How sleep, exercise and nutrition reduce progression of chronic diseases.

Public health experts say integrating sleep, exercise and nutrition into the management of chronic diseases like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, diabetes mellitus, and several types of cancer could help reduce their development and progression.

They noted that the three suggestions embody lifestyle modification, which is an important component required in the management of any chronic disease.

According to a study, published in the peer-reviewed journal of Clinical Psychology and Cognitive Science, on ‘Sleep, exercise and nutrition as health benefits: holistic approach in patients with chronic diseases’, any patient with chronic disease has one or more sleep disorder associated.

The researcher, Sandra Marques with Clinica Lusiadas Almada in Portugal, noted that treating sleep as a priority, rather than a luxury, could be an important step in preventing a number of chronic medical and mental conditions, adding that implementing a holistic approach is necessary for managing the health of such patients.

The internal medicine and European sleep medicine specialist said such holistic approach must take into cognisance an important nutrition control and exercise.

Marques explained that with chronic diseases assuming an increasingly common role in premature death and illness, interest in the role of sleep health in the development and management of the conditions have grown.

She said, “Remarkably, insufficient sleep has been linked to the development and management of a number of chronic diseases and conditions, including diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and depression.

“In my Outpatient Clinic I started, a few years ago, integrating sleep medicine in the internal medicine practice, mostly in the presence of chronic diseases, such as hypertension, obesity, type 2 diabetes, arrhythmias, depression, asthma, anxiety, chronic pain and dementias.

“A correct diagnosis and the precise control of the underlying sleep disorder is essential to the patient treatment.

“I, also, realize that those patients need a more holistic approach, including an important nutrition control and exercise while working with the patient´s habits, beliefs and trusts,” the sleep expert said.

Speaking exclusively with PUNCH Healthwise on the importance of sleep in the management of chronic diseases, a public health expert, Dr. Onose Callima-Inino, said lack of sleep can worsen or make a person more susceptible to certain chronic diseases.

She noted that lack of sufficient sleep has been linked in various studies to both the development and management of several chronic conditions that include depression, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

“The body and cells need rest. Sugar level may be increased, more often than not by stress. Adequate rest can help to bring down high sugar level.

“The same goes for hypertensive disease. Stress and lack of sleep can increase blood pressure and this would exert pressure on the heart and body generally,” Callima-Inino said.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, research has shown that there is a link between insufficient sleep and an increased risk for the development of Type 2 diabetes.

It further noted that another related study, showed that shorter sleep duration results in metabolic changes that could be linked to excess body weight and obesity.

“Sleep apnea is a particular form of sleep disorder that has been associated with several cardiovascular diseases.

“These include coronary heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Finally, the inability to get sufficient amounts of sleep plays a factor in depression, both as a symptom of depression and a by-product,” stated the CDC.

Further speaking, Callima-Inino said regular physical activity helps to improve overall health and can also reduce the risk of chronic health conditions.

The physician said when it comes to exercise, diabetes patients have so much to benefit.

She however, said exercise must be done with moderation and under the supervision of a health expert.

While underscoring the importance of nutritional therapy, a nutritionist and dietician in Lagos, Ada Nwaeze, said the chronic diseases include a wide range of debilitating health conditions that would require nutritional plans specifically patterned for effective management.

She said basically, the meal plans must have all the required micro nutrients, but in reduced portions.

“People with chronic disease must cut down on fat and sugar intake, and make fruits, vegetables and water, a major part of their diet.

“They must always stay hydrated. All these come under nutritional therapy that must be well adhered to and planned based on the type of chronic disease being managed,” she said.

Meanwhile, a joint report by the World Health Organisation and the Food and Agriculture Organisation on ‘Diet, Nutrition and the Prevention of Chronic diseases’ has advocated for nutrition to be placed at the forefront of public health policies and programmes, so as to decrease the burden of chronic diseases generally.


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