We are born to die. The moment we take birth, every passing second shortens our life span. Death is the ultimate truth and we live with it. In order to delay the aging process, ultimately death, we are becoming “health fads”, hitting gym more often than required. It has reached to the point of obsession. Is this okay?
Records have shown that the gym culture has become toxic. Intense workout schedules, counting calories and pushing the limits have catastrophic effect. Numerous cases of the health enthusiasts succumbing to cardiac arrest or ruptured aneurysm have been reported. The death of Kannada film star, Puneeth Rajkumar, at the age of 46, is the similar case of pushing the limits. Therefore, gym is not the ultimate answer.
The issue lies deeper. It’s rooted in life expectancy and lifestyle. Life expectancy, by definition, is the number of years a person is expected to live. The determinants involved in deciding life expectancy are food habits, healthy lifestyle, and the socioeconomic conditions; which gives a clear picture of people’s way of life. The relative comparison of India’s life expectancy with its past data and present data of other countries indicates a significant opportunity for improvement.
We have developed and overcame the ancient and medieval norm of mass death, uncivilized war, outbreak of virus that engulfed a large number of people in one go are major factors that had lowered people’s life expectancy. In this age of science, even though we have developed different medicines, antibiotics and vaccines and overcome pandemic, life expectancy still remains low.
Where the global average of life expectancy is 72.6 years, India is still struggling with an average of 69.7 years. Life expectancy still remains the key concern. This problem can be solved, if we would follow the traditional way of life.
Cells & Oxygen
Cells are the basic structure of a living body. They perform different functions in accordance to the different parts of a living body. The capacity and performance of the cells decide the longevity and ability of the body.
The survival of a live body will be prolonged and life expectancy can be raised several times if the cells of a human body work efficiently. It is critical that cells receive the energy they require to function.
To survive, cells must have a constant supply of vital substance such as sugar, minerals and more importantly oxygen. Every tissue and cell requires a steady supply of oxygen to function properly.
Only by increasing the pace of breathing can oxygen intake be enhanced. In order to raise the rate of breathing, the key component is exercise or Pranayam, mainly Anulom Vilom.
Ancient India’s Way of Life
According to the ancient medicine and surgery literature, Sushruta and Charaka Samhita, human life can normally extend to 100 years. It is also said that the use of the ancient Amalakayasa Brahma Rasayan can increase the lifespan to around 1000 years. The ancient Vedanga-Kalpa practice can extend life-span up to 500-800 years.
These ancient texts detailed the foods we should consume, our daily routine, exercise, culture and so on. The combined effect of these ancient ways of life can potentially boost life expectancy.
For example, the Rasayan therapy in Ayurveda speaks of the Rasas and Dhatus that a body must have. Rasa means nutrient fluid, while Ayana signifies a path. It suggests some of the herbs, which we must take in to protect us from infection-causing diseases.
Also Read: While Indians back home are moving away from Bhajan Kirtans, the West is embracing it
Modern India’s Way of Life
If we analyse our ancient culture, festivals and living patterns, we can conclude that it makes one live a healthy life. Nutrients-rich organic fruits, vegetables, variety of grains, the norms of fasting on different festivals, and practice of Yoga for sufficient intake of oxygen and the policy of ‘ early to bed, early to rise’ was the way of life.
The living pattern has completely changed now. We rely mostly on packaged and processed food; opt to stay in bed a little longer rather than going for a walk, eating the unhealthy street food, burning the mid-night oil or binge-watch.
While the rest give in to the societal expectation of following ‘diet culture’ ranging from Keto, Vegan or Atkins of eating only ‘clean’, intense workout, measuring the protein intake etc. This is the new normal. The health of the human body is suspending in air.
This has resulted in making cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) the leading cause of death in the world. WHO’s report suggests that 17.9 million people have died from CVDs in 2019, representing 32% of all global deaths. Out of these, 85% were due to heart attack and stroke alone.
The reasons behind these deaths are unhealthy diet, obesity and physical inactivity. The average life expectancy is definitely going to decrease if 32 per cent of death is related to unhealthy diet and physical inactivity.
Blue Zones : The ideal example
There are few pockets across the globe which are identified as the regions of happiness and longevity. Okinawa (Japan), Sardinia (Italy), Nicoya (Costa Rica), Icaria (Greece), and Loma Linda, California are the only 5 regions where the average life expectancy is over 100 years.
They follow the same lifestyle as described in the Indian ancient scriptures. Living in close coordination with nature, eating locally sourced and organic produce, following more plant-based diet, forming a deeper bond with the community, so on.
The difference between us and them is – We preach, They practice.
What needs to be done? We live in a high-paced generation where study and work-culture do not permit us to follow the scripture’s guidelines. We need practical approach catering to individual’s requirement. We can start with changing our diet. Limiting our in-take of processed, canned or stored food is step one.
Adding plant-based elements such as green vegetables, nutrient rich fruits etc. to make a proper balanced diet. Taking the stairs rather than elevator, going for a short walk, Visiting parks rather than malls and once-in a while taking time off to detox from the work-stress. Vrat rather than intermittent fast, and Yoga pranayam must become an integral part of daily life. Although death is the last truth, healthy ageing should be the first priority.
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