3 Keys To Avoid A Short Unhealthy Life
Growing up in Dublin, Ireland, I always thought I was destined for a long and healthy life. I mean what exactly is going to stop me? There are no poisonous spiders, no wild animals capable of killing me. The weather is far too average to be at risk of getting skin cancer. There hasn’t been a war here in over 100 years. Surely a short unhealthy life is only for the people who make stupid decisions and getting to 80+ is easy?
Or so I thought.
No one ever expects to end up living a short unhealthy life, but many end up with this fate. So how can it be avoided?
The average life expectancy of an Irish person is 81.5 years as of 2015. On paper, this seems quite long, especially when compared with the life expectancies of some other countries. The highest can be seen in Monaco who boast an expected lifespan of 89.52 years. While the lowest life expectancy can be seen in countries like Afghanistan where the expected duration of a human life is just 50.87 years.
I’m sure if you asked the average Irish person if they would be happy with a life of 81 years, they would be delighted. I would be anyway. But there is something we’re not taking into consideration here. Just because your heart stopped beating at 81, doesn’t mean you lived a healthy life up until this point. The focus of this article is to help people find a way to prioritise health during their living years and avoid a short unhealthy life.
Healthy Life Expectancy
On average across EU countries, the share of the population aged over 65 has increased from less than 10 percent in 1960 to nearly 20 percent in 2015 and is projected to increase further to nearly 30 percent by 2060.
From 65, Irish men and women can expect to live only about 60 percent of their remaining years of life free of disability. The report warns. And, as in many other EU countries, the number of people dying from Alzheimer’s and other dementias has gone up drastically. It is now one of the leading causes of death. (State of Health in the EU, 2015-16)
So, maybe you’ll get to stay alive for ages, but, will those additional years be lived in pain? Would it be better to avoid all the years of pain and live a short unhealthy life instead of a long unhealthy life?
Factors Influencing Life Expectancy
While the average life expectancy is 81.5 years, there are a certain amount of variables to this equation. You have a certain amount of control over your eventual checkout date.
Based on an authoritative new state-by-state study of the American burden of disease, disability and premature death, and how it has changed from 1990 to 2016, you may choose to move your home to maximise your time here to avoid a short unhealthy life.
Of course, the biology of the native population likely plays a role in how long and how healthfully people live in various parts of the country. And the opportunities people have for a good education, financial security, quality medical care and environmental safety also make important contributions.
The findings of the study can and should provide a blueprint for everyone — the public, the medical profession, and government agencies — to achieve this vitally important money-saving and health-saving goal. But it is a goal that depends heavily on preserving a critical component of the Affordable Care Act: full coverage, without co-pays, for “an array of counseling and screening interventions relevant to tobacco use, diet, hypertension and exercise; statin preventive medication and aspirin preventive medication; depression; and cancer (breast, lung, colon, rectal, skin, cervix),” Drs. Koh and Parekh wrote.
I don’t think it’s a huge secret that people with bad eating habits tend to die quicker than most of us. Your weekly decision to order Dominoes could directly contribute to taking years off of your life, yet you still do it? It’s not as if people are unaware of the adverse side effects of eating unhealthily, they just don’t care enough to change.
I am probably biased in my opinion towards those with unhealthy relationships with food. I have always been interested in fitness and nutrition, having taken up going to the gym in recent years, I have shifted my focus from eating whatever tasted good towards eating what would get me to where I wanted to be.
Recognise the effect of your eating habits
Imagine you had a watch on your wrist. A watch which had a live counter of exactly how much time you had left on earth. Imagine you could visibly see a few weeks shedding off the total as you finished off another bag of Tayto, would you change your daily habits?
In highlighting dietary risks individuals can control, Dr. Murray said that people should eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, legumes, fiber and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids but less salt and no processed meats and trans fats.
Whether you are someone who smokes or not, there is no rational excuse to consume tobacco regularly and claim to live a healthy lifestyle. The detrimental health effects associated with tobacco consumption are clearly advertised on every pack of cigarettes, so why do people still smoke?
Smoking undoubtedly falls under the category of an addiction, it can be compared to cocaine and sugar in terms of its effects on the human brain, but how bad is it with regards to affecting one’s life expectancy?
Even though enormous progress has been made in curbing tobacco use in the last half-century. “Yet there are still 35 million adult smokers and more than half a million deaths from tobacco-related causes each year,” Dr. Koh said. “Lung cancer, 85 percent of which is preventable, remains the leading cause of cancer deaths. Why are we tolerating this?”
Let’s say you smoke ‘only on night’s out’. You are still classified as a smoker. You are still actively killing your lungs and taking years off of your life. Rationalise it all you want, but it’s the same as eating thousands of calories every day and not exercising accordingly. You are not only opting out of a long, disease-free life. You are consciously choosing to maximise your odds of a short unhealthy life.
Ireland may have a respectable life expectancy when compared with the world average, but this issue is much deeper than that.
Although we are among the states to spend most per capita on health – more than 40 percent over the EU average, and behind only Luxembourg, Germany and the Netherlands – Ireland remains fifth from the bottom of the EU league for the number of doctors per head (2.9 per thousand compared to 3.6 EU average).
And although we have more nurses than most member states, the number of hospital beds per capita in Ireland is half the EU average at 2.6 per 1, 000 population in 2015 (compared with an EU average of 5.1).
Hospital waiting times for outpatient services are particularly high by European standard. 10 percent of patients had to wait more than a year to get first access to services in 2015.
What does the future look like?
More than one in five adults in EU countries reported in 2014 heavy alcohol drinking at least once a month. In Ireland, excessive alcohol consumption was well above the EU average. With 32 percent of adults reporting having had at least six drinks in a single occasion each month in 2014.
Ireland led the EU countries in 2000 with an average annual consumption of 14.2 litres of alcohol per adult, drinking over three litres more than on average across the EU. This consumption level has gone down to 10.9 litres per capita in 2015, now only one litre above the EU.
But one in six adults across the EU, one in four in Ireland, was obese in 2014, up from one in nine in the EU in 2000.
As a nation, we recognise our bad habits, and we’re addressing them. People aren’t stupid. We want to live long, healthy lives. The fact is, we all have our addictions. Whether we admit to them or not, we all have our crutches. They’re the things we turn to when we need to relieve some stress.
So what are the 3 keys to avoid a short unhealthy life?
Recognise your addictions
We all have them. We all have that one thing we turn to when we need to chill out. Recognise your addictions. They need to be addressed and controlled. If you have a bad diet, understand what it is doing to you. Make small changes to develop a healthy relationship with food. If you smoke, acknowledge just how bad your habit is and what it is doing to your body. I’m not saying you need to get rid of your addiction. Learn to live with your demons instead of pretending they don’t exist.
Minimise your stressors
Instead of stressing out and resorting to your bad habits to calm yourself. Go to the route of the problem. Minimise stress before it rears its ugly head. Focus not only on addressing your bad habits but on developing good ones too. Stress is unavoidable, but when you manage your time efficiently, you can ease the amount o stress you deal with.
Enjoy the time you have
You’re not here forever, even though it may feel that way sometimes. Understand that the body you have is the only one you will ever have. The damage you are doing to it now is going to come back to haunt you someday. Enjoy your time here while you can. We all have a timer that is running out one day at a time. Focus on your daily level of happiness and you’ll have fewer regrets when that timer ends.
SJB & GQ