Sensible health is based on science

Sensible health
is based on science

By Dave Duffy

Dave Duffy

Issue #68 • March/April, 2001

It’s been about a year and a half since we exhibited this magazine at a trade show, but we’ll do two of them soon: March 16-17 at the Upper Midwest Organic Farming Conference on the campus of the University of Wisconsin in La Crosse, WI, and April 20-22 at Vitality Expo 2001 (ad on page 64) at the San Mateo Expo Center near San Francisco.

I consider both of them health shows, even though neither are billed as such, because one is about raising the best possible food for your body and the other is about exercising and living life to the fullest. In the past I’ve also exhibited at the shows actually billed as health shows, you know, those gigantic trade shows in southern California and other New Age kingdoms where kooks, crackpots, and charlatans gather to sell you miracle cures for cancer and bottles of green slime for nutrients. Attendees at those shows tend to be the sick and the desperate who have neglected their bodies so are in the market for a miracle.

These organic gardening and vitality shows, on the other hand, are based on science, a science that says eating properly all your life, exercising moderately on a regular basis, and enjoying your life to the fullest are the best ways to remain healthy and live as long as you can.

Good news: we live longer than ever

The average age in the year 1 A.D. was 25. During the middle ages it briefly rose to about 35, then fell to 17 at the height of the convergence of the bubonic plagues, hundred years war, and repeated famines. By the time America really got into high gear, say 1900, life expectancy rose to 47 and it has been rising ever since—54 by 1920, 63 by 1940, 69 by 1960, 73 by 1980. Today it is on the verge of 80.

Much of the increase has been the result of declining infant mortality, but many chronic diseases of the past have also been eliminated, many cancers can now be cured if caught early, and the chances of getting heart disease, stroke, and various cancers and diseases can be drastically reduced by applying some science-based rules to your life.

Better news: it’s easy to stay healthy

  • Eat a wide variety of foods from all 5 food groups: meat and fish, grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy. The French, who have a much more varied diet than Americans, have much lower rates of heart disease and cancers. Several small meals a day are better than one big one.
  • Eat about 40% less food than you would normally eat if left to your own desires. Tests with lab animals indicate a 50% increase in life expectancy. The body may wear itself out processing excess food. There is evidence that protein restriction is a key to health and longevity.
  • Eat 5 servings of fruits and veggies a day. Easy to do if you have a Vita-Mix or other smoothie-maker. Lots of antioxidants in this. Fresh garden veggies taste better too.
  • Eat fish, nuts, and fiber. A fish a week may cut your risk of sudden death by 50%. Nuts 4 times a week may cut the risk of heart attack in half. Fiber is essential to clear the colon, and fiber-filled foods help you lose weight.
  • Alcohol, in moderation, is good for you, but red wine is best. Red wine reduces the risk of heart disease by about 50%, and may help reduce the risk of breast, prostate, liver, colon, rectal, and oral cancers. It also cuts the risk of osteoporosis. Notice the words “in moderation.”
  • Don’t smoke. It’s as bad as they say.
  • Stay relatively germ-free by washing your hands frequently, drying with paper towels that you immediately discard. The mouth is the dirtiest part of your body, so brush and floss regularly.
  • Exercise. It doesn’t take much. Walking is fine. It’s relaxing and restores brain cells. Don’t think about work while you exercise. Listen to music or a book on tape.
  • Sex is good for you, qualifying as both fun and exercise. Practice safe sex; avoid the colon, a repository for germs and disease. That’s as delicately as I can say it.
  • Relax and sleep well. It may drastically cut your risk of illness. A brief nap, or other relaxation technique, during the day helps. Listen to music or read for 20 minutes before going to bed, then sleep until rested—about 8 hours.
  • Enjoy life, like your job, and take time for yourself and your family. Constructive stress is fine, but don’t fret over every little thing. The happy person lives longer, healthier.
  • Take vitamins if you want, especially antioxidants, but don’t rely on them. Various foods have lots of micronutrients that science is just learning about, and they are not in vitamin pills.
  • Don’t rely on alternative medicine. Although it has some value, and is currently in vogue, it is riddled with quacks and fake cures, some of which have been dredged up from the discredited “cures” of ancient times. Modern medicine based on science is why we live healthier and longer today. Trust science.

Best news: Living in the country helps

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