Ever since we docs started teaching people the importance of smoking cessation, moderation in alcohol intake, a nutritious, mostly plant-based diet, daily exercise, and weight control, millions of people have been beating themselves up for unhealthy lifestyle habits. Yet the guilt and shame so many feel hasn’t led to significant improvements in the health of the general public. Even though people know how to live a “healthy” lifestyle, most choose not to. Instead, rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, and other largely preventable diseases are on the rise.
While lots of people rattle off about the importance of healthy lifestyle modifications – and as a green-juicing, exercising, non-smoking, health food junkie, I agree with them – what shocks me is how few are talking about the other critical factors that contribute to health and longevity – the factors that are arguably even more important than diet, cigarette use, alcohol intake, weight, and exercise.