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Happiness. This relative, subjective word has been given far too many connotations, the most recent one being achieving optimal fitness. Living in the fast-paced, tech-driven era, as we are, we increasingly rely on devices and machines to help us out in maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

There are a lot of devices out in the market for this, and I know that’s what you’re thinking. But what got my brains to tick was that there wasn’t one device out there which could factor in my personal needs, my metabolism rate, or even begin to explain why I have the health concerns I have, and what could be the potential ways around it! So, understanding the importance of machine learning and its increasing significance in my life, I decided to revisit my roots, and set up a rendezvous with Ayurveda. And oh, am I excited about my findings!

But first, take a look at some astounding numbers I found out:

Here, I’d like to bring to the fore this background study that I conducted along with a few colleagues. An important conclusion that came up was that 70% of deaths caused due to chronic disease are completely preventable! And how? By bringing small changes in everyday lifestyle!

Another important statistic is being presented in the following graph:

This graph shows the movement of civilisation from rural areas to urban areas. Note here how the graph lines take a quick shift to urban settlement, in the coming decade. Today, 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66 per cent by 2050, hence showing the rapid change that humans will be experiencing in terms of environment, localisation, familiarisation to surroundings, accustoming to climatic conditions, and more!

This is only going to make it increasingly difficult for people to make contextual lifestyle choices and measure their holistic health.

So what can the people depend on, in this perennially changing time? My guess, and bet, is technology. Not betting on my bet? The graphic that follows should clear the basis of my solution

So, to let tech take over in our favour, we need to solidify the foundation of the tech that we are developing; to make the analysis of our health and longevity on the concrete basis of an all-compassing value system, that surpasses mundane, superficial advice.

Why Ayurveda?

Put in simple words, Ayurveda is the ages-old healing system of the East. It finds its roots in the fourth Veda the Atharavaveda. Ayurveda believes that healing should be subjective to the eating habits, the daily regimen, the beliefs, the environment, the genes and the bodily structure of a human being. Such a holistic evaluation of the human mind, body and consciousness lays the foundation of a complete and well-rounded development of not only the health and fitness measure of a being but also vouches for improvement of the personality and development of the mind. Ayurveda helps by digging into the root cause of a problem being suffered, not only to the extent of the symptoms suffered, but also by understanding the movement of the five defined senses of the human body across the human constitution.

An evaluation at such a level, with awareness of why my body functions the way it does, and how I could actively work at first, accepting, and then, healing it, provides me promise – not only of curing a particular disease I might have at the time, but also avoiding it to happen again in the future. How? Because I’ll know what I should avoid, how I should pair my food, what would help me compensate for my weaker body functions, and more!

Role of Machine Learning and Data Analytics in Ayurvedic Healthcare

What is Machine learning? Machine learning provides a computer system the ability to automatically learn and improve from experience, without being explicitly programmed to do so. Researchers have successfully developed ML models that are trained to identify and categorize different types of cancerous cells by the method of image processing.

So how can we get machine learning to help in human healing? Of course, with human health as a data input, there are too many variables to work with, like social determinants, genetics, stressors, the list just goes on. Individually ML can deal with them efficiently but what if we need to integrate everything (which we need to in healthcare), and ask ML to create a model? The result will be a computationally-heavy, Neural Network model, which may make wrong predictions. Wrong predictions! Definitely not acceptable in this line of business!

But that’s where Ayurveda comes in! “Old is gold” – truly serves humankind here. The roots of Ayurveda go back to thousands of years, enabling it to become a literature with an extensive amount of research having been done on a multitude of permutations and combinations of the human conditions as against the continuously evolving ecosystem and changing climatic conditions. ML can be tricky, yes, but the readings of the human body recognised and recorded by an ML model can be verified against the records of Ayurvedic medicinal science. Consider the ML model you’ll be using as an exam you took, with Ayurveda being the answer key!

What we need next in Predictive Healthcare

The need of the hour is to develop an ML model that is responsive to a fault, to multiple variables, when it comes to enabling a holistic healthcare system, such as one based on Ayurveda. The diagnostic principles of science of Ayurveda can not only be used for early diagnosis of chronic diseases such as heart and respiratory problems, blood pressure or obesity, but also for providing suggestions for diet, exercises and herbal medicines based upon their bodily constitution.

The introduction of ML in this sphere would enable you to even share the recorded data with your doctor, who could use it as part of his or her diagnostic toolbox. Eventually as the database will grow, a robust model will evolve which will be capable of predicting vulnerabilities well before time. A happy, proactive lifestyle can’t be too much in the future then!

CO-AUTHOR: MUGDHA BANSAL

EDITOR: ANKUR TIWARY

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