Want to live longer? Do everything in moderation

Want to live longer? Do everything in moderation. Photo | Photosearch

What you need to know:

Becoming healthier needn’t be black and white, say the choice between chocolate cake and brown rice – it’s about finding a balance.

The other day, someone saw me eating the brown rice as part of my lunch and later told me that they’d “rather die happy at sixty than eat brown rice and die at eighty”. It was a comment that really got me thinking: how many people do you know that have died happily at sixty? 

First, I should say that I don’t think sixty is old. It may seem old when you’re in your twenties or thirties, but sixty-year-olds these days are very sprightly indeed. So why would you want to die then? You wouldn’t. 

The majority of people who do die when they’re sixty don’t do so because they want to, rather because they have suffered from some illness. So while brown rice isn’t a cure-all, a healthier lifestyle will improve the quality of your life. In the health profession, we often talk about adding years to your life, as opposed to adding life to your years. 

Let me give you the example of diabetes, a condition that is often called a lifestyle illness. Granted some people have hereditary factors that predispose them to it, but that doesn’t mean that they will necessarily get it. Diet and exercise both play enormous roles. For example, it has now been proven that drinking a sugary fizzy drink every day pretty much guarantees that you’ll get diabetes, even if your lifestyle is otherwise healthy.

The solution? To eat a little healthier now so that you don’t have to make any drastic changes later. And dietary changes aren’t even the worst things - complications of diabetes range from nerve damage and issues with vision, to the severely increased risk of heart disease.

While there’s medication for all this, don’t be fooled. At that stage, you’re in a situation where you’re managing a disease and, over time, you need an increasing amount of medication to manage its effects. And because of the side effects of the medication, even at that stage, people are always looking for lifestyle alternatives. Think of it as the difference between trying to maintain a badly driven car (one that’s hit every single pothole) to one that’s the same age but has been driven well and is regularly serviced.

Becoming healthier needn’t be black and white, say the choice between chocolate cake and brown rice – it’s about finding a balance. A little of what you fancy does you good, so make sure it is just a little and make sure you’re drinking enough water/eating your greens/and getting your eight hours at night while you do.

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