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More than half of the world’s population currently live in cities. By 2050, this figure will be expected to be two-thirds of the world’s population. Singapore is a fine example of city living. People live in cities because of the proximity to amenities and a better quality of life. Yet, there are also hidden hazards of city living.

Because of the density of city living, cities suffer from pollution. There are exhausts from factories and cars, sewage and industrial discharge, and lots of trash and noise. Compare that with the quieter countryside with fresher air, lots of greenery and wildlife.

When people congregate, infectious diseases can spread easily. This was demonstrated by the COVID-19 outbreak where cities had to be locked down in order to prevent its spread. City dwellers also lack physical activity and exercise and that will have an implication on our immune system.

Food is usually imported into the city and highly processed with preservatives to increase their shelf-life. While some food can be obtained relatively fresh from nearby regions, city dwellers sometimes make poor choices of food as they often eat out and settle their meals through instant options. Mindless eating often resulted in obesity and its associated chronic illnesses.

City life is stressful where people compete not just within the city but also globally. In an Asian city like Singapore, stress starts from a young age with an education system based on high stakes examinations. While rich in material, the stressful environment has resulted in poor emotional and mental well-being.

A connected and smart city allows its citizens to be in touch with information and media, twenty-fours hours a day, seven days a week. But because of that, people sleep late and have poorer quality of sleep. Besides, social media has added to the stress of people comparing with others, wanting to look good like the celebrities and influencers they follow.

The body needs good nutrients, adequate exercise, quality sleep and a positive mindset. These are exactly the principles that TCM has proposed for many thousands of years – a variety of food and herbs, a balance of activity and rest, as well as the holistic view of the mind-body connection. It is a lifestyle that can be embraced by city dwellers against the backdrop of its hazards.

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