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Lifestyle Diseases in the UAE: A Call for Healthy Living
Posted on Jul 28, 2015 by Travis Jones
Lifestyle diseases have infiltrated life in the UAE in a big way. Here, UAE Medical Insurance highlights the biggest diseases of affluence in the country, and discusses ways that you can avoid falling prey to them. Read on to find out more!
As countries develop economically, the disease burden traditionally shifts from infectious to non-communicable diseases. The populace becomes less susceptible to conditions like tuberculosis, measles and hepatitis – but unfortunately, incidences of diabetes, heart disease and respiratory illnesses often start to rise.
The UAE, a country which has developed immensely in the past two decades, is currently seeing that rise in non-communicable lifestyle diseases. According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2014, non-communicable diseases are responsible for 65 percent of total fatalities in the UAE. It’s a problem that’s increasingly affecting younger and younger people, and the WHO reports that the likelihood of dying from cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease or chronic respiratory disease (the region’s four main non-communicable illnesses) between the ages of 30 and 70 years old is now 19 percent.
The good news is that many non-communicable diseases can be prevented or managed with a few simple changes in diet, exercise and overall lifestyle choices.
Diabetes is one lifestyle disease that gets a lot of press in the UAE, and for good reason. One in nine adults is currently living with the condition – more than half of whom are undiagnosed. Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body can no longer regulate its blood sugar due to excess body fat and a poor diet.
The easiest way to prevent diabetes is to stay in shape and eat a healthy, balanced diet. That means 30 minutes of moderate to heavy exercise at least five days every week, limiting or entirely cutting out sugary or processed foods, and choosing whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy fats from fish, legumes or lean meat. Type 2 diabetes patients can often manage their disease entirely through diet and healthy lifestyle choices.
Unfortunately, cancer is a non-communicable disease that’s much more difficult to manage. Cancer is the third leading cause of death in the UAE, and although not all types of cancer are related to lifestyle, many are. Smoking can lead to lung cancer, and excessive alcohol intake can lead to cancer of the stomach and liver. Being overweight also raises the risk of many types of cancer that affect the colon, rectum, pancreas and kidneys.
Healthy lifestyle choices can help prevent cancer by reducing excess weight and improving the day-to-day function of essential organs like the heart and lungs. Daily exercise doesn’t have to be difficult or take up too much time. Take the stairs instead of the elevator – always – and you could add sixty minutes of physical activity to your weekly routine. Enjoy a vigorous 15- to 20-minute walk on your lunch break. Instead of after work drinks, invite your colleagues for a game of tennis, bowling or a round of darts.
Heart disease is a cardiovascular condition that can lead to heart attack and stroke – and in the UAE, it’s affecting patients 15 years sooner than in the West. The leading causes of heart disease are smoking, diabetes, obesity and lack of exercise.
The best way to prevent heart disease is to maintain a healthy Body Mass Index by eating well and exercising regularly. Not smoking is also important, especially if the disease runs in your family. Fresh fruit and vegetables have been proven to help prevent heart disease. If you’re not sure how to get more of these into your diet, try tasty (and healthy!) vegetable-rich dishes like:
- Spinach salad with chicken or hardboiled eggs, and a light olive oil and vinegar dressing – add a handful of heart-healthy blueberries for a burst of sweetness!
- Stir-fried tofu with sliced carrots, broccoli, snow peas and spinach, served with brown rice
- Baked salmon on a bed of soba noodles and steamed greens such as chard or kale
- Minestrone soup with whole-wheat pasta, canned beans and your choice of seasonal vegetables
When it comes to respiratory diseases, the easiest preventative action you can take is – don’t smoke. Saying that, it’s important to remember that diet and exercise can also affect your risk of respiratory disease. Keeping the body in good shape and maintaining a good level of overall health make it less likely that you will be affected by any non-communicable disease. In fact, one study from the Imperial College of London found that people who followed diet and exercise recommendations from the World Cancer Research Fund were 50 percent less likely to be diagnosed with a respiratory disease.
Healthy living doesn’t have to be complicated. Most people find that more daily exercise makes them feel invigorated at home and work and that healthy eating is actually quite delicious – it’s enjoyable healthy living that could save your life.
Of course, not everyone is blessed with the genetics to be able to stave off these types of diseases forever, and when one does develop, you will definitely want a quality comprehensive health insurance plan that you can depend on. For help finding the best medical insurance policy for your needs in the UAE, contact the helpful representatives at UAE Medical Insurance today for your free quote!