If your doctor tells you to stop taking your medication and not to come back soon for a checkup, you will be confused. If she says it’s okay to eat chocolate and fatty foods, have a glass of beer or wine or drink a lot of coffee, you might reconsider her expertise. But, in fact, she would be doing something few medical professionals do: advising patients on the basis of the latest science available.

Much of the health advice people receive today is flawed and based on old conventions rather than the latest research. We are led to believe that to be healthy, we must spend half our lives in doctors’ offices, ingest a steady stream of narcotics, eat a Spartan diet, drink so-called health elixirs that look like witches’ potions, and exercise.

With the intensity of an Olympian and the playfulness of a KGB recruit. We should care about the food we eat, the tests we don’t take, and the pills we don’t swallow. Above all, we should worry. And all this worry costs us dearly, monetarily, emotionally, and physically.

But over the years, traditional medical studies at respected institutions have repeatedly shown that many of the foods and behaviors we have been warned to avoid throughout our lives may not harm us and, when consumed or used properly, they can actually be beneficial.

The list of good addictions includes beverages like coffee, which research suggests may reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes and possibly protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia; foods such as chocolate and raw cheese made with whole milk; lifestyle choices like sleeping late and laughing a lot; and downright shocking practices like going to the doctor less, taking fewer medications, and avoiding many prescribed but often unnecessary medical procedures.

We don’t necessarily understand the reasons why some of these addictions may be good for us. It is possible that the joy we receive from them is, in part, what makes them healthy.

Feeling happy decreases stress and appears to supercharge the immune system, which, among other things, can lead to better resistance to certain diseases. The good news doesn’t stop there. Studies have shown that being happy can help you live longer.

The ancient Greek physician Hippocrates, the father of medicine, said, “Let food be your medicine.” Contemporary medicine often says to let worry and over-prescription drugs be your medicine.

But in our experience, as naturopathic doctors with almost 40 years of experience, as well as food and health journalists, we say that good friend, family, food, nature, and happiness are your medicine.

We don’t necessarily understand the reasons why some of these addictions may be good for us. It is possible that the joy we receive from them is, in part, what makes them healthy.

While we celebrate good vice, we in no way advocate unbridled hedonism. Our goal is not to encourage people to eat and drink bad food, smoke, or gain weight. The point is that people are happier and healthier by being freer and following the truth.

Unfortunately, not all addictions are good for us; your parents were right about the wisdom of avoiding many of them. Cigarettes are just as bad for you as your mother told you they were.

A little sugar can be good, but excessive consumption of sweets and treats shouldn’t be part of your daily routine, and bacon, we’re sorry to say, seems to be just good for your soul.

And if you come across an addiction with potential benefits you don’t already have, don’t start it for health reasons. If you don’t like it, it may not give you the same health benefits as it does for other people.

We regularly tell patients that no matter how busy or stressed they are, they should do something they look forward to every day. It can be something seemingly virtuous: a short walk with the dog, a brisk bike ride or swim, a delicious dinner, but it can also be a quick game of poker or blackjack, or a cold malt whiskey or beer.

What matters is that it makes you happy. Even if we haven’t discovered the “meaning of life”, when we yearn for something every day, it gives that day a little more meaning.

In his 70s, the late great comedian Rodney Dangerfield told the audience that he had just returned from his doctor, who told him that if he ate right, exercised, and got plenty of fresh air, he would get old and sick. , and dies.

Too true.

Our destiny is marked and, as far as we know, nobody avoids leaving the earth when the time comes. What we want and can do is have fun, live well, have fun and share health and happiness as best we can, while we can.