How to live longer, according to a GP

Posted on 18 April 2019

We all know we should drink more water, exercise and eat better if we want a long and healthy life. A GP shares his tips on how to live longer.

Replace, don’t supplement

Dr Jaco-Niel de Villiers, a GP at Intercare Panorama, says we have a tendency to supplement or add something to help a physical problem, without removing or replacing the cause.

“If you have cholesterol, the general thinking goes that you’ll want to take an Omega 3,6 and 9 supplement,” he says. “The mindset we have is just ‘add it’ and ‘it’ will automatically solve our problems.”

However, if you have high cholesterol, you should be replacing the [unhealthy] fats in your diet with ingredients that are naturally lower in cholesterol and dense in nutrients.

“If you have high blood pressure, you should replace the high salt in your diet. If your doctor says you need omega 3, 6 and 9, rather find out which foods contain these elements, and replace some of the problem foods,” he advises.

People who live in Blue Zones – communities worldwide where people are generally healthiest and live longest – get at least 80 percent of their diet from plants. A plant-based diet is naturally low in cholesterol and high in fibre, antioxidants, and other nutrients that boost immunity and improve health.


Stress less and sleep better

“Unrefreshing sleep can be a hallmark for many concerns and specifically­ mental health-related conditions,” says Dr de Villiers. He adds that poor mental health (like chronic stress and depression) is surpassing conditions like heart disease in terms of risk factors for higher morbidity.

High levels of stress weaken the immune system and make you vulnerable to the spread of disease in the body. Stress can also spark inflammation, which contributes to chronic diseases like heart disease, diabetes, and hypertension.

“Make an effort to do things that reduce stress and make an effort to sleep better because mental health is among the top handful of factors impeding quality of life today,” he advises.


Have regular screening check-ups

Regularly seeing your healthcare providers for routine screenings, vaccinations, and management of chronic conditions means health problems can be detected early.

Schedule a screening consultation with your doctor to discuss what you should be on the lookout for at your stage of life.

Continuity of care is also quite important and Dr de Villiers advises seeing the same person or someone who knows you well.



Published in Healthy Life

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