Need simple, clear, and direct ideas to be healthier? Heed these 48 words

freedhoff2-150x150Bravo, brevity. Four dozen words is all it takes for a doctor and noted writer on diet and obesity to offer plenty of sound advice on how to get and stay healthy.

Here are the suggestions from Yoni Freedhoff, associate professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa, founder and medical director of Ottawa’s Bariatric Medical Institute, blogger at Weighty Matters, and author of “The Diet Fix: Why Diets Fail and How to Make Yours Work:”

“Don’t smoke. Get vaccinated. Avoid trans fats. Replace saturated fats with unsaturated if you can. Cook from whole ingredients — and minimize restaurant meals. Minimize ultra-processed foods. Cultivate relationships. Nurture sleep. Drink alcohol at most moderately. Exercise as often as you can enjoy. Drink only the calories you love.”

Those who may question these pithy wellness basics may want to take in Freedhoff’s fuller explanations in his New York Times Op-Ed. They go deeper still in his taking on what he considers to be the widespread and wrong thinking that “being healthy is complicated. [That you] need to eat the latest superfood, buy the perfect supplements or join the hippest fitness cult.”

As he concludes in his article, based on his 16 years as a family doctor and his research:

“Though far from sexy, spending your energy and willpower on the actions described by these 48 words is likely to have a far greater impact on your health than jumping on the latest zealot’s restrictive bandwagon. If you’re great at them, they could be the only 48 words of health advice that you’ll ever need.”

In my practice, I see not only the harms that patients suffer while seeking medical services, but also the benefits that they can reap by staying as healthy as possible — and as far as they can out of the U.S. health care system. It is fraught with medical errorpreventable hospital acquired illnesses and deaths, and misdiagnoses.

And, even when the system works — as it often does, well and to the great benefit of patients — waiting in the wings are a legion of grifters, con artists, and purveyors of health-related bunk. They would love to get us on diets that don’t work, popping vitamins and supplements that fail to do much but enrich their vendors, or to ply us, especially when old and sick, with unneeded, painful, and invasive treatment. (If a prominent doctor like Ezekiel Emmanuel, an oncologist, an architect of Obamacare, and vice provost of the University of Pennsylvania, battles to get appropriate end-of-life care for his dad — who at age 92 is a sharp-witted and retired doctor himself — how are the rest of us going to fare?)

We’re keeping it short and working at being healthier and fitter all year, right? So, by the way, here are a few more words from me about tactics and strategies for a more healthful 2020

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