Living is killing you

2012-08-16 12:17

Yesterday I read this article about how bad sitting down all day is for you. Just like I'm doing now to write this column. And exactly where I'll stay for the rest of the day, with a few short breaks, to complete the requirements of my chosen profession. And chances are it's what you'll be doing while you read this.

It seems that everywhere you turn these days, you're hearing that some unavoidable – without yogic lifestyle contortions – aspect of modern living is bad for you.

Deadly modernities

Millions of years of genetic programming have created a desperate human craving for sugar and fat – urgently needed for survival in the times when Ugg and Brogg went hunting mammoths with stone axes.

Now that we have tamed our environment so that we have these things in abundance, evolution has failed to turn off the switch, and we're still scoffing these substances as if we don't know where our next rind of maple-glazed bacon is coming from.

Motorcars – which make our lives possible in so many ways that most of us can't conceive of getting around without one – belch out such toxic fumes that at concentrated amounts that they're a fairly effective form of suicide. I think about this one often when walking down a busy street.

Just about everything that gets put into our food to make it look nice and stop it from turning to moldy fuzz if we so much as look at it funny is terrible for us. Although the story I read about how our bodies don't disintegrate nearly as fast as they used to because of all the preservatives we've eaten, didn't bother me too much because I'd be, you know, dead.

Avoiding living death

With the combination of things that we can't avoid and the things we're compelled to do because we haven't worked out how not to yet, it's a wonder we're still alive and kicking. All this modernity does quite a lot to keep us going, even while it's killing us.

Because, while we've found cures for all kinds of death, these don't make us into the healthiest, fittest versions of ourselves that we could be. I was initially going to make this column about the things we can do to push back against the perils of modern living, but then I realised that we all know them all; we just have to put them into practice:

* Eat more vegetables and less protein

*Avoid too much sugar, fat, alcohol and caffeine

*Don't fry stuff

* Exercise

* Take deep breaths

*Use sunscreen

* Go on holiday

Don't stress

That last one is serious. Stress is one of the biggest killers of modern times. Of course, worrying about avoiding stress will probably result in... you guessed it... stress. So it's not a bad idea to work a bit of downtime into your life so you can get away from it all.

But, in general, rather than letting the deluge of scary information get you down so that you end up feeling guilty (another stress seed) about driving or working or eating, just do your best, take breaks every now and again, try to eat your vegetables and remember to breathe. And don't forget the sunscreen.

And you're welcome to read this column sitting down.

Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.


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  • andre.barendse.7 - 2012-08-16 13:05

    Probably the most constructive information I've read in news media. It will be ignored by about 8 billion people... but at least we won't get gunned down for watching "Fatman... Dark Diet rises"

  • arthur.hugh - 2012-08-16 13:30

    I quite happily live by the doctrine that life is short, it can be taken from you at any moment - there are a million ways to die, so why spend precious seconds deliberating about it? Eat, drink and be merry! My body tells me when I've over done it, when I need to chill, if I feel like eating meat or if I am craving salads and veggies only. I stay informed (as best I can) about what is healthy and what is not, and avoid the junk as much as I can. Too much of anything can kill you, so enjoy a little bit of everything.

  • wesleywt - 2012-08-17 04:20

    Whoever is telling you that modern living is killing us is a moron. Humans today have the longest lifespans in recorded history.

      mike.bundy.73 - 2012-08-17 08:45

      Because of medicine - not good diet

  • mike.bundy.73 - 2012-08-17 08:49

    People please be reminded that this is an opinion piece written by a lay-person. Some of this is nonsense and should be ignored until you have consulted a professional. It should have a disclaimer.

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