Feeling the blues, or in the pink of health? What colours can say about your physical and mental wellbeing

As we get ready to celebrate World Health Day on April 7, let’s take a look at why keeping an eye on your test results is crucial for your fitness and well being
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Colours and feelings go hand in hand for us at different junctures of our lives. All through school I wore green like a badge of honour, because it represented the house I belonged to. Along with college came the pressing need to stand out - so out came all the reds and yellows from my wardrobe. Now as a working professional, the colour options that a Casual Friday present excite me the most during the week.

There is an important connection between colour and health too. Working at Strand Life Sciences, a diagnostic company based out of Bengaluru, exposed me to the idea of knowing the colour of your health and how significant it is for a person’s wellbeing.

The World Health Day is a global health awareness day under the sponsorship of the World Health Organization

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This is similar to how you monitor and track your personal finances. To make sure that you are doing fine with the finances you keep on checking it from time to time.

For monitoring the colour of your health too you need to get periodic tests done at a CAP/NABL accredited lab, and take actions based on the results. These tests are generally a combination of multiple tests that check for various parameters like heart health, liver health, bone health, etc. These tests may also check for certain deficiencies like that of Vitamin C and D.

Fitness and healthy eating should be a lifetime endeavour

The uniqueness of these tests which are offered by Strand Life Sciences lie in the way results are shown with “colour-coded” graphs and charts with each parameter explained in detail. This makes understanding the report an easy task.

The colour “green” depicts optimum health, the colour, yellow, shows that caution should be taken and if the tests show “red”, it denotes that immediate intervention is required in consultation with a physician. All this information can be used to create a personal plan of action.

Green

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Let us take the hypothetical case of a patient called Rajesh who noticed that his test results turned out ‘Green’. Based out of Surat, he is a 48-year-old businessman working in the garment sector. Lately, he has been experiencing fatigue and has not been able to keep up with the pace of his business requirements.

His test results show that he needs to work on the following:

* Check the amount of sleep he is getting and aim to get 6 to 8 hours of daily sleep.

* Plan to disconnect from work after work hours. A habit of putting the phone on salient can help.

* Schedule an hour of quality time with family.

* Introduce 15 minutes of meditation as a practice for the well-being of his mind.

* To stay in the green zone, Rajesh can also add green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli in his diet.

If you do the health tests and find yourself in the ‘green’ zone, you need to…

* Stay committed to your lifestyle, as it seems to be working for you.

The Green Zone indicates optimum health

*  Talk about the changes you made to your lifestyle and eating habits that brought about the good results. The more people you tell, the more are likely to change their life around. There is a possibility to also induce a positive change in people around you.

* A major part of our healthy living is dictated by the food that we put in our system, so always be mindful as to what you eat. You can never go wrong by adding higher proportions of whole foods - vegetables, fruit, and whole grains in your diet

* Keep a healthy balance of these lifestyle commitments so that it does not turn into an obsession, robbing you of your happiness.

* The next frontier for your wellbeing is to invest in being mindful. Practising meditation is a great way to introduce this component in your life. This will help you complete the circle with both physical and mental health.

Yellow

Let us take the case of a patient called Mahesh who found that his tests placed him in the “Yellow Zone’. He is a 25-year-old professional working for an IT company. His job requires him to travel extensively. In the last few months, he has complained of muscle aches and shortness of breath. When tested, his parameters came borderline in range suggesting that he needs to start being cautious about his health.

The colour yellow in your test results shows that you need to be cautious. Begin by eating healthy foods.

Some of the things which Mahesh can do are:

 *Get into the habit of drinking two litres of water daily. There are various applications out there to help set a reminder.

* Include one fruit and some green vegetables in the daily diet along with whole grains.

* Plan for 20 minutes of some form of physical activity, preferably one which he may enjoy doing in the long term.

* Take these results to his general physician get consultation on any supplementation requirement.

These changes will help Mahesh move away from the colour yellow towards green.

If you find yourself in the yellow zone, this is what you need to do…

* The borderline result is a sign that you need to introduce some changes in your life.

* The amount of sleep you get and water you take are two important and simple things that can quickly help you tip the balance for the better.

* Your food intake being critical will also require some changes. Start with introducing more fruits and vegetables in your daily intake. Keep away from heavily fried food options.

* Introduce 20 minutes of daily exercise or any form of physical activity in your schedule. The thing here is to try to do something that is of your interest to maintain the momentum.

* The idea is always to introduce small changes that will help in better adaptation and long-term results.

 

Red

Let us look at the case of a patient called Ruhi. She is a 19-year-old college student who likes to go out with friends to explore new places to see in her city. She has been experiencing weight gain along with an irregular menstrual cycle. The results of her tests show that her test parameters are beyond the specified range for that test, which puts her in the red zone and immediate intervention is required.

Red is always a sign of danger

Here is what she needs to do…

*She should reach out to a physician for a consultation to better understand about medication/supplementation to improve her health.

* She should make significant changes in her food habits and should dedicate some time to some form of physical activity.

* She should cut down her intake of red meat which will also help her move out of the red zone.

 * Sometimes these results are early signs of chronic disease so follow up tests can be done to ensure that she is moving out of the red zone.

 * Ruhi needs to keep in mind that sometimes these results are reversible and a proper plan may help her achieve good health again. These changes may help her move away from “red” to “green”.

Here’s what you can do if you are in the “red” zone…

If the results show that your test parameters are beyond the specified range for that test, this puts you in the red zone, and immediate intervention is required.

This can also be an early sign of a chronic disease. It would be a good idea to reach out to your general physician for a consultation.

Based on their advice, you can take medication and introduce changes in lifestyle habits. Significant changes in food habits and time dedicated to a form of physical activity can also help. You should consider a follow-up test in a couple of months to ensure that you are making progress in the correct direction.

This year, World Health Day is being celebrated to promote #HealthForAll. It is a good time for everyone to commit to understanding the colour of their health and keep working on it for the wellbeing and happiness of our families and friends.

(The author is Vice President -Clinical Business, Strand Life Sciences)

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