Our life is uncertain but death and diseases are certain. Though human life is fragile and fleeting, it must flow on. We must be thankful for the little we are given, and take good care of our body and mind so that we can live as long and healthy as possible.
Let that little we have, be worthwhile however little it may be, and let’s nurture it with intelligence and good discipline. What appears to be a strenuous discipline at the beginning can ultimately become an enjoyable passionate way of living towards a long and healthy life. It is a matter of understanding and conditioning ourselves to harmonise with what we are born with and the world we live in, however friendly or hostile it may be.
We are born with about 20,000 genes that constantly attempt to control our body, mind or life, yet we have a certain degree of influence over them. This may sound confusing but it is actually quite simple. Genes are protein codes on our DNA lying within the nucleus of all our cells. They are the software of our cells with good and bad programmes that are constantly trying to express themselves.
However, they may or may not be expressed, depending on the epigenetic factors that they are subjected to. For example the diabetic gene may not express itself in the whole life-time, if that person carrying such gene lives an active life with plenty of exercise and constantly avoids sugar and a high carbohydrate diet. He may be carrying that bad gene all the way from the cradle to the grave without succumbing to diabetes.
Does this ring a bell? Yes, it certainly sheds some light on the secret of living a long and healthy life. Our life is not entirely predestined or written in our genes. We have the capacity to switch on the good genes and turn off the bad ones, to work towards our favour. It is all up to us.
In a way, gene therapy does not necessarily require high-tech procedures. We can manage some of them simply by modifying our diet and the way we live.
Now, how do we do that? What are the secrets of living a long and healthy life? Is there a “magic pill”?
Secret No. 1: The greatest secret is no cigarettes! Smoking poisons and strangulates all our body cells. We age faster and look older than what we should be. Our risk of getting most types of cancer increases with cigarette smoking. Cigarettes are poisonous and smoking is highly addictive, more addictive than marijuana, yet it is legal. Once we are hooked, it will hardly ever let us go and we become slaves to it.
Secret No. 2: Exercise is the magic pill! Being sedentary kills and it is sad to note that we choose to box-up ourselves in the so-called “modern life”. We live disastrously in a box, drive in a box, work in a box, stare at big and small boxes – wired or connected wireless to a box – and are addicted to holding a mini-box that emanates electromagnetic radiation all day long. We have deviated too far and too fast from our caveman’s out-of-the-box lifestyle that our body is meant for. To live a long and healthy life, we ought to get out of those “boxes” and set ourselves free from modern confinement.
Walk, run, cycle or swim. They are all therapeutic. We should walk at least 10,000 steps a day to keep ourselves fit and healthy. It is easy to do it when becomes your way of life.
Secret No. 3: Eat healthy food. My own formula is zero sugar and a cut back on food rich in high carbohydrates. I have even stopped eating rice and substituting it with lots of negative calorie high-fiber foods such as salad, lettuce, cucumber, okra, bean, bean-sprouts, broccoli, etc. Vegetarian diets are generally healthier than meals rich in meat. Epidemiological observations show that cancer rates are lower in people whose diets are rich in fruits and vegetables. Avoid trans-fats such as margarine and recycled cooking oil. Also raw or boiled vegetables are healthier than fried ones.
Secret No. 4: Grow your own vegetables. When you grow your own veggies, you know what exactly you are eating. It is the only way to be sure that the food you eat is not adulterated with chemical fertilisers or pesticides, used commonly by commercial growers. Growing vegetables is an excellent form of exercise, so let us farm for that free “magic pill”.
Secret No. 5: De-stress, meditate and sleep well. In this highly stressed “rat-race society”, people are oriented to keep chasing and racing. Many lost their ability to relax or sleep because their minds are like monkeys that swing from tree-to-tree and refusing to slow down, even in bed. Stress creates free radicals and they are highly reactive oxidising agents that damage the DNA and membrane of our cells leading to poor function or death of these cells.
Such cellular damage is the pathway leading to cancer, ageing and a variety of diseases. Recent research suggest that meditation can help us de-stress, reduce blood pressure and deal with pain. It can even boosts our immune system. Last but not the least, we ought to sleep well. Sleep deprivation impairs our memory and increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. It also causes a 70 percent reduction of anti-cancer immune cells that prevent bowel, breast, and prostate cancer and also other cancer types. It causes our blood pressure to rise and increases the incidence of strokes and fatal heart attacks. So, we should certainly enjoy our sleep. However remember, anything done in excess is hazardous to health.
Indeed, this columnist practices all of the above. I believe that all the wrong practices can be unlearned. Even our taste buds can be trained to dislike sugar, however sweet it may be. Let me end by saying this, “If you understand exactly what I understand, you would do exactly what I am doing. If you can’t, you better follow.” So do it!
In my next column I will be discussing diabetes, which is the scourge of this millennium.
Dr. Victor Ti, MD, MFAM (Malaysia), FRACGP (Australia), Dip P Dermatology (UK), Dip STDs/AIDS (Thailand), Dip. AARAM (USA), LCP of Aesthetic Med. (Malaysia) is an experienced specialist generalist (Family Physician) of BH Clinic, Phnom Penh. As a specialist generalist, he is skillful at diagnosing all general diseases and excluding the sinister ones. Apart from the general diseases, Dr. Victor is also known for his skill in skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases, minor surgery and aesthetic medicine. He can be contacted via messenger m.me/bhclinic1 or Tel: 023900446