There is a lot of doom and gloom in health. Whilst the media report on the occasional “breakthrough” or “game changer” medication, which usually isn’t, most of the commentary is downcast. We have epidemics of everything from viruses to obesity to vaping. Each of these will somehow end civilisation as we know it unless the government “does or bans something”. Some in public health, NGO’s and or academia will at times claim to have some solution – which of course requires the shovelling of other people’s money in their direction.
Back in the real world life expectancy is increasing in most countries.
In the past 50 years, average life expectancy for men in Australia has increased by almost 14 years to 81.3 and by 11.2 years for women to 85.4 according to a report by The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW). Over the last two decades life expectancy has increased at a rate of three months per year. Those dying beyond 100 years of age increased from 83 in 1964 (one in 1214 deaths) to 2247 in 2021 (one in 72 deaths).
This is good news. It is sadly not surprising that there is very little curiosity as to why this is. Fortunately we have some clues. It is well established that smoking cigarettes is the leading cause of premature death. That is why I am and remain a supporter of helping people quit cigarettes by a variety of means including the at least 95% less harmful alternative of vaping.
We also know that regular exercise and a sensible diet are critical too. It is not about having a body mass index (BMI) below 25 with this metric being increasingly discredited. There is no impact on all cause mortality with a BMI up to 29. This included would close to 75% of the population that public health classifies as overweight or obese.
We do know that the population has gotten heavier since the introduction of low fat dietary guidelines in the late 1970’s. I wrote in 2017 the following –
The PURE study of 140,000 people, ongoing since 2009 showed, (again) that carbohydrates not fats are the problem in the diet. Prof Salim Yusuf criticised WHO and other “official” positions for extolling a low-fat diet and the avoidance of meat as well as the promotion of low-fat dairy.
This month further data from PURE has identified which foods are heart protective. Most protective food categories were in line with standard dietary guidelines for good health, but one was not. The food categories that were found to be protective include fruit, vegetables, nuts, legumes, and fish but also dairy, “mainly whole-fat dairy.
Let me repeat that – whole fat dairy!
Medscape reports; “The study in part refutes the frequent preference for low-fat or no-fat dairy foods over whole-fat dairy in healthy-diet recommendations. But it is consistent with earlier findings from PURE of reduced mortality risk with increased consumption of dietary fat, including saturated fat”.
Don’t hold your breath waiting for big public health to admit error, let alone apologise.
It has also been conclusively shown that social connections are important for health and that loneliness and isolation (think lockdowns) adversely affect it. Social isolation has been analogised to smoking 15 cigarettes per day. Related to this is relationships.
The worlds longest study of happiness (started in 1938) has found that the happiest participants had two major factors in common – taking care of their health and building loving relationships. The researchers determined (to some surprise) that “good relationships were the most significant predictor of health and happiness during aging”.
Good relationships are significant to happiness and health! One could say that relationships were a pillar of health. This type of research will never get much airplay because there is no pharmaceutical agent to “treat it” nor will government funding of public health “programs” have any impact.
Regular readers will know that I was critical of lockdowns because the significant adverse effects on the health of people were dismissed. In the future, any mass medical intervention must assess the harmful effects and only be introduced when there is a sufficient degree of confidences that the beneficial effects outweigh the harmful ones.
In the meantime, we can all take steps to make our lives better for longer. There are lessons from those living to 100 and beyond, that we can apply today. They eat real food, are active, have good relationships and find ways to be happy.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.