Health and Fitness

Five Reasons to Ride Your Bike

1. Biking may not cure diseases alone, but it will make our bodies healthier. It improves our cardiovascular fitness, lowers blood pressure, and increases strength, balance and coordination.

2. Bicycling won’t solve climate change alone, but if adopted en masse, it can make our communities healthier. The transportation sector accounts for nearly 30% of all US greenhouse gas emissions, with cars and trucks delivering nearly 1/5 of these emissions. Together we can make a difference.

3. Biking can make our roads safer. As we all bike more, it will become safer. Drivers’ behavior changes to adapt to more bicyclists on the road. Further, communities adjust their city planning to accommodate more bicyclists, creating a virtuous cycle.

4. Biking will improve your happiness and your cognitive function. Your daily commute may reduce your stress and anxiety and improve sleep. It is well-known that moderate exercise can improve attention and memory and slow cognitive decline.

5. Biking can help you lose weight and maintain and ideal body weight. A one hour daily cycle ride at a moderate pace or 15 mph will burn 465 cal. Multiply that times five days a week equals 2325 calories! That’s more than a pound per week.

Currently, the Trek bicycle company is promoting the #GoByBike movement. They are asking that you choose your bike for one or more trips each week and tag a photo of your bike with #GoByBike for the health of our people and planet. “Collective action makes a world of difference, and what you do today matters for tomorrow.“ Both for you and for the planet.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

You Are What You Eat Ate

We’ve all heard the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. They are a group of poly unsaturated fatty acids that are important for multiple functions in the body. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids decrease heart disease and premature death. They have further been found to help symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. They even may help treat and prevent anxiety and depression. They also have been shown to decrease inflammation and it’s myriad effects in the body, and may improve bone and joint health.

Over the past two generations, the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the average American diet, has greatly increased. For ideal health, the ratio should be approximately 1 to 1. With the advance of processed foods, over-consumption of simple carbohydrates and factory produced meat and fish, the ratio has approached 6 to 1 for many people. This makes chronic inflammation worse and greatly contributes to our country’s epidemic of chronic diseases.

It is so important that you not only consider what you eat but what you eat ate. Factory raised fish, corn fed cattle and chickens raised in overcrowded pens all have poor ratios of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids.

Whenever you can, buy free range fish such as salmon. It is more expensive but the health benefits are worth it. Buy beef that was grass fed and allowed to graze in open fields. This produces beef that is much healthier for the consumer. Free range chickens as well as the eggs they produce, contain a healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids and are much better for you. To further optimize the health benefits of your fish or steak, never burn it or overcook it.

In 1826, the French lawyer Anthelme Brillat-Savarin wrote “Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are“. There is no stronger medicine then the food we eat. Increased inflammation caused by modern food processing skews the ratio of omega six to omega-3‘s. Increased inflammation contributes to multiple chronic diseases. These include fatty liver, metabolic syndrome, pain and inflammation of our joints and heart disease to name a few. Take the time to seek out dark leafy green vegetables, high omega-3 meats and only healthy oils such as extra-virgin olive oil.

“Consider what you eat ate“

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

The Number One Cause of Obesity

Have you ever noticed that when you look at pictures of your ancestors from 100 years ago, they were all thin. What has changed that has caused the rates of obesity to skyrocket?

The causes are many. People may say it is because we are moving less and exerting less energy to do our work. Food is more plentiful and easier to obtain. We are spending more time sitting in front of the television playing video games and eating unhealthy snacks and drinking sugar laden sodas. All of these reasons are valid.

The number one reason that I point to however, is the common practice of grain roller milling. Although Romans were thought to be the first have started the milling industry thousands of years ago, roller milling did not become commonplace until approximately 100 years ago. Roller milling breaks a grain open, grinds it and turns it into flour. Unfortunately, this process takes a nutritious grain and turns it into nutritionally poor flour. Most of the vitamins and minerals and all of the essential amino acids contained in the endosperm of the wheat are lost with roller milling. Early food scientist learned that they actually needed to add vitamins back to white bread to partially make up for this loss. Hence the term “enriched white bread“

By grinding, finely cutting, or milling grains, they are made more digestible. But by that doing so, they are more rapidly broken down to sugar. This sets off the well-known insulin release reaction and tells your body to store fat. This fat surrounds your internal organs, increases body fat and leads to obesity.

The high-fiber contained in whole grains, or less easily digestible steel cut oats, or whole kernels of corn versus corn flour, provide added benefits of more rapid intestinal transit time. Ironically, they are less easily digestible but promote satiety and better glycemic control.

Today most white and wheat bread are produced from flower from a roller mill. We substituted efficiency for nutrition. In order to turn back the clock and return to the thin, healthy body habitus of our forebears, we need to return whole grains to a primarily plant-based diet.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Multiple Sclerosis Month

The National Multiple Sclerosis Society began in 1946 as the Association for Advancement of Research on Multiple Sclerosis. Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month began in March 2003 as an effort to coordinate the fundraising and awareness raising activities of multiple MS -related groups. It is an important time to pause and support with our time and money, efforts to combat this potentially devastating disease.

Multiple Sclerosis is a disease that can cause weakness, fatigue, decreased balance, cognitive deficits and decreased vision. It is an auto immune disorder in which the lining of the nervous system of the brain and peripheral nerves are affected. Think of it as wiring losing it’s insulating sheath and nerves losing their ability to transmit electrical signals.

I am a great advocate of empowering patients to do as much of their can for themselves. One of the ways in which patients can help themselves is by adjusting their diet. This includes eating an overall healthy balanced diet and correcting vitamin deficiencies. Both probiotics and prebiotics however are essential. I have spoken of this before but the role of gut bacteria to our overall health cannot be overstated.

Our gut flora consist of countless micro-organisms that live in our intestines. We are truly “More them than us”. Unhealthy gut flora contributes to a wide range of immune disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis. Probiotics improve our gut flora and may strengthen our immune system.

Unsurprisingly, a primarily plant-based, high-fiber diet is the best. This consist of food such as colorful vegetables, fruits, nuts and legumes. This diet will nourish your gut bacteria and have added positive effects. These include regular bowel movements with decreased transit time of your stool, and better weight management and blood pressure control.

Historically our hunter gatherer ancestors ate up to 200 different plant varieties. Currently the American diet, contains less than five plant varieties. This often includes potatoes which really shouldn’t count.

It always comes back to the fact that to be healthy you should eat primarily a plant-based diet containing multiple varieties of multiple colored foods. Avoid processed foods and concentrated sugars.

Stay well!

Health and Fitness

Bored or Brilliant

This week I finished listening to the audiobook “ Bored and Brilliant: How Spacing Out Can Unlock Your Most Productive and Creative Self“. The summary accurately states that “Bored and Brilliant shows the fascinating side of boredom. Manoush Zomorodi investigates cutting-edge research as well as compelling (and often funny) real life examples to demonstrate that boredom is actually a crucial tool for making our lives happier, more productive, and more creative.”

She created the board and brilliant challenge tracker. It highlights the fact that boredom is crucial to the creative process. Many of us check our phones so frequently that our minds never get the chance to wander. The goal is to help you have bigger, more creative ideas by finding balance with your devices.

The board and brilliant challenge tracker consist of seven, daily challenges. On Monday the challenge is to put the phone in your pocket and to not reach for your phone while walking or in transit. Make a point of observing your surroundings. Notice people or scenery that you pass while walking, on a train, or in your car.

On Tuesday, the challenge is a photo free day. The challenge is to see the world through your own eyes and not your screen. Be truly present with the sites in front of you. Absorb the beauty and allow the images to enter your heart and mind.

On Wednesday, the challenges to delete that app. The app that you waste the most time on is the one that you should delete. It is easy to lose hours on apps such as Candy Crush or Snapchat. The time lost may decrease the quality of our lives and relationships.

On Thursday, the challenge is to take a fauxcation. Block out time when you won’t be available online. Put out an email notice to people or a text block to protect your time. This lets people know that is it is an intentional act. Use this time to focus intently on a work, social, relationship or exercise activity.

On Friday, the challenge is to make one small observation. Notice a hidden detail in your world. Take note of one person, object, or interesting, “uninventable” detail you would’ve missed if your nose were glued to your phone. Take the time to observe one of the countless beautiful or wonderful, “accidental creations“ that exist all around us.

On Saturday and Sunday, the challenge both days is to get creative. Create time for your mind to wander and feed your creativity. Reclaiming a little boredom or time away from our phones opens up possibilities for new and creative things.

“We crave reflective time; we seek balance; we want a life full of joy and curiosity.” Manoush Zomorodi.

Who can argue with that?

Stay well!