Does a healthy lifestyle guarantee a long life? Does putting all our faith in eating organic foods, good fats, no sugar and all the different diets guarantee us a long life?
The idea that we can control our destiny based on how we eat and how we exercise is an enticing one, especially in our risk-averse society. Unfortunately, an unwavering belief in the power of a healthy lifestyle can turn the pursuit of health into a sort of moral imperative, leading to everything from weight stigma to a weighty sense of personal responsibility. The reality is that a healthy lifestyle can’t eliminate all risk of sickness and disease, and an unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t necessarily doom us.
I’ve watched a best friend of mine die from cancer at 42 years young who lived healthy his whole life!!!
Society can grapple with guilt, thinking they caused their cancer because they didn’t eat “healthy enough.”
I’ve had healthy clients with larger bodies face not just weight stigma but also false assumptions that they have diabetes or heart disease.
And then there are my always-been-thin clients who are stunned when their cholesterol or blood-sugar levels climb too high, explaining, “I’ve never exercised or paid attention to what I ate because I didn’t have to, I am skinny”.
How far does food as medicine go?
The relationship between nutrition and health isn’t black and white. Yes, food can be good medicine, but although nutrition or lack of it does play a role in whether we develop a chronic disease, it’s only one player. Most diseases arise because of the complex interactions between our genes, diet and environment.
It’s true that some health conditions respond well to a change in diet and no medications are needed. However, other diseases are affected little by nutrition other than the fact that nutrition supports underlying general health. Although nutrition and lifestyle can alter the course of some of the diseases we fear most, diabetes and heart disease come to mind.
We as humans love the idea of a “magic pill” but we also like the certainty of a payoff for our efforts. When we make it a priority to eat nutritiously and exercise regularly, it’s often buoyed by the underlying assumption that if we do everything right, we’ll be healthy and live to a ripe old age. If all this healthy food and trips to the gym might not stop us having a heart attack, why bother?
That question misses the big picture.
Nutrition may not be able to cure all diseases of removing all risk of disease, but neither are your genes necessarily your destiny. Eating nutritiously and cultivating other health-promoting habits may help you improve your genetic hand. This really could prevent, or at least delay, chronic disease and help you live longer but there are no guarantees. Like it or not, we’re all going to die someday so don’t put all your faith in healthy foods.
Taking care of yourself with nourishing food, regular activity, adequate sleep helps you feel better, hang with your kids and enjoy life. Even if this doesn’t add years to your life, it will probably add life to your years. Everyone benefits from eating well and being active.
Nutritious food gives you the vitamins, minerals, fibre your body needs to run well and feel well by putting quality gas in your tank.
Research has found that people who eat fruit & vegetables have a more pleasing skin tone and texture.
We lose muscle as we age unless we take steps to counteract it by eating enough protein and exercising regularly. Maintaining your muscle will make it easier to move through life gracefully.
Don’t put all your faith into thinking eating well guarantees you a long life.
Even if this doesn’t add years to your life, it will probably add life to your years...