Recently I have been looking into the topic of 'super-ageing' and the principles that appear to underpin the ability for people to live a full and happy life.
Of course, being able to maintain health, strength and fitness into our later years is very much influenced by genetics and environmental factors, as well as by pure luck. But there is also a large amount of evidence available now to indicate that exercise, stress and dietary factors can also be just as important, if not more so, than where we are born and what circumstance puts our way.
As part of this triangle of influencers on the durability of our lives, I would say that diet, and in particular, the impact of processed food on our bodies and minds is perhaps the most difficult to tackle and reduce.
Why? Because processed food is everywhere and constantly around us (unless we are lucky enough to live in semi-isolated communities where we can depend on naturally produced local produce to make up the mainstay of our diet). This is particularly in the developed world, where a huge food industry has grown up on an industrial scale, where processed food is always at hand and is priced to be immediately attractive. It is also packaged, marketed and advertised using the skills and expertise of a hugely effective media to constantly be playing on our minds.
The risks of allowing too much processed food into our system are well known (heart disease, diabetes, cholesterol etc.), but for me, one of the greater risks are the reducing effects that processed food has on our lived experience, time spent on the planet and the texture of our lives. Processed food incrementally takes time away from us, flattens, desensitises and exhausts us.
It robs us of our vitality and opportunities.
Turning away from processed food can be a challenge, economically and in terms of our realistic daily lives (non-processed foods need to be sourced, for example), but it is possible to reform, incrementally, our eating habits to lead a healthier and fuller life.
And the rewards for doing so can be substantial, particularly in the long-run. So, think actively about what is selected for the plate and the stomach, because in the years to come it is these kinds of decisions today that give the greatest returns in the future.