We are living longer than our ancestors- a few decades ago. This is due to better health care, hygiene, sufficient food, improved medical facilities, reduced child mortality. We are concentrating on increasing lifespan -the quantity of life, rather than healthspan -the quality of life. A Lancet study with 2017 data has shown in spite of advances in the health care system, people are spending years gained in life in poor health. people are living longer but years gained in life are spent with an increased risk of diseases, disability, dementia, and advanced aging prior to death.
What is the difference between lifespan and health span?
It is important to understand the difference between lifespan and healthspan. Lifespan is the total number of years one lives, whereas health span is the number of years one lives in a healthy condition free from diseases. Life expectancy (lifespan) has increased with the use of modern medicine. It is expected that the lifespan of people- has more than doubled in the span of the last 100 years at the global level. But the healthy life expectancy (healthspan) has not increased accordingly. People are living longer, but those increase in the years of life are being spent mostly in diseased conditions like- heart disease, diabetes, asthma, cancer, etc.
Between 1990 to 2017 communicable diseases like lower respiratory infections, Diarrheal diseases, Malaria, etc., and neonatal disorders were reduced by app. 41%.
Whereas non-communicable diseases like Ischaemic heart diseases, Stroke, Diabetes, Lung cancer, COPD ( Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) increased by app. 40%.
Generally, people are more interested in aging with lifespan. As awareness for healthspan is less. Healthspan is the period of life that is spent in a healthy condition. Healthy can be defined as a condition – free from diseases. As per a saying- if you eat well, sleep well, and pass on stools well- without the use of any type of medicine – you can be considered as healthy.
It is estimated that about 20% of most people’s life is spent in unhealthy conditions. That means generally healthspan is 20% shorter in most people.
Increasing healthspan with the lifespan
As per the study published in the journal- The B.M.J. a healthy diet, regular exercise, healthy body weight, moderate drinking, and no tobacco in middle age may help people to live longer.
The researchers studied the data from- 73196 women for 34 years and 38366 men for 28 years, who participated in the Nurses Health Study and the Health professionals Follow up study.
“Previous studies found that following a healthy lifestyle improves life expectancy and reduces the risk of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular ailments, and cancer. But few studies looked at the effects of lifestyle factors on life expectancy free from such diseases,” said study author Yanging Li from Harvard University in the U.S.
“ The study provides strong evidence that following a healthy lifestyle can substantially extend the years a person lives disease-free,” Li further said.
Thus studies have shown that healthspan can be significantly increased by adopting a healthy lifestyle and healthy eating habits. Which can add quality years of enjoyable life as we age. A healthy lifestyle can delay the onset of many serious diseases. Thus maintaining a healthy balanced diet, regular exercise, avoiding smoking, limiting alcohol consumption to moderation- can greatly contribute to increasing healthspan with lifespan by delaying the onset of diseases.
The blue zone population- lives a long lifespan.
Blue zone areas– where more than average centenarians (people live 100+ years of age) -live around the world. The researchers, demographers have found that people living in the blue zone areas shared several lifestyle habits and one of which was a remarkable similarity in their diets. The Blue zone population showed the following similarities in their diet:-
- Consume more than 90% of the plant diet.
- Focus on a wide variety of seasonal vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
- Consume meat occasionally.
- Daily consumption of legumes- including beans, chickpeas, and lentils.
- Avoid processed foods and refined sugars.
- Drink plenty of water, consume small amounts of tea, coffee, or drink red wine in moderation.
The Blue Zone areas (Ikaria, Greece, Japan, Sardinia, Costa Rica, etc.) can show us a path towards- staying fit and healthy during the aging process. This may help us in increasing lifespan with healthspan
Ayurveda- can lead us to the path of increasing health span with the lifespan.
Adopting Ayurveda can help us in increasing our health span with lifespan. Ayurveda helps- to reduce the risk of non-communicable diseases. Our body needs good quality nutrition- to attain optimal physical and mental health. The pillars of life that form the foundation on which good health and longevity can be achieved are – diet, sleep, yoga, and meditation.
Diet plays an important role in maintaining a balance of energies (Vata, Pitta & Kapha) within our body. By eating the right food as per our constitution, season, and surroundings- a positive energy balance is maintained. Which helps us improve our body functions and promotes overall well-being.
Sleeping at regular intervals and practicing yoga and meditation go long way in maintaining our body and mind systems at optimal levels. This helps in achieving longer life expectancy (lifespan) and enables us to lead a long, active and healthy life (healthspan).
Ayurvedic tips for leading a healthy long life
Ayurveda imparts knowledge- what to eat, how to eat- keeping seasonal effects, Prakriti, and dominating energies (doshas) in mind. Adopting the following simple -Ayurvedic tips for healthy living- can help you in increasing your health span with your lifespan.
Wake up early in the morning.
Early hours (4 A.M. To 5 A.M.) the air is fresh and pure. Inhaling fresh air fills the body with positive vibes and energy for the whole day. Waking up late in the morning may impact the proper functioning of our glands. They may not secrete hormones or enzymes properly. One of the problems due to improper- thyroid gland functioning- may be due to waking up late in the morning.
Consuming- A vegetarian diet.
Consuming fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits. Eating freshly cooked, well-balanced food, honey, and avoiding junk and preserved food helps the body develop energy and clear toxins. Consuming 60%- 70% of food in the form of fruits and vegetables is helpful in fulfilling nutritional requirements. Prefer seasonal and locally available fruits. For more reading- Vegetables-The ultimate source of nutrition and protection. <<= Click here.
Taking good quality sleep.
Good quality and quantity of sleep enable the body to rejuvenate up to the cellular level. Body cells start working in harmony- thus strengthening the immune system. Which protect you from various diseases. A fixed daily sleeping schedule as per your body’s needs helps in improving the quality and quantity of sleep. Generally, 7-8 hours of sleep are considered optimum sleeping hours. Lack of sleep impacts the proper functioning of your brain and can impair your abilities to concentrate, think clearly, and process memories. For more reading- Heart health linked to quality sleep <<= Click here.
Adopting regular exercising habits.
Exercises like cycling, walking, playing, and yoga help a lot in keeping diseases away- by maintaining a healthy BMI (Body mass index) and enhancing cardio and circulatory health, improving respiration, energy, and vitality, It also provides physical, mental, and emotional peace. Pranayam is also a good option as it not only improves breathing and respiratory health but also boosts mind power and concentration. A daily walk of 40- 45 minutes is also very helpful in healthy living.
Maintaining a daily routine.
Scheduling and following a daily routine like- fixed time for waking up, exercising, eating, sleeping- create mental, physical, and emotional balance in the body. For more reading- 5- Healthy habits for long disease-free life. <<= Click here.
Healthy herbs consumption.
Adding kitchen herbs like fresh ginger, garlic, turmeric, black pepper, etc to the daily feeding routine, helps a lot in enhancing immunity towards diseases and has antimicrobial effects.
Keep your body well hydrated.
Consuming the optimum quantity of water depending upon individual body needs helps the body to expel toxins and improve digestion. Drinking warm water is beneficial for most people. Drinking warm water during the night helps in balancing Kapha dosha. It is also very beneficial in health conditions like- rheumatoid arthritis, respiratory disorders. Warm water consumption also helps in cleaning the urinary bladder. Drinking too much water is also not good for health. For more reading – Why drinking too much water is not good for health <<= Click here.
Meditation lowers high blood pressure- a precursor to heart diseases, decreases tension-related pains such as tension headache, ulcers, insomnia, muscle, and joint problems, improves the immune system, increases the energy level, increases serotonin production that improves mood, and behavior. Even W.H.O. (World Health Organisation) considers meditation from India as the best therapy. It plays a vital role in relieving various health conditions like- migraine, high blood pressure, stomach-related problems, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and other sleeping disorders like- sleep apnea, hormonal imbalance, etc. Meditation not only helps in stress management, or anger management. It completely manages your mind and relieves you of negative thoughts that are responsible for many ailments.
Avoid an inactive lifestyle.
Leading an inactive lifestyle- working on the desk all over the day is one of the major causes of many lifestyle diseases. Sleeping for long hours (more than 7-8 hours per day), consuming fast food, chocolates, aerated drinks, and having no time for exercise may cause doshas imbalance leading to ill health. Therefore it is very important to avoid a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy eating habits. Remaining active throughout the day is one of the most important ayurvedic health tips for healthy living. For more reading– How does sedentary lifestyle impacts health? <<= Click here.
Thus following the principles of Ayurveda. And adopting a healthy lifestyle and eating habits- can play a major role – in increasing your health span with your lifespan.
For treatment please consult your healthcare provider.
To adopt healthy lifestyle habits, wellness, and rejuvenation package- you can visit – Ilaj Ayur Heritage hospital, Kerela, India.
For awareness purposes only.
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