SLÀINTE – Health Matters

stethoscopeHow to live longer – In 25 easy (or not so easy) steps

You’re used, by now, to me banging on about walking, drinking and eating. Advising you to stop doing the things you like and start doing things you don’t fancy! But it’s not always been clear what you should do today – and what you can leave to next New Year.Now, thanks to a new study, we can put your resolutions into some sort of order.

The Global Burden of Disease is a world-wide study sponsored by the World Health Organisation which has been running for twenty years. Lots of experts, from California to China, have now got together to crunch data from thousands of studies and produce the latest edition.

Part of their work was to produce a ranking of the things that make us unhealthy in different parts of the world. The really unhealthy things are at the top of the chart: the ones that don’t matter so much are towards the bottom. There are some surprises too: eating enough fruit is, by quite some way, more important than giving up deep-fried pizza. Different regions have different priorities too – obviously malaria is a big problem in the Congo, less so in Crossapol. So this list is the one that applies to us in Europe. Of course, changing habits is hard. It’s difficult – although not impossible – to lose weight. It takes a lot of will power to quit smoking. But I’ve marked the more ‘do-able’ ones with an asterisk. Good luck!

1. smoking (it’s never, ever, too late to stop) – by far the biggest reason we get sick

2. high blood pressure (easy to get checked and usually easy to treat)*

3. being overweight

4. drinking too much alcohol *

5. not taking enough exercise (recommended – at least half an hour a day of brisk walking) *

6. too much sugar in your blood – people with actual diabetes and even those with slightly high levels (again, easy to get checked) *

7. eating too little fruit *

8. too much cholesterol in your blood (a simple blood test) *

9. not eating enough nuts (recommended – a handful a day) *

10. too much salt in your diet (fairly painless to cut down) *

11. air pollution (hopefully not often a problem on Tiree!)

12. too much processed meat – bacon, sausages, burgers (once or twice a week is fine) *

13. eating too few vegetables *

14. drug abuse – cannabis, morphine and drug injections

15. eating too little oily fish (recommended – twice a week) *

16. not eating enough whole grains – brown rice, pasta, wholemeal bread *

17. low back pain at work

18. not eating enough fibre *

19. not eating enough polyunsaturated fats (nuts, seeds, fish, some margarines) *

20. osteoporosis (can be checked with a scan) *

21. exposure to lead (no longer much of a problem in this country)

22. violence from your partner

23. eating too much trans fatty acids (found in greasy fried fast food) *

24. injuries at work

25. sexual abuse as a child

Remember – get things in proportion. The ‘biggies’ are at the top. So whether you smoke is much, much more important than whether you eat lots of brown rice.


  • I read your article on health with great interest. I managed to put down my pint of ale and place my spam,bacon and sausage sandwich to one side, having added a pinch of salt to the three slices of fried bread from which I had constructed a triple decker beauty of a sandwich.

    You are what you eat some say….well at 94 I am doing well for such a bad diet…..

    Terrier from Yorkshire (Gods Country !)

  • In the age of Facebook and mounting privacy concerns across the tech world, a gadget monitoring your physical, corporeal being at all times is alarming whether or not Microsoft couches it all in anonymity.

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