The 4 pillars of health

Scientists tell us that good health rests on four pillars:
1. a sensible diet
2. regular exercise
3. sufficient sleep
4. close human connections.

The most important one is a healthy diet. ccording to the Global Burden of Disease Study, the killer no. 1 is what we eat but these deaths are entirely preventable. Evidence shows that only 10% to 20% of the risks of such diseases is related to genetics. Most of the rest is due to a poor diet.

Unfortunately, most people don’t get the advice they need on this important topic from their doctor.
Only about 25% of medical schools offer a single course in nutrition. Over 90% of graduating doctors recently surveyed in the US felt they were not adequately trained to counsel patients about their diets. When it comes to the profound connection between diet and disease, most of us are on our own.

So let’s start with 4 simple, healthy lifestyle factors that have a strong impact on the prevention of chronic diseases:
1. Not smoking
2. Not being obese
3. Exercising at least 30 minutes a day
4. Eating a healthy diet

If you can check off all 4, experts say you have reduced your cancer risk by more than 35%, your risk of stroke by 50%, your risk of a heart attack by 80% and your risk of developing diabetes by 90%.

The first 3 lifestyle factors are straightforward. But healthy eating is a contentious subject. Even nutrition experts disagree on what constitutes the optimal human diet. However, there is a broad consensus about one thing: You need to maximize your intake of whole plant foods, primarily fruits and vegetables and minimize your intake of processed junk.

Dr. Greger, a nutrion expert recommends that EVERY day you consume:

3 servings of beans
2 servings of greens (e.g. kale, arugula, sorrel, spinach, Swiss chard, mustard greens or turnip greens. Dark green leafy vegetables are the healthiest foods on the planet, offering the highest nutrient density per calorie)
2 servings of other vegetables (e.g. asparagus, artichokes, beets, carrots, peppers, corn, onions, potatoes, snap peas, squash, tomatoes or zucchini. A wide diversity of vegetables provides you with the greatest health benefits)
1 serving of berries (e.g. strawberries, blueberries and blackberries are the healthiest fruits and loaded with anti-aging, anti-cancer antioxidants)
3 servings of other fruits (e.g. oranges, apricots, bananas, grapefruit, peaches, pears, pomegranates, mangoes)
1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
3 servings of whole grains (e.g. brown or wild rice, barley, oats, oatmeal, quinoa, millet, rye, whole-wheat pasta and popcorn)
1 serving of cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli, cabbage, collards, kale or Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables may cut the risk of cancer progression by 50%)
1 serving of nuts or seeds (e.g. almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, pecans, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and walnuts. No food is more highly correlated with human longevity than nuts)
1/4 teaspoon of ground turmeric (research shows that curcumin may play a role in preventing lung disease, brain disease and a variety of cancers, including multiple myeloma, colon cancer and pancreatic cancer. Turmeric might be the closest thing to “a magic pill”)
5 glasses of water (e.g. you can get some of that through coffee or better even green tea)

No one needs to be obsessed over the food he/she is eating. Your health is not determined by a particular treat or a special occasion. It’s about how you eat generally day in and day out.

If a whole-food, plant-based diet reverses the No. 1 killer, is that not reason enough to try to adapt it to our daily life? Additionally, it can also be effective in preventing, treating and arresting other leading killers. It is never too late to start eating healthier.

It’s a matter of life.

Sven Franssen