Most people are extremely careful about how they spend and invest their money. They take very good care of their movable and real estate assets. But awkwardly they care much less about their most important asset – their own health. Sometimes, they forget that wellbeing and success at every portion of their lives depend on them having health, and living in a safe, unpolluted environment.
Maximising health and wellbeing start by taking proper care of both our body and mind. The earlier we begin studying, the more we can learn about the intricacies that work best for us in keeping us healthy. Studies of longevity in animal and clinical models and human centenarians have shown that it is possible for people to live past the age of 100 without developing major chronic illnesses. I believe that this kind of healthy longevity is not a matter of genetics or chance, though those factors can play a role.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that by amending lifestyle factors including poor diet, physical inactivity, smoking and excess body weight, we could prevent at least 80 percent of cases of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes and more than 40 percent of cancers.
In rodents and monkeys, for example, dietary restriction with optimal nutrient intake protects against obesity, diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease, brain ageing and frailty. We have shown that in humans this causes biological adaptations that protect against those illnesses and liver and kidney diseases.
Minimising weight gain during adulthood through regular exercise training and a healthy predominantly plant-based diet is key – ensuring an essential nutrient-rich balance of amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals are consumed. Cognitive training (activities to help with memory, attention and other brain functions), avoidance of smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, sleep and emotional wellbeing are also crucial in preventing harmful physiological changes.
It is essential that more people know how they could prevent disease, improve their quality of life, and reduce suffering from chronic conditions they have. The time has come to take control of our own health. Instead of dealing with the long-term consequences of chronic diseases, we need to modify our behaviours. This will have a cascading effect on many fatal and disabling illnesses, and on ecosystems and planetary health as well.