In a follow-up to my prior blog posting I would like to relate a quick story about the ascetic approach tolongevity. The recent articles and discussion regarding how caloric-restriction prolongs life reminds me of an anecdote from my days as a resident at Montefiore Hospital and Medical Center.
Back in the late 70's there was an excellent internist named Arthur Goldman. I'm not sure if he is still in practice but my Google search suggests that he may be still practicing in Yonkers, NY. At any rate Arthur treated hypertension and other metabolic conditions such as hyperlipidemia and diabetes through an extremely strict dietary regime. He exercised vigorously as well, I believe.
In many ways he was ahead of his time since subsequent physicians have also advocated extremely low sodium, fat and sugar intake. In truth this type of diet can be extremely effective in battling certain disease states and prolonging life.
I do recall another attending physician who had a wry sense of humor. His approach was less restrictive, more laid-back and much less ascetic. I have forgotten his name [? Marty Fierman?] but I'll never forget his comments to Arthur Goldman. "Arthur, your patients don't actually live longer, your diets just make them so miserable that it feels like they're living longer!"
Of course that was a rather cynical attitude. I am sure that Arthur Goldman did help many, particularly those who could follow his regimen.
The point is that the ascetic approach does not work for everyone. There are those who would choose to indulge in life's "risky" pleasures at times and perhaps not live as long and as well as others. But the pleasures they experience seem worthwhile to them at the time.
And in truth, even healthy patients die.
Now I don't want to address the areas of public health and public policy because there is truth to the notion that individuals who abuse drugs, alcohol and nicotine present health risks which he population as a whole often must pay for. There is a matter of 'degree' when it comes to unhealthy behaviors.
My point is not to abandon healthy practices and lifestyles. It is just a call for moderation in all things. Living life to the fullest, being God's taste buds in the world, requires an open appreciation for the sensual and enjoyable.
The challenge for us all is finding the right balance. Few of us, I suggest, would choose a long but miserable life.