I wanted to know how to increase my life expectancy. Do I really have to avoid everything? | Annie Macmanus

Read Time:1 Minute, 39 Second

The Guardian

I took a DNA test a few weeks ago. It arrived in the post. I had to prick my finger, squeeze out several drops of blood and put them in a box to post to a lab in Scandinavia.

It’s about risk management. For the first time, I’m looking to invest long-term in my body and, to do that, I need to explore what could happen in terms of illness. I want to do what I can now, to optimise my chances of living healthily for longer. I want my body and my mind to be aligned; I want to feel strong and supple and capable. I thought it may mean taking a few more supplements. Exercising more. Eating more greens.

But when I got my results back from the lab, they were extensive. I could feel my concentration fading by the time I read to the end of the section on how to read your results. Focus, Annie, focus. I cast my eyes over the column headed “AVOID”.

Limit alcohol. I thought I was already limiting alcohol – I only drink on weekends! Reduce exposure to environmental toxins such as air pollution, pesticides and plastic. So that rules out living in the city – or the countryside. Avoid all high-sugar foods and refined grains. I Google refined grains. No crackers, croissants, toast or cereal. What am I going to smother peanut butter or paté on now? Decrease saturated fat intake, such as cheese and butter. Ah, come on, not butter? It gets worse: avoid all trans fats, processed foods, fried foods, commercially made biscuits.

It’s the finiteness of it. The “all” in the “avoid all”. This morning, I hesitated in front of the bread bin. I can confirm, as I bite into my butter- and peanut-butter-smothered toast, that risk-taking tastes really good.

July 18, 2022 at 12:42PM Annie Macmanus

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