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The 20% That Leads to 80% of the Results

In my last article, I talked about the numerous health practices, that in my opinion, do not matter in the big picture. In some cases, they can even be detrimental.

So, what does matter?

It’s not going to be earth-shattering, and you might even be disappointed by how boring these items are. However, this is what works long-term.

Too often, we seek short-term or “miraculous” solutions. But it’s the accumulation of regular, health practices that matter which leads results.

Here are my top items:

  • Don’t smoke (this should go without saying).
  • Eat a plant-based diet. No meat, dairy or eggs (or very little of those).
  • Avoid refined foods and minimize or eliminate oil. This is quite a large category of food that includes almost everything found in supermarkets or restaurants. Meals should be simple, high-fiber.
  • Avoid or minimize salt and sodium in food. This is easier said than done but is one of the most critical factors that will affect your health long-term, and the least adopted important health practice by vegans.
  • Ensure nutrient adequacy. Eat fruits, vegetables, cooked vegetables (including potatoes), some whole grains (although not essentials – some white rice is certainly ok), beans, nuts, seeds, and avocados. Take vitamin B12 and vitamin D to prevent these common deficiencies.
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs and substances which you find have a negative influence on you. Some people can probably drink coffee without negative consequences but others, who have anxiety or sleep problems, will be better off without it.
  • Have an active lifestyle, which doesn’t necessarily mean going to the gym or practicing a high-intensity sport, but will most certainly mean walking a lot (at least 10,000 steps a day). Include at least 20 minutes of activity per day where your heart rate is in the target zone for your age.
  • Avoid financial stress by tracking your expenses, making a budget and saving.
  • Following a conservative weight training to prevent or reduce muscle loss that comes with aging.
  • Practice mindfulness meditation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Have meaningful relationships and an active social life.
  • Avoid toxic chemicals that have been proven to cause cancer, such as those found in many household products.
  • Express your creativity and talents doing something you love (it doesn’t have to be for a living).
  • I also believe incorporating some intermittent or supervised fasting can benefit a large number of people as well.
  • Finally, don’t expect perfection. You are not going to manage to hit this list 100% of the time.

So that’s it.

Nothing fancy. Nothing extreme. Just what works and will make the most significant difference in your life in the long-term.


Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.