Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wanted: The Hedonist's Life Extension Diet

I've been reading through the archives of the FuturePundit blog, accumulating ideas and links for my Future Imperfect. One of things I notice is that, of the things there is some evidence are good for you, a considerable number are also good. That includes pistachios (mentioned in a previous post), chocolate, pomegranate juice, green tea, wine (for those that like wine), and probably lots of other things.

There is clearly an opportunity here for an ambitious author. Write a book on how to live longer and enjoy it more, putting together everything known about such foods. And if the book sells, there are further market opportunities. Chocolate covered pistachios, say, using whatever sort of chocolate is highest in the relevant chemicals. Green tea flavored with pomegranate juice.

In an old Playboy interview, H.L. Hunt responded to an interviewer who assumed that he subsidized his (right wing) radio stations by assuring him that they made money. "If this country is worth saving, it's worth saving at a profit."

"If your life is worth extending, it's worth taking pleasure in extending it" isn't quite as good a line; perhaps someone can come up with a better version.

13 Comments:

At 1:00 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Marcus said...

How 'bout, "A life worth living is a live worth saving."

 
At 1:01 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Marcus said...

Or the other way around of course, "A life worth saving is a live worth living."

 
At 1:31 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Olivier said...

I can't wait to read that draft of yours, thanks a lot for making it available in such a way (and yes, now that I know about it I will buy it if and when it comes out :))

 
At 5:45 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Chris Hibbert said...

A minor improvement on the previous suggestion: "A life worth saving is a life worth living fully."

And a different thought; it's still a little clunky, but more to the point I think:

If you want to live longer in order to enjoy more life, make sure you enjoy the years you spend in the pursuit.

 
At 9:39 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger Jay said...

One of my father's favorite sketch comedy lines comes from a piece where scientists have found a remote alpine village where all the people live unusually long, typically topping a hundred years. The scientists conclude that the extended lifespans come from the plain yogurt diet that most of the inhabitants eat, and that everyone else could live longer lives if they emulated it. The punchline: "But who wants to eat nothing but yogurt for a hundred years?"

On a more serious note, it seems plausible that complex or subtle tastes we tend to enjoy signal trace nutrients that are important for our health. We know (or are reasonably sure) why we like "sweetness" as a flavor; it's less clear why we like basil or garlic or pistachio, but there's probably some reason. So it shouldn't be terribly surprising that things that taste good turn out to be healthy as well.

 
At 11:03 PM, June 19, 2007, Blogger maurile said...

There is clearly an opportunity here for an ambitious author. Write a book on how to live longer and enjoy it more, putting together everything known about such foods.

The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth: The Surprising, Unbiased Truth About What You Should Eat and Why

Most very nutritious foods -- meats, fruits, green and yellow vegetables, nuts -- are quite tasty. It's the pseudo-nutritious foods that are actually not all that healthy -- corn, cereal grains, rice, soy -- that are bland.

 
At 4:59 PM, June 20, 2007, Blogger bob said...

There is a book already:

Healthy Pleasures by Ornstein:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/020152385X/ref=wl_it_dp/002-6134403-8917655?ie=UTF8&coliid=IH2MWDY073QF&colid=3L37T38C4OTQR

 
At 10:56 PM, June 20, 2007, Blogger Jonathan said...

I can't resist mentioning a very old British joke in this context. Apologies if you've heard it before.

An elderly man being interviewed by a reporter explains that he attributes his long life to his long-term avoidance of drink, gambling, and women.

Just then a disturbance is heard elsewhere in the house, and the reporter enquires about it.

"Oh, that's just my father. He's come back from the races, drunk as a lord, and I suppose he's chasing the maid again."

 
At 7:58 PM, June 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another good thing that's good for you:

There is clinical evidence that frequent and regular (disease-free) sexual intercourse is healthful.

 
At 8:12 AM, June 24, 2007, Anonymous phi1 said...

The body always gets what it needs through the appetite. People who try to control their diet usually become slightly aggressive and have periodic eating attacks.

Today there is enough food for everyone. Everyone can eat as much as he likes.

Spices disinfect decayed food.

 
At 5:46 PM, June 24, 2007, Anonymous Economist said...

Jay wrote:
>>So it shouldn't be terribly surprising that things that taste good turn out to be healthy as well.<<

Not exactly. Our species haven't evolved in the past 10,000 years when we had a completely different diet and life style. Fatty, high-calorie foods taste good because they used to be scarce and it was important for hunter-gather communities to eat as much fat for the winter because it's an efficient storage of energy.

Which brings us to why Planet Earth's homo sapiens are suffering from obesity in many developed AND developing nations. The hardwired "demand" in the brain is not flexible enough to respond to the damaging consequences of falling prices of fats. Furthermore, some of the fats (esp. trans-) we have are worse than what our ancestors would have hunted.

 
At 5:53 PM, June 24, 2007, Anonymous Economist said...

Not to mention that hunting mammoths is a valid exercise, whereas modern shopping at a drive-through junk-food store or ordering pizza by telephone... not so much.

There is a positive net-benefit over the long run from incorporating foods/activities that appear unpleasant in the short run. In particular, exercise might have been more pleasant if it was more scarce in the old days - but we just haven't evolved liking it quite enough during our sedentary lives yet.

 
At 5:31 PM, June 25, 2007, Anonymous phi1 said...

Our species haven't evolved in the past 10,000 years when we had a completely different diet and life style.
Life was much more dangerous. Food was often infected with diseases and many starved to death.

Fatty, high-calorie foods taste good because they used to be scarce.
Discovery of native american hunting places show that hundreds of buffalos where driven over cliffs. The natives could only consume the first layer. The rest was left to rotten.
Also watch chimpanzee documentation in africa. There is an abundance of food in the jungle.

it was important for hunter-gather communities to eat as much fat for the winter because it's an efficient storage of energy.
Only heat in the african desert.

Which brings us to why Planet Earth's homo sapiens are suffering from obesity in many developed AND developing nations.
The developing nations have the lowest starvation quotient and the highest living quality.

The hardwired "demand" in the brain is not flexible enough to respond to the damaging consequences of falling prices of fats.
Try overconsuming and your body will repel. There is also this thing called saturation.

Not to mention that hunting mammoths is a valid exercise
If you want to crush your bones. Most top sportsman are damaged for life.

whereas modern shopping at a drive-through junk-food store or ordering pizza by telephone
Reduces stress by having lots of options.

In particular, exercise might have been more pleasant if it was more scarce in the old days - but we just haven't evolved liking it quite enough during our sedentary lives yet.
Psychologically healthy people like to explore their environment. The more peaceful the world the more people travel.

Human beings are very adaptable.

 

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