- Get a move on: More than one study has shown that among the many benefits of regular exercise is increased longevity and decreased risk of cancer.
- Stop taking vitamins and supplements, unless you have been diagnosed with a particular deficiency. Taking vitamins to “get stronger” or “feel less tired” is a widespread myth which wastes money and doesn’t improve health.
- Eat fat: National health guidelines urging us to reduce fat intake were based on weak science. Butter is delicious.
- Your weight is important only if you think it’s important: Obesity is known to be associated with a higher risk of certain diseases (for example, diabetes and joint diseases). But this doesn’t mean you have to drastically change the shape or weight of your body. Decide on small, realistic goals which are feasible and can lead little by little to your goal.
- These days there’s a lot of talk about “precision medicine,” tailoring medications, for example, to the newest research about the connection between genetics and health. Who knows what future studies might show, but to date it’s clear that the greatest effect is from common-sense strategies: don’t eat too much, get a good night’s sleep, don’t spend money on stupid, dangerous stuff (recreational drugs and the like), and look for activities and company which help support your chosen priorities. That’s how you can support your own DNA, no matter what’s in your genome.
A healthy winter, happy holidays, and best wishes to all my readers. Keep those emails, Facebook messages, and queries coming!
This article was originally published in Yiddish in the Yiddish Forward, and this translation is published by agreement with that newspaper.