Even in these unusual times in which we live, the basics in health still matter. There was an interesting piece in The Weekend Australian, exploring the life expectancy of first generation migrants from Greece living longer than the national average.
The article by Cameron Stewart writes; “There are few other migrant groups in Australia that have held on to their traditions so doggedly and for so long as the huge wave of Greeks who came to Australia, and especially to Melbourne, in the post-war years. That Greek-born generation is getting on now, most of them well into their seventies and eighties.”
He notes that they can be spotted in suburban front yards all over Melbourne (the writer is Melbourne based so this is not unique to that city – but as noted the number of Greek migrants to that city was greater than to others).
He adds “There is another reason you still see them so often despite their advancing age. These original Greek Australians are the miracle migrants, enjoying a life expectancy that is not only greater than that of other Australians, but also one of the highest in the world”.
There is a key part to this. Rates of cardiovascular risk factors such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure are higher in this group than the general population. However, studies show first-generation Greeks have around a 35 per cent lower mortality rate than locally born Australians and other migrant groups.
As the late Professor Julius Sumner-Miller would ask – why is it so?
There are likely a number of factors rather than one. Genetics may play a part. Eating a Mediterranean type of diet rather than the discredited low fat one promoted by health authorities plays a part. Numerous studies have consistently shown that the Mediterranean diet is the best in terms of lowering rates of heart disease and stroke. Benefits have also been shown in mental health.
Whilst these findings may surprise the low fat brigade, it should not. The 2017 PURE study on over 130,000 people showed an elevated consumption of saturated fats in the diet would not be detrimental for the cardiovascular risk and would not increase all-causes-mortality.
But there is more to it than that. Social connections are strong, and family relationships are valued. These migrants tend to eat more slowly and sit down at the table to eat together rather than munch in front of the TV. Physical activity tends to be lifelong.
It is not rocket science!
This type of diet provides good levels of anti-oxidants, vitamin D and omega three fatty acids. These are also good for the immune system.
None of this means one cannot get sick. It is not a forcefield. However, it should interest those who profess to be interested in improving health outcomes. Sadly, it is unlikely to as it goes against the current narrative. And worse still – it is too simple and doesn’t require government money for “programs”.
The good news is that you can implement these tweaks into your life without waiting for “official” advice.
Since last month there has been a significant change in attitude regards Covid in much of Australia. Only a minority still believe that an airborne respiratory virus can be eliminated. Vaccination rates are increasing and the prospect of an open society by Christmas is giving people hope.
Data showing the impact on suicide rates (especially in teenage girls) and mental health in general is seeping out and showing that lockdowns have serious adverse effects. Furthermore, the go hard and go early approach in Victoria leading to its sixth lockdown has been shown to be ineffective with the delta strain leaving the state in a similar position to NSW which was criticised (wrongly in my opinion) for not having done the same thing.
Denmark no longer treats Covid as different to other viruses. The UK has shown that one can open up at 60 something per cent vaccination rate and manage cases in the same way as one would manage cases of any other viral illness.
Australia which regarded itself as world leader in 2020 has become a world laggard in the first half of 2021. The Prime Minister copped much criticism for the vaccine roll out, but the country is on track to have all those who want a vaccine to be able to have had it by the end of the year – as promised by the PM.
At that point, despite what some politicians and their boosters say, there is no valid reason, based on actual science and real world data, to continue with closed borders and lockdowns.
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.
He has self-published two books: Dr Joe’s DIY Health and 60 Minutes To Better Health.
Through all this he continues to see patients as a GP each week.