As a medical student, I am deeply passionate about health and maximising this through our lifestyle – including physical activity, nutrition, habits, stress management and social aspects. However, we nutrition and lifestyle in relation to health is not something that is often taught in medical school. We learn about the physiology of disease, anatomy and biochemistry, but we’re equipped minimally with the tools to empower patients through lifestyle.
I first created my instagram account as a creative outlet; to share the plant-based recipes I’ve created, to keep myself accountable in maintaining a healthy lifestyle through my diet and exercise. However, I realised I wanted to do more with the platform – to reach out and help others understand the benefits of cultivating a healthy lifestyle. To help others see why it is not only beneficial, but vital to improve health through our lifestyles. I hope to spread this message not only to my peers or my patients in the future when I become a practicing doctor, but to those outside the hospital as well.
As a medical student, I frequently visit hospitals to interact with patients, to learn more about them and their conditions. Considering the sheer multitude of in-patients that are admitted because of the worsening of their conditions (whether it be non-communicable diseases or the onset of acute emergencies), I believe that it is so important for doctors to discuss lifestyle interventions with patients. Even better for this conversation to be brought to the public, so as to avoid so many reaching a point of no return when it comes to health, further along the road.
Non-communicable diseases, such as type II diabetes, heart disease and stroke, have been on the rise. The onset of these diseases are largely driven by behaviour and lifestyle factors such as poor nutrition, the lack of physical activity and stress factors. These diseases and their progression also take a toll on healthcare systems, and it is imperative that we move away from addressing conditions and to treat them upon their onset, and move towards prevention.
In Singapore, the rise in the proportion of the population suffering from type II diabetes has become a national concern. The onset of this disease precipitates from the decisions and lifestyles of individuals. It could be a lack of awareness and education, or perhaps many think that lifestyle changes are difficult to make. Sometimes, eating healthily and participating in regular physical activity may seem to not hold much utility, or may be deemed daunting.
These diseases are preventable if we engage in health-promoting behaviours, engage others in conversations surrounding health, and educate about how to take small steps to better health.
We all have to take responsibility for global health – our health as well as our impact on the environment in our daily living (because not only are we stewards of the planet, but its health also has implications on our own). It is no longer something we can avoid talking about – we have to start taking steps towards improving our future health.
There is never a better time than now.