ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF A HEALTHY DIET
Paleolithic Dietary Principles In Real Life
Although there is not any one diet that is universally best for all people, there are some simple dietary principles that are applicable to everyone. If these are followed, almost everyone seems to improve in health and functionality, and all chronic diseases seem to at least improve in severity if not go into remission.
These dietary principles are summarized in this brief paper. The principles are derived from a study of Paleolithic nutrition. Understand that humans have been living on this planet for about 2 million years (give or take 500,000 years or so) as hunter-gatherer people. We are very well adapted genetically to the food that we have been eating for all of that time. By comparison, farming has been around for a maximum of 10,000 years, and we have not had time to successfully adapt to the massive changes that the introduction of farming has made in our nutrition. Refined foods such as white sugar and flour have been used in large amounts in just the last 100 years or so, which is not enough time to see the full impact that this change in our environment has on health. Some changes, such as food additives, pesticides, hormones and antibiotics in meats and poultry, ultra-pasturization, and long distance shipping have only been around since the late 1940’s.
Some environmental changes, such as being covered in molten lava, are immediately lethal, and those exposed will not live to reproduce. Other environmental changes, such as the addition of grain and factory-farmed meats to the diet, are not immediately lethal. Those exposed will not die before they have time to bear children. Thus, even if these factors eventually prove to cause chronic illnesses and weaken the genetic lineage, many generations may be born who are also not strong enough to withstand these dietary environmental changes. Eventually, the weak, who cannot live on refined sugar, fried foods, pus-infested meats, and cheap beer will die out of the gene pool, but this may take many thousands of years to happen. The end result is that in 100,000 years, everyone will look like Homer Simpson, and all lesser beings will have perished from the earth.
In the meanwhile, this paper is written for those of you who do not have the metabolic superhuman strength of Homer Simpson. It is for those of you for whom eating a lousy diet will result in fatigue, increased susceptibility to infections, and increased chance of getting every chronic illness known, including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What makes us think that Paleolithic diet is healthy? First of all, studies of ancient peoples living in the Paleolithic era about 40,000 years ago, in the ”good” parts of this planet, showed no signs of chronic illness. Many of them died of accidents, injuries and infections at an early age, but those that survived lived to be as old as the oldest people living today. Examination of their remains shows that the average person had the bone and muscular structure equivalent to current super-athletes. They lived in loosely knit groups of people and worked together in their hunting and gathering tasks. Subsistence time, meaning the amount of time needed to get enough food to eat, averaged 6 hours per day, 2 days per week. We can look at these people as an example of a society that is, in some important ways, the most successful of any in human history in terms of health and leisure time.
The other thing that makes us think that the Paleolithic diet is healthy is that the patients doing their best to approximate Paleolithic nutrition principles seem to have the best overall health, most remarkable improvement overall, and best response to therapy. This has led us to believe that the Paleolithic diet is the best way of maintaining or regaining health. The healthier you are, the more that you can get away with eating any way that you want, (at least for a while!), but the sicker you are, the more important is adherence to these dietary principles.
The Paleolithic diet can be summarized as 5 simple rules:
Eat lots of produce, especially vegetables.
Lower the glycemic index and glycemic load of carbohydrates eaten.
Maximize the quality of fats eaten, with attention to the Omega 3: Omega 6 fatty acid ratio.
Limit repeated exposure to potential allergenic foods.
Consume an amount of calories appropriate for your level of activity.
And the sixth rule, not necessarily Paleolithic: drink appropriate amounts of water for your activity level and climate.
EAT LOTS OF PRODUCE
Paleolithic diet contained about 10-12 portions of produce per day, with a portion being around a half cup. The total amount is about the size of a decent lunch salad! This is similar to what the American Cancer Society suggests as a cancer-prevention diet. The ¼ of people who eat the largest amount of produce have roughly ½ of the cancer rate as those ¼ of people who eat the lowest amount of produce. Basically, a person can reduce cancer risk by 50% simply by eating vegetables and some fruits, in relatively small amounts.
Produce is loaded with various anti-oxidants such as flavenoids and pigments, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals. The potency of these anti-oxidants is affected by time and storage, which tends to decrease by oxidation. This means that produce is best eaten as soon after picking as possible. In addition, this means that long distance transport sharply decreases food values.
The nutrients in produce are not particularly affected by cooking. In fact, cooking breaks down some of the cellulose that we have no enzymes to digest, making the vitamin and mineral content of the vegetables much more available. This is even more important for those with weak digestive systems. For this reason, we recommend that vegetables be eaten mainly in the cooked form, with raw foods as a condiment for the most part.
Raw vegetables such as salads can be digested more readily if tossed with vinaigrette dressing. Make your own dressing with equal parts of good olive oil and good balsamic vinegar seasoned with a touch of umeboshi plum vinegar and other herbs to taste. This basic dressing may be changed in many ways such as adding Dijon mustard, minced scallions or red onion, blending in fresh basil, etc. Consider marinating steamed vegetables such as green beans, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, etc in a tasty dressing.
These days, most people do not eat nearly enough vegetables, and instead have replaced vegetables with starch such as bread, rice, pasta, and potatoes. Consider the content of most American snack foods. This is a real problem.
Fruits during Paleolithic times were not the huge, sugar-loaded things that they are today. They were very small and somewhat tart. The best approximation of Paleolithic fruit we have today are berries. Berries have a lot of antioxidants and other nutrients for the amount of sugar that they contain. Sweeter fruits should be eaten in more limited quantities.
LOWER THE GLYCEMIC INDEX AND GLYCEMIC LOAD OF CARBOHYDRATES
As people age, they tend to produce larger and larger amounts of insulin as their insulin receptors become inefficient. This results in chronic inflammation, weight gain, elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, and heart disease to name just a few. In most cases, the progressive increase in insulin production with its devastating effects on the health is totally preventable. This method of prevention is accomplished by simply lowering the glycemic index and glycemic load of the carbohydrate foods eaten.
Glycemic index refers to the tendency of a food to convert to sugar and raise the blood glucose. The usual scale of glycemic index sets 100 as white bread. It is best for foods eaten to be as low as possible on the glycemic index scale. Simple sugars such as candy, dried fruit, and fruit juice are about 140 on the glycemic index scale. Whole grains are a bit lower than 100, falling in the low to mid 90s. Potatoes are a bit over 100. Basmati rice is a bit lower. Starchy vegetables that are not high in sugar are lower, such as winter squashes in the 50s and 60s.
A number of factors affect the glycemic index of a food. Some foods just plain affect different people differently. For instance, legumes such as black beans are low glycemic index for some folks and much higher for others. However, some guidelines apply.
One factor affecting the glycemic index of a starchy food is the degree of solubilization of that starch. This means the extent to which the starch has been dissolved. A grain that has been ground to flour then mixed with water and cooked into bread or pasta is fairly completely solubilized, so its glycemic index will be higher. A grain that is cooked intact without grinding it to flour will be less solubilized, so it will not digest and convert to sugar as rapidly, and thus has a lower glycemic index. A good example of this is traditional pumpernickel bread, made from grains of barley or rye that have been soaked, then made into a loaf and cooked at 200 degrees for 20 hours. This will resemble a brick more than a loaf of bread, but does have a much lower glycemic index, at about 65.
Another factor that affects glycemic index is the amount of intact fiber compared to the amount of starch. Small grains such as millet, amaranth, quinoa, and teff are very small, so have a higher fiber to starch ratio. This gives them a lower glycemic index than whole grains like whole wheat, other glutinous grains, and corn.
Another thing that affects glycemic index is how fast the food can be digested. Something that passes through the digestive system quickly will raise blood sugar faster than something that has to sit in the stomach a while. The conversion of starches to sugar happens somewhat in the mouth, but mostly in the small intestine. Eating protein and fat with starches will hold them in the stomach longer and delay the rate of their release into the small intestine. Eventually the starch will get to the small intestine and convert to sugar, but its best to do this at a somewhat slower rate. To make a potato lower in glycemic index, bake the potato, scoop out most of the white and discard it, and eat the skin with lots of butter or other tasty things.
The glycemic index of a starch can be lowered significantly by the presence of organic acids in the same meal. For instance, sourdough white bread has a glycemic index in the mid 60s because of the presence of the organic acids produced by the sourdough, whereas the same white bread if not sourdough has a glycemic index of 100. Another way to get organic acids with the starch is to eat vinegar in the same meal. Dipping focaccia bread in olive oil and balsamic vinegar will significantly lower its glycemic index. If you are going to have a starchy food at a meal, like bread or pasta, eat a salad with vinaigrette dressing in the same meal.
A somewhat puzzling factor is the second-meal effect of dairy on glycemic index. Dairy foods do not have a high glycemic index, and do not affect the glycemic index of foods eaten simultaneously very much. However, if dairy is eaten at a meal, the next meal will have a higher glycemic index than it would if the preceding meal did not contain dairy. So, if you have milk, cheese, or yoghurt at a meal, make sure that the next meal is relatively starch-free. This effect does not seem to carry over to the next day. Also, we have seen no studies determining if this effect happens with goat or sheep dairy, so we just don’t know if it does or not.
Other aspects of the second-meal effect have also been measured. It seems that the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods eaten at breakfast have a significant impact on the body’s response to foods at later meals in the day. Other meals taken later in the day have a lesser second-meal effect.
A special note about protein foods: Often overlooked is that protein foods will also convert to sugar and create a surge of insulin production depending on how much is eaten at once. Protein eaten in an amount needed to repair tissue and participate in the synthesis of proteins in the body will not raise blood sugar very much. Eat more than that, and the excess will convert to sugar for energy and energy storage. What this means is that small amounts of protein eaten at every meal are better than one huge hunk of protein eaten all at once. The actual needs for protein will vary from person to person depending on age, activity level, growth, etc. A good rule of thumb is to eat 4-5 ounces of lean protein per meal as meat, fish, or eggs. Eat more than this if doing hard manual labor, pregnant, pumping iron, or recovering from illness or injury.
Related to glycemic index is glycemic load. Glycemic load deals with the amount of carbohydrate contained in a food that can be readily converted to sugar. Eating foods with a low glycemic load will give the body little to convert to sugar.
For example, a small square of chocolate has a high glycemic index, but since it is small it has a low glycemic load. An 8 ounce bar of chocolate has both a high glycemic index and a high glycemic load. A large plate of pasta has a high glycemic load, but a few bites of pasta as a small side dish has a much lower glycemic load.
The point is that if you are eating a food with a high glycemic index, eat only a small amount of it, and you will then have a low glycemic load, and it won’t do much harm, especially when eaten in combination with a protein and good fats.
A simple way to imagine this is to think of a normal person’s blood as containing about 3-4 teaspoons of sugar at any one time. Putting a teaspoon of white sugar in a cup of tea will not disturb the blood sugar all that much. Eating a plateful of pasta that quickly converts to 30 teaspoons of sugar will have a much more significant impact on the blood sugar and insulin level. Drinking a 12 ounce glass of orange juice or carrot juice for electrolyte and sugar replacement after a grueling session of endurance exercise will be used immediately and actually take stress off of the body by helping it to recover from the exercise faster. The same glass of orange or carrot juice, which contains 12-15 teaspoons of sugar, if taken at a time when you are not active should be considered a recreational drug and not a health food.
How far can you go with reducing glycemic index and glycemic load? Doing so very stringently probably has great long-term health effects. It is likely the reason why calorie-restricted diets improve longevity for every specie of animal in which it has been measured. On the other hand, most people need to find their own comfort level of eating. Many people will not be willing to restrict carbohydrate-containing foods severely in order to enhance longevity. But we do recommend experimenting with a fairly low glycemic index and glycemic load diet for at least a few months to discover the level of impact on how you feel. Lowering the carbohydrate load of your diet to a point that makes you feel more energy, have a clearer mind, sleep better, move towards ideal body weight, and have a good libido will probably be worth any minor dietary restrictions that you have to live with to feel and function that way.
One downside of a lower carbohydrate diet for some people is that they will begin to experience some nausea after awhile. If this happens to you, make sure that your meals are not containing a lot of junk fat. A large amount and/or poor quality fats can irritate the gall bladder and create symptoms of nausea or bloating. Making sure that some starchy foods are present in meals can eliminate this problem by “sopping up” the bile being produced. For this reason some people do better with a condiment amount of starchy food with any meal that contains much fat. Occasionally, during an aggressive regulatory or detoxification process, a bowl of spaghetti will calm the gall bladder as well as the soul. This is often true during chemotherapy, metals chelation or the day before a menstrual period starts! Do not take the basic principles of healthy eating and use them to torture yourself or your loved ones. Guilt is quite physiologically damaging.
MAXIMIZE THE QUALITY OF FATS EATEN
The topic of carbohydrates leads right in to a discussion of fat quality in the diet. The type of fat that you eat has a significant impact on metabolism of carbohydrates, as well as regulating all kinds of immune and inflammatory processes in the body.
Today’s typical American diet has significant problems in terms of amount and type of fats eaten. It tends to be very high in the worst kinds of fat, and very low in the healthful fats. It is high in omega 6 fats, saturated fat and trans fats, and low in omega 3 fats and unsaturated fats. This is a really big problem, because it is probably responsible for most heart disease and diabetes, and contributes to cancer. It is also very easy to change by eating foods that taste much better than the processed and fast junk food that most Americans eat.
For those of you who don’t understand these terms, some definitions: Omega 3 fatty acids are the main ones found in fish and wild game meats. Omega 6 fatty acids are found in grains, dairy fat, and grain fed meats. It is really, really important to have a diet that is rich in omega 3 fats and low in omega 6 fats. A whole bunch of things in metabolism work in an exquisitely well regulated fashion when our ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids is high. Those same things get royally screwed up when the ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fats is low. These aspects of metabolism include a functioning immune system to fight off viruses and cancer, efficient receptors for hormones including insulin, the blood being just the right amount of stickiness so that it clots when injured but does not plug up your arteries, and a control of inflammation so that you do not have arthritis, colitis, sinusitis, asthma or brain degeneration like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease when you get older.
Eating a lot of grain loads up the body with omega 6 fatty acids, and this is bad. Eating a lot of wild game meats and fish loads up the body with omega 3 fatty acids and this is good. Some foods like beef vary in their content of omega 3 or omega 6 fats depending on what the cattle have been eating. Factory-farmed grain-fed beef will be high in omega 6 fatty acids and probably not be very healthy animals, especially given hormone and antibiotic treatments in the US. The cattle allowed to wander on the free range and eat grass will not only be healthier, but also have a higher content of omega 3 fats.
Traditional (Paleolithic) diet was very high in omega 3 fatty acids and low in omega 6 fatty acids. There were no factory-fed animals. Fish and meats were all organic and free-range. The Paleolithic people would eat whatever critters they hunted, and would eat not only the muscles, but also the brain, organ meats, and bone marrow. They would also eat lots of bugs. This gave them not only an optimal ratio of omega 3 to omega 6 fatty acids, but would also give them a class of fats called phospholipids that protect the liver and brain and make the hormones work well and probably prevent Alzheimer’s disease. It also provided them with a diet very rich in minerals, including lots of calcium and chromium from the bone marrow.
These days, you can approach the traditional diet by keeping away from factory-farmed meats and poultry, avoiding processed foods containing hydrogenated fats like margarine, eating plenty of fish, wild game meats, free range meats as well as eating lots of produce. It is a good idea to get a large variety of foods in the diet, including various types of cold water fish like salmon but also elk, buffalo, lamb, venison, wild boar, and free range beef. You will notice that poultry and eggs are not on the list…virtually all poultry commercially available are grain-fed. If there is an opportunity to obtain poultry fed on vegetable scraps, wild greens and seaweeds, you will see the intense color of the yolks and the major difference in the flavor, but don’t depend on these foods for a high concentration of omega 3 fatty acids.
In addition to eating a variety of meats, most people really need to take supplements of fatty acids to get enough omega 3s to prevent disease and degeneration and create repair of injured tissue. The best omega 3 supplements are made from marine sources, like fish oil, algae oil, or krill oil. You can also get some omega 3s from flax oil, but this is not very high in the types of omega 3 oils that are the best.
LIMIT REPEATED EXPOSURE TO POTENTIAL ALLERGENS
Most foods that are common allergens are fairly recent additions to our diet, meaning that they were not eaten before about 10,000 years ago. The common allergens include coffee, chocolate, wheat and other glutinous grains, corn, cow dairy, soy, peanut and egg. A lot of health problems are caused by frequent exposure to these foods, because they can have a tendency to disturb immune system function.
Western medicine only recognizes a substance as an allergen if it induces an IgE mediated immediate hypersensitivity response. Complementary medicine tends to lump into the food allergen category things that create problems by other mechanisms, such as IgG mediated hypersensitivities, provocation or suppression of IgA at the gut membrane, lectin incompatibilities, etc. These are not really allergies in the technical sense, but they can create mild to severe symptoms of fatigue, bloating, depression, brain fog, inflammation, poor exercise tolerance, etc. The most common example occurs when due to preparation, cooking methods, chemical/pesticide residues, digestive insufficiency, and other causes, a food is not digested to completion and the immune system attacks. This is not an allergy in the true sense, but a digestive issue.
Some complementary health care practitioners can do functional testing to make an educated guess as to which of these substances may be best avoided in the diet. However, it is not a bad idea to limit the exposure to potentially allergy-provoking foods, similar to the way that it is a good idea to not always be breathing dust, mold, and solvent fumes even if there is nothing wrong with you. The problem in today’s typical diet is the constant subjection to the same potential allergens over and over again, meal after meal. A traditional diet included none of these things. So, if you choose to eat bread or pasta, at least don’t do it every day. Maybe let 5 days elapse between exposures unless you know that it is a totally safe food for you. The same advice goes for dairy, etc. Keep in mind, rotating possible allergens in the diet is a great habit for everyone, whether symptomatic or not.
The one exception to this rule is for eggs. If you do not have a reason like allergy to not eat eggs, they should be eaten frequently. Egg yolk is one of the few foods that have a high content of phospholipids like phosphatidyl choline and phosphatidyl serine. These substances are essential for liver and brain health as well as proper hormonal functioning, so they should either be eaten in their natural food sources or taken as supplements. Many people choose to do both, to accomplish repair and regeneration as well as prevention.
The heart association has done a terrible disservice by making people afraid of eggs due to their cholesterol content. Cholesterol is not the problem. A diet rich in omega 6 fats, trans fatty acids, and high glycemic index and glycemic load foods is what creates heart disease. These are completely proven facts and we should listen no longer to outmoded medical theories based on misunderstandings and misinformation that create fear and have us eat foods that kill while avoiding the ones that can make us well.
CONSUME AN AMOUNT OF CALORIES APPROPRIATE FOR YOUR LEVEL OF ACTIVITY
The largest cause of being overweight in this country is from eating a diet too high in calories coupled with a lifestyle that does not include enough exercise. The most successful strategy for staying at ideal body weight involves two things:
Remove the junk fats and carbs from the diet, instead eating a large variety of healthful, nutrient rich foods.
* Get adequate and appropriate exercise. Seems really simple, but most Americans don’t do this. First, a few words on calories in the diet. Following a calorie restricted diet seldom results in permanent weight loss. By calorie restricted we mean a diet that contains fewer calories than are being burned up in daily activity. The reason that this doesn’t work is that the body is made to survive periods of not getting enough to eat. If the number of calories eaten fall below those being used up, the body slows down the metabolism to avoid starvation. It does this by several methods, including suppressing the production of thyroid hormone, and increasing the efficiency of the fat cells to store fat. When the level of calories go above those needed for daily activity, the metabolism speeds up again. In fact, the most significant regulator for metabolic rate is calories eaten. That’s why we don’t recommend caloric restriction, but instead recommend eliminating from the diet those useless foods that do nothing but muck up the metabolism.
Next, a few words about exercise. The current official government recommendations on exercise are one hour per day of vigorous exercise for everyone. Obviously, there are some modifiers to this proclamation! Your level of exercise must be based on general health as well as recent injuries and illness. One hour a day is an excellent goal, especially when apportioned into different types of exercise.
A well balanced program of exercise includes 5 things:
Cardiovascular exercise is any kind of activity that raises the heart rate to an optimum level and sustains it there for at least 12 minutes. The optimum level is defined in terms of percentage of the maximum heart rate that can be achieved. As a general rule, it is possible to get the heart rate up to a maximum of 220 beats per minute minus your age. So if you are 60 years old, it would be expected that 160 beats per minute is the fastest that your heart can pump.
If you are accustomed to exercise and have no gaskets that are about to blow, exercise at 80% of max. So, if you are 60 years old, your target heart rate for cardiovascular exercise would be 128.
If you are totally new to exercise or have a serious health condition like a recent heart attack, exercise at 60% of max. So, if you are 60 years old and seriously out of shape, your target heart rate would be 96.
If you are a total fiend about exercise and have been exercising properly for years and find the 80% number too wimpy for you, exercise at 85% of max. Here, at age 60 the target rate would be 136.
The rule is to take 5 minutes to warm up to the target heart rate, maintain the target rate for at least 12 minutes, then cool down for another 5 minutes. The warm-up time is important because if you bolt straight to the target rate immediately, your body will get the message that there is some emergency as if you are being chased by a predator. The body responds by shunting all of the blood to the muscles and heart, and shutting down circulation to the liver, kidneys, and other organs. This is ultimately a stress to the body rather than a health promoting exercise.
The reason to take a few minutes of less intense activity before becoming sedentary is to prevent stagnation of blood in the muscles. Perhaps of greatest importance, going above the target rate does not do nearly as much good for the health because it is again partially endurance training but partially a stress that breaks down the body. To go above the target heart rate for your age and general health condition regularly will actually create hormonal and stress chemistry types of injuries that far outweigh any training benefits. It is essential to pace aerobic exercise to not trigger a stress response when you are healing from illness, chronic fatigue or injury.
If you have recently been ill, have asthma or congestive lung disease, have undergone chemotherapy, radiation or had a surgical intervention of any type, you may find that your heart rate shoots above the targeted zone immediately upon starting to warm up for cardiovascular exercise. Stop! Revert to Chi Kung ( properly named Qi Gong) and other breathing practices to exercise your lungs without being over the target range of heart rate. Over time, the elasticity of the lungs will recover and you can slowly move into more aggressive cardiovascular exercise safely.
Cardiovascular exercise done 0-2 times per week is not enough to maintain health. 3 times per week does lots of good, and will tend to maintain an average level of fitness. 4-5 times per week brings rapid improvement in fitness and overall health. 6 times a week is the maximum benefit, and the recommended goal for everybody. 7 times per week is not as good as 6 times, because bodies need rest.
It doesn’t really matter so much how you choose to get the cardiovascular exercise, as that you get it. You will tend to stick with exercise in the long run only if you find a form of exercise that you really enjoy. Consider mapping out a beautiful walk or run with dogs, a dance set in your own home, an exercise video that appeals to your sense of fun, etc. rather than automatically imagining a smelly gym that is costly and far from home. Lots of people enjoy the social nature of belonging to a club or gym, or signing up for a group class, while others want the privacy of their own home and thoughts while exercising. Choose whatever format helps to keep exercise as an integrated part of your life.
We do recommend that if you are going for the most serious health benefits, that you get a heart monitor to ensue that you are staying in your target zone. Most modern pieces of exercise equipment have a heart monitor built in. You can also get a monitor inexpensively at any sporting goods store. This will give you some sort of signal if your heart rate is too high or too low.
Strength training is maybe even be more important than cardiovascular as you get older. Most injuries are preventable by simply getting stronger. Most of the frailty associated with aging is really just a matter of poor fitness, rather than intrinsic to aging.
A good rule of thumb regarding strength training is to decide how much weight you may need to lift and move, and train so that you can easily handle 15-20% more weight than that. So, if you think you may need to occasionally move around things that weight 20 pounds, get very comfortable lifting 25 pounds in any position or from any angle. If you can easily handle 15-20% above the weight you will have to move, you will never get injured moving it. Most people do not have adequate lean muscle mass, and this gets worse with age. The medical name for this condition is sarcopenia, which means deficiency of muscle tissue. It results in progressive frailty with frequent painful injuries. This is totally preventable.
Weight lifting is the most efficient method of gaining strength, but muscle resistance training can also be incorporated into a system of exercise like yoga or martial arts.
Building strength is very effective in maintaining optimum body weight. Muscle tissue takes a lot of calories to maintain, and the more lean muscle mass you put on your body, the more calories you will need to maintain it. Serious body builders have difficulty managing to eat enough food to avoid weight loss.
Endurance exercise means any activity that will train the body to withstand prolonged periods of physical activity without breaking down. This could be done by things like weekly long hikes, or increasing the length of some of your cardiovascular sessions, or doing lots of repetitions on some sessions of weight lifting.
Flexibility is both important and somewhat over-rated. You want to have a body that is free of stiffness, and moves easily and gracefully. You do not want to have the flexibility of a Gumby doll unless that flexibility is supported by strength all through the range of motion. Excessive flexibility without the strength to support it, results in unstable joints that can be more easily injured. For that reason, we recommend functional flexibility training by methods like yoga, workouts with free weights using low weight and full range of motion, and methods like Nomadics, Somatics, or circular strength training.
Balance is a very important component of exercise to prevent falls and other injuries like sprained ankles. Balance training can reduce the incidence of fractures by as much as 95%.
Overall, getting junk empty calories out of the diet and doing balanced exercise of appropriate type, intensity, and duration will give you a body that is of ideal body weight and relatively immune to minor injuries. It will also ensure a better than average recovery from major injuries.
The most commonly deficient nutrient in America is water. Without adequate water intake, the body cannot efficiently rid itself of toxins, and the connective tissue tends to become like a dirty sponge that never gets wrung out.
The 3P rule is useful. Drink 3 pints of water before 3PM in order to properly hydrate. The body flushes the connective tissue mostly in the earlier part of the day. After 3 PM, drink fluids according to your thirst. This is the minimum baseline amount of water. Increase this amount if you are in a dry climate, or heavily active and sweating a lot.
Many patients find it convenient to drink two glasses of water upon awakening, followed by sipping on a glass over each hour. Drinking with meals is acceptable, especially when taking remedies and supplements, and will not dilute your digestive juices. This is an old myth. If in doubt, think about the comforting aspects of eating soup!
Other fluids can be used for hydration, but they do not work as effectively as water. Drinking teas will add fluids, just don’t depend on tea consumption to give adequate hydration.
The best kind of water is natural spring water assuming it is not contaminated with bacteria, parasites, or toxic metals. Tap water should at least be filtered with carbon to remove chlorine before drinking it. Even better is a combination carbon, ultaviolet and ionization The Ionizer Plus®. It is wise to have your water tested by a reputable lab or the state extension agent in your area. Many water filtration companies provide this service, and will base the filter on specific needs reported in the test. If you are living in a mountainous area, it is extra important to test your water for radon and radioactive substances, such as uranium. Mitigation of toxicity is more complicated than simply removing chlorine and fluorine or particulates. If you have high sediment, it can support the health of your plumbing, as well as your body, to have a “whole-house” filter installed at your home’s water point of entry. This will clean the shower and toothbrush areas of the bathroom and make houseplants a lot happier.
We do not recommend distilled water for drinking, as it causes congestion in the terrain. Some researchers believe that distilled water cannot cross a cell membrane, and will create cellular dehydration while the extracellular fluids are in excess. Others believe it will pull minerals from the tissue and blood, and eventually excrete these nutrients through the urinary pathways. We do not believe either of these statements are true, but regardless of the mechanisms involved, we do know that distilled water is perfectly wonderful for your iron, and should be avoided for your body.
Buying bottled water can be challenging. In soft, translucent plastic containers, water can pick up toxic organic solvents in trace amounts from the plastic itself Bisphenol A. These toxins may be a more significant health risk than the tap water you paying to replace. Avoid soft plastic at all costs. Other bottled waters are packaged in harder, clear plastic bottles and do not have toxic solvents, but are not necessarily clean. Just because water is labeled “natural” or “pure” does not mean it is filtered or from a clean spring.Keep in mind that mineral water, and other carbonated beverages, do not count as water for hydration!
We hope this simplified overview of healthy eating principles helps to eliminate confusion and support you in your journey towards optimal health.