Monday, June 25, 2012

The Six Principles of Optimal Health: #1-Eat more Nutritious Foods

"Obsessed with the idea of the microbe we often forget the most fundamental of all rules for the physician, that the right kind of food is the most important single factor in the promotion of health and the wrong kind of food the most important single factor in the promotion of disease."
Sir Robert McCarrison, MD 

The first principle of optimal health is eating more nutritious foods. While this may seem obvious, the definition of "nutritious" in the US has radically changed over the last century. Initially, minimally-processed whole foods from both plants and animals were advocated. Then, as the Industrial Revolution made its way towards food producers, Americans started eating pseudo-foods like margarine, industrially-produced vegetable oilspasteurized milk, highly-processed meats, unfermented soy, canned foods, white sugar, and bleached flour. These adulterated foods were cheaper than whole foods and, according the the US Government, seemed to be just as healthy. But these pseudo-foods are not more healthy than whole foods and generally cause nothing but disease.

This post has been moved over to my Mayo's Mind blog. Click on the link below to read the rest of this post.

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Improving Your Health: The First Steps

Now that you've read my 42-Day PT Program  (and hopefully checked out some of my research in my other blog posts), all the lifestyle changes I recommend might seem like too much to tackle all at once. Believe me, this has been very much an incremental process for me and I wouldn't expect anyone to throw themselves completely over the fence right away. Instead I suggest making a few key changes initially and then building on your healthy lifestyle as you go.

While your short term goal is to get higher scores on your PT test, in the long term I think we all want to live healthier lives so that we can be lively and active well into old age. Try to keep in mind that however difficult these diet and lifestyle changes may seem, they are critical to you achieving effortless 90's on your PT test and enjoying effortless life-long health. To me at least (as you can probably tell), the key word is "effortless": It really is, once you get on the right track.

Initial Diet Changes
A few small (but powerful) dietary changes will cause drastic improvements if you are overweight and/or suffering from other physical ailments (e.g., high blood pressure, fatigue, joint pain, mood swings). These are:

Kill all Sugar Drinks
Refined sugars (especially corn syrup and high-fructose corn syrup) are devoid of nutrition and expose your body to excessive oxidative stress. If this stress is chronic, then you can chronically elevate your cortisol levels, which will lead you down the long and painful road to central obesity, high blood pressure, fatigue, insulin resistance, and heart disease. (1)

In the United States, refined sugars supply a worrying amount of calories to the average consumer's diet. As of 2010, it is estimated that they consume an average of 160 pounds of refined sugar per year, which is about half a pound per day (or just over 42 teaspoons of refined sugar)! All of this sugar adds up to almost 800 calories per day, which supplies more than 20% of an average consumer's total daily calories.

When sugar was first refined, it was very expensive to purchase because it was so labor intensive to plant, grow, refine, an distribute. Consequently, not much of it was consumed by the average person. However, as the advances in the Industrial Revolution were applied to the sugar production, the price of sugar dropped causing explosive growth in its consumption by everyone. 

Your first step in removing refined sugar from your diet begins with sugar drinks. These drinks include sports drinks, all juices, sweetened tea and coffee, and soda (both regular and diet). If you still need something sweet in your coffee or tea, try stevia or raw honey.

Cut Back on Bread
Modern wheat breads are brimming with gluten and lectins, both of which can cause health problems (e.g., indigestion, bloating, upset stomach, achy joints, headaches). (2,3,4) Sensitivity to modern wheat can cause a stress response. (5) If you eat wheat every day, then this stress can be chronic. Chronic stress can make it very hard to maintain a healthy weight, much less have enough energy to perform well on your PT test. (1)

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