"Lifestyle diseases" and how to get ahead of them before it's too late

We've often talked about "self-care" here on PV as taking the time and effort to look after yourself. It can be as simple as slapping on your favorite sheet, going for a full-on home spa session, or getting your tips and toes done at the parlor. But there is more to self-care than beauty and pampering, and the long queue that snaked through the Meralco Theater lobby for the Watsons World of Wellness event was a happy reminder that people haven't forgotten what really matters.

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More than 50 people waited patiently in line to register for the Watsons World of Wellness last June 23. Over 100,000 Watsons Advantage Program (WAP) members were invited to join this wellness symposium, which included a health fair with select health and wellness brands. There were free samples, medical consultations, and fun activities. Watsons Philippines also invited some of the country’s top medical practitioners to speak about an urgent concern neglected by many: lifestyle diseases. They are considered “silent killers” because they don’t appear to be deadly until it’s too late. Brought about by simple decisions we make daily, these diseases can actually be preventable, or at least held at bay as long as possible. Here are a few things I learned that afternoon.

 Dr. Anthony Leachon, President of Manila Doctors Hospital Medical Staff Association and Independent Director of Philhealth, points out that lifestyle diseases are taking the lives of younger people

Dr. Anthony Leachon, President of Manila Doctors Hospital Medical Staff Association and Independent Director of Philhealth, points out that lifestyle diseases are taking the lives of younger people

People being defeated by diseases are younger than ever.

I got the chills when Dr. Anthony Leachon pointed out that an average of 40% of people who die because of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) like cardiovascular diseases, chronic lung diseases, diabetes, and cancer are UNDER 60 years old. For previous generations, it was virtually unheard of to have peers under 60 die of NCDs. My husband and I actually know a handful of same-age peers who died of NCDs - and we’re only in our early 30’s! It only gets worse as each generation passes down this unhealthy predisposition, as medical histories are inherited from parents. If your parents have a history of hypertension, diabetes, or cancer, your chances of getting the same diseases run much higher.

Knowing this pretty much made me sit up and pay close attention to what the speakers had to say that afternoon. I’d like to stick around for my family and friends, and be healthy enough to enjoy their company.

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There are many things we can do to make our healthy years last longer.

That previous bit of news might be depressing, but the good news is that we can keep lifestyle diseases at bay! First of all, it’s very important to have regular checkups, and if you do get flagged for a particular concern, please do not ignore it! Dr. JA Bautista stresses how most diseases are totally missed because symptoms aren’t always recognized by patients and ignored until their condition has worsened. Make the most out of doctor’s consultations by speaking up and asking questions, no matter how silly they might seem to you. Because in this battle for our health, our biggest enemy is lack of information.

A quick look at our family’s medical histories will give us some cues to watch out for. If, for example, hypertension runs in your blood, monitor your blood pressure regularly. Taking the time to switch up to a healthier diet is also well worth it. Contrary to what many believe, we don’t have to abandon all our favorite food to accomplish this; it’s all about making wiser choices. Dr. Catherine Carlos says that consuming sugar is unavoidable: even most fruits and vegetables have it! It’s refined sugar that we should stay away from. Switching from sugar to honey for your sweetener of choice can already do a world of good. She also emphasizes the importance of taking the time to exercise regularly to avoid obesity. If we burn what we eat, we’re keeping our bodies healthier and leaner! Avoiding health-damaging vices like alcohol and smoking will not only extend your healthy years, but also that of those you spend the most time with. Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), for instance, can be acquired even by non-smokers if they are regularly exposed to secondhand smoke and pollution.

A wholistic approach to health can be the best defense.

When it comes to health, most Filipinos tend to troubleshoot by soothing the symptom instead of addressing the root of the problem. But as Dr. Jude Erric Cinco quotes the philosopher Plato, “The part can never be well unless the whole is well.”

We may complain of a throbbing headache, but push aside other signs that may collectively point to a different illness altogether. Much like a machine, the human body would benefit more from preventive maintenance than letting things slide until it breaks down. It takes constant effort to keep our bodies in top shape, but if we do this successfully, we defend ourselves from serious diseases. Actress Jodi Sta. Maria also shares how important it is to care for oneself. She confesses to taking a few minutes a day just for “me time,” something that makes even the worst days bearable. Caring for yourself doesn’t just mean taking medicines when you get ill; it means making healthy choices every day. Taking a wholistic view on health can vastly improve our overall health not only physically, but emotionally and intellectually as well.

 Danilo Chiong, Health Business Director of Watsons Philippines, showcases the brand's Generics line

Danilo Chiong, Health Business Director of Watsons Philippines, showcases the brand's Generics line

There were so many other things I learned that day, including how there’s good and bad cholesterol and how sex continues to be enjoyable into your senior years. Health issues deserve to be discussed in a public setting, and I was glad that Watsons offered that opportunity. I only wish more people could have attended! Every little step we take to be a little healthier will have a positive effect not just on our lives, but will exponentially improve the next generation’s.

If you're interested to join future events and learn more about how to better care for your health, you can simply sign up for the Watson’s Advantage Program at any Watsons branch. Perks include an additional 20 SM Advantage Card (SMAC) points upon signup, free Metro Manila delivery for a minimum purchase, and free alerts for promos and events.

By the way, the event was recorded live and can be viewed via the Watsons Facebook page. You can check out all the social media posts for the event via the hashtag #WatsonsWOW2018. Follow @watsonsph as well to stay updated with the brand’s promos, health tips, and event announcements.

Article images courtesy of Watsons. This post is brought to you by Watsons.