Avoid Playing Russian Roulette With Your Life
To the extent we’re willing to make changes to diet and lifestyle, we can change things that were once thought to be impossible. Ornish
We are 5 days into the new year and I’m sure many of you have started 2014 with great intentions of eating a healthy diet and exercising more. It is a common theme.
Back in November I decided to do the same. It wasn’t like my health was a disaster, I was carrying a few excess pounds, but by many people’s standards my diet and lifestyle are healthy.
So I was surprised how eliminating dairy, wheat, caffeine and almost all white sugar, really allowed my body to wake up, re-energise and refresh. The positive side effects of detoxing really surprised me.
The Irony of Healthy Eating
The irony is we know it’s important. I’d detoxed before so I experientially knew the better my diet, the better I look and the better I feel inside and out. My partner’s a cancer research scientist so I know all cancers, unless genetic, are wholly lifestyle created.
This means if you eat a naturally healthy balanced diet and exercise more, unless your genes are impaired, you can 100% avoid the risk of cancer.
It is common knowledge obesity is one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. Excessive body weight is associated with various diseases, particularly cardiovascular diseases, diabetes mellitus type 2, obstructive sleep apnea, certain types of cancer, osteoarthritis] and asthma. Obesity has been found to reduce life expectancy by 6 – 17 years. In the United States obesity is estimated to cause 111,909 to 365,000 deaths per year and over 1 million (7.7%) of deaths in Europe are attributed to excess weight. Yet I’ve continued to play russian roulette with my life.
A recent study of 35 men with low-risk prostate cancer also suggests living healthily helps you live longer. 10 of these men were instructed to make lifestyle changes including eating a plant-based, vegan diet of whole foods, exercising moderately, receiving social support, and practicing stress-management strategies such as mindfulness and yoga for five years. The other 25 were not instructed to make any lifestyle changes at all.
All of the study participants’ telomeres (sections of our DNA), which are known to be associated with ageing were measured at the start of the study. Researchers found telomere length increased by 10% among the men who were assigned to undergo the lifestyle intervention. Meanwhile, telomere length decreased by an average of 3 percent among the men not assigned to a lifestyle intervention.
So the case for a healthy diet and lifestyle is compelling if you want to live a longer life. So why didn’t I do this before now? Why don’t more men eat to feel more alive and live longer?
No Pain No Gain?
Old habits can be tough to shift, and ideas about the ‘benefits’ of certain foods such as caffeine in a morning, or I need alcohol to enjoy myself, means they can become a crux. But in the main it’s probably more about the perceived effort versus pay off. We are now more than ever deeply attached to modern comforts, adverse to put up with a few days of pain (hunger or detox symptoms), even though this could potentially improve all areas of our lives.
It takes conscious effort to change, and for many life feels hard enough as it is, without adding to the perceived pain. “Why would I want to give up smoking or drinking when they’re my only pleasure?”, I’ve heard said. I imagine this is the reason most people don’t start most things, even though in terms of our health the game’s up. There are no more excuses, all of the evidence tells us that what we we put into our bodies will either add to or negate from our experience of life. Not just in years, but immediately if you pay attention to your body’s reaction to what you put into it.
For the majority of the 4 million years of human evolution, we flourished on a mainly plant based diet. It is only in the last 70 years, since the introduction of mass food production and processing has the human body seen a rise in diseases such as cancer, obesity and diabetes. We intuitively know what’s not good for our bodies, yet instead of taking a natural approach, we look to over ride the bodies instinctive tendency to heal itself, by using medicines to try and rebalance a system which works perfectly well when nourished.
Our bodies can be like finely tuned instruments, playing a sweet melody however if we stay unconscious to how we really feel, covering this up with alcohol or junk fund that take our bodies out of harmony, life feels sluggish. It doesn’t have the vibrancy and alertness that comes from cleaning up our diets.
Is It Time to Give Your Body More Respect?
I hope I don’t sound like I’m preaching, I am no angel by anyone’s standards. In years gone by I would drink all weekend, take copious amounts of drugs and party like it was going out of fashion. I smoked for 20 years so I am lucky to have got away with the lack of respect I gave my body. I realise now however that my body, your body, is the vehicle that you need to keep well oiled and running well if you want to make it smoothly through ride of a lifetime. Like your car, the better you look after it and give it what it needs, the less the bills and inconvenience your going to endure.
Maybe you’ve taken your body for granted in your youth, never questioning whether it will carry you all the way to the end. Maybe now you’re experiencing your body beginning to fail. Those bad habits you’ve developed along the way, you’ve been promising you’ll do something about but never got around to it. Using a concoction of drugs to cover the cracks or maybe antidepressants to lift your mood. But really underneath the hood, you feel like you’re falling to pieces. It doesn’t have to be like that.
It is not always easy in a world conditioned for greed, immediate consumption, speed and convenience, but all it takes is to start listening to your body. Hear what you really need, especially when your old habits come calling on you to let them back in. If you do your body will help you to come come fully alive. It is a no brainer, yet for some, me included, I appreciate not always necessarily easy.
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