Health & Nutrition

The Wealth of Health is Not Out of Reach

Sometimes people think that choosing a healthy lifestyle means eating rabbit food in-between water-only fasts, exercising until exhaustion every spare moment, and rejecting any form of culinary pleasure that comes your way. While this approach may be beneficial for some, for most of us this is unrealistic and unattractive.
So, we’re doomed to live an unhealthy life, filled with sickness, suffering, and a constant guilty conscience for failing to take care of ourselves, right? 
Wrong. I am pleased to inform you that this is not true. A healthy lifestyle isn’t necessarily a massive shift away from our current situation. Rather, it’s the culmination of many small, health conscious decisions that we can make every day. In fact, recent evidence gathered from a large study in the UK shows that moderate health goals are a reasonable way to add quantity, and more importantly quality, to the years of our lives. 
Contrary to the all-or nothing approach, there are four reasonable goals that each on their own brings life and longevity. When achieved together, they are associated with tremendous positive health outcomes. 
The first one; don’t smoke. Unfortunately, there is no grey area on this one. Second, drink less than two alcoholic drinks per day.  For some of us, this may be very tough. Third, bring some movement into your day. Meaning, if you don’t do light activity at work, such as move around like a barber or a mother with children, than find 30 minutes a day to include some movement. Walking to shul, a game with the kids, or even shlepping groceries all count. Fourth, include 5 servings of fruits and veggies per day in your diet. For example, you could have an apple, a banana, and a small salad with a pepper and a tomato.   
If consistently achieved, these four health choices are strongly associated with increased longevity and productivity. Furthermore, these choices protect against heart disease, cancer, and all other causes of death. Are you guys hearing this!? These four reasonable goals alone have a profound impact on the days of our lives and the life of our days. These are the ABC’s of health!
Now, are you ready to take the Health Scorecard Challenge? Proceed with caution because the results may surprise you.
If you are a non-smoker, than give yourself one point. If you drink less than two alcoholic drinks a day, give yourself another point.  If you are moderately active for thirty minutes a day, that’s one more point.  If you eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, than give yourself a point.  What are these 4 points worth?  Amazingly, they have the value of 14 years of life!
To put it bluntly, if we look at 100 members of an average community over the age of 45 who have a Health Score of zero, and another 100 member group of the same age from the same community with a health score of 4, within 10 years there will be four times as many funerals from the first group than from the second group. 
Let me say it again. We are talking about two groups from the exact same community. They drink the same water, shop at the same markets, and visit the same doctors in the same hospitals. The group with 4 health points is four times more likely to be walking at a funeral than being carried. If you’re looking for a powerful medication or a panacea against heart disease, cancer, and poor aging, this is about as close as you will find. 
It’s true that we cannot ever be sure which day will be our last, and life and death, or health and wealth is only according to G-d’s will.  Nevertheless, our Father in Heaven wants us to be healthy and succeed. 
When we bring these four health choices into our lives, we create a tremendous opening for His blessings, and we are fulfilling the words of the Mishnah in Avos (2, 4) to make His desire our desire. We than hope that our desire for health increases His desire to bestow this most precious gift upon us. 
References: Khaw, K. T., Wareham, N., Bingham, S., Welch, A., Luben, R., & Day, N. (2008). Combined impact of health behaviours and mortality in men and women: the EPIC-Norfolk prospective population study. PLoS medicine, 5(1), e12.

Mordechai Katz has a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Medicine, and is the founder of The Jerusalem Center for Functional Medicine. 

He is available at: &


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