The teachings of Maimonides
In Antiquity, Hippocrates formulated the precepts that a man should follow in order to maintain a good condition. In the Middle Ages, Maimonides compiled and commented Hippocrates' writings, confirming their effectiveness. Here is a summary of those principles:
- Ensure proper rest everyday at least for eight hours. (Sufficient rest is of crucial importance for preventing stress, anxiety, and depression).
- The ideal sleeping time is between sunset and dawn.
- A man should not eat more than he strictly needs.
- Foods that are difficult to digest should be avoided.
- The most healthy drinks are water and wine.
- Bowels evacuation should take place at least once a day.
- Fruits, legumes, and nuts should be eaten regularly.
Beyond those basic rules, other prescriptions of Maimonides have also been confirmed by modern medicine as highly beneficial. For instance, the recommendation that a man should sleep on his side instead of lying on his back or face. In our age, a common remedy against back pain consists of sleeping on the side, with one leg stretched and the other in the foetal position.
Another guideline from the Middle Ages encourages eating small fish. During the last decades of the twentieth century, this prescription has been confirmed by marine biology studies. Apparently, in areas of the sea polluted by chemicals, large fish, due to their size, are more likely to be contaminated than small sardines or anchovies.
Amazingly, even the contemporary exhortation against saturated fat finds some precedents in Maimonides' writings. Nine hundred years ago, although the chemistry of the different types of fat had not yet been discovered, olive oil was already being recommended as a healthy food. At the same time, man was being advised against eating old cheese.
The primary recommendation
Most of the great physicians of Antiquity and the Middle Ages spent a good part of their lives working for kings and princes. This fact explains why, in their writings, they placed so much emphasis on recommending a balanced life as the best way of preventing disease.
Nowadays, when workers are wealthier than ancient monarchs, such advice remains as valuable as in the times of Maimonides. A good health is a prerequisite of personal growth and an invaluable element of effective living.
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