5 Healthy Habits That Can Extend Your Life – Episode #8

Welcome back, gang. This is the Good Living Doc show. My name is Dr. Mark Smith. I am the Good Living Doc. Goodlivingdoc.com. You can find all of my podcasts on my website as well as transcripts in case you prefer reading. This is episode 8. I call it “Disease Care vs. Wellness Care” and why should you care that there’s a difference. 

As always, keep in mind I am not your medical doctor, so nothing I say on this show should be taken as personal medical advice. Never try to diagnose, treat, or cure any symptom in yourself or anyone else based solely on what I say here. And if you choose to change your lifestyle by any information that you receive here, please do so with the guidance of a trained and licensed health professional. 

When I was a young boy, I remember watching politicians on TV talking about fixing health care. And every time we have a major political election, healthcare is always one of the number one topics and one of the number one issues that they make promises to fix. As far back as I can remember, this has been a thing. 

All of our leaders, all of our elected officials, are always promising that they’re going to deliver health care in an affordable way for everyone. And here we are since I was that young boy, if I were 11 back then…40 years. 

40 years later, it’s nothing but a giant mess still. Nothing’s been fixed. Diseases are not being cured. Costs are simply or skyrocketing. People are living longer, but they’re not living healthier. And so, our health care system remains broken. 

I hear this all day. People tell me they have health issues, they have health concerns and they don’t want to get looked at. They don’t want to get checked out. They don’t want to start down that road of testing and treatment and testing and treatment. Going to specialists, getting in that loop that you go around and around and around in trying to find a solution to your problem. 

They don’t want to start down that road, #1 because they don’t have any faith in it. Not everyone, but a lot of people don’t have any faith in it, or they don’t want to deal with the costs of it. And I have to come to the conclusion, because it’s been 40 years since I’ve been listening to our leaders trying to fix this problem…fix health care…I have to assume that this is the way they want it. This has to be the way it’s supposed to go…the way our leaders actually want health care to go. 

Health Care is Incredibly Profitable

Let’s be honest here, health care and disease care is a multi-billion…and over the years… multi-trillion dollar business. Our diseases and our suffering make people a lot of money. And I have to believe that if our government, and if our elected officials, wanted to fix this problem they could. 

And so, the only conclusion that I can come to is that the system is working exactly as it’s supposed to…as it was designed. 

And this is where people are pushing for universal health care. They want the government to pay for their health care because it’s so financially restrictive. I mean, people go bankrupt because they get sick or they have some kind of a life-ending event happen, and they spend the rest of their lives bankrupt paying off their medical bills. 

But let’s say tomorrow health care is free. I mean, however they worked it out. However it’s worked out. It’s free now. You can get all the drugs, all the surgeries, all the treatments, all the tests, all the specialist visits you can ever want and everything is free. Would people be more well for that? Would that make people more well? 

If healthcare was free, if you could go to the doctor anytime you want, and get any treatment for any problem, would that make people more well? And I have to say that, in my opinion, it would not…because disease care and symptom care don’t actually make people well. They deal with the effects of bodies doing things that they’re not supposed to do in a healthy environment and a healthy way. There’s an alteration from how our bodies are supposed to function and for whatever reason, the effect is diseases and symptoms. 

So if all we’re doing is treating the diseases and symptoms, it doesn’t actually make us more well. We probably would live longer, but this is the problem…is living longer the end goal? Or is living well the end goal? 

If you’re a diabetic…if you are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at age 40, and you spend the next 40 years of your life in health decline and dealing with the effects of type 2 diabetes on your body…that ultimately ends in kidney disease and heart disease…and you spend 40 years battling this decline, are you more well? I would have to say that you are not. 

But if you lived to be 80 disease free, that’s a different story. So, does modern day health care, or should I say modern day disease care…the treatment of disease, caring for our diseases…that’s already not making us better. The people who have health care, the people who do utilize medical care, aren’t any healthier as a result of it…at least from what I see. I don’t have any statistics about that but I’m just going off what I see in people who come to my office.

Because everybody who comes here, no matter what brings them here, they have other issues. I have a lady who’s had type 2 diabetes for years, and she complains about it constantly, and she hates taking her drugs, and she hates paying for her drugs, but she will not do the things I tell her to do to manage the problem. And so every year her health is in decline because she’s not doing anything for herself except treating her diseases…caring for her diseases…because the disease care people believe that the body’s weak, sick, and stupid. 

I did a whole podcast on the topic…weak, sick, and stupid. If that’s what you believe about the human body, then there really is no recourse. And that’s the idea that the disease care people perpetuate…is that you have no choice…that this woman who has type 2 diabetes in my office doesn’t have a choice.

She believes that her diet and her lifestyle doesn’t matter…that this is a hereditary thing…that it’s just something that she’s been afflicted with. It’s a role of the dice, it’s bad luck, and there’s really nothing that she can do about it. So she just complains and doesn’t do anything because that’s what they’ve taught her. And that’s what they’ve taught the people in America all our lives…that our bodies are weak, sick, and stupid. There’s nothing we can do about our issues, our health problems. We just have to treat them and live as best we can. 

A Wellness Lifestyle Makes People More Well

But there is no more question with the science that is out there…that living a wellness lifestyle makes people healthie and makes people live better and longer. And there’s a shift here and the shift is a philosophical one, and simply switching your viewpoint on the human body and on how to approach health problems is enough to actually make yourself better. 

Because if you believe that your body’s weak, sick, and stupid, then there’s nothing to do. You just go live your life and good luck. But if you believe that your body is intelligent, and is self-healing and self-regulating…because it is…then living a wellness lifestyle means you make changes to your environment and the way you live and the things that you put into your body and the way you spend your time in order to optimize your body’s function…so that it can deal with its problems better. 

See, the body adapts. When you’re doing something bad to your body, it has to adapt. It has to protect itself. If you’re constantly doing things to your body that cause problems in the body that we know…let’s say you eat a lot of sugar…a lot of sugary foods. And that’s eventually going to cause problems, right? With your metabolism and with your insulin levels and, you know, there’s eventually going to be this road that your body goes down. But the real problem is that your body has to change itself and has to adapt to all this sugar and the changes that it makes actually leads you to disease. 

So, if you stop doing that, before it’s too late, before you actually do real damage to yourself… guess what? Your body starts to re-regulate itself. It doesn’t have to fight this problem anymore…this constant influx of toxic things that are going to damage it. So that is a change that you make as part of a wellness lifestyle. You stop flooding your body full of sugar. That’s just one example. 

And in doing that your body has a better chance of fixing itself and righting itself…that’s the difference, to where if I have type 2 diabetes and I’m simply trying to treat my diabetes, or if I have type 2 diabetes but I’m going to try and make myself more well. 

I’m going to try and do things in my life that actually improve my body’s function so that I’m not always on this decline. So I can actually be on an incline. I can actually be getting better as my cells in my body are constantly replacing themselves and my body’s always trying to heal and trying to fix itself. It has a better opportunity to do that because it has less interference. It has less toxic crap, and it has more good things for it to work with, see? 

Disease Care vs. Wellness Care

The science proves that doing that is effective…that doing that and living that way is effective. It allows people to live with fewer problems, fewer diseases, and helps people live longer. And where it begins is belief.

Our actions are based on our beliefs, right? The things that we do, and the things that we say, are based on our beliefs. And so, if we change our beliefs, we change our actions. This is the simple thing of changing your beliefs about your body. If you believe that your body is weak, sick, and stupid, you act one way. If you believe that your body is intelligent and is self-regulating and self-healing, then you act a different way…and all you have to do to start down the wellness road is change your belief…change your belief about what your body is and what it does and how it works. 

Let me talk about this study. A couple studies here. A 2018 study, led by scientists at the Harvard School of Public Health found that adopting five healthy habits could extend life expectancy by 14 years for women and by 12 years for men. Here they are. 

1. Eating a diet high in plants and low in fats.

Now, I disagree with this a little bit. I think that healthy, natural, good fat is good for us. But I do believe that we should be eating a diet that is mostly plants. 

2. Exercising at a moderate to vigorous level for several hours a week.

We’re not talking about going for a long stroll every night for an hour around the park. We’re talking about moderate to vigorous activity, like you’re actually challenging your body. You’re doing things that make your body have to work and move and adapt and be stronger. 

It’s not just lifting weights. Everybody wants to go to the gym and lift weights but that’s not enough. You’ve got to go and you’ve got to actually challenge the systems of your body. I’m a big fan of bodyweight exercise because it works the body in a very natural way. Several hours a week. 

3. Maintain a healthy body weight.

That’s a big one. You want to know why there’s a lot of people with a lot of diseases, it’s because a lot of people are not at a healthy weight. And I think the movement for body positivity is great, but being overweight is not healthy. And people will say, “Yeah, I’m a hundred pounds overweight, but I’m healthy.” But you’re not going to be. That eventually is going to catch up with you, just like everything else that we do that’s not healthy, because the lifestyle that makes someone 100 pounds overweight is the same lifestyle that causes disease. So eventually it’s going to happen. 

4. Not smoking. 

5. Consuming no more than one alcoholic drink a day for women and two for men.

That’s it. Those five things. Plant-based diet, exercise moderate to vigorous, maintain your weight, don’t smoke, and don’t drink a lot. These simple habits could extend life expectancy by 12 to 14 years. That’s incredible. 

I did a podcast that was episode two called the Science of Nutrition, Exercise and Wellness. If you haven’t heard it, please go back and listen to it. It’s got so much good science about eating better and exercising and living a wellness lifestyle, and it talks about all of the health benefits mainly for diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. And how just doing these simple things can actually prevent a lot of these problems. 

Now, to follow up on this study, researchers wanted to know how many of those added years were healthy ones. Because that’s important, right? It’s not that we don’t just want to live longer, we want to live better. We don’t just want to live an extra 10 years, but we’re on an oxygen tank in our easy chair and can’t do anything. That’s not, that’s not the goal. 

The goal is that those 10 years are healthy, active years free from chronic disease. And so they did another study on these most common chronic diseases…heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and cancer, and the results suggest that women can extend their disease free life expectancy after age 50 by 10 years, and men can add about eight more years than people who did not do these five things. 

One of the scientists is quoted as saying, “Extending lifespan is not sufficient. We want to extend health span.” I love that! We want to extend the health span so the longer life expectancy is healthy and free of major, chronic diseases and disabilities associated with those diseases. That’s what it’s all about. That’s why we choose the salad over the giant bowl of mac and cheese. 

“Furthermore, the evidence suggests that the contributions of each factor are additive. The number of years of disease-free life gained increased with each additional healthy habit people followed.”

So that means that one or two is a start, you know, if you can only do one or two…I mean, it’s a place to begin. It’s never too late. So that’s pretty amazing. 

I mean these studies are showing that doing some simple things, simple lifestyle practices, can extend our lives…but not just make us live longer but can make us live better or more well. Are there any medical studies out there that can say the same thing? That getting on type 2 diabetes medication or or high cholesterol medication or whatever most of the popular medications that are prescribed these days…can they say that they allow people to live longer free from disease? 

That’s why I started the Good Living Doc show, because people need to know about these studies. You won’t hear about them from your disease care doctors. 

If you’re not living a lifestyle that includes these five steps, and you’re battling disease and you’re battling symptoms and you’re battling the decline that occurs from disease care as we get older, the transition can be really hard and it can be very frustrating. 

Wellness is a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Have you ever run into somebody you haven’t seen for several years and you run into them and they’ve lost like 50 pounds or 100 pounds and they look great? And you’re like, “Oh my gosh, you look amazing!” and they’re happy and they’re like…”Yeah, you know, I did this and that…you know…I decided I was going to make a change.” 

That’s all you really hear about it, especially on the internet too. You know what the before and after pictures of people who have made these drastic changes, but what you don’t see is the time in between. You don’t see the nights that they sat on the couch battling the desire to go get something to snack on, or to have another drink, or to skip the gym. The failures are many. People fail. People slip. It’s part of this whole journey. No one doesn’t. It’s not a straight line for anybody. 

I have been in my life, at times, 50 pounds overweight…and I know how I got there. I know what I did to get there. It wasn’t an accident. And getting back is tough. It’s hard. I know. I’ve been there. My life has not been 100% wellness lifestyle all the time. No, no slipping. No failure…because it just hasn’t. Maybe you don’t want to follow somebody who has had those challenges, but I know how easy it is to fall away from doing the healthy things, and how hard it is to get back to doing healthy things. 

And then the road, once you make that decision to go and do the healthy things…again, the road is long. So I know how hard it is. Most of my programs for people to make these changes are really, really subtle. The changes are really subtle at first so that changes can be implemented without you even noticing. 

I did a podcast called The Purge which will give you an idea about what that’s like. It’s The First Step in Improving Your Diet, Episode 6. But the thing that I usually advise people at first is to do really, really small changes, because if you change your life one percent a day, in a hundred days, you’re completely different. You’re completely transformed as a person, but you don’t notice that one percent change a lot, even one percent a week. 

So, it might not be easy for you to switch automatically to a plant-based diet. And it might not be easy for you to maintain a healthy body weight. You have to get there first and that’s the challenge. But it’s worth it because these scientific studies are showing that you can have a decade or more in your life disease-free if we do them. 

And I don’t care if you’re 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, it’s never too late. Your body every day is breaking itself down and rebuilding itself…every day cells are dying…new cells are replacing them. And so every single little healthy thing that you do, every wellness measure that you take, allows those cells to be recreated a little bit better and a little bit better and a little bit better. 

But it takes time to grow disease in your body. It takes time to do the things that overwhelm the body enough to create disease. It takes time to get back out again, too. And I know that that can be tough, but that’s what we’re here for. That’s what we’re doing here. We’re going to conquer those issues. 

Episode 8 Tip of the Day

So, the episode eight tip of the day is more like an assignment. Figure out which of those five things that you do already. And applaud yourself. It’s important that you give yourself props for the good things that you do. It’s good to have some self-love. It’s good to have some patience for yourself and some forgiveness for yourself. Have the same patience and love for yourself as you would a friend that you love or a family member that you love who is struggling.

But everything that every one of those things that you’re doing, if you don’t drink ever…awesome! Or if you don’t drink more than one drink a day or a couple of drinks a week, you’re already doing one thing. If you don’t smoke, you’re already doing another thing. And maintaining a healthy body weight comes dramatically from doing the other two, which is incorporating a plant-based diet and exercising. And those are the things you have to start.

Good nutrition and exercise are genetic necessities. You cannot be as healthy as you should be or could be if you’re not doing those things. Our genes require those things to express health in our bodies. So figure out which of those five things you’re doing…applaud yourself…and then choose one that you’re not doing and start to make a plan to get there, a little bit every day.

Make a little change every day. Make a little change to your breakfast. Make a little change to your lunch. Start eating more plants and vegetables, more green things, start lowering your carbohydrate intake, your processed food intake, do it little by little, not dramatically. 

It’s doing a little by little give yourself some time to really make some changes. 

About 10 years ago, I was eating a really good diet. But I decided I was going to be 90 percent paleo. I was going to transition to doing 90 percent and it took me the better part of a year before I reached that 90 percent. So be realistic with yourself, but you can do it. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about here on the Good Living Doc show. 

So do your assignment. Don’t skip it, do it. Start making a plan. We’ll be talking about it in the future. So I’ll be giving you some tips on things that you can do to make these kinds of transitions easier. 

I’m going to stop there. Thanks for showing up, gang. I appreciate you. I can’t do this without you. My name is Dr. Mark Smith. I am the Good Living Doc. If you listen to podcasts, I probably am on your favorite platform, including Spotify, Google Podcasts, and Apple Podcasts. And all my podcasts are also on my website www.goodlivingdoc.com and there are transcripts on the website in case you can’t listen to this show or you’d rather read it. 

This is episode number eight, I hope you got something out of it. Be good to yourself. Be patient with yourself. And if you like what I’m saying, please share these podcasts…these recordings with your friends on social media. I’d appreciate it. Until next time, take care.

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