Sanjay Gupta’s book Chasing Life, published in 2007, presents a compelling picture of the ways in which each of us can improve the quality of our lives by diet, significant exercise and other healthy life choices. Gupta’s focus is on “extending our healthy and active lives longer” while compressing the death process. He reminds us that chasing life means lowering our risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. He also guides us toward health habits that reduce our risk of developing Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Much of the information in his book is information we really already know, even if we try to ignore it: a diet of junk food reduces the quality, if not the length, of our lives. Life decisions such as failing to wear seat belts and bicycle/motorcycle helmets increases the likelihood of serious injury and death. Tobacco kills. And we have all heard the statistics on obesity.
But if you go beyond the extremely obvious to the merely obvious, he has more to say. Meeting our daily requirement of vitamins, like vitamins A and C, magnesium, fiber C, really is essential. Fish is far healthier for us than beef. Supplements are not all created equal. Grain, is a great source of fiber. I love granola because it is high in fiber and includes healthy grains, nuts and olive oil. Meg likes to add dried fruit.
Not so obvious is that long-term reduction of our calorie intake, even if we are not overweight, has significant health benefits. It can extend our productive lives–helping us to avoid significant disease. In addition, regular exercise, walking, jogging, bicycling and stretching, is essential to remaining in good shape. Physical fitness increases our life spans, and at least as important, helps us to become biologically “younger” and happier.
There is so much more information included in Dr. Gupta’s book about aging and health. He even includes a section on the impact of happiness in encouraging long and healthy lives. I encourage you to study his book and adopt the life style he espouses. In keeping with healthy living, take a walk, play tennis, golf, or be like Meg and run miles every day.
Our family didn’t need Dr. Gupta to tell us about health. Our dad is the most health conscious person I know. He spent the last 97 years of his life avoiding alcohol, tobacco and caffeine, limiting his sugar, eating a healthy diet, , and exercising daily. At age 95, he was invited to throw the first pitch at a Kansas City Royal’s game.x He practiced his pitch before the big day and even got the ball to the plate, if not over it. Quite a testament for living a healthy life. Gee dad. Dr. Gupta would be proud of you.
For most of the rest of us, we need someone we admire to prod us along, encouraging to make healthy decisions in our lives. So, I encourage you tomorrow to take a walk or a run. As a reward for your efforts, have a healthy bowl of fruit, instead of ice cream and water instead of wine or beer. Not the way most of us spend our evenings. But a whole lot healthier.
Is this just a little too bland for your lifestyle? Do you need something more exciting than–water? How about a glass of 100 % grape juice. You can put it in your favorite wineglass and feel as festive as your friends.
Here’s to your health. Here’s to a long and happy life.
_________________________________________________________________________________xOn August 30, 2010, dad was invited to throw the first pitch at a Royal’s game. He is the oldest Eagle Scout an event honoring Eagle Scouts. He was the oldest Eagle Scout in the Kansas City area and was among those given a Kauffman lifetime achievement award. we all attribute his good health and longevity to the care with which he has lived his life.
I am grateful to the Independence Examiner for the photo of dad. He had lots of family in attendance and we have similar photos. But this one is better. I have no idea why it appears in “google” with an All-Star game logo at the bottom.