Health and Fitness

An Ongoing Experiment in Health

I recently finished listening to a very thought-provoking book titled “The Ultimate Prescription; What the Medical Profession Isn’t Telling You” by James L. Marcum MD. He is a cardiologist who looks at health and answers to disease from a biblical point of view.

He starts his book off with a question regarding a giant experiment that has been done with our lives. What will be the results of living in a toxic environment? If it was a double blind study, it would be stopped early as the data points unequivocally to the negative affects of our current environment and processed food supply.

He does not deny the late life-saving and amazing work that acute medicine can do to save lives. It is humbling though to realize that the vast majority of our health is up to us. The current healthcare system as well as the food industry have financial incentives that are not always in our best interest. We need to push back and take the control of our health back into our own hands. The healthcare industry wants to sell us more expensive medications and procedures and the food industry wants to sell more hyper palatable, calorie dense processed foods. This is not in our best interest.

He discussed simple ways to get back on track and live a healthy life. We have heard this advice before but society today tends to end ignore much of it. He says we should sleep 8-9 hours a night as currently we are most Americans are only sleeping 6 to 7 hours. We need to be mindful of what entertainment and information we fill our heads with. He further states that you should drink plenty of water. A good rule of thumb is at least half your body weight in ounces daily. He also states that he should respect the environment and animals when you consider your food choices and eat a primarily plant-based diet. Just like our parents, he reinforced the importance of getting outside, receiving enough sunlight and to keep moving.

Take The path to healthy living.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

The Flexitarian Diet

I cannot believe that I have never heard of it, but the Flexitarian diet concept is ingenious. I have always tried to tell my patients that they should try to be vegephiles. This concept is similar in many ways.

The definition is “ A person whose diet is mostly vegetarian but sometimes includes meat, fish or poultry.” It’s also been referred to as casual vegetarianism as it encourages a mostly plant-based, semi-vegetarian diet and encourages more vegetarian foods while allowing meat or other animal products in moderation.

The multiple health benefits of a vegetable-based diet are well known. It lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. Plant-based will help you lose weight and keep it within a healthy range for the long term. In short, you will live a longer and healthier life.

The diet is less about loss or restrictions and more about adding an abundance of delicious plant-based foods. if you have some specific meat-based indulgence that you crave occasionally, go ahead and have it. The secret is to simply increase your consumption of plant-based foods that are rich in nutrients and don’t worry about eliminating one food completely.

The total amount of meat consumed the United States has increased by 40% since 1961. Currently Americans consume around 274 pounds of meat per year. There environmental effects of this increased fish, poultry and beef farming are not insignificant. Because of its emphasis on plant-based nutrition, the Flexitarian diet could improve the health of the world as well as ourselves.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

How to Enjoy Working Out if You Hate Exercise

I read a great article today on CNN Health titled “How to enjoy working out if you hate exercise”. It was written by Melanie Radzicki McManus. It is not an understatement to say that your life depends on it. Therefore, it is imperative that you find something that you enjoy that you can stick with.

One of the most efficient ways to enjoy exercise is to sneak it into your daily routine. Do things such as take the stairs or park your car further from the door. It’s remarkable though that all you really need is about 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week to enjoy the benefits of exercise. The world health organization states that the risk of death increases by 20 to 30% if you are physically inactive.

The four key points that she listed were 1. Make exercising a regular part of your day. 2. Start slowly and give your new routine time. 3. Find a form of exercise you like doing. 4. Ramp up the fun factor.

You may want to “Pay yourself first“ by working out prior to work. If you are too busy, you may need to break up your routine into a couple sessions in a day. For me it works well to have my gym clothes in my car and stop on the way home from work so that I do not have to leave again to go back out to a gym to work out after I am already home.

Starting slowly is good advice as well for several reasons. Firstly, if you start too fast you may injure yourself or be too stiff or sore and this will give you negative feedback to continue. Further you have to start slowly and give yourself time in order for exercise to become a habit in your life.

Finding a form of exercise you like doing seems like such obvious advice but it is often overlooked. If you’re an outdoors person, invest in appropriate clothing and keep exercising outside. The most important thing is to keep moving.

Occasionally making your exercise routine more fun will help you to stick with it as well. If you’ve been running, maybe join a race with your friends to challenge yourself in a group setting. You could also consider joining a sports league once a week so you can translate some of your workout gains to a competitive field in a fun environment. Whatever you choose, just keep moving.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

The Evolution of Fiber

Many of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s remember the funny old cereal commercials with two grandparents eating high-fiber cereal or Euell Gibbons advertising Grape Nuts. The primary message seemed to be that fiber was good for your bowels and you should eat it every morning. Fiber is good for your bowels but it is also good for so much more.

Comedians such as Johnny Carson poked fun at Euell Gibbons and joked that he was telling people to eat wood. He was a good sport and took the jokes in stride. His message from 50 years ago, however is even more true today. We should all try to eat more natural high fiber foods.

It is difficult however, to eat the recommended daily allowance of fiber. Women should try to eat 21 to 25 g per day of fiber and men 30 to 38 g per day. When you were trying to eat a high-fiber foods, they should contain at least 5 g of fiber per serving. In order to get your daily fiber intake, you’ll need to consistently eat nuts, dark green and leafy and raw vegetables and fruits with skin such as apples. Adding a couple teaspoons of plain psyllium fiber to your daily diet goes along way as well.

Fibers do help keep your bowels regular but there are many real health benefits. Fiber helps to lower cholesterol and maintain a healthy weight. This further decreases your chance of developing diabetes and heart disease as well as diseases of your intestines such as diverticulitis or colon cancer.

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Health and Fitness

Quantity versus Quality

The common knowledge is that the most important factor in weight gain is simply eating too much. While it is true that portion size has increased over the past generation by approximately 30%, the quality of the food you eat is by far the most important factor. If you overeat healthy foods, you can still gain weight, but it is much more difficult.

Poor quality, processed and sugar laden foods trick our bodies into storing fat. The food industry designs foods to be calorie dense, hyper-palatable and to have a long shelf life. All of these factors may sabotage our health as well as our waistlines. Convenient, low-cost snacks and processed foods, disrupt our fat storage mechanisms and lead to metabolic imbalances..

It is somewhat of an acquired taste but you can be truly satisfied and eat as much as you want as long as you’re eating a vegephile type diet. This emphasizes dark leafy vegetables and high quantities of greens, high fiber content foods and only small quantities of free range eggs, chicken, poultry and fish. Think of the meat as only a small side dish added to provide some flavor.

Avoid processed foods and simple sugar. Anything with a shelflife measured in months, cross off your list. You can make healthy substitutions and still feel full. Substitute dark colorful fruits for ice cream or Jell-O. Substitute mixed nuts for chips or pretzels. In nearly every instance, there is a healthy alternative.

More importantly, eating a healthy diet will lead to better health. No matter what your weight, a healthy vegephile diet will lead to improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as improving your mood, sleep, energy, bowel function and pain, just to name a few.

Stay well!