The art of lifestyle medicine | Howard Napper | TEDxBournemouthUniversity

The art of lifestyle medicine | Howard Napper | TEDxBournemouthUniversity


Translator: Sanja Marjanovic
Reviewer: Denise RQ Mention the word medicine and most people would think
of something that looks like this. Just happened to be here. Apparently, there are
one billion prescriptions dispensed each year in the UK. and the cost of them
around 8,5 billion pounds. and considering there is only
64 million of us in the country, it seems like it’s a lot of medication
and a hell of a lot of money. But, this isn’t the only way
that we are medicating ourselves. Our bodies are constantly
producing chemical reactions to everything we think, feel, and do. And just like other forms of medication,
our thoughts and our actions have the ability to not only heal
and enhance our life they also have the ability
to make us extremely ill. If you spend time around a growing child, you’ll see how powerful these chemicals
we call hormones actually are. But these are the same chemical hormones that are cascading from our bodies
throughout our entire lives. The word hormone literally
means “to set into motion.” That’s exactly what the chemicals do, they set into motion
the various systems within the body. It’s easy to see how
our choices in life matter, but quite often it’s harder to see how our choices equate to be
the good or bad health. If I may, I’d like to tell you
a brief story about how I became aware of how bad choices lead
inevitably to bad conclusions. Soon after I left school,
I was fortunate enough to get a job as an apprentice to one of the world’s
most respected fashion designers. And before long, my life
was like living a dream. My days were amazing and my nights
opened up into a world of fashion shows, exclusive night clubs, celebrity parties. And as an 18-year-old boy,
I was just totally seduced. But to cut a very long story short, in order to sustain
my now very glamorous life, I found myself living on
a constant diet of coffee, alcohol, and whatever drugs I can get my hands on. You know, it really hurts when you feel that you messed your life up
at such a young age, and I’m not ashamed to say
that on a number of occasions I really considered ending it. But what I discovered is that rock bottom
is a very interesting place to be because it forces you to make
some very big decisions about your life. Little that I know, how much that time
was going to change my life. That was 25 years ago
and in fact it shaped my future. So much so that I now made it
my purpose in life to explore and research how our choices affect not only
our health and well being but also things like the way we perform
in sports and the way that we age. Much of what I do is just simply act as a go-between between all
the confusing information that’s out there and people that simply want
to improve the quality of their life. I’m not a doctor and I don’t diagnose. However, I tend to work with people
who were already prediagnosed, or who are even self-diagnosed. After all, we don’t need somebody else to
tell us that we are stressed out at work, stressed out at work or overweight. We’re even, like I was back then, simply
sick and tired of being sick and tired. My main intention is to help people
take responsibility for their own health. But that isn’t always as easy as it seems,
because, quite often we are more intent in taking more care of things
like our iPhones and our cars than we are in our physical
and mental well-being. Sadly, we have reached the point globally where we are now sicker
than in any other time in our history. Type 2 diabetes, obesity, cancer,
heart disease, neurological disease, All to unprecedented heights. Yet, this is at the same time that we are spending more money
on healthcare than ever before. You don’t need me to tell you
that something clearly isn’t working. But what we often forget is
that the human body is one of the most extraordinary healing
and regenerating systems that nature has ever produced. All you have to do is
think about what happens when you cut yourself
to see how amazing it is. First, the immune system steps in
and cleans and sterilizes the wound. Then, millions upon millions of new cells
are formed in order to create new skin. But perhaps the most amazing thing out of the whole regenerating
and rehealing system is that when the body heals,
it learns to adapt and then it can come back even stronger. It is said that 80% of chronic disease
is lifestyle related, which simply means
that it could be prevented with simple and cheap
lifestyle strategies. And these strategies
really aren’t complicated, in fact, it’s the small, actionable steps
that often produce the best results. That’s why I like to work with
something that I consider to be the three pillars of health and well-being. And I’d like to go through them with you. Of course, I’m not going to
be able to go through everything, but I want to give you
an idea of how easy it is to implement some of these strategies. The first thing I work with
is exercise and activity. Exercise is a big part of my life. It is also a big part of
what I do with other people. But what most people don’t realize
is that there’s actually a huge difference between exercising and keeping active. We live in an environment now
where what we tend to do is just move from chair to chair to chair. And as a result, on average, most people
are sitting down for 9.3 hours a day. When you think about it,
it’s more time than we’re spending asleep. Clearly, human beings are not designed
to be that inactive and sedentary. And as a result, there are now over 24 chronic diseases
associated with long-term sitting. Movement is a form of nutrition, and like most forms of nutrition,
you need to get it from multiple sources. So for example, you may have woken up
this morning, gone down to you local gym, and you’ve been doing
vitamin lifting weights. Or you might have done vitamin running. But we also throughout the day
need to be doing things like vitamin stretching,
vitamin walking upstairs. Right now, you are doing vitamin sitting, which in itself, actually isn’t that bad. But you’ve probably
been doing it for too long. So what I’d like to do is
I’d like to invite you to do something that I call
vitamin standing up. (Laughter) It’s easy. If you want a challenge,
try and stand up without using your hands. OK, those of you who don’t stand up,
it doesn’t matter, because I won’t kick you out,
obviously, it’s only an invitation. The simple act of standing up
can be so powerful, particularly when you’ve
been sitting for so long. Thank you. You did a great job.
Come and sit back down. I won’t ask you to do anything more, OK? But I knew you’ve been sitting
for a long time. But interestingly,
what you also demonstrated – is that some of you
begrudgingly stood up – is that none of us
really like being told what to do. even when we know that it’s good for us, which brings me on to pillar number 2 which is diet and nutrition. We all have a very personal
relationship with food because we are constantly
putting it in our bodies. That’s one of the reasons
why we don’t like being told what to, or what we can or cannot eat. I’m not going to do that today. What I’d rather do is
I’d rather get you to think about food and just how much it’s changed
in the last 50 or 60 years. Much of the food we are eating
and drinking today is processed. which means it’s been
manufactured to taste good, which also means that it has
other ingredients added into it, mainly, ingredients
like salt, sugar, and fat. But there is a real movement away from
these highly processed foods to foods that now, ironically,
are being called ‘real foods’. These are foods that exist
in their original state. And these are also foods that don’t have
ingredients text slapped on the side with ingredients you can hardly pronounce. Of course, there is
a basic logic that said: “If you can’t pronounce it,
then you really shouldn’t be eating it.” It is clear that our health
is directly related to the quality of the food that we eat. Eating real food isn’t that hard, but it
just might take some planning ahead. But it’s certainly worth it. There is more to the science of nutrition
than just eating real food, but as I said before, you don’t have
to do a lot to make a difference, you just need to know what to do
and then you do it on regular basis. Which brings me to pillar number 3 which is rest and restauration. A lot of the work that I do
is stress-related, and there are many coping mechanisms
for managing stress, but there is one
that I just love above all, and it’s one that’s basically
been totally forgotten. And that’s sleep. Sleep is nature’s way
of naturally metabolizing stress, plus it’s vital, which means
it’s essential for life. But it seems that the more stressed
we become, the more we neglected the natural healing powers of sleep. Contrary to popular belief, less sleep
doesn’t make us more productive. In fact, most of the research
says exactly the opposite. And there is lot of research now that suggests that it’s
the quality of our sleep as well as the quantity
of our sleep which is important. Quality of sleep is interesting. Quality of our sleep really relies on
our internal body clock being in sync with the day and night. And that means the light and the dark. The problem we face here is
that for many of us, throughout the day, we’re shielded from the natural light
and then, in the evenings, we are subjected to
extended periods of artificial light. One of the easiest ways
to promote good quality of sleep is simply by getting access to as much natural light
as you can throughout the day. Particularly in the morning, because that’s when the circadian rhythm
of the body is set. And then in the evening, we are starting
to mirror the external environment by starting to dim the internal lights. Of course, this now brings up the issue
of computers at nighttime. Computers and screens. And there is something
called ‘iPad insomnia’. And I’m seeing more and more of it,
all the time, actually. But, many of the computers
that we have nowadays, they also have dimmers on them as well. And there are apps
you can download onto your devices that actually eliminate
the blue light within the screen which is supposed to be
the most detrimental. Quality of sleep
relates to quality of life. Whether we realize it or not,
everything we do in life is a choice. And the choices that we make today not only have the ability to improve
our quality of life tomorrow but the choices we make in the long run can affect our health
and, in fact, extend our life. It was Thomas Edison who once predicted that doctors of the future
will prescribe no medication. “Instead,” he said, “they will interest their patients
in the care of the human frame,” in diet, and in the cause
and prevention of disease. Thank you very much. (Applause)

5 thoughts on “The art of lifestyle medicine | Howard Napper | TEDxBournemouthUniversity

  1. A wonderful talk on keeping healthy with lifestyle medicine. I can't believe the stats on how long we sit every day: more time than we spend sleeping!

  2. "We have reached a point globally where we are now sicker than at any other time in our history."
    Um. Life expectancy has reached an all-time high, our understanding of the world around us is at its most detailed and most thorough, and as a result we have the best health and healthcare systems today that we have EVER had. That's the fact. Who is this guy? Does he have any medical qualifications at all? TED, why are you giving a platform to people like this?

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