By Carl Massy: I turn 42 next month (that would be 16th of August if you are wondering when to send your birthday wishes) which I tell myself is not even at the halfway mark in life. But it is no good living to 100 if you are not in great health or lack the vitality to fully enjoy the experience. So read on to find out all I have learnt in the last year or so as I have studied health, vitality and longevity at a deeper level.
Here are some of the greatest insights I have found:
- Your brain can continue to evolve until you take your last breath. If you continue to learn new skills, read often, use your mind with curiosity you will become more intelligent and wise as you age. At twice your age now, you could not only be twice as intelligent and wise, but 5 or 10 or even 50 times wiser! There is a compounding effect. So imagine right now if you were twice as smart - what would that mean to your business, or work, or relationships or bank balance? Your mind and intelligence is not fixed but grows with exercise - just like your body.
- Stress is as big a risk to your heart (and the possibility of heart disease) as smoking cigarettes. If you 'stress out' on a regular basis, this has a huge negative impact on your heart health. To be overly general, you will find that most stress is the result of 'wishing that things where actually different from what they are'. When we accept that things are what they are, we can then actually do something about fixing them.
- Cholesterol has a HUGE impact on blocking the blood vessels that deliver blood to the heart, which leads to chest pain or at its extreme a heart attack. Our liver produces all the cholesterol that our body needs. We do not need to add any more. Especially a lot more. Fruit and vegetables contain no cholesterol. Cholesterol only comes from animal products such as: meat, dairy, eggs, whey protein, and fish.
- Fat, like cholesterol, has a significant negative impact on your heart. And when it comes to fat, there are two main types - saturated and unsaturated. And as I am sure you are aware, saturated fats are much worse than unsaturated fats. The majority of saturated fats come from animal sources. Are you starting to see a pattern here? Current publicly communicated literature suggests we have a fat intake of no more than 30% (of total calories), but there is a growing amount of research on health and longevity that suggests that a level closer to 10% will actually reverse blockages or restricted blood flow in our bodies - which most of us already have if we have been eating a typical western diet throughout our lives.
- As a result of the study I have been doing into nutrition and health, I have come to the belief that the amount of animal protein consumed for optimum health is best when it is low as possible. As low as 5% of the overall daily calorie intake. So for 2000 calories a day, that is 100 calories of animal protein for the entire day. The equivalent of one roasted chicken leg, or 30g of Swiss cheese, or 1 fried egg, or a steamed cod fillet. There is also a lot of research to suggest that the longest-lived and healthiest populations on the planet eat a 'whole foods plant-based diet'. Alternatively, most of the modern diseases (heart disease, some cancers, diabetes, dementia, etc.) are a result of diets high in animal protein.
- Loneliness - defined by me as a disconnection from people, the planet, the universe and ones self - has a significant impact on heart health and quality of life in general. Now this is not a surprise, I am sure. But it is also a lot more prevalent than you would imagine; especially in the world we live in today. The typical western lifestyle does not have close community or family support. People are more disconnected or isolated from their families and community, so the sense of loneliness is much more common among a lot of people. So the more love, connection, openness, conscious awareness and meaningful relationships you maintain in your life, the better your physical and mental health will be.
- Living a life aligned with your deeper values is essential for fulfilment and happiness in your life. Especially the value of integrity, which I believe is at the top of the hierarchical list when it comes to values. When I talk about integrity, I mean in addition to what we normally associate with integrity (honesty and truthfulness); there is a realisation that we are being true to who we are at our core - our authentic self. If we are out of alignment with integrity in our lives, I believe it is hard to love and respect ourselves, and therefore we will not take care of our physical, mental or emotional health. So integrity to others and ourselves is key to living a fulfilling, successful and happy life.
In summary, here are the things I recommend you DO:
- Keep exercising the mind by reading 1(+) non-fiction books per month or learn a new skill every 6-12 months, study something you actually really enjoy, or get curious and deeply think about the "why" when you see something new.
- Practice acceptance of what is; and then work on your solution.
- Lean towards a 'whole foods plant-based diet' and away from an animal-based diet. And no you will not have protein or calcium deficiencies if you eat less meat and consume less dairy products.
- Work on deepening your relationships, spending more time with other people, and finding those people that you are able to openly express your dreams, fears, failings, and desires to; without fear of rejection.