A recipe for healthy living

Given how random it sometimes appears to be, you would be forgiven for believing that becoming chronically ill is sometimes down to bad luck or karma.

We read about the strange things that can cause the killer diseases like cancer and heart disease – carcinogens lurking in the food we eat, radiation coming up from the ground beneath us, or pathogens hanging menacingly in the air waiting to strike us down at any moment.

We are inundated with (often conflicting) advice from health professionals, pharmaceutical companies and commentators. It’s little wonder that most of us think that avoiding serious illness is a mind-bogglingly complex affair.

According to a comprehensive new study however, avoiding chronic disease is in fact relatively simple and almost entirely within our own control.

The European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC Potsdam) looked at the effects of lifestyle on chronic disease and made a startling discovery. The three most deadly chronic conditions – heart disease, cancer and diabetes – can largely be prevented by healthy living.

Not only that but the ‘recipe’ for healthy living is pretty straightforward too – there are in fact just four simple lifestyle measures that we need to pay attention to: never smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and following a healthy diet.

The findings are based on a major public health investigation involving more than 23,500 German adults aged between 35-65.

The study found that taken together, the four lifestyle measures reduce the risk of deadly chronic diseases by up to 80 per cent. The four factors were associated with a 93 per cent reduced risk of diabetes, 81 per cent reduced risk of heart attack, 50 per cent reduced risk of stroke and 36 per cent reduced risk of cancer.

If the lifestyle measures seem straightforward on the face of it, how easy are they to implement in reality? We talk to experts in each area and get some no-nonsense practical advice.

Want to read more on this study? Click here