It’s the end of the year which seems to lend itself to reflection. As a bariatric surgeon, I spend most of my time discussing nutrition and weight loss. However, as I’ve been in practice for over 20 years now and (ahem) reached a certain age I notice myself focusing more on the broader subject of longevity and ‘healthspan’. If you are a regular reader you may have noticed this….LOL.
What Is Healthspan?
Healthspan is defined as the part of your life where you enjoy good health. If you live long enough, you will inevitably experience a period of decline. The goal is to keep that part of your life as short as possible and the healthy part as long as possible. Given my new focus (obsession?) with healthspan, I have some strong convictions about the “Pillars” of good health and what each of us can do to maximize our ‘healthspan’. Like a good scientist, my convictions are loosely held, however. That is if there is good evidence to suggest that some of what I am about to discuss is wrong I will be sure to let you know. Like a patient who comes in for their one-year follow-up visit and says, “Doc, I really wish I had done this surgery 10 years ago”, I find myself wishing I had started this inquiry into Longevity/Healthspan 10 years ago! There is no doubt in my mind that the sooner you begin the more benefit there is. So, with all that background what are the pillars of good health?
The Pillars of Good Health
- Sleep – Without question 8 hours of sleep is a superpower. If you’re an “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” guy/gal, I have a suggestion for the new year: Stop saying that! If sleep is off, then everything is off, and it’s like trying to build a house on top of a cracked foundation.
- Exercise – If exercise were a drug it is the most effective drug we have to improve our health.
- Nutrition – The Standard American Diet (SAD) is a disaster. Another suggestion for a New Years’ Resolution is to Eat Real Food…meats, fish, fruits, and vegetables.
- Distress Tolerance – News flash: Life is stressful, how well do you handle it? If you don’t handle stress well, guess what…you probably aren’t sleeping well (see #1)..once the sleep is off now everything is off.
Each of these is a big topic so I plan on doing a deeper dive into each in the first few months of 2023. Have a safe and wonderful Holiday Season.
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