The Question whether nutrition or stress is the most important factor in health has long been in dispute. However, both are most important, so it doesn’t matter.
Some people get away with poor diet if they are easy going, while others may survive the effects of stress through good diet. Others, who are not so fortunate in either case will suffer. If poor diet and stress are a dominant factor in their live, this will undoubtedly be a recipe for disaster.
On the other hand, if we get the diet right and are able to cope with stress, we are certain to thrive. If the other two key factors: regular exercise and minimizing exposure to chemicals are covered, we have the formula for excellent health.
Men and women who have never married die at younger ages than their married equivalents, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. Single men between 25 and 64 years of age were approximately three times more likely to die than married men in the same age group, while single women in the 25 to 64 age group were approximately two-and-a-half times more likely to die than their married counterparts.
The higher rates of death were due to cancer, heart and other artery diseases, respiratory and digestive system diseases, car accidents, suicide and drugs.
Similarly, a recent seven year Swedish study found that middle-aged men who have recently endured high levels of emotional stress and have no-one to turn to for emotional support are three times as likely to die within several years as those who have ample supporting relationships.
So being single is a health hazard! Quips aside, there is considerable evidence to confirm this conclusion.
A Swedish study of 1,000 men, followed up from 50 to 70 years of age, found that one of the most important factors protecting them from disease and death, even after allowing for lifestyle factors like saturated fat r smoking, is the number outside of people that live under one roof! The more people you live with, the safer you are.
That’s why the family network is so important.
The second important factor is the amount of social contact that people have outside the home. In other words, the number of people in our lives is likely to be of major significance in our well being and survival.
Dr Dean Ornish of the University of California, made the observation of people with heart disease that, “underneath their differences they felt a sense of isolation from parts of themselves and their own feelings, isolation from other people and isolation from a higher force, whatever that meant to them.”]
Dr Robert Buist in ‘The Cholesterol Myth’, adds: “Ornish’s support groups quickly focussed on the concept that anything that promotes intimacy and communication is healing, while isolation, alienation and loneliness are probably among the great predictors of heart disease.”
If we are not fortunate enough to be part of a big family, we can keep regular contact with friends and relatives. Or in the absence of those, we can join a social group or sporting club.
And when we look at the bright side of employment, instead of whingeing and moaning about having to go to work as we sometimes do, we can appreciate the fact that the emotional support of being part of a team may be second only to the family in satisfying a major need that keeps us alive and well.