I watched a fantastic program this week on BBC2 - Horizon - Eat, Fast and Live Longer. Michael Moseley went to the US to have a look at some of the cutting edge research on food and how limiting calories can have a big impact on many health factors such as cholesterol, body-fat levels and ultimately some of the most common cancers. It highlighted a number of different types of "diet" (and by that I mean a way of eating rather than a crash diet). Examples were
- A long term (i.e >10 years) low calorie diet. The guy who had been on this diet, who was over 50, was tested for some of the main health factors and had a considerably lower risk of cancer (and other diseases) than Moseley who was of similar age.
- A diet where you must fast completely for four days per month. Moseley did this and even after one round of this some of the health factors showed a big decrease. Research had shown that the decrease was cumulative over time in other patients.
- A 5 plus 2 diet - where you eat totally normally for five days per week and have a low calorie (600 calories or less than a third of the normal amount) for the other two days. Again, Moseley did this diet for a few months and his risk factors had decreased by 50%.
Where there was a reduction in health based on these diets there has been a huge decrease in the amount of pharmaceutical drugs people have to take to manage their health. This doesn't surprise me at all.
I mention this because I've always had a huge interest in diet and health and it seemed to be even more evidence that how we eat has such a big influence on whether we get some types of cancers or not. I think I probably could do the '5 plus 2' diet as I have serious will power. However, I also think that reduction of calories or a consistently reasonable amount of calories particularly as we get older, goes a long way to keeping us healthy.
I also think, like everything, it is a choice. I see these things more in black and white now than I dud before I was sick. If you want to be healthy and reduce your risk of illness, then look after yourself. If not, then don't. You need to make a choice and stick to it. Of course there are no guarantees but by taking responsibility for your health you reduce your risk. I urge everybody to make the right choice - while at the same time being completely open to freedom of choice - or "freedom to shoot yourself in the foot" as I like to say. I have made the choice but still want to avoid some of the extremes that Moseley demonstrated - back to balance. However, it has made me think even more about ensuring I don't eat ever too much. I think this is a small price to pay.