Cancel your crack-of-dawn CrossFit class. Your new healthy lifestyle is all about guilty pleasures: booze, bread and lying in bed.
That’s the relieving, research-backed wisdom found in Erik and Harry Ofgang’s new book, “The Good Vices: From Beer to Sex, the Surprising Truth About What’s Actually Good for You” (TarcherPerigee).
The father-son duo from Connecticut pulled together studies and prevailing wisdom on the surprising benefits of some food, drink and lifestyle choices that leave us fretting over our waistlines and wracked with guilt.
“And actually, increased guilt can lead to increased anxiety, which is bad for your health,” Harry, a naturopathic doctor who teamed up with his health journalist son for the book, tells The Post. “Enjoy life! Those vices themselves are not only fun, they will also help people live healthier.”
Here they make the case for surrendering to a few of life’s best vices — with a couple of caveats, because, come on, we can’t be total hedonists.
Raise a glass
Here’s something to celebrate, preferably with friends for the added quality-of-life benefits: In many large-population studies, drinking wine, beer and liquor in moderation is linked to longevity — “or, at least, it’s not associated with early death,” Erik says. “In all the research, there was a lot in alcohol’s favor overall.”
There’s an association between moderate drinking and lowered risk of heart attacks, strokes caused by blood clots and death from all cardiovascular causes, the authors write, citing a 2017 Harvard analysis.
The catch: The research only supports these benefits with moderate drinking, so limit it to one or two drinks max. And “if you don’t already drink, don’t start” just because of these findings, Harry says.
Get your freak on
For those with conservative or religious upbringings, doin’ the dirty can feel especially sinful.
But men who have sex twice a week were 45% less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than men who only did it once a month or less, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology. Other studies have found that sex or orgasms can lower blood pressure, strengthen the immune system and be a great form of exercise.
The catch: “We’re not saying you should go out and sleep with 17 people this week!” Erik says, noting that sexual contact with multiple partners raises the risk of exposure to sexually transmitted infections.
Go ahead, have some carbs
Leaving aside the small percentage of the population that is actually gluten-intolerant, carby delights such as bread and pasta are full of vitamins, minerals and fiber if they include whole grains, the guys agree.
Complex carbs have been shown to help people lose weight, because they are filling and can help stave off cravings, according to a 2018 study from the Journal of Nutrition.
Even white flour is OK, on occasion and in moderation: “Most people’s lives are in good hands with a good slice of pizza,” says Harry, with a laugh.
The catch: Non-whole-grain carbs — for example, the kind found in white bread — are “stripped of their nutrients,” Harry says. And too much white flour isn’t great for you, he adds: It can lead to constipation and, in the long term, gluten sensitivity.
Eat plenty of chocolate
Dark chocolate has been shown to lower risk of heart disease and strokes (according to a 2015 study published in the journal Heart) and possibly slow cognitive decline (per a 2016 study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease).
“The darker, the better, and the less sugar, the better in general,” Erik says. But, Harry adds, “you don’t have to have the highest level of dark chocolate — a little bit of any chocolate is helpful. It has antioxidants, improves cardiac output and improves mood. It basically makes people feel good.”
The catch: Most of chocolate’s concrete nutritional benefits are only found in the dark kind.
Stop torturing yourself on the treadmill
Moderate exercise is just as beneficial for your vascular health — if not more so, in the long run — than vigorous training, according to a 2015 article in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation. Plus, “exercise doesn’t have as big of an effect on weight loss as we believe it should,” since it can increase our appetite, leading us to eat more calories than we burn, the Ofgangs write.
Think about that when your alarm goes off for that 6 a.m. workout — especially since a little extra sleep could help you lose weight and concentrate better, studies show.
The guys would rather see you enjoy a walk through the park instead. “We live in a time where people tend to overdo everything,” Harry says. “We’re saying rein it in, and enjoy the dolce vita.”
The catch: Don’t be a full-on couch potato. Especially if you work at a job that has you seated for most of the day, some exercise is healthy for most people.
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