The Ultimate Preventative Medicine

Prediction: In future decades, we’re going to realize that the most powerful way to fight decades of growing obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders is to work less and live less stressful lives.

For decades we’ve been desperate for something to blame, from more sedentary jobs to the fact that kids don’t play outside anymore to villifying a series of different nutrients and dietary choices.

Nowadays we seem increasingly convinced that it comes down to diet and to fix the issue will take nothing more than changes to diet. After all, look at all these other countries that moved from their traditional diets to Western diets–they all started having more health issues!

But if you look closely, they also started adopting a more Western relationship with work and capitalism.

We try to push diet and lifestyle changes on people to pile on top of their existing life stresses and duties, hoping that will fix the problem. But the biggest lifestyle change is hard to implement: we need a better relationship with work.

When we’re not overworked and over-stressed, we’ll have the mental energy and time to let ourselves be healthy. Instead of spending all of our willpower to push through another task, we’ll be able to spend some of it getting out of the house and going for a walk. Instead of being exhausted and going with a joyless and unhealthy fast food meal routinely, we’ll instead plan and prepare more delicious meals that are more deeply nourishing because of the joy of the ritual of preparing it and enjoying it as well as the nourishment of the food itself.

I have a great and fulfilling job that pays really well, and we work a reasonable 40 hour week. But even I can see quantitative data showing that my health is better when I have time away from work.

If we can shift culturally to have a better relationship with work, we could very well extend lives. Not only would our lives be longer, they’d also be better lived.

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