Eubie Blake, the great pianist and composer said at age 93 “If I’d known I was going to live to be this old, I would have taken better care of myself.”
I had breakfast with a prominent woman physician from New York. She was vibrant, beautiful, and had a very active, meaningful life. She spoke about recently losing her husband. She is health conscious, and has a strong faith. He would not take care of himself, ate what he wanted, smoked because he enjoyed it, was a very negative and angry person and had no faith. He suffered a lot, became impotent early on, got diabetes, macular degeneration and heart disease. He couldn’t walk across the room because of his angina, or breathe without oxygen because of his emphysema. His dying was prolonged and miserable. It was frustrating for him because he was helpless and he did not want to be a burden. It was tough for her. She concluded it is very important to take care of yourself so you can live well and so you can die well.
We accept deaths of our friends and family from heart attacks or other chronic diseases as normal. There is nothing normal about a 60 year old having a heart attack. It was not normal for my father to have his first heart attack in his 50’s or to have diabetes, emphysema or die too young of lung cancer. What is normal is to live a healthy life into our old age. We don’t have to be sick or die prematurely of lifestyle caused diseases.
It makes no sense to have bypass surgery and take loads of medicines and expect the problem not to come back if you don’t stop whatever was causing the problem in the first place. Dad’s bypass blocked off again and again, and other diseases developed and progressed.
Drugs do not cure these diseases, they help manage them but can only do so much. They can do harm and can interfere with the body’s own healing. All drugs have potential side effects, some serious. For example, statins can cause liver disease, raise blood sugar and HbA1C. While they may lower cholesterol, and show a small decrease in heart attacks, statins cause a number of side effects that require more drugs, and sometimes cause death. In the biggest study on statins, there was no difference in deaths from all causes between those on or off statins. On the other hand, changing to a healthy nutritious diet can lower cholesterol and heart disease risk factors in as little as a few weeks.
I would like to invite you to think about why you might want to change your lifestyle for the better. It’s important to think about it because it’s not something we jump at doing, and not the easiest thing to do in the world, though it gets a lot easier very quickly as you feel so much better. It will be hard unless you have a purpose. Maybe it’s your own health, for a loved one, a goal you want to achieve, or something else. It needs to be worth it. It is clear that a healthy lifestyle may improve our longevity and our vitality even into old age.
I hope you will think about it and make a decision that it is worth it. If you do, that is wonderful. Then we can talk about making a commitment to yourself, planning what and how to make it happen in the easiest, safest and most effective way for you. I would love to hear from you.
Healthy Lifestyle May Improve Longevity Even Into Old Age. published in BMJ online 8/30/12
Food and Drug Administration. FDA Drug Safety Communication: Important safety label changes to cholesterol-lowering statin drugs. February 28, 2012.
Information shared here is not intended as medical advice, and cannot substitute for professional medical advice and information. Information provided is general in nature and may be helpful to some people but not others, depending on their personal medical needs. Always consult with your personal physician before changing or undertaking a new exercise program or following advice designed for general audiences only. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay getting care because of something you have read here.