Singapore is very much a “compact city” in which trains, buses, taxis and the transportation system are both advanced and convenient so that you can finish your shopping or business without the need to move around much.
However, on the other hand, there is little opportunity for walking and there are many people who do not get enough exercise. As a result, there seems to be many people who have unfortunately gained too much weight. This is especially true for people who come to Singapore from Japan, as it appears that many of them experience a large change in their eating habits and the opportunity to eat oily food increases in comparison to when they lived in Japan.
The most concerning matter that accompanies this change in body type and eating habits is the increase in risk of what is called “Metabolic syndrome” and “Lifestyle disease”. Lifestyle disease is not just restricted to your adult lifestyle habits but is also affected by the lifestyle habits you had when you were a child so it is important to be conscious of creating a healthier lifestyle for your entire family.
Therefore, we once again asked Doctor Keiichi Hayashi of Raffles Japanese Clinic to tell us about “Lifestyle disease” and “Metabolic syndrome” and here is what he said.
What is the relationship between “Lifestyle disease” and “Metabolic syndrome”?
“Lifestyle disease” is the general term for the disease caused by a person’s lifestyle habits as the name suggests. “Metabolic syndrome” was termed as such because metabolic problems are the primary cause of increased risk to heart attacks and strokes following the combined occurrence of visceral fat accumulation, abnormal fat metabolism, high blood pressure and abnormal carbohydrate metabolism.
Metabolic syndrome is diagnosed in Japan by measuring such things as triglycerides, good cholesterol values, blood pressure and blood sugar on an empty stomach of people with a waist measurement that exceeds a certain value (85 cm or more for men, 90 cm or more for women) regardless of their weight and BMI value. It is diagnosed if the reference value is exceeded for two or more out of their blood sugar, serum lipid and blood pressure tests in addition to the essential condition of visceral fat accumulation.
Progress is being made in reviewing the criteria which has the most bearing on risk of heart attacks and strokes. Furthermore, it has recently been said that metabolic syndrome probably has some effect on cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and not just heart attacks and strokes.
What causes “Metabolic syndrome” and “Lifestyle disease”?
The first thing is food. Especially when a person drinks alcohol, the satiety center does not work well due to the effects of the alcohol and they eat or drink too much. Many people gain weight without realizing it. Even people who do not normally drink alcohol must be careful not to eat too much oily food or carbohydrates because their base metabolism decreases with age and they need less energy as their muscle mass reduces. Insufficient exercise and sleep are also large factors.
The lifestyle and work format changes greatly for people who are working in Singapore after being posted there by their company. There are many people who develop metabolic syndrome after coming to Singapore as they increase the amount of oily food they eat, something which they would not have normally eaten while in Japan. I often hear people who travelled by train and walked a lot while in Japan say that they use the taxi more and do not walk as far in Singapore. Furthermore, there are many people posted in Singapore by their company who exercise less outside the home because of the high temperature and humidity climate and except for golf, do not do any type of activity.
What is an effective prevention?
To prevent these problems from occurring it is important to improve your diet, exercise more and sleep better.
You should dedicate yourself to eating three nutritionally balanced meals per day, do not overeat, and only drink alcohol in moderation.
Aerobic activity is effective for exercise. Previously, 20 to 30 minutes of constant aerobic activity was recommended. However, it is now being said that an interval of 10 minutes split into two to three sessions is also effective. When people who do not exercise daily suddenly begin to work out, they may injure themselves. Therefore, it is probably best for them to just walk or jog slowly at the beginning.
When considering sleep, the optimum amount of sleep is different for each person. There are people who prefer to catch up on their sleep at the weekends but this is just proof that they do not get enough sleep during the week as they have to make up for lost sleep on the weekend.
People should also be aware of the quality of their sleep as well as the amount of sleep they get.
It is a good idea to record your weight, body fat, blood pressure and amount of walking done each day. Recording these values will allow you to be conscious of your body on a daily basis. It is of course important that you are willing to make these improvements to your lifestyle habits and it is vital that you receive support from those around you. We recommend that you work hard to improve your lifestyle habits together with your family.
Raffles Japanese Clinic
Doctor Keiichi Hayashi