Health and Long Life

Sri Swami Sivananda

In the earlier pages of the human race, there is not much mention made of disease, nor does the evidence we posses tend to indicate that, at this period, man was subject to these ills which flesh is said to be heir to. No, the evidence goes to prove that they have all been acquired and afterwards cultivated and harvested, until now they are sown broadcast over the face of the earth.

It is quite true that good health is the greatest of all blessings and is universally recognised as the one indispensable quality of happiness for animated beings. By general consent, fame, rank and all else which men most do covet and cling to, are as naught compared with health and yet men habitually squander health and life as though they valued these least of all things. Ignorance of origin and nature of disease and of the means of preventing it, and cold apathy which holds at acquired habits or fears of the magnitude and inconvenience of reform, are the keys of this apparent contradiction. Few persons truly realise the enormous amount of misery, inefficiency and death which result from preventable disease or credit the large degree to which individual and communities can control their own health and happiness.

Man in those primeval days attained a longevity which, if quite incompatible with our degenerate frames and this degeneration and incapacity for length of days, seems to be entirely due to the natural tendency of man to disobey the Law of Health, the observance of which is essential to his well being. So long, therefore, as man obeyed those laws which were intended to guide him as to his mode of living, he was healthy and long life was his reward. On the other hand, the artificial life we live and amount and variety of materiel, quite foreign to the requirements of our body, which is being continuously substituted for its normal sustenance, has brought as to the condition we are at present reduced to.

As health is the first necessity of humankind, without which life's pleasure and successes are unattainable, it is of extreme importance that people should know the main features and functions of their physical construction and at the same time be informed regarding the causes of disease and also possess such a practical acquaintance with everyday remedies as will serve to keep them in the way of health.

The following rules should be observed if you are desirous of achieving a healthy and long life.

Don't worry.

Never be in a hurry.

Don't eat what you call 'quick lunches' and 'breakfast'.

Take but little meat, especially in early life.

Sleep eight hours a day.

Avoid drugging as much as possible and consult a doctor only in times of absolute necessity.

Wear loose collars, because tight collars present obstacles to the free circulation of blood through the thyroid gland.

Take large quantities of milk, this being the extract of various glands.

Be as much as possible in the open air and especially in the sunshine and take plenty of exercise, taking care to breathe deeply and regularly.

Observe rigid moderation in eating, drinking and all other necessary things.

Take a cold bath daily if you can withstand, against chill.

Wear porous clothing, light head dress and low shoes.

Go early to bed and rise early.

Be temperate in the use of tea, coffee, cocoa.

Avoid places that are overheated by steam and badly ventilated.

In times of indisposed health, have a sea trip and change of air.

Always avoid over crowding, which is one of the causes of ill-health. It is not strange to find 10 or 12 persons sleeping together in large towns. The organic emanations of the different members and the absence of cleanliness are highly detrimental to good health. How many communicable diseases, such as consumption, are disseminated by this over crowding of families?

Take your meals at regular hours. Eat slowly and chew the food thoroughly before swallowing it. Always add salt. Never eat so much as to cause the slightest uncomfortable sensation afterwards. Avoid late meals. Never work or study hard within half an hour after eating.

It is more than useless to boil water and to cool it down by the addition of cold, unboiled water. It is, of course, tantalising, when we are thirsty, to wait till the boiled water cools down. Boiled water must be carefully preserved from contamination. It is better to drink cold water than drink boiled water which has been cooled down and not preserved from contamination. Micro-organisms flourish best in boiled water which has been cooled down.

Observe as far as possible continence. There is no harm in continence, but great danger in excess. A non-stimulating, simple, bland diet, chastity of thought, healthy exercise of body and mind, a pure and quiet conscience, a firm will that has the power to curb the reins of passions and an untainted heart, all will go a long way in rendering abstinence quite possible.

Absolute purity of air you breathe, water you drink and the food you eat must be ensured with a view to maintain a satisfactory standard of health. It is a patent fact that in proportion as respiration and ventilation are imperfectly performed, the standard of health will be lowered and disease must inevitably result and the person will suffer from all the disastrous results arising from a poisoned condition of the blood. The great importance of ventilation and giving the lungs free play cannot be over rated.

Last, but not least, endeavour to qualify yourself as your own doctor. Many a doctor's bill has been saved by a little knowledge of how to handle common ailments and prevent them from developing into more serious troubles. Try to learn the elementary lessons in "First Aid." It is advantageous to know something of the nature and treatment of disease generally. Thousand of lives are sacrificed every year for the lack of this little knowledge. It is within the power of almost every one to gain sufficient knowledge of the subject for ordinary purpose.