How to Live to 110, a guide for all ages on how to stay healthy and live a long life.

Your comprehensive guide to a healthy life

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Protect yourself from diseases

How we let ourselves be infected

(Avoiding infectious diseases, food poisoning, tropical diseases, MRSA and C difficile)

Bacteria and viruses are all around us in unimaginable numbers. An area the size of your fingertip could hold 50,000 bacteria, and even more viruses.

But virtually all of them are completely harmless. Indeed, bacteria are essential to us in many ways, such as breaking down rubbish or helping plants turn into compost to feed our crops.

A very few types of bacteria and viruses can cause diseases

These spread from human to human by direct contact, or in the air, or by the contamination of food and drink.

When they get inside us and start multiplying, our bodies are often able to see them off fairly quickly. Colds and ‘flu, for example, usually last only a few days. Minor stomach upsets from poorly cooked or stored food are often over quickly, although they can be serious for the very young, very old, and people who are frail in some way.

Other diseases are harder for our bodies to cope with. Pneumonia, transmitted by coughing, is still a major killer of the old and frail. Serious diseases such as malaria are all too easily caught when travelling in the tropics, and some sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase in the UK.

Antibiotics - and resistant bacteria

Most bacteria can be killed by antibiotics, but some species have evolved to become resistant to all our antibiotics, which is a major health problem. In hospitals, superbugs such as ‘MRSA’ and ‘C difficile’ cause immense difficulties for patients too frail to fight them off.

If we are not careful, it is quite likely that bacteria causing other diseases will become resistant, which may result in a comeback of serious diseases of the past. (This is partly the result of antibiotics being used when not needed, so please don’t insist on a prescription for antibiotics when your doctor says you do not need one.)

Antibiotics don’t kill viruses, but you can be immunised in advance against some types of virus, which helps your body to fight them off, and there are medicines available to treat a few.

Some of the things you can do

Make sure children get all their recommended immunisations at the appropriate ages.

Older people should consider getting a ‘flu jab. Immunisation against some diseases is also available to people who are at risk at work.

Well before you travel abroad, especially to the tropics, find out from a health centre what precautions you need to take.

Always practise ‘safe sex’.

If you are aware of an outbreak of a disease – or you catch one – then you can help stop it spreading by washing your hands with soap thoroughly and regularly.

What the book covers

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Selected references for the book





How to Live to 110: Longevity, living longer and the steps to take for a healthy old age