How to live to be 100 (and not regret it!)
- First and foremost, eat a healthy diet. What's healthy? I suggest checking out Michael Pollan's book
"Food Rules: An Eater's Manual" - costs just a
few bucks, and has a lot of clear, sensible suggestions. "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." Pretty much sums it up.
- Keep your body weight somewhere south of a BMI of 30 (ideally around 25)
- Exercise 30 minutes every day - that doesn't mean driving to a gym, changing into sweats, warming up, exercising, cooling down, showering and driving home - this is just too time consuming for many people. Just try to take the stairs, walk quickly when possible, spend 10 minutes on a home exercise machine - whatever. Just try to add some aerobic exercise to your day. Try wearing a
it can motivate you to take a few extra steps.
- Don't smoke - I don't think this needs any more elaboration. It is a no-brainer.
- If you choose to drink alcohol, limit this to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men. A drink is 1 can/bottle of beer,
5 ounces of wine or 1 ounce of liquor. There is data to suggest that drinking in moderation is actually helpful for overall health.
- Wear a seatbelt in the car.
- Wear a helmet if you ride a bike - a broken arm is a nuisance. A broken brain is a tragedy.
- Vitamin D: For younger people who spend at least a few minutes outdoors every day, vitamin D supplements are
probably not necessary. However, for those over 65 (especially women), I think taking 1000 IU of vitamin D3
does make sense, and probably does help reduce the risk of fractures. During New England winters, it is probably
best if EVERYONE take around 1000 IU of vitamin D3 every day.
- Try to get about 1000 mg calcium in your diet per day. Having 2 to 3 dairy servings per day plus the calcium in other foods should be enough. If you don't think you get enough calcium in your diet, you might want to take Tums EX (each provides 300 mg of calcium). There
is some concern that calcium supplements MIGHT increase the risk of heart attacks - so I suggest trying to get calcium in your
diet (milk, yogurt, cheese, ice cream, sardines, and orange juice fortified with calcium).
- I don't recommend a multivitamin EXCEPT in pregnant women (and women who might get pregnant), and in children. For the rest of us, I suggest eating a well-balanced diet and NOT taking a multivitamin. A
recent study (11/14/12, JAMA) found a slight benefit in reducing the risk of cancer in men, but many previous studies failed to find a benefit, and some suggested harm. I continue
to favor a good diet over multivitamins.
- Know your blood pressure, your blood sugar and your cholesterol. And if any are not good, address it with me - and take pills if you have to. Not many people like to take pills, but sometimes you really should.
- Cancer screens: You may be surprised to hear me say this - but other than Pap smears, MAYBE mammograms and MAYBE colonoscopies, cancer screens are overhyped and oversold. It is far better to live a healthy lifestyle than rely on screening tests and physical exams to find problems early. YOU are in charge of staying healthy and making the right choices.
Brad Kney, MD