Op-Ed

How to live longer, in 100 annoying steps

Getty Images/Wavebreak Media

The following editorial appeared in the Chicago Tribune:

Want to live to age 115? Emma Morano, an Italian woman born in 1899, shared her secrets: Eat three raw eggs every day, and stay single. Also, move to a milder climate. “The doctor told me to change air,” she told The New York Times. “And I’m still here.”

Some more advice: Don’t sleep too much. British researchers report in the journal Neurology that older adults who slept more than eight hours were 46 percent more likely to suffer strokes in the next decade than those who slept less, the Los Angeles Times reported.

This too: Relax! Having a bout of anxiety makes you nearly 10 times more likely to have a heart attack in the next two hours, according to research from Australia’s Sydney University.

But for goodness’ sake keep drinking coffee, even if it makes you anxious. Americans who drink at least four cups of coffee a day are one-third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than people who drink no coffee, the LA Times said, citing research to be presented to the American Academy of Neurology.

New dietary recommendations from a panel of experts in Washington concur that drinking coffee is fine, even three to five cups daily. The same report, noted by this page last week, supports Emma Morano’s conclusion about eating eggs: Stop worrying, because consuming high-cholesterol food doesn’t significantly affect blood cholesterol levels for many people.

So, got it? Raw eggs, keep calm, stay single, move to a lakeside town in northern Italy, drink coffee, hit the sauna.

Oh, right, about the sauna. A Finnish study says men who use a sauna seven times a week are less likely to die of heart problems than are those who visit once a week, according to Canada’s Globe and Mail.

See a pattern here? We’re drowning in advice (and drowning is not a recommended health tip). The above studies and suggestions were culled from just a few weeks’ news reports. And there was much more out there:

If you’re worried about the health of your kids, Swedish researchers say it’s better to wash the dishes by hand than use a dishwasher because introducing babies and children to bacteria boosts the immune system. Children and families who hand-wash the dishes are about 40 percent less likely to develop allergies, according to Livescience.com.

Speaking of childhood allergies, King’s College London researchers found that babies at risk of peanut allergies may be able to avoid that fate if they are given peanuts regularly during their first 11 months, according to Reuters. The news service said this was the first study to show that eating certain foods may be an effective way to prevent allergies. But you know it won’t be the last such study.

How to cope with all these suggestions and edicts?

Be skeptical. Canadian researchers looked at the World Health Organization’s role in giving advice about how to treat and prevent illness and found its recommendations were often based on low-quality evidence, according to Canada’s National Post. In fact, many organizations give advice based on “flimsy science” and “GOBSAT” (good old boys sitting around the table), Dr. Gordon Guyatt of McMaster University, the lead researcher, told the Post.

But some rules for health certainly seems timeless: Eat healthy foods, do some exercise, watch your weight, don’t smoke, see a doctor.

We'll boil it down further to the words of noted food and nutrition author Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.”

And, finally this ancient wisdom attributed to the Roman playwright Terence: All things in moderation.

That includes how many health tips to follow.

Tribune Content Agency

  Comments