Staying healthy in today's viral world means more than simply washing hands and covering a sneeze with a tissue.
What are 7 important lifestyle factors for staying healthy?
Hippocrates stated in 400 B.C., “Let food be thy medicine.” The earth is filled with natural sources of protein, fiber, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins and minerals. These food sources provide energy (calories) and fuel the growth of healthy bones, muscles, organs and circulatory system. You would not feed a million-dollar racehorse McDonald’s happy meals, full of refined grains, sugars, oils and then fried. Yet, 60% of the calories ingested eating the Standard American Diet (SAD Diet) consist of refined carbohydrates (grains, bread, pasta, cereals, refined sugars and oils, which are extremely “pro-inflammatory” to every cell in the body. The #1 cause of systemic inflammation, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis and pain is a poor diet and lack of adequate nutrition (vitamins and minerals).
The best medicine for staying healthy is an “anti-inflammatory” diet consisting of natural foods, minimally altered in preparation. Avoiding processed, fried, preserved and refined food sources is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Hyman, M.D., Mark. (2018) Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? Little, Brown Spark
Lin, Steven. (2018) The Dental Diet: The Surprising Link between Your Teeth, Real Food, and Life-Changing Natural Health. Hay House, Inc.
A NIH study concludes obesity may shorten life expectancy up to 14 years due to heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, kidney and liver disease. These diseases are often directly related to a poor diet. A pro-inflammatory diet can lead to “metabolic syndrome”, characterized by increased blood sugar levels (pre-diabetes), cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin resistance and waistline weight gain. This leads to type 2 diabetes, which is comparable to “shards of glass scraping the walls of the arteries” 24 hours a day. There are few chronic disorders more destructive than uncontrolled diabetes. 85% of diabetics are overweight.
Controlling weight is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Bikman, Benjamin. (2020) Why We Get Sick: The Hidden Epidemic at the Root of Most Chronic Disease and How to Fight It. BenBella Books.
3. Physical Activity
Kenneth Cooper, M.D., Founder of The Cooper Clinic in Dallas, is known as the Father of Aerobics. His 40+ years of research has shown a strong relationship between physical activity, cardiovascular health and overall health. He has been known to say, “If you cannot find the time to exercise, you better find the time to be sick!”
Physical activity is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Cooper, Kenneth H & Cooper, Tyler C. (2008) Start Strong, Finish Strong: Prescriptions for a Lifetime of Great Health. Avery.
Smoke inhalation, nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide increase the risk of heart disease, raise cholesterol levels, increase blood clotting, weaken the immune system, increase insulin resistance and diabetic complications.
Smoking cessation is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
The most important physiologic function is breathing, delivering oxygen to every cell in the body. When breathing is compromised through chronic allergies, nasal obstruction, mouth breathing, swollen tonsils, respiratory or sleep disorders, serious affects include: Asthma, ADHD, TMJ problems, memory loss, cardiac arrhythmia and insulin resistance.
Proper breathing and sleep are key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Nestor, James. (2020) Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. Riverhead Books.
McKeown, Patrick. (2016) The Oxygen Advantage: The Simple, Scientifically Proven Breathing Techniques for a Healthier, Slimmer, Faster, and Fitter You. William Morrow Paperbacks.
6. Oral Health
The mouth is the gateway to the whole body. The specific bacteria that cause gum disease, cavities and abscessed teeth get into the bloodstream, causing inflammation of the arteries and organs. These elevate the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes and dementia. Regular dental care serves as a gatekeeper of systemic inflammation.
Oral health is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Bale, Bradley, Cool, Lisa Collier, & Doneen, Amy. (2014) Beat the Heart Attack Gene The Revolutionary Plan to Prevent Heart Disease Stroke and Diabetes. Wiley.
Bredesen, Dale E. (2020) The End of Alzheimer's Program : The First Protocol to Enhance Cognition and Reverse Decline at Any Age. Avery.
Wilkerson, DeWitt C & Lestini, E. Shanley. (2019) The Shift: The Dramatic Movement Toward Health Centered Dentistry. Widiom Publishing LLC.
7. Stress Management
Prominent Psychiatrist Daniel Amen, M.D. describes four circles of complete health:
- Biologic health - nutrition, weight, physical activity, breathing, sleep, oral health, etc.
- Mental health - including the immune system benefits of positive, hopeful thinking.
- Social health - staying connected with others in mutual love and support.
- Spiritual health - finding meaning and purpose in life.
Chronic stress creates a “fight or flight” release of stress hormones that can negatively affect heart health, insulin resistance and diabetes. Daily management of Dr. Amen’s four circles of complete health significantly reduce body-wide stress.
Stress management is key to staying healthy in a viral world.
Warren, Rick, Amen, Daniel & Hyman, Mark. (2013) The Daniel Plan: 40 Days to a Healthier Life. Riverhead Books.