Nigeria’s Average Life Expectancy Is 54! What Should You Be Doing Now To Live Longer ?
I know you are doing the math already and most people reading will fall into one of three categories
The “I am 28 so, 54 is a lifetime away” group
The “I am 45 and ah! 54 is not that far away o” camp
The “I am 59, so I already beat the odds, praise God!” category
Regardless of where you are on the age spectrum, I am sure you agree that Nigeria can be a stressful environment and that stress take its toll on our bodies. In fact, the 2019 world population review that pegged Nigeria’s life expectancy at 54 ranked Nigeria 198th out of 202 countries studied. Only four countries, Sierra Leone (199th), Chad (200th), Lesotho (201st) and Central African Republic (202nd) ranked lower.
However, the news is not all doom and gloom. Twelve years ago, my father had cancer and I got all obsessed about his odds of survival until I read one line that changed my thinking forever,
“the only statistic that matters in your own”.
Last year, we celebrated his 80th birthday and the man is more active than any 80 year old that I know. Thank God!
So, if you’re wondering, how do I move myself far beyond this 54 life expectancy number, here are 5 very simple habits that you can start right away :
There is a misconception that a low fat diet is the main thing you need to stay healthy. As with most misconceptions, it is partly true but only partly. However, one habit you want to form for long term health is to replace your bad fats (e.g. saturated fats, trans fat) with good fat (unsaturated fats and omega-3s) and nuts are a major source of good fat. I am not recommending that you go and eat 10 bottles of freshly roasted peanuts but next time you feel peckish, grab a handful of peanuts. If you’re having oats for breakfast, sprinkle almond or cashew on your oats and if you get a craving garri and peanuts (a.k.a epa), indulge, safe in the knowledge that you’re having a high fiber, good fat meal. Finally, even when you want to make the classic Nigerian stews and sauces, you can incorporate the nut based recipes once or twice a month.
Try Tumeric & Olives
And what do Tumeric and Olives have in common? They are powerful anti oxidants. Tumeric is the king of anti oxidants and history tells us that the ancients recognized its incredible properties as far as 4000 years ago. Modern studies have confirmed the potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antimutagenic, antimicrobial, and anticancer properties of anti-oxidants. I know what you’re thinking. is this the elixir of life? Well, I wouldn’t quite go that far but, I do recommend that you intentionally incorporate anti-oxidants into your diet in simple ways: sprinkle chips of turmeric unto your salad or sprinkle a little bit of turmeric powder into your oats at breakfast and as for olive oil, why not try sprinkling a little on your stew or sauce (ps: make sure that the sauce was cooked with vey little oil to start with)
Have A Long Lasting Veggie Affair
Yeah you read that right. Love your vegetables to the moon and back. Vegetables, Vegetables, Vegetables; it may seem like there is a global conspiracy to sync up our diet with that of goats and sheep but I am going to recommend something so simple it is revolutionary. Replace a little carb with veggies and once you’re used to the new ratio of carbs to veggies, up the ante a little more. Remember these are life long habits we are looking to form here not a quick “get slim fast” diet. So, start small and gradually phase down (or if you can handle it phase out), the carbs. The trick is to trick your brain into acceptance by gradually replacing what it loves with what is good and thereby make your brain crave (aka fall in love) with what is good. 😊
Keep On Moving
A few tips to ensure you put in your daily 10K steps and beyond: Take the lift to the floor before the one you’re headed to and walk the rest of the way. If you pray, then do a prayer walk before everyone wakes up instead of kneeling to pray (trust me, God is more concerned about your heart than he is about your posture). When you can, park further away than you would normally so you end up walking further to your location. If you have a driver, try to not call him to bring the car round, instead, walk to the car.
Floss After Every Meal
Yup, we all brush but do you floss regularly? Flossing prevents gum disease and while there is some debate about the link between oral health and heart disease, studies have shown that gum disease is associated with an increased risk of developing heart disease. Heart disease is the number one cause of death globally so, if something so simple can reduce your risk of coronary heart disease, and you have started doing it already, you should be starting it now.
Don’t Worry, Be Happy (This One Is Jara)
And of course, since this is Nigeria, so, we will throw in some jara: stay happy! On one hand it sounds cliché on the other, it sounds really hard to do in such a stressful environment but happiness is more a function of perspective than it is a function circumstance.
So, make a habit of being thankful for what you have: family, friends, good health, mental stability. One thing that CoViD-19, the pandemic of 2020 has forced us to do, is to recognize the things that are most important. And in this year of lockdowns and curfews, zoom parties and online church, we have found that we can indeed do without the parties, the glitz all the other "social" things that we thought we could not live without. To our surprise, we have found that these things do not do much to make or keep us happy. Instead, the very simple things in life, family & family having meals together, watching movies together, talking and laughing with each other. These seeming nothings are the real things that make us happy.
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