Living to 80 is easy, or so says Ronnie Plant. He's an octogenarian and author of "Health in Wealth -- A-Z Encyclopedia of Over the Counter Natural Remedies" (Merlin Publishing, 2008). Plant is an advocate of the simple maxim: "You are what you eat, drink, sleep and exercise." That may be easier said than done, but Plant certainly practices what he preaches.
The 83 year old grew up in Co Wexford, Ireland, and left school at the age of 14. After "serving his time" in Weirs drapery shop in Tinahely, Co Wicklow, he moved to Dublin where he worked for a civil engineering firm for eight years.
Like many of his generation, he left Ireland in the 1950s and lived first in London and then later in north Wales. "I did tunnel work for most of my life," he says, referring to his occupation building rail and water tunnels in Britain.
His interest in health came when he was in his late 30s and suffering from an ulcer. "I was doing all the wrong things -- smoking, drinking, eating the wrong foods," he explains.
"My brother-in-law was a doctor and he took me aside and told me I had diabetes type 2. My health was atrocious at the time." This early health warning set Plant on a path to healthy living that he has maintained to this day. "I gave up smoking and changed my diet to pure natural food," he says. "I was always a bit of a physical fitness fanatic, so that continued," he says.
As part of his changed lifestyle, Plant also began to keep diaries about how to keep well and healthy. "I became interested in natural remedies and I began to write it all down," he explains.
He also started collecting newspaper articles about health and books about medical issues and natural approaches to health. His eldest daughter, Geraldine, worked in a health store, which also proved to be a source of information for him. When he retired from his work in the UK, Plant returned to live in Ireland with his second wife, Freda (his first wife died in 1978), and settled in Wellingtonbridge, Co Wexford. For the past 13 years, he has pursued his interest in healthy lifestyles with a passion and is a regular invited speaker to active retirement groups, the Irish Countrywomen's Association, gardening clubs and other interest groups. Health is Wealth was first published in 2006, republished in 2008. He is currently writing another book, Why The Sickness Industry Thrives. "Our hospitals would be three-quarters empty if we all followed a healthy lifestyle," he says. An outspoken critic of over-prescribing of pharmaceutical drugs -- particularly cholesterol-lowering drugs and medication for diabetes -- Plant believes that many people can reduce their cholesterol and reverse diabetes type 2 through a healthy lifestyle. "So many people are overweight today because they are simply eating the wrong foods, drinking alcohol and smoking," he says. "I've helped thousands of people improve their health by telling them what I've done and by advising them on diet, exercise, sleep and drinking water," he says. Plant doesn't charge people who come seeking advice, but instead suggests they give a donation to charity. He also advises people to have an annual medical check-up. "I say we do it for cars, so why not for our bodies," he says. Plant is an ardent critic of processed foods and drinks. He says the media and the Government won't tackle the food and drug industries because they are reliant on them for advertising and employment. "People don't read the ingredient lists on the food they buy. If they did, they would discover that much of what we are offered as food and drink is non-sustaining and has been put together in factories," he says. Plant's own diet reflects his firmly held beliefs that we should eat as naturally as possible. He eats porridge for breakfast, eats meat about once a week and fish three days a week, all of which is accompanied by plenty of vegetables. He and his wife have their main meal in the middle of the day and have something simpler in the evening. He goes to bed about 10pm and gets up at about 6am, often taking a walk of four to five miles in the morning. He keeps his mind active by doing the daily Simplex crossword in The Irish Times. He says that he has never suffered from depression in his life. "A balanced diet and walking is the best remedy for depression," he says. // var ranNum = Math.round(Math.random()*1000000); document.write('http://content.yellowbrix.com/images/content/cimage.nsp?ctype=full_story&story_id=147882366&id=thirdage&ip_id=ProQuest&source_id=Irish+Times&category=General+Interest&random=' + (ranNum));// ]]>//