Reaching a very high age and still be healthy, who wouldn’t like that? However even when this would be possible, how would you make this happen? Websites that are providing health information are usually linked to selling food supplements or other commercial interests. Doctors are mostly trained in treating diseases and often don’t know how advise their patients about healthy aging. However the newly published book “Living a Century or More” by the Dutch physician and researcher William Cortvriendt shows, based on published evidence in the most renowned medical Journals, that by making the right choices we can live much longer while enjoying better health.
The parents of William Cortvriendt both are enjoying remarkably good health despite being in their mid nineties. They still live independently in their detached home with a large garden that they maintain themselves and in addition have remained socially active. A matter of “good genes” is often a recurrent remark made by their surroundings. However, did this really result from the genes or is it something to do with the lifestyle of his parents? William Cortvriendt became curious and started to do research in the medical literature and came to remarkable conclusions about what is healthy and what is unhealthy.
The conclusion is clear. Our life expectation and our health are predominantly determined by our lifestyle and not by our genes. Breast cancer is the most frequent form of cancer in women living in the western world. On the contrary, breast cancer in Japan is quite rare. That this remarkable difference is not caused by different genes became clear through large scale migration. When Japanese women move to the United States, their chances to get breast cancer rapidly increase to the same level as the American women. When American women move to Japan, their risks for breast cancer dramatically decrease. Well known other relationships between lifestyle and diseases are for example between smoking and lung cancer, between obesity and diabetes and between sun tanning and skin cancer.
There appear to be many things in our daily lives that can increase our life expectancy and improve our health. What does the consumption of chocolate have to do with our health? Medical research shows that moderate but daily consumption of dark chocolate results in a decrease of blood pressure similar to taking an anti hypertensive drug and in addition will decrease the risks for diabetes. By consuming more of certain fats, our risk for a heart attack decreases with a factor five. A seemingly unavoidable risk to become dement can be decreased with a factor four by……. playing board games and by dancing! It appears that these activities stimulate our brains in such a way that they remain in a healthy shape. Fatty fish like herring and salmon proves to be about the healthiest foods that exists and significantly reduces our risks for cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, arthritis and psychological diseases such as depression. Omega-3 supplements are a good substitute for those who are not particularly fond of fish. It appears from studies with a very large number of participants that those who drink coffee live longer than those who don’t drink coffee and daily consumption of green tea can often prevent various types of cancer.
Instead, many broadly supported and seemingly healthy habits are shown in this book to be based on wives tales. What to think about the much praised antioxidants and multivitamin preparations? It appears that many studies have been performed with these food supplements where they have been compared to placebo. In a couple of studies where the effects of these food supplements were compared to placebo, the research had to be ended prematurely because it was considered unethical to continue. The reason? The participants who received the vitamins showed already at interim analyses that they started to suffer more from cancer and cardiovascular disease than those participants who instead received placebo! In other words, these vitamins are hazardous for your health. It was also shown in various other studies that taking vitamin C has no effect at all compared to placebo for prevention or curing a common cold.
There are also vitamins that do have a beneficial effect. It was shown that the blood levels of vitamin D for the majority of the population is too low. Taking vitamin D supplements remarkably decreases the risks for cancer, cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. It was also shown that many people above age 50 have a deficiency of vitamin B12 that could lead to anemia and early dementia. Taking extra vitamin B12 can restore this condition and prevent possible health problems.
In hindsight it is interesting to notice that the parents of William Cortvriendt nearly always have made healthy choices concerning their lifestyle without having been aware of the importance!
The book “Living a Century or More” is available through the various websites of Amazon and CreateSpace.
The website www.factualhealth.com provides more information and offers the possibility to read selected parts of the book.
This post is also available in: Spanish