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Staying Healthy - The Golden Rule

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  • Staying Healthy - The Golden Rule

    We all want to stay healthy. Books on how to stay healthy are often the most popular subject in any store. We all hear about that person we know that is over 100 in age who smokes and eats whatever they want. However, these people are usually extreme exceptions that make headlines. The vast majority of healthy people tend to do certain things in common that play a major role in their well being.

    The one thing most experts will agree on is that moderation is the key. Drinking wine is good for us, but only in moderation. Even exercise, when overdone can be harmful to our joints and body. The human body is an amazing machine that really wants to stay healthy and can self heal from most problems. It requires surprisingly very little care.

    Think of your body as a car and apply some common sense rules. If a car sits without running for too long, what happens? The engine and parts start to rust from lack of use. The same is true with our body - our muscles and joints must be exercised to stay healthy. Walking is something everyone can do, and it is one of the best and safest exercises around. Start off slow and try to work your way up to walking a couple hours per week. The walks can be broken up, like taking the stairs instead of the elevator, parking your car further from wherever you plan to visit (it also makes finding a parking space much easier). You can get your weekly exercise just by taking a walk up and down all the isles when you do your grocery shopping. It takes a lot less effort than you think to keep your body fit.

    Continuing with our car example, what happens if a car is overloaded with too many passengers? It can't drive very well. Our bones, joints, heart and organs don't have unlimited abilities. Any bone will break when too much stress is placed on it. Our heart can only pump a limited amount of blood. We must try to keep a healthy weight. Excessive weight adds stress to your joints, heart and organs. It can cause high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other very preventable illnesses. You don't need to be thin, and several longevity studies suggest that older people that are slightly overweight tend to be healthier. Just try to stay at a healthy weight. You can just look in the mirror to know what this is, but if you need a height/weight chart, see below.

    What should we eat and drink to stay healthy? With cars it is simple - You just put in the recommended fuel. Using the wrong octane can cause engine problems. What is the right fuel for us humans? Assuming you are keeping a healthy weight and exercising on a regular basis, the answer is moderation. However, there are certain foods you want to avoid that our body cannot digest properly or can cause proven damage to our body. The most dangerous are man-made foods our body has not evolved the skills to assimilate. Avoid hydrogenated fats at all cost (partially hydrogenated is equally bad). Just read the label to see if they are in the food. Palm oil is also bad (often used as a substitute for hydrogenated fat to make consumers feel better), but less harmful than hydrogenated ones. Other fats, like those from fish and nuts are actually very healthy for you. Most research today seems to show that eating fats from natural sources, that include butter and animal fat, is not bad for you in moderation. Eating too much fat, healthy ones or otherwise, can make you fat, since it is high in calories. So enjoy fats in moderation, but limit them if you are on a diet and need to lose weight. Avoid artificial sweeteners too - the jury is not out yet on their long-term safety, so why take the chance.

    Refined sugars are also bad for you. They cause a rapid increase in blood sugar that over time can lead to diseases, such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. These sugars can be in almost anything, including fruit juice. The main rule is moderation, so it is fine to enjoy a dessert when you go out, but don't eat things like cookies, potato chips, etc., every day. If you do eat them, just have a few at a time and take the time to really enjoy them. When you eat them less they will actually have more meaning for you and you will enjoy them more when consumed.

    Sodas. Just say no. Diet or regular are equally bad. They all have dangerous chemicals and dyes in them that will cause preventable diseases in the long-run. Learn to enjoy the sweet taste of water. If you need something with bubbles in it go with club soda. You can add a splash of juice in your water or club soda for flavor. There are lots of great recipes on how to make your own flavored water - Tea and coffee are good to drink and both have been shown to have a lot of health benefits. An occasional soda, just like sweets, is okay, but only in moderation.

    Stay away from processed meats. Lunch meats, bacon, etc., have very dangerous carcinogenic chemicals in them to keep preserved for a long time that don't belong in your body. As with everything, an occasional bacon and eggs breakfast is fine, but balance it out by eating healthier the rest of the day.

    Brush and floss your teeth. While not considered nutrition, regular brushing and especially flossing will keep bad bacteria out of your system which has been proven to cause major problems, like heart disease. So don't forget to floss!

    I have given you a list of food to avoid, but what should you eat? You should eat natural foods you enjoy and try to eat a wide variety of them. Medical science knows very little about vitamins. We have discovered a handful of them over the years that we think are important, but that is just the tip of the iceberg. There are 1000's of vitamins in food that we have not yet discovered that are likely to be critical for good health. You can't just eat vitamin supplements because we don't even know what they are yet to put them in a pill form. Eating a wide variety of healthy foods is the only way to give you everything. Fruits, vegetables, dairy, whole grains, fish (salmon and sardines are great choices), healthy fats (fish oil, canola, and olive oil) are a good thing to focus on. Eat chicken, meat, pork, eggs, and butter in moderation.

    Avoid stress. Using our car analogy, stress is like stepping on the gas pedal and flooring it while stopped at a light with the brakes on. When you are stressed the body sends out powerful chemicals, like adrenaline, that puts you in overdrive designed to get you away from the situation, like if a saber tooth tiger is running after you. However, these days the stresses are rarely ones that need this type of action by the body, but it really does not know the difference between stress from a tiger attack and that coming from your job, personal issues, etc. It causes the exact same mechanism. The chemicals released cause all your organs to work harder and faster. This is fine when really needed, but if the stress is constant it will cause wear and tear on your body. You will start to feel exhausted over time. Your joints and back will hurt. You will get sick often. Stress has been proven to lower your immune system, since the body thinks you are in constant danger, so why worry about a disease that may only harm you later down the line. The body will divert the energy normally given to your important immune system to save itself of the immediate danger it senses. After all, if you don't get out of the current "danger" there is no point in long-term health. Our bodies are still really wired for cavemen times. It may not make sense, but on an evolutionary scale it is just how life works.

    How do you avoid stress? You should try to remove yourself from the stressful situation if at all possible. If that is not practical, use coping techniques, like meditation and deep relaxation to try and counteract things. It may take making some sacrifices, like changing to a less stressful job, but in the end all the money in the world can't buy good health. Any millionaire or even billionaire who is very sick will tell you that they would give up their fortune in an instant for good health. Professional counseling can be helpful too as a way to better cope with problems, especially personal relationship ones.

    Now that we have covered the basics, you should have a good idea on what to do in order to stay healthy. Don't wait until you are sick to make these changes, since it may be too late by that time to reverse things. Eating to prevent disease, staying fit and avoiding stress is the smart way to go. It goes without saying that you should never smoke, but I'll include it just to be complete.

    Be sure to talk with your doctor before starting any exercise or diet program. You should also ask your doctor about taking supplements to improve your health. For example, a baby 81 mg aspirin each day may help prevent certain cancers and reduce heart disease, but do so only with approval from your doctor. The same goes for taking fish oil supplements or any other vitamins. There are serious side effects even with things you can buy without a prescription, so ask your doctor first. You should get yearly annual physical exams and know your numbers, like cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, etc. If things are not right these simple test can literally save your life. Finally, enjoy dark chocolate (the higher cocoa content the better) - it is one of the healthiest things you can eat for your body and tastes great too, but like anything, do so in moderation.

    Here's To Your Health!
    Last edited by lvdirect; 12-28-2012, 09:37 PM.