By Geoff Tan
In the past twelve months, I’ve had more encounters of people I know or friends of folks closest to me who have had their lives disrupted by ill health, medical conditions, sports injuries, and pure lack of fitness, than at any other point in my life. And, ironically, this comes at a point in time in history where life expectancy has been recorded to have risen substantially. According to worldlifeexpectancy.com, Singaporeans in 1960 had an average life expectancy of 63.7 years. 50 years down the road, this has risen to 82.1 years. This can be attributed to factors such improved medical care, better sanitation, lower infant mortality rate, sophisticated disease prevention measures etc.
However, you may ask – “But why has life expectancy improved when we are all living amidst poorer diets, unhealthy food choices, elevated alcohol consumption, a plethora of new diseases etc. Someone once summarised this syndrome by saying, “In short, we’ve traded dying earlier from work related accidents, pneumonia, contagious diseases, for living longer but in a chronic state of health problems.” Doctors I’ve spoken with have admitted that they are better at prescribing drugs and treatments to alleviate symptoms in patients, than dishing out dietary and lifestyle recommendations to help prevent the onset of medical ailments.
In correlation with the level of affluence in Singapore which has elevated significantly over the last ten years – we have more millionaires, Michelin restaurants, casinos, Formula 1, a higher population of exotic car ownership etc – the number of people suffering from gout, heart disease, high cholesterol, cancers, diabetes, slip discs, obesity, has also risen!
On the topic of obesity, Singapore’s 6% rate five years ago is now well over 10% today! I was part of this statistic just over a year ago when I woke up one morning, stood on the scales, and shocked myself with my weight hitting an all-time high of 78kg! Determined to bring it down to a healthier level, I embarked on a low carbohydrate diet and through a disciplined approach I shaved off 10kg in ten months. Although I felt much lighter and could fit comfortably into my old clothes, my blood test showed elevated total cholesterol and LDL levels. This disappointing result made me even more determined to rectify the situation. I switched to a plant-based diet [see RAVE Diet] and in three months my total cholesterol fell from 242 to 187, and LDL from 157 to 102. My cholesterol/HDL ratio dropped from 3.5 to 2.8.
The gym I workout at sent me a Christmas greeting recently that read “Merry Fitness & a Happy New Year”! This served as a timely reminder for me on the importance of being healthy and fit. Life is all about having an equitable balance of living well and being in the best shape possible. I would like to think that most heart surgeries are unnecessary and can be prevented if only we are a little more conscious about what we eat, and to find time to exercise.
Here’s to a healthier 2012. May you live long, and may you live well.