The almanac “Dr. Good!” is making a comeback for 2024 with new health advice, but also coaching, recipes, and other well-being tips provided by Dr Michel Cymes. At the dawn of the new year, the French doctor discusses the new features of this latest opus, and returns to the importance of adopting a healthy lifestyle through simple actions to live longer and in good health. Interview.
You would think that you have already revealed all your valuable health tips in the first two volumes. What else can we find in this 2024 edition?
I haven’t said everything… Besides, do we ever think we’ve said absolutely everything? We have added new chapters which we believe are important so that everyone can pick up simple and clever advice. A slimming chapter, far from proposing a restrictive diet, which would be ineffective, provides the foundations of a balanced, varied and healthy diet, and multiple tips for avoiding excess weight or losing weight at any age. There is also the chapter “I reconnect with nature”, which I also hold very dear, which brings together everything we know today about the benefits of nature, and gives many ideas for respecting it, and take full advantage of it even when you live in the city or in an apartment. There is a lot of practical information for walking in the forest in complete safety, plogging (running while collecting waste, editor’s note), boosting your eco-citizenship, as well as numerous anti-waste tips… In short, living from more ecological way! Today we can no longer ignore this information. This 2024 almanac also offers more than forty recipes, a chapter on immunity which did not appear in the last edition, another to maintain one’s youth capital, one on the start of the school year and stress at work which has been completely revised … You see, there are still many things to tell!
Recent studies have suggested that simple lifestyle changes can lead to longer, healthier lives. Why is it so difficult to adopt these actions on a daily basis?
Perhaps because too often we decide to go from ‘nothing’ to ‘everything’! We have a poor lifestyle, and we decide to ‘change everything at once’, which is inevitably brutal, and sometimes impossible, or desperate. It’s too much pressure! I am for the ‘small steps’ method: do what seems easiest and what you like, measure the results, then progress slowly, day after day, week after week, to improve your overall lifestyle. It is a less painful approach, which is more likely to succeed in the short, medium and long term.
Sport is one of the good resolutions made in January, but quickly abandoned when the bar is set too high. What simple, low-stress activities can be beneficial for your health?
Walking more is already great! Taking an additional 1,000 steps per day, whatever your starting score, already brings benefits. We can also dance more often, run up the stairs, force ourselves to drive less, play football or roller skate with our children, accompany them to the swimming pool, garden… So many ‘small steps’ that make us more assets ! And it’s better to have two sports sessions per week all year round than six ultra-intensive weekly sessions that you stop after a month and a half because you’re fed up or you can’t keep up.
Mental health is preponderant in the work. Are there specific plants, foods, or activities that can help provide a boost when morale is flagging?
Certain plants can actually give a boost. This is the case of saffron, used against depression, or adaptogenic plants which help to better resist stress. Having a sporting activity to relieve pressure, relationships that do us good, a healthy lifestyle, creative hobbies with soothing virtues, practicing cardiac coherence or meditation can help get through the slightly more difficult times. But during major challenges in life, or if, quite simply, we sink into depression, it is important to react and consult a professional for help and support.
You devote many pages to the Cretan diet. Is it the key at a time when cases of overweight and obesity are increasing alarmingly?
The Cretan, or Mediterranean, diet has proven benefits. It wards off cardiovascular diseases, and allows you to live longer and healthier. Few sugars, few bad fats, and good fats in optimized quantities, lots of plants are all assets but above all… it does not contain industrial and ultra-processed foods which disrupt weight but also health. The latter, which we consume in excess, are stuffed with sugars, salt, bad fats and additives, which as a bonus disrupt eating sensations. They are wreaking havoc! Above all, you have to cook yourself!
Contrary to popular belief, you say that intense sport does not make you lose weight. How to explain this?
No, I’m saying that the weight on the scale may not vary as much as we want, because we will have gained muscle, which is heavier than fat at equal volume. And if we eat more – which can happen – even less. But sport is always beneficial for health, and improves or even transforms the figure, which is at least as important as a simple number of kilos on the scale.
Nature is the subject of an entire chapter, if only for its benefits on mental health. Why is it important to treat yourself to ‘green’ moments?
They connect us to what is essential, anchor us… and help us relieve stress and disconnect from screens. Numerous studies – I cite some in these pages – show how nature soothes us physically – it calms the heart and lowers blood pressure – and frees our mind, offering us the added bonus of the opportunity to see beauty, which makes always good. Let’s recognize that we feel better after a long walk in the forest, in the mountains or on the beach rather than after an afternoon on the couch watching series.
Work, social networks, current events: stress and anxiety are omnipresent, and harm physical health. How to protect yourself from it?
Quite simply with healthy living! It allows you to better face them and manage them on a daily basis. It’s also up to everyone to find their own outlet, the activity that allows them to mentally disconnect and have fun. As for social networks, they do everything to captivate us for hours but… you have to know how to resist! It’s up to us to cut them off to chat with family, go out for some fresh air, cook, read, paint, etc.
At 30, 40, or 50, we always tend to say that it is too late to form good habits… True or false?
Wrong, because it’s never too late! Deciding, in retirement for example, to move more, eat better, take care of yourself, will always have benefits on heart health, muscle mass and weight, but also on sleep and joy of living. , and self-esteem. The sooner you form good habits the better, but I think nothing is ever lost. At the start of 2023, a Norwegian study revealed that you could gain additional years of life simply by changing your diet – to come closer, moreover, to the famous Cretan diet. At 40, the study showed that you could gain up to 10 years. At 70? A year and a half, which is always a good time! Our health is an asset that we can preserve with small reflexes that seem simple and easy, but which, accumulated, make a real difference!
*”Dr. Good! A year 2024 in great shape – Your health day after day with Dr Michel Cymes”, by Michel Cymes with the collaboration of Nadège Cartier, Isabelle Delaleu and Stéphane Dellazzeri, in Editions Solar.