I had a great conversation with Gabrielle Mazar on her podcast. The episode was called “The True Impact of Lifestyle on Your Health” and a lot of valuable information was shared.
Topics discussed include the importance of awareness about the foods you eat (they may not be as healthy as you think), the pillars of a healthy lifestyle and the reasons why your genes do not control your destiny.
Please click the link below to if you’d like to listen:
Have you been a couch potato for too long? Do you want to finally do something about it? If so— kudos to you! One of the first things you should do is set specific health goals so that you have a depiction of where you currently are (point A) and where you wish to be (point B). Moreover, it may turn out that the gap between A and B is substantial, and consequently, many changes are required in order to close this gap.
Some people in this situation may be able to successfully make significant life changes in a short time to bring them closer to attaining their goals. However, this may prove too difficult for most people, and attempting to make extensive changes quickly can easily be a set-up for failure. I submit that making gradual and progressive small changes over time is a much better way to achieve big goals and close the gap. In short, for most people, baby steps are the way to go.
I wonder how many people reading this have a treadmill that now serves as a wardrobe. You purchased the treadmill with a strong desire to exercise and become healthier, which you did at the outset. However, over time, your commitment to becoming physically fit began to wane, and the treadmill began collecting dust. Not too long afterward, it began collecting piles of clothes. It is now difficult to even recognize it as a treadmill.
What can you do? The answer is to take baby steps. If you resolve to exercise consistently, make gradual changes. Start by removing a few articles of clothing each day over the course of a week. Now take a look at it—you actually have a treadmill again. Next, use it to take a five-minute walk. Over the following weeks, take longer walks and then short jogs. Then, begin to take longer runs on your brand-new closet-turned-exercise machine. You’ll feel great, have a lot of fun, and will be doing magnificent things for your health.
In most instances, consistent and progressive baby steps are the best way to close the gap and accomplish big goals.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope that you have enjoyed it and found it informative. Please feel free to share it with anyone you think may benefit.
A few weeks ago, while I was taking a break from a busy ER shift in the doctor’s lounge, the television was on, and commercials were airing. The first two were promoting popular fast-food restaurant chains. The third was an advertisement for a chocolate cookie produced by a famous cookie company. Finally, the fourth was touting the benefits of a well-known prescription medication to help control the metabolic derangements caused by type 2 diabetes (DM2).
Watching this sequence of promotions, I was struck by how absurd and illogical this seemed. As many of you may be aware, DM2 is predominantly a disease of lifestyle—individuals develop this disease by consistently eating unhealthy foods. It is preventable and reversible by living a healthy lifestyle. And here were three commercials endorsing foods that can lead to the development of DM2, followed by a commercial advocating for a medication that can help control the damage created by DM2, which, of course, was caused by the foods advertised in the preceding ads.
Please realize that I am not telling anyone what they should and should not eat—that is a personal choice. I share this story because it stirred my thoughts and raised questions in my mind, and I hope it does the same for you.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope that you enjoyed it and found it informative. Feel free to leave comments and also feel free to share it with anyone that you think may benefit from it.
In recent posts, I’ve written a lot about goals and mentioned how having positive and worthwhile objectives is fantastic. Moreover, while striving for and achieving milestones is euphoric, something else should be recognized and appreciated—the process.
Your journey toward your goal should be an enjoyable one. If you have an exercise goal and have committed to activities such as walking, running, biking, or swimming—love the feelings. Enjoy the feeling of your heart racing, of breaking a sweat, of the burn in your pumping muscles, and of that “runners high.” It truly is exhilarating. Although I work hard during an intense exercise session, I feel invigorated and focused. Even a leisurely walk with my dogs provides me with feelings of well-being and clarity.
If you want to genuinely live a healthy life and have a goal of eating well in addition to being physically active, then eat healthy foods that you enjoy. Fill your plate with colors and flavors that make your mouth water. There are countless ways to prepare vegetables, fruits, legumes, and whole grains into delectable meals. Eating fruits ȧ la carte is also a wonderful experience. I often bite into a juicy apple or pop some grapes into my mouth and relish a sweet and savory moment. There’s nothing quite like eating foods appreciated by both your taste buds as well as the rest of you.
Revel in the incredible and healthful experiences that you create for yourself.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you have enjoyed it. If you know of anyone who might benefit, please feel free to share it.
In my last post, I wrote about fiber and its many health benefits. I mentioned that it lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. I also stated that it reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, and several types of cancer. As an added bonus, it makes you feel fuller sooner and without increasing your caloric intake.
I stated how many different types of fiber are the food of choice for the 39 trillion bacteria living in our gut—our gut microbiome. Moreover, a thriving gut microbiome is responsible for many of the health benefits of fiber. When the bacteria in our gut are presented with different types of fiber, they produce small molecules called short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). Aside from providing several of the health miracles described earlier, SCFAs also provide 70% of the energy needed by the cells of our colon, which will keep them functioning well.
To digress for a moment, have you ever heard of leaky gut syndrome? I certainly have. Over the years, I’ve had many patients who have told me they have this condition. But what exactly is a leaky gut? I mean, how does one’s gut leak? Well, it all comes down to the health of our colon cells. These cells are held closely together by molecules called tight junctions. If these junctions work normally, the colon cells will be held closely together. If these junctions are not operating as they should, the colon cells will separate, and there will now be spaces between cells. Substances within the gut, such as bacteria, bacterial toxins, and molecules from food, can now move through these openings and find themselves outside the gut. This, my friends, is a leaky gut.
You may wonder why it is such a problem if these things “leak” out of your gut. Well, the fact that 70% of your immune system lives just outside the gut is one big reason. When your immune system encounters these things, it can lead to allergies, excessive inflammation, and even autoimmunity. Furthermore, the muscles and nerves within the gut can be adversely affected, leading to distressing symptoms such as constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Once again, I’d like to point out that you can lower the risk of developing many diseases and also allow yourself the opportunity to feel fantastic through the simple act of eating whole, healthy foods.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post. I hope you enjoyed it and found it informative. If so, please feel free to share it.
What do foods such as broccoli, peppers, bananas, and apples have in common? Sure, they are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, which are essential to good health. The other indispensable component that they have is fiber.
I’m sure you’ve heard a lot about fiber. But, why is fiber so important for good health? What IS all the fuss about fiber? That is a terrific question, and I’m glad you asked.
Books can and have been written about the benefits of fiber. In this post and the next, I will distill down a few of the critical points.
You’ve probably heard that fiber can help you poop regularly. That’s true, and that is an important benefit of fiber. However, there is so much more to fiber than just helping to keep us pooping regularly.
First, it’s important to understand that our bodies cannot digest fiber, and we get no calories directly from fiber. Having said that, one of the things that fiber does is that it increases satiety. That’s right; it makes us feel full without increasing our caloric intake. That is a great thing in and of itself. Fiber also increases insulin sensitivity, which decreases the risk of diabetes. It lowers cholesterol and triglycerides. It also reduces the risk of heart disease as well as several cancers, such as colon cancer.
Now, if we can’t digest fiber, how does it work its miracles within us? Another great question—you’re on a roll. Fiber is actually the food of choice for the 39 trillion bacteria that live in our guts, also called our gut microbiome. Further discussion on that in my next post. Fun fact: 39 trillion microbes are living in our guts. Do you know how many human cells your body is made up of? About 30 trillion—give or take a trillion. Think about that—your body is likely composed of more bacterial than human cells. Amazing, right?
Moreover, we have an important relationship with these gut bacteria, and they are vital for good health. Thus, it would behoove us to give our gut bacteria what they need to thrive. And as mentioned earlier, their food of choice is fiber—many different fiber types.
Where do we get lots of different kinds of fiber? It comes from eating a variety of plant-based foods, especially whole plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, oatmeal, flaxseed, and whole wheat pasta. Fiber is only found in plant foods. Animal foods have zero fiber.
One last thing: if you currently don’t eat many fiber-containing foods and want to start, that is fantastic. However, there is an important warning. Let’s say that your only source of fiber is something like a banana a day. If you go directly from that to eating five or six servings of fiber-containing foods the next day, you will likely feel pretty bad. You may experience abdominal pain, bloating, and feel gassy. The best way to increase your fiber intake is to do it slowly. If you’re starting low, then please go slow.
Solely by the simple act of eating whole, healthy foods, we can help improve and maintain excellent health.
Next time: Fiber part II.
I hope you enjoyed this post and found it informative. If you did, please feel free to share it.
As an Emergency Medicine physician, when I hear the term “food-borne illness,” it immediately conjures images of people with vomiting and diarrhea secondary to consuming undercooked or spoiled food contaminated with bacteria or their toxins. However, I recently learned of a new usage of this term. In his article, “Is the Present Therapy for Coronary Artery Disease the Radical Mastectomy of the Twenty-First Century?” Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn ascribes a new meaning to the phrase “food-borne illness,” referring to coronary artery disease as this type of illness. According to the CDC, coronary artery disease (CAD) is the most common type of heart disease in the United States. It is the narrowing and blockage of blood vessels supplying blood to the heart, which can eventually lead to heart attacks. The CDC also states that in the United States, over 20 million adults over age 20 have CAD and that someone has a heart attack every 40 seconds.
Those are some pretty frightening statistics. But luckily, doctors have treatments for heart disease. We have an armamentarium of medications as well as procedures such as coronary stents and coronary artery bypass surgeries. These are remarkable advances that are lifesaving for those that are having a heart attack. However, as Dr. Esselstyn states, “…none of the present therapies targets the cause: the Western diet.” Yes, our Western diet—filled with processed foods, fried foods, meats, oils, and dairy. He describes cultures that consume a plant-based diet in which CAD is almost non-existent. Moreover, the converse is also true. When plant-based cultures adopt a Western diet, guess what? Yes, that’s right, they develop CAD. Thus, it seems as though heart disease really is a food-borne illness.
History also teaches us this lesson. Between 1939 and 1945, Norway was occupied by Nazi Germany. During this time, the Germans removed all animal livestock, forcing the population to subsist on whole grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables. Following this, deaths from heart attacks and strokes fell. When the war ended, and animal products became available again, deaths from these illnesses rose to prewar levels. Thought-provoking, isn’t it?
In his article, Dr. Esselstyn mentions a study he conducted on very ill patients with CAD that he placed on a plant-based diet. These patients have thus far been followed for twenty years, and the results are fascinating. A plant-based diet not only stopped the progression of heart disease but even reversed it! Yes, reversed it. Furthermore, this study and its follow-up showed that people with CAD would stick with dietary changes for decades. If provided with an understanding of the link between diet and disease, I believe that people will want to take control of their own health and give themselves the opportunity to be better.