Tag Archives: healthy lifestyle

How Eating at Home Can Save Your Life

Portrait of a family saying grace before eating dinnerThe slow insidious displacement of home cooked and communally shared family meals by the industrial food system has fattened our nation and weakened our family ties.

In 1900, 2 percent of meals were eaten outside the home. In 2010, 50 percent were eaten away from home and one in five breakfasts is from MacDonald’s.

Most family meals happen about three times a week, last less than 20 minutes and are spent watching television or texting while each family member eats a different microwaved “food”. More meals are eaten in the minivan than the kitchen.

Research shows that children who have regular meals with their parents do better in every way, from better grades, to healthier relationships, to staying out of trouble. They are 42 percent less likely to drink, 50 percent less likely to smoke and 66 percent less like to smoke marijuana.

Regular family dinners protect girls from bulimia, anorexia, and diet pills. Family dinners also reduce the incidence of childhood obesity. In a study on household routines and obesity in U.S. preschool aged children, it was shown that kids as young as four have a lower risk of obesity if they eat regular family dinners, have enough sleep, and don’t watch TV on weekdays.

We complain of not having enough time to cook, but Americans spend more time watching cooking on the Food Network, than actually preparing their own meals. In his series Food Revolution, Jamie Oliver showed us how we have raised a generation of Americans who can’t recognize a single vegetable or fruit, and don’t know how to cook.

I believe the most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health and the world is your fork.

The family dinner has been hijacked by the food industry. The transformations of the American home and meal outlined above did not happen by accident.

Broccoli, peaches, almonds, kidney beans, and other whole foods don’t need a food ingredient label or bar code, but for some reason these foods—the foods we co-evolved with over millennia—had to be “improved” by Food Science.

As a result, the processed-food industry and industrial agriculture has changed our diet, decade by decade, not by accident but by intention.

That we need nutritionists and doctors to teach us how to eat is a sad reflection of the state of society. These are things our grandparents knew without thinking twice about them. What foods to eat, how to prepare them, and an understanding of why you should share them in family and community have been embedded in cultural traditions since the dawn of human society.

One hundred years ago all we ate was local, organic food; grass-fed, real, whole food. There were no fast-food restaurants, there was no junk food, there was no frozen food—there was just what your mother or grandmother made. Most meals were eaten at home. In the modern age that tradition, that knowledge, is being lost.

The sustainability of our planet, our health, and our food supply are inextricably linked. The ecology of eating—the importance of what you put on your fork—has never been more critical to our survival as a nation or as a species. The earth will survive our self-destruction. But we may not.

Common sense and scientific research lead us to the conclusion that if we want healthy bodies we must put the right raw materials in them: real; whole; local; fresh; unadulterated; unprocessed; and chemical-, hormone-, and antibiotic-free food. There is no role for foreign molecules such as trans fats and high-fructose corn syrup, or for industrially developed and processed food that interferes with our biology at every level.

That is why I believe the most important and the most powerful tool you have to change your health and the world is your fork. Imagine an experiment—let’s call it a celebration: We call upon the people of the world to join together and celebrate food for one week. For one week or even one day, we all eat breakfast and dinner at home with our families or friends. For one week we all eat only real, whole, fresh food. Imagine for a moment the power of the fork to change the world.

The extraordinary thing is that we have the ability to move large corporations and create social change by our collective choices. We can reclaim the family dinner, reviving and renewing it. Doing so will help us learn how to find and prepare real food quickly and simply, teach our children by example how to connect, build security, safety and social skills, meal after meal, day after day, year after year.

Here are some tips that will help you take back the family dinner in your home starting today.

Reclaim Your Kitchen

Throw away any foods with high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated fats or sugar or fat as the first or second ingredient on the label. Fill your shelves with real fresh, whole, local foods when possible. And join a community support agriculture network to get a cheaper supply of fresh vegetables weekly or frequent farmers markets.

Reinstate the Family Dinner

Read Laurie David’s The Family Dinner. She suggests the following guidelines: Make a set dinnertime, no phones or texting during dinner, everyone eats the same meal, no television, only filtered or tap water, invite friends and family, everyone clean up together.

Eat Together

No matter how modest the meal, create a special place to sit down together, and set the table with care and respect. Savor the ritual of the table. Mealtime is a time for empathy and generosity, a time to nourish and communicate.

Learn How to Cook and Shop

You can make this a family activity, and it does not need to take a ton of time. Keep meals quick and simple.

Plant a Garden

This is the most nutritious, tastiest, environmentally friendly food you will ever eat.

Conserve, Compost, and Recycle

Bring your own shopping bags to the market, recycle your paper, cans, bottles and plastic and start a compost bucket (and find where in your community you can share you goodies).

Invest in Food

As Alice Waters says, food is precious. We should treat it that way. Americans currently spend less than 10 percent of their income on food, while most European’s spend about 20 percent of their income on food. We will be more nourished by good food than by more stuff. And we will save ourselves much money and costs over our lifetime.

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Get started today!  Get your copy of The Blood Sugar Solution Cookbook  today.  

Originally posted on my site, DrHyman.com

 

A Bike Ride for Cancer Awareness

photo2_2-51bb86607c263Suzanne Tobias’ intent is to ride her bicycle three hundred miles to help prevent cancer.

Tobias set her intent in memory of her best friend, Aileen O’Brien Graf, who passed away from cancer at the age of forty-seven. A mother of two daughters, Aileen loved life and had everything to live for, says Tobias, who had never before been close to anyone who suffered from cancer.

“It was devastating,” Tobias recalls. “Aileen and I used to ride our bikes together as kids. I am doing the bike ride both to remember her and to draw attention to the need to prevent cancer, through constructive health and policy approaches.”

Based on the theme of the Alicia Keys song “Girl on Fire,” Suzi and her friend, Martha Fruehauf formed ‘Team Girls on Fire’ to raise awareness and support for the organization Less Cancer, a project of the Next Generation Choices Foundation. They charted a 300-mile onshore bicycle course for Suzi’s ride. Beginning on July 20th, she will ride all the way from Port Huron, Michigan’s Bayview Yacht Club, to Mackinac Island. The bike route starts and ends at the same locations as the famed Bayview Yacht Club sailboat race. Aileen’s brother, one time CNN anchor and journalist Miles O’Brien, will be riding too, while others will cheer them along the way. Their intention is to complete the ride in two to two and a half days, beginning July 20th.

Team Girls on Fire is just one team in the Less Cancer Challenge 300 taking place throughout the month of July. The intent of the Challenge is to focus concern on initiatives that prevent cancer and to raise funds to support such efforts. To participate, supporters set the intention to do any activity in multiples of 300 – from walking for three hundred minutes (ten minutes a day with one day off) to biking for three hundred miles, like Tobias’ team, to doing 30 minutes of yoga stretching 2-3 times per week in the month of July.

People can participate in any locale and do any single or combination of activities, measuring by minutes, miles, or meters. The event both gets people moving, (a good way to help prevent this disease), and it’s also a way to contribute to the cause of lessening the incidence of cancer. People can go to Crowdrise.com to join a team, or create a team, as well as contribute to the cause.

Although death rates due to cancer have fallen, the incidence of cancer continues to climb.  According to the Mt. Sinai Children’s Environmental Health Center, “Between 1975 and 2004, among children age fourteen and younger, primary brain cancer increased by forty percent and leukemia by over sixty percent,” making cancer the second leading cause of death for children.

That’s why Less Cancer founder Bill Couzens says it’s vital to make a distinction between early detection (such as mammograms or other screening measures) and prevention, specific actions and policies that can reduce the likelihood of getting the disease.

Both lifestyle factors like obesity, tanning bed use, inactivity (and toxic exposures) play an indisputable role in cancer incidence. Targeting prevention has been shown to make a great difference. For example, when smoking was identified as a high risk factor, programs promoting smoking cessation were successful in lowering the rates of cancer incidence. Nevertheless, the vast majority of cancer dollars are currently spent finding a cure, (or on early diagnosis) with little funding deployed to explore and promote the range of preventative lifestyle choices, like eating a healthier diet, using sunscreen, getting regular dermatological exams and others. Along with social policy measures, like regulating toxic chemicals, these chances can really make a difference.

“My intention is to create a funding model for prevention,” says Couzens, who was inspired to found the member organization in 2004 after the death of several close family members due to cancer. “Of course I wish there was a cure, I wish there was this magic bullet to save the people I love. But my intention is help people focus on not getting to that place.”

“We’ve gotten to the point where cancer is an expected phase of the human life cycle,” says Couzens. “Two thirds of all cancers are preventable. We need to get a better handle on all the reasons that is happening and prevent it. With terminal melanoma on the rise, there are still 30 million users of tanning beds. More people need to be educated to sunscreen use, and skin cancer screening.”

Couzens sees these gaps as opportunities for media and community outreach to raise awareness. Less Cancer was among the Founders of National Cancer Prevention Day, signed into law on February 4, 2013. “It’s all about education to risk factors in schools, in communities and in the media. I feel confident we can have less cancer when we focus on prevention.”

Photo credit: Team Girls on Fire

Better Breathing for a Better Life (VIDEO)

Screen Shot 2013-07-05 at 1.33.10 PMWhen you find yourself in a situation where you get stressed, frightened or caught off guard, what’s the best thing to do?

Scream? Sometimes. : )

But seriously, what did mom or grandma or your loved one tell you to do?

Breathe.

Yes, it’s as simple as that.

But time and time again, while walking around the streets of San Francisco (and while being in the car with certain eh hem, friends with road rage) I witness screaming and feel their blood boiling. What good does that do?

I try to make it a practice to breathe deeply every morning.

Here’s how:

I love filling up my lungs and expunging all the air and imagining my lungs deflating like a balloon. I do this almost every morning with a 20-30 minute yoga routine.

I’m an early riser, so I like to take in the stillness of the morning silence with a meditation practice. People may get freaked out and discouraged about “not knowing how to meditate.” The truth is, there isn’t a “right way” to meditate. Simple focus on your breath, deep breath in…deep breath out.

Other times when I’m running and gunning, I just take three quick deep breaths. If you’re over-programmed like me and have a busy schedule, set a reminder on your phone to go off three times a day to remind you to breathe.

Here’s a video I made for you that will help you focus on your breathing. This is what I usually see on my morning run at Aquatic Park in San Francisco. Breathe in when the waves come toward the shore. Breathe all the way out when the waves recede. It’s only a minute long, but the effects are long lasting.

Enjoy!

Feel better?

According to Men’s Journal, here are some stats about how deep breathing can be aaah-so-good for your health:

Relax: Breathing is an “accurate and honest barometer” of a person’s emotional state. Train your breathing to maintain your calm and lower stress levels.

Maximize Potential: The average person uses just 50 to 60 percent of his lung capacity. Breath training expands the lungs, and better oxygen intake means higher athletic performance.

Improve Health: Research suggests that developing proper breathing habits can play a role in treating conditions like asthma, acute bronchitis, ADHD and sleep apnea.

Don’t we all feel better after taking a few deep breaths? The next time you feel your panties or boxer briefs getting in a bunch, smile and relax (those butt cheeks). Namaste!

What other breathing exercises help you get through your day? If you follow our @goinspirego Instagram feed, you’ll notice that I often post pictures of beautiful cityscapes and snapshots of nature. Surprisingly, many people tell me the pictures remind them to slow down, be present and breathe. I’d love to hear/see what inspires you to breathe. Please share in the comments below.

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5 Early Signs of Addiction to Look Out For

Screen Shot 2013-07-04 at 4.30.33 PMThe vast majority of people who have an addiction, regardless of the type of addiction, have very similar patterns of behavior. Often the people who are close to an addict miss the early signs of addiction or accept the behaviors of the addict based on the lies the addict tells. Understanding these “games” that addicts play can help you identify the telltale signs of addiction even in the early stages.

As I talk about in “The Law of Sobriety”, addicts realize that what they are doing is destructive, negative, and harmful. They do whatever they can to hide their addiction from friends and family. Some addicts are very good at this secretive double life but it always comes to the surface when the addiction takes over. For many this is a slow process while for others it can be relatively fast.

There are 5 typical behaviors that are common with addictions of all types. If you suspect someone has an addiction these will be red flags that can help you to determine if you need to reach out to get them the help and support they need.

  1. Manipulating their time –  an addict needs to find time to engage in their addictive behaviors away from who that are critical of the behavior. Watch for absences, irregular schedules, and lack of accountability for time in the addict’s life.
  2. Denial – the addict will deny or minimize any type of behavior that is related to the addiction.
  3. Defensiveness – questioning the addict about their life, habits, behavior, changes in their personality, or any other issues will trigger extreme defensiveness or blaming.
  4. Lies – catching addicts in lies is usually not difficult to do. Telling lies and trying to remember these stories is stressful, difficult, and overwhelming.
  5. Isolation – most addicts remove themselves from the people that know them best because their change in behavior, lifestyle or personality is most obvious to those who are familiar.

Changing from addiction to a clean and sober lifestyle first takes acceptance and acknowledgement of the addiction. Detecting addiction-related behaviors and getting help and support for yourself as well as the addict is essential in providing the right environment for this acceptance to occur.

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Sherry Gaba LCSW, Psychotherapist, Life, Love & Recovery Coach is featured Celebrity Rehab  on  VH1. Sherry is the author of “The Law of Sobriety” which uses the law  of  attraction to  recover from any addiction. Please download your free E book “Filling The Empty  Heart” and your “Are You a  Love Addict Quiz?” at www.sherrygaba.com Contact Sherry for  webinars, teleseminars,  coaching packages and speaking engagements. Listen  to Sherry on “A Moment of Change with  Sherry Gaba” on CBS Radio Take  Sherry’s quiz for a free eBook Filling the  Empty Heart: 5 Keys to  Transforming Love Addiction.

10 Steps to Find Out What You Want

10steps

 

Now that you know what to do, click on the steps to find out how:

1. Find out who you are.
2. Choose.
3. Be present to what you are creating.
4. Do not think.
5. Believe what you say you believe.
6. Travel far.
7. Don’t lie.
8. Bring yourself up.
9. Include death into your life.
10. Go find out what you want.

 

10 Reasons to Eat Fresh Produce Even if Scientists Promote Canned and Frozen

Screen Shot 2013-06-03 at 1.32.58 PMAccording to a new report published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture by researchers at UC Davis, canned and frozen produce may have as many, if not more, nutrients than fresh produce. How can this be?

This extremely misleading announcement draws on the fact that, by the time that cucumber or lettuce or broccoli makes it into your hands at the supermarket, fruits and vegetables often sit on trucks and in shelves for days after they were picked. Vitamin and other nutrient levels can drop dramatically in that brief interval, whereas the process of canning and freezing may better preserve these nutrients in the long-run.

The report, and other similar ones published over the years, may be intended to inspire more widespread acceptance of canned and frozen produce, and not to say that we should do away with fresh produce altogether. Obviously for those who can find farmer’s markets or other local sources of fresh-picked fruits and veggies, canned and frozen varieties will pale in comparison. The unfortunate reality, however, is that too many communities in this country have little to no access to fresh foods. If you’ve ever heard the term “food desert” then you know what we mean. Broader reform in that regard is certainly necessary, and if canned vegetables provide any temporary palliative then we should be no means shun them.

Food, of course, is a human right. And there are many reasons why fresh produce is essential to overall health and happiness. Here are 10 of our favorite reasons to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, even if canned produce can provide the same nutrients:

  1.  More opportunities for creative cooking. Did you know beets come attached to beautiful, iron-rich greens that can be sauteed and served alongside the roots?
  2. Shopping at the farmer’s market is super fun. Fruits, vegetables, sprouts, cheeses, and breads of every variety! Fresh eggs! Organic meat! Is that home-brewed kombucha?
  3. Have a more tactile experience with your food. There’s something wholly unromantic about ripping the top off a can of green beans… Handling roots, leaves, and washing dirt off is all part of the sensual process of food preparation.
  4. You can compost the stems and excess bits, make soil, and then grow your own produce on your porch, windowsill, or garden!
  5. No amount of re-hydrating and re-constituting can recover the crispy crunch so enjoyable about fresh veggies that gets lost in the freezer.
  6. The metallic aftertaste of a can? No thanks.
  7. No risk of botulism and other bacteria often carried in canned and preserved foods.
  8. If you have extra oranges, berries, or whatnot, you can always pass them out to neighbors and give them as little tokens to people who visit your abode. Can’t quite do the same with a bag of frozen peas…
  9. Eating fresh produce is what people have been doing for centuries. Shouldn’t that count for something?
  10. The golden rule in food consumption: Limit the number of steps it takes for your food to get from the farm to your kitchen as a way of ensuring freshness and healthiness.

What are your reasons for eating fresh produce? Or for eating canned or frozen produce, for that matter?

Deepak Chopra: Are Your Genes Your Destiny?

Genes are units of heredity that code for every protein that occur in our body and are transferred from one generation to another. Are genes deterministic? Is it possible to “turn on” genes that are good for you and turn off the genes that not?

In this episode of “Ask Deepak” on The Chopra Well, Deepak discusses how good sleep, stress management, good nutrition, exercise, and healthy emotional relationships can have an effect on our genes and how they are expressed. Check it out!

It may seem hard to believe that habits and lifestyle choices can have as much of an effect on our lives as our genes, but the key lies in the triggers that influence how our genes are expressed. Yet more reason to nurture a healthy lifestyle and take care of our bodies and minds!

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Health Benefits of the “Mildly Overweight”: Can We Handle Subtlety in Scientific Reporting?

Screen Shot 2013-05-31 at 11.34.57 AMIf researchers discovered that, contrary to popular belief, carrying a few extra pounds might not actually be that bad for our health – that it could in fact be better for long-term health than being a size zero – would you want to know? Our guess is: Yes, absolutely.

Now imagine a doctor who has worked all his life to combat obesity and promote healthy lifestyles, who has tirelessly preached the dangers of excess weight throughout his career. You can understand that a new report such as this would deeply trouble him – that he might even take steps to prevent its dispersal to the general public.

This is not a theoretical tale from some overly dramatic medical soap opera. The report is real: A review of 97 independent studies, including nearly 3 million people, headed by Katherine Flegal, an epidemiologist at the National Center for Health Statistics. Published earlier this year in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Flegal’s study revealed the surprising news that what is medically classified as “overweight” is actually associated to lower mortality rates than both obesity and normal weight.

This of course challenges basically everything we thought we knew about weight and health (apart from the consensus that obesity unhealthy.) And this is where Walter Willett, chair of the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition department, enters the picture. A highly quoted nutrition expert, Willett’s research focuses on diet and lifestyle habits (namely alcohol, red meat, birth control pills, and artificial sweeteners, among others) and their correlations with different forms of cancer. Willett is now the subject of considerable public scrutiny for expressing some less-than-professional opinions on Flegal’s report. In an interview with NPR, Willett commented, “This study is really a pile of rubbish, and no one should waste their time reading it.”

Unfortunately, dismissing such a comprehensive report as Flegal’s as “a pile of rubbish” might have been the worst move of Willett’s career. Science is, by definition, a critical and collaborative field. Its findings have power and influence in our society because we trust the scientific method; and we trust it because, presumably, the research is tested, challenged, and peer-reviewed. Willett’s comment reveals a fundamental disregard for this equilibrium, no matter how noble his intentions.

There is certainly something to be said for simplicity in scientific reporting. If the general public needs to hear that excess weight leads to heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illness in order to adopt healthy eating and lifestyle habits, then maybe we can believe that’s all researchers are responsible for reporting. If, on the other hand, we trust that the general public is thoughtful and discerning enough to consider shades of grey and make informed lifestyle decisions, then it would be dangerously irresponsible for scientists to censor their findings. The obsession with weight in our culture has undermined the promotion of healthy body image, self-esteem, and eating habits, particularly among teenagers and women. If Flegal’s report could introduce a bit of breathing room, then it is worth the effort that may need to go into explaining and elaborating on those pesky shades of grey.

What do you think? Can we handle subtlety in scientific reporting? Tell us your thoughts in the comments section below!

Precious Joy: It’s Time to Start Loving Life

So happy ! [FB]When I talk to people about how much they experience joy, most say, “Not so much.” Joy is not a frequent visitor, and when it does appear, it’s fleeting.

Joy arises when we are open to both the beauty and suffering inherent in living. Like a great sky that includes all different types of weather, joy is an expansive quality of presence. It says “Yes to life, no matter what!” Yet it’s infrequency lets us know our more habitual posture: resisting what’s happening, saying “No” to the life that is here and now. We tend to override our innate capacity for joy with our incessant inner dialogue, our chronic attempts to avoid unpleasantness and to hold on to pleasure. Rather than joy in the present moment, we are trying to get somewhere else, to experience something that is better, different.

The great French writer, André Gide, said:

Know that joy is rarer, more difficult and more beautiful than sadness. Once you make this all-important discovery, you must embrace joy as a moral obligation.

Joy is an “obligation” because it is an expression of our full potential. Only if we commit ourselves to loving life, do we come fully into our wholeness. This commitment means we investigate our limiting beliefs about our own goodness and worth. It means we bring mindfulness to our discursive thoughts and judgments. And it means we challenge the values of a culture that fixate on material growth, consumerism, and the domination of nature.

There is a story of a young monk who arrives at a monastery, and he’s assigned to help the other monks copying the canons and the laws of the church by hand. He notices that the monks are copying from copies. He goes to the old abbot and he questions this. He points out that if there were even a small error earlier on, that it would never be picked up. In fact, it would be continued in all subsequent copies. The abbot says, “We’ve been copying from copies for centuries, but you have a good point.” So he goes down to the vaults, way down deep in the caves under the monastery where the original manuscripts have been sitting for ages, for hundreds of years. Hours go by. Nobody sees the old abbot. Finally, the young, new monk gets really worried so he goes downstairs. He finds the old abbot, who is banging his head against the wall and crying uncontrollably. Concerned he asks him, “Father, father, what’s wrong?” And in a choking voice, the old abbot replies, “The word was ‘celebrate!’ (not celibate)”

When we get lost in habitual behaviors—in living according to others’ expectations, in avoiding risks, in not questioning our beliefs—we bypass opportunities to celebrate life. Joy is only possible if you are living in your body, with your senses awake. One training that cultivates your capacity for joy is to purposefully stop when you even get the slightest little tendril of a sense of “Ah…happiness.” Whenever you start feeling some simple pleasure, a sense of something you appreciate, stop. Be fully aware of your body, of sensation and aliveness. Be aware of your heart. Sense what it’s like to fully savor the beauty of a falling leaf, the warmth of a hug, the quietness at dawn. We’re not a culture of savoring. We grasp after our pleasures, but we don’t pause. We don’t spend much time with our senses awake.

See what happens if you commit yourself to loving life. Begin by remembering to pause and savor the simple pleasures. Have the intention to hold gently the difficulties. Open your heart to the life of this moment and discover that joy is never very far away.

Adapted from my book Radical Acceptance (2003)

Enjoy this talk on What Keeps Us From Joy

For more information visit: www.tarabrach.com

Deepak Chopra: Medicine Keeps Changing But Not Well-Being

One Dollar, Sir!By Deepak Chopra, MD, FACP

Anyone who regularly follows the medical news from the Associated Press or New York Times will get the impression of fickleness. Research studies sometimes advance medical knowledge, but basic findings also seem to contradict one another. Take a recent study that seemed to show that the recommended low-salt diet for preventing high blood pressure and heart disease in fact increased the risk of both conditions (the Centers for Disease Control issued a warning that the study contradicted a large body of accepted research, making it, if not invalid, at least very confusing).

This is just one example of similar debates over basic areas like depression, autism, cholesterol, and cancer where the shifting sands of medical opinion never seem to settle. In addition, the huge profits of drugs aimed to treat these things add a note of suspicion. How do we know that findings aren’t being manipulated by those who have an economic interest in them?

The net result of contradictory research is unfortunate. It gives the average person yet another reason to shrug off prevention. Yet it’s the area of prevention that has remained solid for decades. In fact, more and more disorders have been added to the preventable list – many cancers are now included – and up-to-date genetics indicates that the functioning of genes is strongly affected by positive lifestyle changes.

The bottom line is that our focus can’t be on magic bullets from the drug companies or long-awaited genetic therapies. As the cost of American medicine continues to climb, the biggest push should be to end the era of noncompliance. We know what leads to well-being, but as a society we don’t comply with common sense and best advice. Yet look at how good the news really is if you make an effort to comply:

  • Maintaining your desired weight reduces the deleterious effects of fat on the body, which have been well documented. Being overweight is also associated with chronic inflammation, which increasingly looks like a major culprit in heart disease and cancer.
  • It has long been known that a sedentary lifestyle increases the risk of many lifestyle disorders, but only a small percentage of people regularly exercise. So it’s good news that just moving your body throughout the day, doing as little as walking around every hour, taking the stairs, and stretching, delivers some of the fundamental benefits of exercise. The more you exercise, the greater the benefits, yet the widest health gap is between those who don’t move at all and those who bother to do the minimum.
  • Nutrition has suffered from a lack of substantiated studies and a wealth of fads, received opinions, and myths. One hopeful exception was the recent Spanish study that saw a decrease in heart attacks and strokes among subjects who were put on a Mediterranean diet heavy in fish, olive oil, and nuts while generally avoiding red meat, butter, and cheese. Arguments over the best diet will continue to rage, but no evidence has contradicted a simple guideline: Eating a diet of fresh, whole foods that tends strongly toward vegetarianism while eliminating excessive intake of, fat, red meat, salt, and sugar is strongly indicated. Since fast food and junk foods are generally heavy on the salt, fat, and sugar, weaning yourself off them should have high priority.
  • The benefits of meditation and stress management have been established for a long time. Now the results of these practices are only becoming more valid. The indication is that simple meditation, for example, causes a change in genetic activity from the first session onward, and the connection of stress with chronic inflammation is getting stronger. In other words, meditation and stress management are biologically sound; a far remove from the attitude that stress can be good for you by increasing your competitive edge and that meditation was a cultural curiosity from the East.

In a nutshell, prevention is about the two-edged sword of adaptability. The human body is incredibly adaptable, allowing for lifestyles that contain extremes of diet, exercise, and stress. If you abuse your body’s adaptability, it will do its best to keep you in balance anyway, but there will be a high price to pay over time. Yet if you change the trend toward positive health habits, the same adaptability becomes your greatest ally. The body’s set point is for well-being, and the more you allow it to regain that set point, the faster it will return to it. Noncompliance remains the thorn in the side of the prevention movement. Even so, the astonishing intelligence of the human body can’t be nullified. It waits for each person to act as intelligently as every cell, tissue, and organ already does.

 

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