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100 ways to live to 100

MagazineJanuary 2014 (Vol. 24 Issue 10)100 ways to live to 100

To mark the New Year, we've compiled what we consider the 100 most important pieces of advice we've written over the years into a handy reference guide for how to live a long and healthy life

To mark the New Year, we've compiled what we consider the 100 most important pieces of advice we've written over the years into a handy reference guide for how to live a long and healthy life.

In many cases, the advice runs counter to what your doctor or the government is telling you, yet all these recommendations are backed by solid medical evidence. We've included general tips on the best diets and supplements, the healthiest ways to raise children and the most important measures for a healthy lifestyle. Plus we've steered you away from those medical drugs, practices and tests that are less than helpful or even downright dangerous.

Included in this recipe for longevity is our best advice for cleaning up your home and environment. The typical house contains a toxic soup of organic chemical compounds, electromagnetic fields (EMFs), combustion gases and other pollutants; in fact, indoor air often contains levels of hazardous chemicals five to 10 times higher than outdoor air does.1

We've also put together the most powerful ways to nourish the spirit. As we continue to discover in our research, perhaps the best medicine of all is developing a strong, close-knit community.

Read and incorporate these practices into your life each day, and you may well keep the doctor away for more than the usual three score and 10.

Your healthy diet

1.Customize your diet to match your biochemistry

William Wolcott, the world's leading authority on metabolic typing and author of The Metabolic Typing Diet (New York, NY: Doubleday, 2000), followed in the footsteps of his mentor, cancer pioneer Dr William Kelley, by exploring how the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the nervous system each regulate a different set of metabolic activities and so different organs and glands.

Most of us are influenced more strongly by one or the other neurological system, according to Kelley's theory, depending on whether we are 'sympathetic-dominant' or 'parasympathetic-dominant'-so one man's meat may literally be another man's poison. A high-protein diet has one effect on a 'protein' type, but a totally different effect on a 'carb' type. Wolcott discovered that by customizing a person's diet according to metabolic type, many people with serious illnesses-including cancer-regained their health.

For a detailed test to determine your metabolic type, go to www.healthexcel.com.

2. Check your acid/alkaline balance-but in relation to your metabolic type

A food's effect on the body depends upon the body's many homeostatic controls, including the autonomic nervous system, the master controller of metabolism. According to Wolcott, vegetables alkalinize an autonomic-dominant person, but acidify an oxidative-dominant type, those whose oxidative or aerobic system (responsible for the 'long slow burn' that keeps running in the background) is the controlling force. To maintain a slightly alkaline status, determine and eat for your metabolic type.

3. Eat organic whole foods and opt for locally grown, seasonal organic produce

Pesticides have been implicated in many illnesses, including infertility, cancer, birth defects, skin irritations and impotence. Organically reared stock fed on grass (what they're meant to eat), not grains, and organic produce not only contains substantially more of the basic nutrients than intensively farmed varieties, but also up to 10,000 secondary nutrients essential for human health. As organic bacon and sausages may still include nitrates (carcinogens), purchase them from sources that guarantee nitrate-free products.

4. Cook from scratch

Avoid anything processed, canned, fried, preserved or laden with chemicals, processed, refined or in any way interfered with. Vary your diet as much as possible; most allergy specialists claim that allergies are more likely if you repetitively eat the same foods. Cut down on your consumption of food from tins and plastic bottles, which can leach bisphenol A, and avoid water in plastic bottles, which may contain oestrogen-mimicking phthalates.

5. Eat a 'power breakfast'

Those who consume a large proportion of their total calorie intake in the morning eat significantly less over the course of the day, which helps to treat or prevent obesity.2 Plus skipping breakfast increases your chances of a heart attack, high blood pressure and diabetes (see 'Upfront', page 12).

6. Don't limit saturated fats and don't ever opt for 'low-fat' or hydrogenated foods

The supposedly 'good fats'-polyunsaturated fats from vegetable oils (corn, soy, safflower and the like)-appear to predispose people to cancer, whereas animal fats may be protective, preventing heart disease, osteoporosis and even cancer. Two large studies show that regularly consuming more saturated fats leads to less disease progression than following a diet higher in polyunsaturated fats and carbs.3 But avoid trans fats-produced by 'hydrogenation', when hydrogen is added to liquid vegetable oil to make it solid at room temperature-as they're linked to greater risks of heart disease and stroke.4

7. Don't count calories

Keep your weight steady with a glycaemic-index diet (or low-GI) diet. When compared with other diets, the GI diet was the best of all for losing weight.5 The diet ranks carbs according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Carbs with a low GI score produce only small fluctuations in blood sugar and insulin levels, whereas high-GI foods cause a sudden sugar rush. Avoid processed foods and 'white stuff'-white bread, white sugar and white rice-as well as fried foods and potatoes in favour of low-GI meats, fish, pulses (beans) and most vegetables.

8. Don't drink the water

Our entire water supply contains some 350 toxic chemicals plus industrial waste, disease-carrying microorganisms, chlorine and fluoride, and some 100 pharmaceutical drugs. Pregnant women drinking the usual heavily chlorinated tap water double their risk of giving birth to a child with serious defects.6 Consider installing a reverse osmosis water filter with an added carbon filter, which will remove everything. But as this includes minerals too, be sure to supplement.

9. Get your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio right

Avoid an imbalance between the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids (EFAs), as these fats regulate the major bodily functions, and deficiencies are behind many degenerative diseases. The optimal ratio is 1 to 1,7 but the modern Western diet's usual ratio is around 1 to 20 in favour of omega-6 EFAs from vegetable oils (like safflower, sunflower and corn oils). As a general rule, increase your intake of omega-3s (like eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA) and reduce your omega-6s (like gamma-linolenic acid). Opt for fish oils and food-grade flaxseed (or linseed) oil, which is 60 per cent omega-3.

10. Eat fish with caution

Most are now tainted by industrial waste and high levels of mercury, including 'farmed' fish, which have been fed inappropriately with grains. Avoid swordfish, tuna and other deep-water fish, as these are likely to have more mercury than smaller varieties of fish from shallower waters. Rotating your protein sources will help to minimize your exposure to specific chemicals.

Your healthy digestion

11. Cut down or avoid eating wheat

Lots of people can't tolerate this relatively new food in the human diet, particularly as it's been so genetically tampered with. Each grain contains wheat-germ agglutinin (WGA); in small quantities it can inhibit nerve growth factor, which is vital for healthy neurons.8 WGA can disrupt endocrine function, causing rheumatoid arthritis, ulcers, insulin resistance, and kidney and digestive problems;9 it can also bring about cell death10 and chronic inflammatory conditions. Switch to carbs like millet, buckwheat, quinoa, rice

and corn.

12. Dump homogenized or pasteurized low-fat dairy

People who consume large quantities of dairy products have higher levels of circulating insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), linked to an increased risk of numerous cancers.11 Men with the highest IGF-1 levels quadruple their chances of getting prostate cancer with low-fat milk, which strips away the anticancer protective effects of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA).12

13. Root out any allergies or food intolerances

Besides wheat, suspect the other big seven: corn, soya, sugar, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, sweet and chilli peppers), yeast, egg and dairy. Find out if you're intolerant by following an elimination diet (see WDDTY November 2012).

14. Eat your greens for calcium

Dairy products actually accelerate the rate at which calcium is lost from the body, and calcium supplements as a rule are not properly absorbed; in one large study, an increased consumption of pasteurized milk did not protect against bone fractures. Just one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day, rather than once a week, can cut the risk of hip fracture in half.13

#14 Eat your greens

Green, leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium and can help protect against fractures. Aim to eat at least one serving a day.

15. Check out your stomach acid

If you suffer from acid reflux or poor elimination, get your stomach acid levels tested by Biolab Medical Unit (9 Weymouth Street, London W1W 6DB; www.biolab.co.uk; tel: 0207 636 5959) or Genova Diagnostics (63 Zillicoa St, Asheville, North Carolina 28801, USA; tel: (828) 253 0621).

16. Find out if your gut is 'leaky'

If the walls of the large intestine are excessively permeable, allowing larger food molecules through, this will reduce food absorption and lead to allergic symptoms. Confirm the diagnosis through Biolab or Genova (see #15) and repair the gut wall with probiotics, plus the amino-acid glutamine and glutathione, an important antioxidant.

If you have digestive difficulties, get checked for Candida overgrowth and parasites by doing a stool test (Contact Genova Diagnostics Europe, Parkgate House, 356 West Barnes Lane, New Malden, Surrey KT3 6NB; tel: 0208 336 7750; www.gdx.net/uk).

17. Give up the white stuff

Besides causing tooth decay and diabetes, just 10 g of any simple sugars, brown or white, will temporarily suppress immune system white blood cells by a whopping 40 per cent.14 Consuming sugar is linked to inflammatory bowel disease, gallstones and kidney stones, high blood pressure, stomach and endometrial cancer, and even shortsightedness. It's just plain bad for you, full stop.

18. Periodically detox

Virtually all of us are walking around with a cocktail of some 100,000 ubiquitous environmental chemicals in our blood, some of which are now known to be 'bioaccumulating' in human fat and causing a variety of health problems.15 Take regular saunas, exercise and extra fibre plus Chlorella, Spirulina and coriander (cilantro), as they all show evidence of clearing heavy metals from the body (see pages 80-81 for more detox tips).

19. Steer clear of high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)

Found in virtually every processed food and soft drink (a standard cola has about 17 teaspoons' worth), HFCS picks up deadly mercury during processing. Also avoid chemical sweeteners like aspartame, now characterized by many as an excitotoxin, shown to cause seizures and brain neuronal damage in animals.16 Aspartame has also been linked to cancer in animal studies.17

20. Drink a bit of alcohol

Drinking lightly (a glass every few days) rather than heavily or abstaining seems to be the safest and healthiest overall drinking pattern for preventing heart disease.18 But make it red wine, which contains health-giving resveratrol, and also helps prevent inflammation.19

Your best supplements

Unless you live on a farm, grow all your own organic vegetables and have access to free-range meat, it's almost certain you have vitamin deficiencies even on the best of diets. Ideally, get yourself tested by a knowledgeable nutritionist to determine which nutrients you need or aren't getting from your food, and customize your supplement programme accordingly.

21. Choose a good-quality multivitamin/mineral supplement

Choose a supplement from a reputable brand. If you can't find one to your liking, take the nutrients individually.

22. Make sure you're getting enough vitamin D

About a third of the general population is vitamin D-deficient. The vitamin offers natural protection against most cancers and heart disease, and can also boost immunity and vascular function. People who regularly supplement with vitamin D increase their longevity by 7 per cent. The body naturally produces it when exposed to sunlight-just 5 to 15 minutes of sunshine a day between 10am and 3pm, without sunscreen, is about enough to do the job.20 Otherwise, supplement with 600-1,000 IU vitamin D/day (400-1,000 IU/day for those aged 18 and under).

23. Make antioxidants the mainstay of your supplement programme

To minimize damage from free-radicals, the toxic byproducts of your body's metabolism, take adequate daily levels of vitamin A (up to 25,000 IU as beta-carotene or 10,000 IU as retinol), 1-3 g of vitamin E (tocotrienols, up to 600 IU), zinc (10-50 mg), selenium (200 mcg) and vitamin C (1-3 g). And take a good B-complex supplement containing at least 50 mg of thiamine and riboflavin, and 50 mcg of B12.

#23 Take supplements

Specifically, antioxidants like vitamin E, zinc and selenium can help minimize the damage caused by free radicals.

24. Don't forget magnesium (200-400 g/day) and chromium (100 mcg/day)

According to a large-scale study by the renowned British lab-testing service Biolab (see #15), people become deficient in both minerals as they age, and both are necessary for heart health. Magnesium is also essential for bone health and more absorbable than calcium supplements.

25. Take good-guy bacteria

Invest in a quality probiotic, which includes lactobacilli, bifidobacteria, Saccharomyces boulardii and non-disease causing strains of Escherichia coli and streptococci.

Your healthy house

26. Choose a home away from power lines, electrical meters and substations, and railway lines if you can

Studies show an elevated risk of leukaemia in children who live and sleep near power lines. If in doubt, measure the EMFs in your home or have independent monitoring done. Visit www.powerwatch.org.uk or check out WDDTY's Electrosmog Doc's column (page 57).

27. Cook with electricity

Nitrogen dioxide, spewed out by gas cookers and gas- and oil-burning boilers, oftenstays concentrated in the home particularly in this age of double glazing, and is implicated in arthritis, asthma and other allergies. One American study concluded that gas cookers generate concentrations of nitrogen dioxide of 200-400 ppb (parts per billion); this means the average kitchen with a gas cooker has an atmosphere comparable to levels of pollution usually accompanied by government health warnings.

Also consider moving your gas boiler outdoors.

28. Minimize your exposure to volatile organic compounds

Derived from petrochemicals, volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like benzene and formaldehyde can be found in plywood, particleboard (chipboard), wood panelling, insulation, ordinary house paint and adhesives. All 'outgas' a stew of toxic vapours at room temperature, causing eye and respiratory irritation, memory impairment and possibly even cancer. Choose eco-friendly paints and real wood over MDF and other 'wood compounds'. Blast VOCs out by turning the heat up to 100 degrees F (38 degrees C) and opening the windows. Repeat for two or three days.

29. Check your water-supply pipes

Although lead pipes have been banned since the 1970s, most of the water in Britain still runs through rickety old Victorian pipes, and the drinking water for one in 10 British people has a lead content far in excess of World Health Organization (WHO) standards. Lead is known to cause brain damage and lower the IQ of children chronically exposed.

30. Consider wood floors and area rugs

Carpets in homes trap more allergens, are doused with dangerous pesticides and outgas more chemicals than do uncarpeted floors.

31. Minimize your exposure to indoor EMFs

Keep the TV and computer screens at a reasonable distance. Place beds and chairs six to eight feet away from domestic sources of EMFs like electricity meters and TVs, and keep bedside electrical or battery-operated appliances at least two feet from your head. Don't keep electric blankets on while you sleep, and also unplug all electrical devices in your bedroom at night (like TVs, telephones and computers).

32. Make sure all family members use computers safely

If you're a man, don't use Wi-Fi with the computer in your lap as it may adversely affect your sperm and fertility.21 Consider wired over wireless technology, and set up a network for your household computer using the electrical system.

#32 Be careful with the laptop

If you're a man, don't use Wi-Fi with the computer in your lap as it may adversely affect your fertility.

33. Choose safer household cleaning products

Most ordinary cleaners contain a cocktail of chemicals toxic to people and plant life. Choose cleansers free of sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), phenols, formaldehyde, naphthalene and other widely used chemicals. Avoid air fresheners, which are just chemical cocktails.Ditto for materials impregnated with flame retardants.

34. Watch out for lead in house paint

House paint containing lead is largely banned in the UK and US, but could be present in older houses. Leaded paint is an often-ignored source of lead in the blood and the greatest source of lead poisoning in children.

35. Clean up your 'dirty electricity'

Surges of high-frequency voltages or EM radiation in 50-60 Hz power lines can cause a variety of disorders like asthma, multiple sclerosis, tinnitus and electrical hypersensitivity; all improve when exposure is reduced.22 Buy a Graham-Stetzer (GS) filter (www.stetzerelectric.com), which is specially designed to clean up power from inside and out by shorting out high-frequency spikes.

36. Choose safer cosmetics

Perfumes and cosmetics contain a witch's brew of carcinogens, mutagens, preservatives and toxic heavy metals. New evidence shows that makeup and cosmetics with cadmium play a key role in the development of aggressive and often fatal breast cancer.23 Encourage all the women and preteen and teenage girls in your family to use non-toxic makeup and nail polish.

37. Choose cars that run on petrol or electricity

Diesel cars may release less carbon dioxide, but they emit higher levels of particulate matter, VOCs and nitrous oxide-all harmful to human health and responsible for nearly three-quarters of toxic air pollution. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has now labelled diesel exhaust a 'likely' carcinogen.24

38. Use natural pesticides

The weed killers and insecticides we spray all around our gardens can cause cancer-especially leukaemia in children, brain tumours and prostate cancer-as well as birth defects, arterial damage and other disorders.25 Use eco-pesticides and natural pest prevention methods.

39. Choose safer personal-care products

Avoid shampoos and other toiletries using TEA (triethanolamine), DEA (diethanolamine) and SLS; products with excessive perfumes; nanotechnology cosmetics; and hair dye (which contains resorcinol and p-phenylenediamine, or PPD, both linked to allergies, cancer and sudden death).

40. Limit your mobile phone use

Some 200 studies point to health hazards like brain tumours and infertility that may be due to long-term mobile-phone use, especially among children. An Italian court recently found a direct causal link between extensive mobile-phone use and brain tumours. Keep your mobile an arm length's away when not in use, says electrosmog expert Guy Hudson, and text rather than talk whenever you can.

Your healthy children

41. Get fit before you conceive

Work with a doctor experienced in preconception nutrition who will check your nutritional status and help you correct any deficiencies, hidden infections, heavy-metal toxic overload and the like, all of which can contribute to infertility and pregnancy loss.

Contact Foresight for their complete programme of preconceptual care (www.foresight-preconception.org.uk). The organization reports a 90 per cent success rate of healthy babies born to the nearly 1,600 couples who completed the full Foresight programme, many with a previous history of lost pregnancy or infertility.

#41 Get fit before you conceive

Make sure your body is fit for pregnancy by first checking out nutritional deficiencies, infections and the like.

42. If you are pregnant, minimize your exposure to prenatal tests like ultrasound scans

Scans have been linked to low birth weights, delayed speech and dyslexia (see #57). Unless a problem is suspected, wait till after your baby is born to take

its picture.

43. Breastfeed

Give your child this lifelong gift and breastfeed for as long as possible-at least one year, according to the WHO. In addition to providing the perfect food and the full complement of essential fatty acids, for your child, it also protects against allergies and helps improve vision and IQ. Resist the suggestions of experts to add supplemental feeds unless something is clearly wrong. The baby is usually getting enough if allowed to feed on demand.

44. Get informed about vaccination

There's no such thing as a totally safe vaccine; official organizations like the US National Academy of Sciences and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tacitly acknowledge that all vaccines have the potential to kill or cause serious harm. Assess every last jab with the following questions: How necessary is this vaccine? How effective? How safe? Especially question vaccinations against illnesses that are rare or generally not life-threatening in healthy, well-nourished children. This includes the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella), cervical cancer, Hib (Haemophilus influenzae type b) and meningitis C vaccines.

#44 Research every jab

There's no such thing as a totally safe vaccine. Make sure you do your research before getting any jab.

45. Suspect allergies first

If your child has any chronic conditions like earache, eczema, bowel problems or hyperactivity, suspect food/chemical allergies, and get them identified and treated.

46. Avoid plastic toys containing phthalates

These chemicals have clear evidence of causing 'feminization' and abnormal gonadal development in boys.

47. Be wary of giving your child unnecessary chemicals and drugs like antibiotics for benign conditions

Antibiotics have been linked to childhood diabetes; cold and flu medications can be deadly in small children; and steroids are responsible for many paediatric deaths. Avoid medications like salbuterol for asthma-it doesn't work and can make the condition worse.

48. Avoid Ritalin and other drugs for hyperactivity

They can increase cardiovascular risk and trigger new psychiatric symptoms plus sudden death. If your kids are hyperactive, suspect sugar or processed foods. Artificial colours like tartrazine used in juice drinks or 'squashes' and salicylate foods can all cause hyperactivity and attention deficit.

49. Avoid toothpastes with fluoride, and filter your water if it's fluoridated

High levels of fluoride in drinking water can dramatically lower IQ in children, say Harvard scientists-enough to cause learning difficulties in children who already have lowish IQ.26

#49 Watch out for fluoride

Found in toothpaste and drinking water, fluoride has been linked to lower IQs in children.

50. Throw kids outdoors

Most infants and toddlers have low levels of vitamin D, some with levels below those needed to maintain and grow healthy bones.27 One school of thought maintains that by 'protecting' children against exposure to dirt and germs, we are inadvertently destroying their immune system's ability to respond appropriately to infection and other stimuli.

Diseases like eczema are far less prevalent in children who live in less sanitized conditions like farms and rural communities.28

Think twice about these tests

51. The PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test for prostate cancer

It produces false negatives a third of the time and has overdiagnosed more than one million men since its introduction in 1987.29 Unless you have an aggressive cancer, consider watchful waiting.

Ditch statin drugs, which increase your risk of this cancer by one-and-a-half times, and reduce carbs, avoid red meat and eat a Mediterranean diet.

52. Routine mammograms (unless cancer is suspected)

This blunderbuss approach, which uses X-rays to detect breast cancer, doesn't see cancer at its earliest stages and fails to pick up aggressive tumours. For every woman whose cancer is correctly detected, 10 healthy women will go through unnecessary worry, further testing and even treatment before doctors realize they've been misled by a false-positive.Consider thermography instead.

#52 The mammogram myth

Mammograms don't see cancer at its earliest stages and fail to pick up aggressive tumours.

53. Blood pressure readings

Many factors can distort a BP reading by as much as 5 mmHg: acute exposure to cold, recent alcohol intake, incorrect arm position, an incorrect cuff size-and even the presence of the doctor, now so common that it's called 'white-coat' hypertension. Blood pressure falls at night, and night-time blood pressure is considered the most accurate predictor of heart attack.30 Consider 24-hour blood-pressure monitoring, not the old-fashioned cuff.

54. Routine smear tests

Many doctors still offer women an annual smear test

for cervical cancer-even though they've been told the test can do more harm than good. The test throws up many false positives-incorrectly 'seeing' abnormal tissue that triggers a series of further and more invasive tests, plus needless worry. Even the NHS advises a smear test only once every three years for those aged over 21 and once every five years for those between 30 and 65.31

55. Routine dental X-rays

Your dentist keeps telling you it's safer than an airplane flight, but dental X-rays could triple the risk of meningioma, a kind of brain tumour. Children who have a Panorex or full-mouth X-ray before the age of 10 run the greatest risk, and even bitewing X-rays increase risk.

Regular exposure may also cause heart disease. Annual checkups should be urgently reconsidered, say Yale Universityresearchers.32

56. CT (computed tomography) scans

This whole-body, three-dimensional imaging system is one of the most sensitive early-warning detectors of cancer, internal bleeding, heart problems, stroke and neurological disorders, but the standard course of two or three CT scans is equivalent to the radiation levels of Hiroshima or Nagasaki atomic bombs;33 just one scan is equivalent to around 500 standard chest X-rays, reckons the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. Children who are scanned run a far higher risk of developing cancer.34 Ask for any other kind of imaging exam first.

57. Routine prenatal ultrasound

The prenatal 'miracle', which uses high-frequency pulsed sound waves to image the fetus in the womb, gets it wrong so often that up to one in 23 women told by doctors they've miscarried may end up terminating a healthy pregnancy. Scans often 'see' a miscarriage when the pregnancy is still viable, say researchers from London and Belgium.35 Reserve this for when something is really wrong, and consider waiting before 'completing' a termination if the test concludes you've miscarried.

58. Peripheral bone densitometry

It's the most commonly used diagnostic tool for osteoporosis, and it measures two sites, usually the hip and spine, but bone mineral density (BMD) is not uniform throughout the skeleton. Although the WHO criteria for a healthy BMD apply only to the hip and spine, a wide range of 'normal' BMDs elsewhere in the body may be misdiagnosed as abnormal by these criteria. Diagnosing osteoporosis is still not an exact science, say researchers; you have a strong chance of being misclassified, especially when the test is done in those under 65.36

59.Biopsy

In a biopsy, a small bit of tissue is removed under local anaesthetic to diagnose a serious illness like cancer. Besides infection, puncturing nearby organs, and causing tears and bleeding, the greatest danger is that biopsies can inadvertently 'seed' or spread cancer. With breast biopsies, the risk of recurrent cancer from a 'needle metastasis' is about one in 15.37 Request PET (positron emission tomography) or MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) instead.

60. Computed tomography (CT)
angiography

The use of intravenous dye and CT technology to provide an 'inside view' of the coronary arteries is fast replacing the exercise stress test done in doctors' surgeries. It's also doubling the rate of invasive cardiac procedures, including surgery, say Stanford University School of Medicine researchers.38 Ask to have the standard gym bike or treadmill stress test instead.

10 situations that don't usually require a doctor

61 Backache

Some 80 per cent of us suffer from back pain, but medicine doesn't offer much besides potentially dangerous surgery (which leaves only a quarter of patients free of pain) and drugs. In most cases, an osteopath, chiropractor or Alexander Technique practitioner can sort you, as can exercise.

62 Earache

Shout it loud: antibiotics just don't work for earache. Nor does removing adenoids fix glue ear.39 Instead, try time, mullein oil, a woolly hat, a hot-water bottle, homeopathic Pulsatilla,40 osteopathy or auricular therapy (acupuncture of the ear). Before having grommets inserted in your child's ear, cut down his fat and sugar, and investigate food or airborne allergies as the potential cause.

63. Infection

For common and non-serious infections, try Echinacea, essential oils like clove, lavender, lemon, marjoram, mint, niaouli (Melaleuca), pine, rosemary and thyme oils, and goldenseal, manuka honey, tea tree oil, good old garlic and cranberry, all of which are powerful alternatives to antibiotics (see WDDTY May 2013).

64. Just-in-case checkups, particularly if you're aged over 50

If you have nothing particularly wrong with you, going to the doctor won't necessarily protect you, but is likely to unleash the entire arsenal of his testing apparatus and have you leaving with a prescription (or two or three) in your hands.

65. Menopause

In most cases, holistic measures (diet, homeopathy, herbs) will help you through the change in a safer way than using hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which continues to be discredited, despite protestations by doctors, because of a link with breast cancer.41 Our medical detective Dr Harald Gaier has had greater success with Phytoestrol N (which contains rhubarb root) than most of the popular herbals for menopause.

66. Chronic but non-life-threatening conditions

Eczema, psoriasis, non-life-threatening asthma, arthritis and the like generally respond better to alternative measures than drugs, which only suppress symptoms. Check out the alternatives before resorting to lifelong drug use.

67. Slimming

All doctors usually have to offer are drugs and calorie-counting, which aren't long-term solutions, and numerous slimming drugs have potentially fatal side-effects. Look first for potential food intolerances, get your thyroid checked out, clean up your diet, and opt for low-GI foods and lots of fruit and veg.

68. Colds and flu

Unless you're elderly and your immune system is compromised in some way, there's nothing your doctor can give you (or your children) to end a cold or flu, which is usually caused by a viral infection (against which antibiotics mostly don't work). Bed rest and plenty of fluids, plus zinc, Echinacea, Pelargonium sidoides, Andrographis paniculata, vitamin C and probiotics can all shorten the life of a cold (see WDDTY December 2013).

69. Fever

Heat is the body's extremely clever method of killing foreign invaders of all varieties, and taking anti-inflammatories and other drugs to lower your temperature just hampers that process.

Allow your body to self-help by not interfering with a fever unless it's so high that it may cause permanent damage. Fevers for ordinary viral and bacterial infections won't exceed 105 degrees F (40.5 degrees C), which generally isn't dangerous. But see a doctor immediately if you suspect a serious problem like meningitis.

70. Acne

All your doctor can offer are drugs with horrendous side-effects; isotretinoin, marketed as Accutane and Roaccutane, can cause permanent damage to the cornea, impaired hearing, fatal pancreatitis, depression and even suicide.42

Try changing your diet, balancing your blood sugar and identifying any food intolerances first, then look to acupuncture, shown to help in 80 per cent of cases, or herbs like the Ayurvedic herb guggul (Commiphora wightii).43

10 drugs to avoid whenever possible

After 24 years of publishing WDDTY, we're still searching for one single drug out there besides antibiotics that actually cures something. We still haven't found one.

Virtually all drugs are for maintenance-that is, they manage, ease or suppress symptoms, but they do not cure. In spite of assurances from the pharmaceutical industry that drugs can target certain receptors in the body with laser-like accuracy, the fact is that many unrelated systems in the body have identical receptors-which is why drugs invariably affect other parts of the body indiscriminately and cause

side-effects.

There is a better, alternative solution to virtually every chronic health problem except emergency medicine, which is where orthodox medicine comes into its own. If you've been shot, stabbed or run over, or suffer a heart attack or stroke, then modern Western medicine is without parallel for fixing you. In those cases, get to a hospital without fail. Otherwise, here are the10 drugs you might be better off avoiding. In no particular order:

71. Statins

These can cause cancer and definitely cause muscle weakness.

72. Prozac and other antidepressants

These can cause rebound anxiety, suicide and addiction, and have been sold to us on a faulty premise-there is no brain chemical imbalance to fix.

73. Tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-blocking drugs

Meant to replace painkilling COX-2 inhibitor drugs, they've been linked to tuberculosis

and cancer.

74. Atypical anti-psychotics

These next-generation drugs, classed as the 'new' antipsychotics, include olanzapine (Zyprexa), quetiapine (Seroquel) and risperidone (Risperdal). Studies show they're no better than the older variety, and may cause Alzheimer's disease and hasten mental decline in the elderly. They also cause sexual dysfunction and depression, and so make any psychiatric condition worse.44 Ditto anticholinergic drugs, which also bring on dementia.

76. Bisphosphonates

These osteoporosis drugs can halt bone loss, but they've also been linked to high rates of atrial fibrillation, a heart-rhythm disorder that can lead to stroke.45

77. Aspirin

It's ultimate just-in-case lifestyle drug, taken to ward off heart disease and stroke, but it actually increases the risk of stroke sevenfold.46 It can also cause serious gastrointestinal bleeding. Other NSAIDs now carry warnings regarding their cardiovascular and gastrointestinal risks-and guess what? They haven't been proven to reduce inflammation (see WDDTYDecember 2013 for more information).

#77 Avoid aspirin

The ultimate just-in-case lifestyle drug actually increases the risk of stroke sevenfold.

78. HRT and the Pill

Their cancer connections are finally indisputable, even though drug companies keep fighting the evidence.

79. Antiepileptic drugs

These can lead to suicide and also cause potentially fatal liver failure. Many of the newer ones like Keppra (levetiracetam), Topamax (topiramate) and Sabril (vigabatrin) increase the risk of depression and suicide or self-harm threefold.47

80. Zetia and other second-generation cholesterol-lowering drugs

Not only do these drugs not work, but they're also hard on the liver.

10 bits of medical advice you should question

81. Lower your blood cholesterol levels

The theory that high-fat foods-like meat and dairy-build up fat in our arteries has never actually been proven.

After people eating high-fat diets were followed for 10 years and not one suffered a heart attack, researchers concluded that "the evidence is not there" to support a high fats-heart disease connection.48 In fact, high levels of the 'bad' LDL cholesterol may actually be good for us, especially as we get older.49

82. The mercury in your fillings is permanently locked in and harmless

Dentists have been saying this for years, but the European Commission's BIO Intelligence Service (BIS) begs to disagree. The group recommends that a total ban on amalgam fillings be fully implemented in five years' time, and the use of mercury fillings virtually eliminated throughout the EU.

83. Go for angioplasty

Balloon angioplasty and stents were to be medicine's 'miracle' treatments for blocked arteries, but around one in 10 heart patients returns to hospital for emergency treatment following the procedures, and nearly a third of non-emergency 'drug-eluting' stents are also likely to cause potentially fatal harm.50 Patients given a cocktail of generic heart drugs instead do just as well .51

84. You don't need your womb anymore

A University of California committee of gynaecologists once concluded that three-quarters of all hysterectomies done are not necessary.52 Except for genuine indications like uterine cancer and life-threatening bleeding during childbirth, some 90 per cent of referrals for hysterectomies can be treated with conservative surgery, medication, alternative medicine, nutritional supplementation or just waiting until menopause.

Heavy menstrual bleeding (most likely due to hormonal imbalances), thyroid problems and fibroids can all be sorted with supplements, drugs or minor surgery.

85. Have 'catch it early' surgery for prostate cancer

Men in the early stages of the disease are often offered radical prostatectomy, where the entire gland is removed. At best, it's a trade-off, mostly because of the high risk of permanent impotence and incontinence. Unless you're under 55, you're more likely to die with the disease than from it.

86. Have a radical mastectomy to 'catch it all'

This mutilating operation involves removing the breast, the chest wall, the lymph nodes and much of the skin, but it confers no advantage over other, less-aggressive forms of mastectomy, including the simple removal of the lump with radiotherapy.53 Also, some 70 per cent of double mastectomies-where both breasts are removed following a diagnosis of breast cancer-are unnecessary as the cancer was never likely to have spread, say researchers.54

#86 Do you really need a mastectomy?

Some 70 per cent of double mastectomies are unnecessary, researchers have said.

87. Let's fix your inguinal hernia

The wise doctor will delay surgery until the patient is in pain or discomfort-partly because he knows that surgical repair carries a long-term risk of recurrence and can itself cause more groin pain than the hernia, as it does in a quarter of patients.55 When more than 700 men with hernias underwent watchful waiting instead, the vast majority carried on with their everyday lives without a moment of pain and without the need for surgery.56

88. Let's cut out your gall bladder

This procedure (cholecystectomy) may increase the risk of colon cancer, according to a review of 33 studies.57 Surgery can often make matters worse by injuring the bile duct, releasing gallstones and causing more digestive issues. Stones can usually be sorted out by avoiding processed food and sugar, eating less red meat and eschewing HRT, which doubles the risk.

89. Sort your overactive thyroid with surgery

Nearly a third of all cases will resolve on their own. Even when just part of the thyroid is removed, only 30 per cent will have normal thyroid levels after eight years, a whopping 41 per cent will have a permanently underactive thyroid and 12 per cent will still be hyperthyroid.58

90. You need a blood transfusion

This routine medical practice suppresses the immune system, increasing the chances of infection, pneumonia-and cancer. Patients who received a transfusion during cancer surgery are 42 per cent more likely to develop cancer again, say Johns Hopkins University researchers. Transfusions should be reserved for emergencies like trauma or haemorrhage, when they can be a lifesaver.59

Your healthy lifestyle

91. Don't shield yourself from the sun's rays

The sun is our best source of vital vitamin D, which appears to protect against numerous diseases and conditions. Most of us in the northern climes are vitamin D-deficient. Opt instead for sensible sun exposure by supplementing with antioxidants like selenium, lycopene, beta-carotene, and vitamins C and E, which offer natural sun protection without the need for potentially harmful chemical sunscreens.

92. Get at least seven hours of sleep

This amount of sleep may "significantly" reduce your risk of cancer, says recent research.60 Lack of sleep alters insulin levels, contributing to overweight and even diabetes. Seven hours seems about right while nine is too much; women sleeping more than this have the highest risk

of stroke.

93. Ensure you are breathing through your nose

Breathing incorrectly can contribute to asthma,61 and even attention-deficit/hyperactivity (ADHD)-spectrum problems. If you aren't breathing correctly, try the Buteyko Breathing Technique or the breathing exercises (pranayama) practised in yoga.62

94. Walk

Especially if you're a woman, walking at even a moderate pace (3 miles per hour) provides every benefit that running does for staving off degenerative diseases and cardiovascular events.

Power walking will even burn more calories than running at a similar speed with no harmful effects on your joint cartilage. Use a Swiss ball to work your 'core'-the muscles of the trunk, front and back-as this will strengthen the abdominal muscles that support the spine, hip and buttocks. Opt for free weights over machines, which are less effective for strengthening the body holistically.

95. Sleep in the very-dark dark

Too much light at night interrupts our body's production of melatonin, the hormone that regulates our internal sleep-wake cycle; working at night and sleeping in a too-bright bedroom have also been linked to an increased risk of cancer.63 Get yourself a sleep mask or blackout curtains, particularly for the bright summer months.

96. Seek out the new

Keep your brain active, stay curious and maintain goals-even physical ones. Routine is not only deadening to the senses, but can actually make us ill. According to Bowling Green State University psychologist Jaak Panksepp, one of the most important basic human instincts is the 'seeking' mode, a nature that remains intensely engaged in the search or the puzzle, or is simply curious about what's new. Every study of longevity shows that those who live to a ripe old age set themselves goals and stay curious. An interest in new things and change and, most of all, a "pioneering spirit" seemed to be the longevity elixir of a group of long-lived Civil War nurses.64

Vary your activities and ensure that you engage in ones that involve problem-solving.

97. Love your work; work to serve

Don't settle for anything less than work that makes your heart sing, and do it with gusto. People at peace with their lives and life's work live longer than those at war with the world. One of the most fulfilling types of work is living a life of service

to others.

98. Find your tribe

Various studies have revealed that the root emotions of stress are a sense of helplessness and loneliness, and anything that can help reestablish connections-with family, with the community, with God-is a potent healer. Joining just one group this year will halve your chances of dying; connecting also protects against heart disease and stroke. If you don't have a close community, then assemble one either through your church, or through work or leisure organizations. Meet and share regularly.

#98 Find your tribe

Joining just one group this year will halve your chances of dying. Connecting also protects against heart disease and stroke.

99. Erase your old inner emotional tapes

Try one of the new energy psychology methods like Thought Field Therapy (TFT) or the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), both of which are 'needle-free' forms of acupuncture in which the therapist or patient 'taps' on various meridians of the body while making a series of statements.

In one study of patients suffering from post-traumatic stress-considered extremely difficult to treat-TFT reduced such stress by more than half.65

100. Cultivate a readiness to empathize and forgive

One of the greatest antidotes to stress is heartfelt forgiveness and empathy. Learning to forgive can help overcome depression and stress.66 Gratitude and generosity are powerful, health-promoting game changers.

Lynne McTaggart

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