Some of India’s worst health fears were realised last year when data from the Central Bureau of Health Intelligence came out on India’s rising burden of non-communicable diseases (NCD) diseases. “Decline in morbidity and mortality from communicable diseases have been accompanied by a gradual shift to, and accelerated rise in the prevalence of, chronic non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease (CVD), diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancers, mental health disorders and injuries,” the report said. The World Health Organization (WHO) identifies alcohol, tobacco, poor diet intake and lack of physical activity as major risk factors for most of the metabolic disorders.

Big numbers

· Obesity doubled between 2005 and 2015. Cause- lifestyle factors, presence of chemicals like DDT, MSG and arsenic in food and air consumed

· Over 10% Indians above the age of 18, that is 150 million Indians have mental illnesses. Causes-lifestyle issues, intake of sugar, social isolation and attached stigma.

· About 20% of cancer cases are linked to exposure to toxins in the environment. Causes- tobacco, alcohol, air pollution, excessive meat intake and dietary imbalance.

· 26% of all deaths are related to cardio vascular diseases. Worth noting is that men and young people are said to be at a higher risk.

· In 2016, India recorded 22.2 million chronic COPD patients. (Source; CSE’s Body Burden)

The good news is, there is help available. With the rising health care costs and the long term health benefits, alternative medicine that relies on natural healing systems like Ayurveda and Yoga, is gaining popularity as a preventive recourse. Many insurance companies have even begun to provide cover for Ayurvedic treatments as well. The most useful aspect of a system like Ayurveda is its ability to check an individual’s predisposition to certain type of ailments.

Here are a few general and practical lifestyle tips-do’s and don’ts-that you can adopt to keep all these ailments out of your lives and lead healthy, active and stress-free life.

1. Ideal daily routine to stay healthy (Dincharya)

· Wake up 2 hours before the sun rises.

As hard as it may seem for many people, there is good scientific evidence in favor of waking up that early. From performing well in studies to better sticking to new fitness regimes or diet, early risers have an advantage over those who don’t. Studies suggest, early risers do well in keeping themselves hydrated and oxygenating themselves, while late risers are likely to go through the day, playing catch up. “Because early morning, mind is so alert, whatever do, you are able to absorb all its benefits,” says Dr. Mitali.

· 2 glasses of warm water.

Have 2 glasses of warm water after waking up. This flushes toxins out of the body, makes the system alkaline and improves blood circulation.

· Practise Yoga and meditation every day to get the serotonin flowing in the body, to make you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and ready for the day ahead.

· Having a sun bath after a full body oil massage improves blood circulation, removes dryness in the body and joint stiffness is reduced, leaves you feeling fresh.

· Ideally, have lunch by 12-12.30 PM lunch and breakfast by 7 AM. Keep 4-5 hours gap between meals, which is enough time for digestion.

· In between meals, you can have one whole fruit and nuts, and lots of water.

· Avoid noon naps. They can cause more fatigue and lethargy. Only if you are ill or elderly, they you can do yoga nidra or yogic sleep (a meditative practice where you take your awareness through various parts of the body and relax them one by one).

· By 5 PM you can meditate and walk. The walk will reduce brain’s hyperactivity and chemical reaction caused due to stress, while providing you with some extra oxygen.

· By 7-7.30 PM, have dinner. Dinner should be finished at least 2 hours before bed time, for a good sleep. The 2 hours give sufficient time to the system for digestion.

2. A few natural remedies to eat or drink that can help stay fit every day.

* Having a spoon of nuts like roasted pumpkin seeds, flaxseeds, in between, ground nuts, in between meals, will provide essential amino acids and omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D3, that lubricate the joints, help prevent rheumatoid factor, improves bone health and is a good source of good cholesterol or hdl.

* Have soaked nuts, almonds, walnuts and raisins first thing in the morning. Walnuts are good for the heart condition.

* Have turmeric infused warm almond milk before going to bed. Turmeric is an excellent immunomodulator that prevents infections.

* For those who spend a lot of time in front of computers, smoothies made from equal quantities of carrot and celery are good for the eyes. For brain health, better memory and relaxed mind, smoothies made from pomegranate, beetroot add grapes are ideal. For better mental health, smoothie made from carrot, apple, spinach and beetroot is recommended. These ingredients are rich in antioxidants and betacarotine. Celery has chlorophyll and rich in fibre and grapes have antiodixants, vitamins and minerals like zinc that help improve brain health.

3. In summer, go for Yoga and pranayamas or milder forms of work out. During winter and other seasons, hard core workouts can be done.

Not just dehydration and feeling of being drained, over exercising in summer will cause excessive sweating, which can cause an electrolyte, sodium and potassium imbalance, making you prone to muscle cramps in summer.

4. The concept of intermittent fasting has gained popularity. It should be done only if a person is in perfect health. But make sure, enough fluids like coconut water, buttermilk and juices are being taken. If you have a physical ailment, it is better to consult a medical practitioner. It is better to get a pulse diagnosis done from an Ayurveda expert, to know your body type and diet that suits you. There is no one medicine suits all.

5. Always eat freshly cooked food, to increase the energy levels in the body and for better vitality.

6. Integrate meditation into your daily life.

“Meditation is not a luxury it’s a necessity!” says Gaurav Verma, Regional Director with The Art of Living’s Sri Sri Yoga, “If you have a busy, and you want to manage the busy-ness right, meditation is MUST for you. To take right decisions, one needs a calm mind, you need to have greater clarity, sharp observation and right expression. One can easily attain all three with meditation.”

(Dr Mitali Madhusmita is Art of Living’s senior Ayurveda Expert and Head Doctor at Sri Sri Tattva Panchakarma)