Coronary diseases, gastric complications on the rise : Experts call for mending lifestyle

AFP

LAHORE: Health researchers believe that diabetes, coronary diseases, autoimmune disorders and gastric complications are on the rise while the people struggle to fight these medical conditions through regular medicines instead of mending their habits for a lasting solution.Regular use of tobacco, an unhealthy diet schedule and physical inactivity increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes, says Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) Consultant Dr Amir Bandesha. He said that engaging in physical activity for at least 30 minutes, eating at least three servings of fruit and vegetables and limiting salt intake to less than one teaspoon a day help prevent heart attacks and strokes.According to the World health rankings report, Pakistan stands 17th on the list of countries with high risk of deaths in heart diseases with 222.9 per 100,000 deaths ratio. Another report of the World Health Organisation (WHO) claims that Pakistani population has one of the highest risks of coronary heart disease (CHD) in the world. In Pakistan, 30 to 40 percent of all deaths are due to cardiovascular diseases. The CHD deaths in Pakistan have reached about 200,000 per year that is 410/100,000 of the population. The CHD is now the leading cause of deaths in Pakistan.Mayo Hospital Medicine Consultant Dr Sohaib Zaidi says that modern society can expose children to risk factors such as diets with too few calories and high in ‘bad’ fats and sugar which is mainly present in junk foods, sodas and preserved food. Activities such as computer games that discourage physical activity, watching tobacco advertising that encourages tobacco use or being in an environment filled with tobacco smoke are also harmful.Another reason for rising obesity and these diseases is the replacement of trans-fats with substandard saturated fats due to their low cost, nutritionists said, adding that the use of good quality saturated fats for making ghee and oil such as from Palm Oil can be a healthy substitute.Dr Shahid, Dr Salman and others explain that unhealthy diets are linked to four out of the world’s top 10 leading risk factors causing death. More and more people are turning to processed foods that are often high in sugar, salt, saturated fats for example cheese or trans fats (often used in cakes, cookies and fast food), they say, adding that research makes it clear that abnormal blood lipid (fat) levels have a strong correlation with the risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and coronary death.According to a recent research, diets high in trans-fats were – and in some cases still are – risking the health of citizens. Fortunately, alternatives to trans-fats exist and palm oil plays a prominent role. Industrial trans-fats often occur when food manufacturers change liquid oil into a semi-solid structure in a process known as ‘partial hydrogenation’. Partially hydrogenated oils contain trans-fats – most commonly, these oils are soybean, rapeseed (colza) and sunflower oil. Palm oil has a naturally semi-solid component, and so does not require this industrial process, the research maintains. Instead of altering the substance – as would be necessary with rapeseed or sunflower oil – palm oil can remain natural and 100 percent free of trans-fats, the research says. It adds that it is commonly reported that palm oil is present in a large percentage of food and household goods in Europe – up to 50 percent of all products in some countries.A major part of the reason for this is the desire to reduce trans-fats consumption while maintaining high quality food. Many foods, such as cakes or pastries, require shortenings and other ingredients that need semi-solid fats. In a choice between partially hydrogenated oils (trans-fats) and palm oil, many companies are increasingly choosing palm oil. It is better for the health of consumers, and also better for the finances – because of its superior yield, palm oil is less expensive than most other oils and fats, including butter.

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