The Big Five For Longer Life, Better Health

I want to die young. But Dr. Sanjiv Chopra (Deepak’s brother) won’t let me.

He recommends five things for long life and health. Unfortunately, I was doing some of those five things because I thought they would hasten my death.

But apparently, once again, I messed up.

1) Coffee

Apparently there are more antioxidants in a cup of coffee (not including the caffeine, hence tea is not as good) as a day’s worth of vegetables and fruits.

He told me Voltaire drank 70 cups of coffee a day and died at 83.

So… license to kill it with coffee.

2) Vitamin D. i.e. sunshine

But he also answers my recommendation about how little we are able to digest Vitamin D supplements. (Part of answer: take smaller tablets.)

Also, for people who live in the sun: don’t overdo it on sunblock. Vitamin D by the way is a hormone and not a vitamin. When he said that I said, “I never hear a whore moan.”

I made Deepak Chopra’s brother laugh.

3) Exercise

Seems obvious. But how much is enough? How much is too much? I like to walk, so I drilled down on that. And I hate running, so I was begging for permission not to run.

He said, if you walk the same distance as you run (not the same time – the same distance) the health benefits are just as good. Do it 3-5 times a week.

I do that. Because I hate running for anything. I hate speed.

4) Nuts!

I brought him a bag of pistachio nuts as a gift. Turns out it’s good for not only longer life, but for erectile dysfunction. So if you are going to live longer….might as well. He gives me the hierarchy of nuts.

I said to him, “But peanuts are a legume.” He said they have the exact same health benefits.

In his book he specifically likes Brazil nuts, cashews, pistachios, and almonds.

Here’s my problem: I eat these nuts and then my stomach hurts. He said, “chew them.”

OK. Good advice.

5) Meditation

A lot of research on this already. But he talks about possibly the most important thing for longevity is the “telomere” attached to chromosomes and why meditation elongates it, which is key for long, high quality life.I told him, I haven’t been to a doctor in 30 years, I’m 48. Should I at least check my prostate?I really don’t want a doctor to stick his finger into my…He said, maybe not. And explained why.Phew!

I guess I’m going to have to live longer.

This is teaser post for my upcoming podcast with Dr. Sanjiv Chopra, author of The Big Five.

To make sure you don’t miss the episode, subscribe to the podcast here:


Update: Podcast available here

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  • michaelsampson

    “He told me Voltaire drank 70 cups of coffee a day and died at 83.”

    What he didn’t tell you is that Voltaire was awake the whole time.

  • Another excellent blog post. And very good advice. Being cognizant about what we consume, how we exercise and when we meditate can go a long away in keeping us healthy. One should always place health over wealth ( and remember to be wise about health ( The good thing is, the five ways suggested in this post are completely actionable.

  • Paul_Morphy

    I knew about pistachios and almonds, but the rest is a pleasant surprise. I’m already doing most of this stuff. Thanks for another cool post anyway.

  • Kim

    Wow, health tips from an obese person (Chopra). How convenient he didn’t mention the most important one, eat less.

  • I live in a really nice golf community. It’s an incredibly awesome walk-able neighborhood. The number of people who drive golf carts as a form of relaxing evening experience blows my mind… They don’t even get off. They drive out of the garage, do a loop around the hood, and park them right back in the garage.

  • In addition to my golf cart comment below, I’ve really wondered how much sleep plays a part in longevity. And not as much a ton of sleep, but a lack of enough.

    I knew a well known programmer in our community who bragged that he only needed three hours of sleep a night. He ended up passing away in his sleep in his late 30s. He was also fairly obese, but I couldn’t help but wonder if the sleep mattered.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    4/5. I drink tea instead of coffee.

    I’m surprised Sleep, Sex, and Cocktails didn’t make the list.

  • Joost Boer

    “He told me Voltaire drank 70 cups of coffee a day and died at 83.”

    And this French lady who died age 120 smoked until she was 114. Doesn’t give you a free pass to smoke though. I’m not really sure what this anecdote is supposed to tell really, but it certainly proves absolutely nothing regarding the health benefits of coffee.

    Just overall a bit puzzled by this man (Chopra). He looks incredibly obese and unhealthy. Clearly has no skin in the game i.e. does not practice what he preaches. No way this guys does any substantial exercise. Comes off to me as a snake oil salesman.

  • Lyle Foxman

    He doesn’t look healthy

  • David Holt

    Great advice. Caffeine, tobacco and other drugs have fuelled a lot of creativity. Balzac also drank a lot of coffee — it got to him eventually. Just read the classic Life by Keith Richards, a dude with many lives. Don’t try this at home but it works for him. Another I would add is: Laugh a lot. Richards does. Also, our epidemic of sitting is not only the new smoking — but boring and energy destroying.

  • Leonie Gerber Burmeister

    Hilarious stuff ..luvit

  • James Buechler

    i do these, coffee, meditation….saw a doctor last week, said the results were in on the blood test, you have good vit. d levels, most people don’t, i do outside a lot, barefoot in the grass, multiple times a day, try to walk my 10,000 steps (again outside, mostly) a la a j jacobs’ advice, i’ll get pistachios.

    James, consider nut butters, aside from the temptation to over eat (a tablespoon of nut butter is a bunch of nuts already), what i do is get a not-huge portion from whole foods or some place nut butter bulk section, grind it right there, like cashew or almond. brazils have silenium, and three a day is recommeded by some people. “this is the dawning of the age of silenium.”

  • James Buechler

    James, you have great hair, and are not bad looking at all, so quite saying you’re unattractive already.

  • Orsi Hegyi

    This Sanjiv dude looks like he is about to get a heart attack. If nuts give you tummy ache, soak them in water overnight. That makes them easier to digest.