups. And certain things like if we're looking at patients, risks and outcomes related to surgery, having a healthy amount of protein in your diet improves your ability to recover from surgery. But the goal is really having a well-balanced diet and maintaining that as much as you can during and after treatment.
Kahl: Absolutely. And so to bring it all together, what is your biggest piece of advice for a patient with a gynecologic cancer who is maybe interested in making changes toward a healthier lifestyle, now that they've received a diagnosis?
Nair: I would say my biggest advice would be to pick one or two things that that you want to try to change. Don't try to change everything at once. Because it's too hard on any one person. So pick one or two things that you're interested in changing. Try to do that. It often works better when people make a change as a family unit. So if you are trying to eat healthier, or go for more regular exercise, try to make that a family activity, because it's more likely to stick if you do that together.
The world today is taking huge strides across all fields.This has caused times to be extremely fast paced. In such a scenario it is challenging to maintain physical well-being and peace of mind. It takes planning, efforts and disciplinewhen it comes to maintaining a certain quality of living. Individuals across age groups, school or college-going children, working individuals, homemakers, senior citizens,all of them are now leading a more hectic lifestyle than before. Pace of work has increased, and to-do lists across both, home and work front have been increasing.
Covid-19 pandemic has added a significant amount of stress to our daily lives as well. In these current times, it is essential to take some time off and focus on activities that will enhance your daily life, health and holistic well-being. Self-care needs to be prioritized and what better way to do it than spare a few minutes for practicing yoga for a healthy mind and a healthy body.
Yoga is one form of exercise and self-care which is suitable for all age groups and is one which can be practised from the comforts of your home. It is easy to follow and requires only a few minutes every daywhich can go a long way in improving your overall mental and physical health. You will begin noticing the positive effects and will feel positive energy flowing through your system once it becomes a more regular practice.
In fact, the theme for this year’s International Day of Yoga is ‘Yoga for Humanity’ which emphasises how yoga has served humanity across the globe by promoting the message of a healthy lifestyle, and bringing people together through compassion, kindness, sense of unity and resilience.
Here are a few ways in which you can take the first few steps towards a healthy lifestyle through yoga:
Self-care A few minutes of yoga everyday simply means taking some time out for yourself and your good health from the daily demands of your life. Whether you are a homemaker, an entrepreneur or a student, it is the most rewarding form of exercise and self-care you can practise. Taking good care of yourself is the fundamental step to taking care of others in your ecosystem.
Stress Reduction Yogaheals both the mind and the body. In today’s extra competitive and fast-paced lifestyle, keeping a calm mind has never been more significant. Successful management of stress has a positive impact on your overall health. You also tend to be more relaxed, and you will notice you are able to sleep better with consistent practise of yoga.
Mental Wellness Yoga leads to mindfulness, healthy eating and promotes healthy metabolism. All these factors combined help the mind to relax and increases vitality. With a calm mind, you are more focused on completing tasks without unnecessary stress – whether those may be work or home related.
Hearth Health A calm mind leads to a calm body. Managing your stress levels effectively also helps in maintaining a healthy heart. Yoga helps mitigate body inflammation, and other factors responsible for heart disease such as blood pressure.
Body Strength Many of us complain about increasing lethargy as time progresses. Consistent practice of yoga helps you overcome this and build muscle strength, helps you get rid of lethargy and helps keep your heart active and healthy. It also helps relieve pains and improves mobility.
Strong immune system Someasanas help improve the overall functioning of the digestive system. There are times when individuals may choose to have a hearty meal at the restaurant for a change and end up have severe digestion issues post. Regular practice of yoga strengthens your digestive system and your overall immune system, empowering you to fight illnesses better than before. You will fall ill less often and with steady lowering of stress hormones in your body, you will also strengthen your immune system.
A key part of Yoga is breathing techniques. It improves the respiratory tract and lungs by teaching you to breathe right and breathe better. Time dedicated towards practicing the right breathing techniques goes a long way.
The most important aspect of yoga is the connection between mind and body. With this ancient form of exercise, you can learn to control your breathing with the movement of your body and train your mind to become calm and peaceful which in turn benefits your physical health. It is a cyclical reaction, and one which individual across the globe need on a regular basis.
The best part about yoga is its ease and simplicity. It does not require fancy infrastructure, just a few minutes of regular dedication and motivation on your part will go a long way in ensuring a much healthier lifestyle for you. It is never too late to take the first step towards a healthy lifestyle.
By Mr. Shharad Dhakkate is the Chief Human Resources Officer for SBI General Insurance
More than 55 million people live with dementia, and it is one of the biggest causes of death and disability worldwide.
Research shows a healthy lifestyle can cut the chances of getting dementia, even for people whose genes put them at increased risk.
Scientists have shown 7 healthy habits seem to stop up to 43% of people developing the condition.
Eating well, exercising and not smoking all play a big part in preventing dementia.
Researchers have found that people whose genes put them at increased risk of dementia can reduce their chances of getting the condition by up to 43% if they follow seven habits for healthy living.
It was already thought that a healthy lifestyle could cut the risk of dementia, but until now it has been less clear if this applied to people with genetic variants that make them more likely to develop the condition.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says dementia is the seventh leading cause of death among all diseases worldwide and is responsible for millions of older people enduring disability and dependency. With the proportion of older people increasing in almost every country, the WHO expects dementia cases to rise to 139 million by 2050.
A study from the American Academy of Neurology investigated whether people with a higher genetic risk could reduce their chances of getting the condition. Researchers followed almost 12,000 people for 30 years and scored them on how closely they followed the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7 – a list of lifestyle habits linked to good cardiovascular health.
1. Manage your blood pressure. Keeping your blood pressure within a healthy range reduces the strain on your heart, arteries and kidneys.
2. Control cholesterol. High cholesterol contributes to plaque which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke.
3. Reduce blood sugar. High levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
4. Get active. There’s strong evidence daily physical activity increases the length and quality of your life.
5. Eat better. A healthy diet is one of the best ways to prevent cardiovascular disease.
6. Lose weight. Shedding a few pounds can reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton.
7. Stop smoking. Smokers have a higher risk of developing a range of serious illnesses including heart disease.
Participants in the dementia study were asked to score themselves on a scale of 0 to 14 depending on how closely they followed all seven healthy habits. Researchers also calculated their genetic risk, based on whether they had variants linked to a higher or lower chance of getting Alzheimer’s disease, which is a major cause of dementia.
Alzheimer’s Diesease, a result of rapid ageing that causes dementia, is a growing concern. Dementia, the seventh leading cause of death worldwide, cost the world $1.25 trillion in 2018, and affected about 50 million people in 2019. Without major breakthroughs, the number of people affected will triple by 2050, to 152 million.
To catalyse the fight against Alzheimer's, the World Economic Forum is partnering with the Global CEO Initiative (CEOi) to form a coalition of public and private stakeholders – including pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotech companies, governments, international organizations, foundations and research agencies.
The initiative aims to advance pre-clinical research to advance the understanding of the disease, attract more capital by lowering the risks to investment in biomarkers, develop standing clinical trial platforms, and advance healthcare system readiness in the fields of detection, diagnosis, infrastructure and access.
The participants had an average age of 54 when the research started. Around 9,000 had European ancestry and 3,000 African ancestry.
By the end of the study 1,603 people with European ancestry and 631 people with African ancestry had developed dementia. Those with the highest scores for following a healthy lifestyle were much less likely to have dementia, including participants who had genetic variants linked to Alzheimer’s.
Study author Adrienne Tin, from the University of Mississippi Medical Centre in Jackson, says: “The good news is that even for people who are at the highest genetic risk, living this same healthier lifestyle [is likely to] lower risk of dementia.”
In those with European ancestry, participants with the highest scores for living healthily were up to 43% less likely to get dementia than those scoring lower. For those with African ancestry, following the healthy habits was linked to a 17% lower risk of developing the condition. But the study’s authors say the smaller numbers of people with African heritage taking part means the findings are less certain for this group, so more research is needed.
If adopting these seven healthy habits can reduce the number of people who get dementia, it won’t just be individuals who benefit. The World Health Organization says dementia has high global social and economic costs too. Informal carers - including family and friends - spend an average of five hours a day caring for sufferers, and the global financial bill is expected to be more than $2.8 trillion by 2030.
There are many organizations around the world working to help accelerate advances in prevention and treatment of the condition. Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative is led by the World Economic Forum and The Global CEO Initiative on Alzheimer’s Disease and is investing $700 million over six years into drug development and healthcare diagnostics.
Speaking at a meeting of the DAC Learning Laboratory in May 2022, its co-chair, George Vradenburg, highlighted the importance of remembering that Alzheimer’s can affect anyone, regardless of their economic, racial or geographic status.
“We are explicitly global in character. We want to make sure from the very beginning of this effort that we involve low- and middle-income countries and that we pay attention to all societies, all resource settings and all racial and ethnic legacies as we move forward on the path to cure Alzheimer’s.”
Simon Read, Senior Writer, Formative Content
The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.