What are the 5 medically proven things that you can do to live longer?

There are many people in this world who would love to live upto a 100 yrs of age. My own grandfather was very keen to live to see a 100 but unfortunately died 4 months past his 99th birthday. The average lifespan of an Indian has been constantly increasing over the last 30 yrs. In medical college I had learned that the life expectancy at birth of the average Indian male was 56 yrs (in 1988) but it has risen to 69.6 years in 2019. WOW! The Indian male can today expect to live 13-14 yrs longer than 30 yrs ago! Of course the Indian lady has always lived much longer than the man! I have always been curious about longevity ever since I heard my 7th grade classmate claim that his grandfather was 90 yrs old because he took one Badaam (Almond) a day, everyday! I had asked another grandfather what his secret to his long life was and he had replied, “no worries, hahaha”! I have read many books by current authors who claim their methods will get you to live upto 120 yrs but none of them,I am sure are even a day older than 60! Surely it wouldn’t be prudent of me to wait 60 yrs to know if there were right! It so happened that one day as I was shifting my books from the old cupboard to a new one, I stumbled upon a book that was with me for many years but had never been leafed through. And to my surprise, the author a physician/cardiologist mentioned that there were only 5 things proven with reasonable certainty in published medical literature that could prolong life. Hold your breath folks, the answer is coming up shortly…………..

1. Non-smoking – didn’t your mother tell you “never to smoke”, didn’t she tell you that it causes cancer, heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure and impotence!! Smoking is injurious to your health and your dynasty! That is a no brainer, NOT smoking will help you live longer and better.

2. Modest (daily) Alcohol consumption – hail Bacchus, the God of good times! May every party start with salutations to you. The important word to watch out is MODEST alcohol intake. Modest alcohol refers to 3 units (1 unit = 30ml) for men and 2 units for women a day. The daily intake recommendations are intended for societies where it is normal for people to drink daily. Like the French who may drink a glass of wine with lunch and even be allowed to fly a plane for Air France!If you are a teetotaller,I wouldn’t recommend that you start drinking for health! It is also recommended that you don’t add your daily quota for a binge during the weekend.That is sure to make Bacchus unhappy and shorten your lifespan.

3. Vigorous daily exercise for at least 30 mins. Daily deliberate exercise ensures that your heart, lungs, all muscles and joints of the body are well oiled and in good condition. Surely you must have heard that “all work and no play makes Jack a dull man”! I would recommend gradually increasing your exercise quota to an hour every day targeting 7 days a week. The intensity can vary depending on you freshness/fatigue levels! Exercising in the evenings have the benefit that you don’t have to spend much time warming up.

4. To achieve your ideal body weight – I have seen many people who go to the gym who are very happy with their physical prowess but are in denial of the fact that they are overweight. So how do you calculate your ideal body weight (IBW)? The simplest way is to subtract 100 from your height in centimetres. I am 185cm in height and so my ideal weight is 185-100=85kg. There is another way to calculate using the BMI. The BMI is calculated by dividing the weight in kilogram by the square of the height in meters. Using my values ……..

The Americans (AHA) have recently reduced the upper value of the ideal BMI for Indians to 23.5 (how dare they!) So to calculate your ideal weight using the recommended BMI value, you will need to do the following sum – 23.5 X 1.85X1.85 = 80.42Kg. So according to the AHA, I would be 4.6 kg overweight! So all I have to do now is to eat less and exercise more to achieve my ideal body weight and live longer – Oh what a beautiful idea Sirji!

5. The last one! The Ideal diet – to eat more fruits and vegetables. It used to be said that “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. That was appropriate for the days when the average Indian male lived upto the age of 56. But not anymore!! I ask some of my young patients if their parents and grandparents are alive and most would answer in the negative. When I ask them why they had passed on, they would often reply “of old age” and when I ask how old they were, the reply would come “65”! 65 yrs is young by me as I had 3 grandparents alive with me until 10 yrs ago. We need to eat right to live long. The WHO recommends that one consumes nearly 800 gms of fruits and vegetables every day. For a family of 4, it would be 3.2kg of fruits and vegetables every day! This does not happen in even the most affluent families. I think that is important to eat more fruits and vegetables of every colour every day. Salads salads salads is the way to go!

So, these are the 5 proven secrets to a long life. You may want to “Live Young and Live Free” my friend but I pray that you will Live well, Live long……….my best wishes!


1. For the last 10 yrs I have been VEGAN. I would recommend a few documentaries on Netflix for you to see. Athletes and Medical doctors recommending similar things for your improved health.

Forks over knives

Game Changers

What the Health

2. Living Longer, Living Better – Dr. Harold H Opie

3. Prevent and Reverse Heart disease – Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. My respects for this gentleman are sky high for not just be a great doctor but more for his being a Gold medal winner in Rowing at the 1956 Olympic Games! And by the way, Bill Clinton endorse his programme for cardiac health!


As a doctor I see many people who want to reduce their body weight for a variety of reasons including to improve their health, body image or personality. Unfortunately only a few actually achieve their weight goals and succeed in keeping their weight down for prolonged periods. Most have some early gains and then either stop losing weight further or put the lost weight back on despite everything that “they think” they may be doing. They then become frustrated or depressed and sometime totally give up the “battle of the bulge”! Many take solace in food and put on more weight on the rebound. I will put down in this article what I have seen successful weight losers do to achieve their target.

The first part includes some points for you to consider. The second part contains some strategies for weight loss.

Things to consider:

1. As someone said, “failing to plan is planning to fail”! You have got to have a written plan of action to achieve your body weight targets.

a. Set your body weight target (what do you want your body weight to be)- e.g., 10kg less-

   write it down!

b. When do you want to achieve this weight? E.g., in one year’s time 1st March 2021.

c. Put down interim goals – quarterly goals viz 2.5 kg weight loss every 3 months which would be 1 Kg weight loss every month.

Someone also said “the difference between working with a goal and without a goal is…………………….…result”. Consult your doctor and do the necessary tests to certify your cardiac fitness to begin your weight loss programme.

d. You have got to put up an exercise schedule and diet chart. You could consult a dietician to help you plan your meals and the low calorie in-between meal snacks too.

2. “Whatever gets measured, improves” {someone said 🙂 } . Buy a good digital weighing scale and check your weight every Sunday, early in the morning soon after waking, after evacuating your bladder and before you take anything by mouth. You want to definitely do this as half a litre of water taken, will definitely increase your weight by half a kilo! Record each measurement in a book against the date of measurement.

3. You have got to accept that what you have done in the past to reduce weight, just wasn’t enough. You have go to do something quite drastic and consistently to achieve your goals. You would need to cut the calories that you eat as well as increase the amount of exercise that you do (volume of exercise as well as Intensity). This also needs to be documented everyday. You can sum it all up at the end of the week to see how well you have stuck to your plan.

4. If you don’t achieve your weekly goal, be hard on yourself the following week and either go on a stricter/ lesser diet or exercise more or do more of both! Be brutally honest with yourself. Don’t accept excuses for your inability to reach your goal or to follow your own weight loss plan. Achieving these smaller weekly goals will ensure that the larger monthly goals, quarterly goals, half yearly goals and the final goal are all achieved (as planned).

5. Changing your thinking is a given. But you absolutely have to change your lifestyle and habits to achieve your weight loss goals.

a. Separate food from the good times. Don’t attend parties where food is the main draw.

Have a green tea party. Avoid junk food when having alcohol. Don’t sit in from of the TV with junk food to munch on.

b. Eat out less often and when you do, fill yourself up with low calorie salads before going onto the main course. Share your main course with someone else. Avoid eating deserts completely.

c. Don’t keep high calorie snacks at home and if you do take them, buy them one at a time (not an entire box full and a small portion too). A good example is chocolate.

d. Avoid all kinds of bakery foods (bagels/ white breads/ cakes/ pies etc)

e. Take twice as long to eat. Chew each mouthful 30 times before swallowing.

f. Have more of the food that you don’t like and completely avoid what you do! This way you would get all the nutrition without the craving to eat more!

6. Plan your snack and in-between meal foods. Salads, green tea, low calorie fizzy drinks and water will definitely reduce your hunger and help you get by till the next meal. A high protein shake is a good way to reduce your hunger without increasing the risk of weight gain. However you should make sure that you are using a pure protein powder drink rather than a balanced protein supplement drink (which would have less protein and is used as a post-exercise re-fueller).  

7. All habits take 3 weeks to form and 3 months to become permanent. Grit your teeth and stay strong for this period especially during the first 3 weeks. It should become easier after this.

8. Take an Antacid especially if you develop acidity when eating smaller quantities of food. Remember the food you enjoy is the one that is particularly harmful to your goals.

9. When all else fails, don’t hesitate too much to go under the knife. Bariatric surgery does wonders for many.

Strategies to lose weight

What is most important is to develop a daily calorie deficit. Food intake in terms of calories must be less than calories expended by exercise. If you can reduce your daily food intake by 300-400 KCals and increase the calories spent by another 300-400 KCals you could achieve a 700-800 Kcal deficit which over the week would amount to 3500-5000 Kcals and a weight loss of 1/2 a Kilo of weight per week and a 2 Kg weight loss per month! (if consistently done)

Exercise daily but vary the intensity and duration of exercise. Training is to be done in cycles of increasing volume and intensity of exercise. This not only keep the challenge up but makes exercising more interesting. Make exercise a part of your daily living – walk up the stairs, walk to the neighbourhood shop, take the train or the bus instead of using your car, cycle to work etc. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself when you are tired. Ensure that you get 7-9 hrs of sleep a night.

Eat everything but reduce the intake of carbohydrates (alone) by 25% at each meal. Compensate for the reduced volume of food by eating a lot more of salads and less calorie dense meals and snacks.

You could consult a professional dietician and take a very low calorie diet. (600-900 Kcal/day) Again taking plenty of salads would help a lot in reducing your hunger and keeping you sane.

Try a completely different diet – Keto/Paleo/Atkins etc

Try a 24 hr fast or fast for at least for 16 hrs a day for 2 days a week. There is some evidence that this is equally effective as eating less (dieting) every day. So you would get the pleasure of eating normally on most (except 2 days) of the week.

Reduce your meals to just 2 a day. Skipping dinner would probably be the best. The food that is taken at night gives calories that just stick to the body. Your metabolism is the slowest when you sleep and therefore the food eaten is  not consumed as it might be in the morning. Skipping dinner will therefore help in weight loss.

Essential supplements that you may need when you go on a weight loss diet are the following:

– Multivitamin mineral tablet

– B complex tablet

– Fish oil (omega 3) capsule

So to summarise

Write down your goals, targets and timelines.

Start your diet and stick to the plan.

Do your exercise 6 days a week.

Check and record your weight every week at the same time.

Reduce your food intake and increase your exercise volume if you haven’t reached your weekly target. Continue the same if you are satisfied with your weekly weight loss.

Have someone you should be answerable to – a weight loss coach!

Best wishes for your success!

Here is a interesting YouTube link