Healthy You, Healthy Planet
Is It Healthy?
When was the last time you asked yourself this question?
What does it mean to you?
How often does it affect your behavior?
Read more and consider playing a game you can’t lose . . .
Is It Healthy?
Events and circumstances, such as the recent problems of lead paint on children’s toys and poisoned pet food, compel us to expand the relevance of “It is healthy?” beyond the realm of our personal health. Another way of looking at this is that the more we are affected by events outside our immediate physical person, the more expanded the idea of “personal” becomes. Because you are reading this, it is likely you have some level of interest in the question we propose. Ask yourself –
1) What does the question “Is it healthy?” mean to me?
2) How committed am I to my answer to that question?
Question #1: What does “Is it healthy?” mean to me? For many of us, this question occurs as though it were written “Is it healthy for me?” You may ask this question as you go through life, answering “Yes” or “No”. The more involved you become with the question, the more likely it is that you will eventually take the question beyond yourself and ask, “Is it healthy for my family?” “…for my friends?” Then, “…for my pets?” Followed by “…my home?”, “…my yard?”, “…my neighborhood?”, “…my community?” Ultimately, this line of inquiry leads to the question: “Is it healthy for the planet?” Question #2: How committed are you to your answer to question #1? How deep is your commitment to your own health? How does that commitment occur to you around the health of your family? Our planet? “Is it healthy?” applies to every area of our lives. In this issue of Nutrition News, we present five common life domains, along with some healthy ideas within each one. Then, because we believe in personal health as the first step in achieving lasting effectiveness in the world, we go back to the basics. We discuss exercise and diet, then present a general supplement program
Bringing Health to All You Survey
When we stop to think about it, our lives are organized around the people, places, and activities that give us meaning. There are five areas that occur naturally. Let’s call them domains. Each of these domains presents us with an opportunity for the expression of health. The domains are 1) you; 2) relationships; 3) home; 4) finances; and 5) contribution.
Domain No. 1: Your Health
This domain encompasses body, mind, and spirit. How you care for your body helps determine your state of mind, which, in turn, supports your spirit and/or your spiritual practice. The three cornerstones of physical health are:
Move It Or Lose It
During the last 40 years, we have learned a great deal about the benefits of physical exercise. Three new concepts have emerged: 1) People who are usually inactive can improve their health and well-being by becoming even moderately active on a regular basis. 2) Physical activity doesn’t have to be strenuous to deliver significant health benefits. 3) Greater health benefits can be achieved by increasing the amount (duration, frequency, or intensity) of physical activity. Perhaps the biggest paradigm shift has been the realization that physical exercise benefits the mind as well as the body. In fact, experts at the Mayo Clinic cite improved mood as the number one benefit of exercise. This happens because exercise stimulates the release of various brain chemicals. These chemicals can leave you feeling happier after working out, and with regular exercise, they help to lift depression. There are six more benefits discussed on the Mayo Clinic website. One of these is lessened risk of chronic disease, including heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. Another is weight management. This is followed by increased energy, better sleep, and enhanced sex life1. Lastly, the experts remind us that exercise can be fun! 1 Men who exercise regularly are less likely to have problems with erectile dysfunction than are men who don’t exercise, especially as they get older. In response to the FAQ “How much exercise do we need?”, Mayo Clinic specialist Edward Laskowski, M.D., responds, “For healthy adults younger than age 65, the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recommend at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (think brisk walking or swimming) five days a week or at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity (such as running) three days a week, plus strength training exercises twice a week.” Laskowski goes on to advise, “If you want to lose weight or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to increase your activity even more.” If you can’t make time for a longer workout, try 10-minute chunks throughout the day. For adults over 65 and adults who have chronic health conditions, balance exercises are recommended in addition to aerobic activity and strength training exercises. At any age, gentle stretching is also important.
Eat Real Food
“Is it healthy?” is probably applied to food choices more than to any other area of our lives. The rules are very succinct. Eat foods that are close to the earth, lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. Keep in mind how humans ate for most of our time on the planet, and eat simply more often than not. When you can, Buy Local. When you can, Buy Organic. According to the USDA, we eat a mere 7 percent of our daily calories as produce (including beans). Instead, 42 percent is fiberless animal foods (think meat and cheese). Sadly, the other 51 percent is highly processed carbohydrates and oils. Perhaps the worst news is that of the 7 percent plant foods we do eat, most is potatoes, commonly eaten as fries and chips. In this instance, we would do well to take our government’s recommendation and eat the meager 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily. (This is 2.5 – 4.5 cups of veggies, the size of one good salad.)In Laos, where 90 percent of calories come from plant foods, only five percent of deaths are from heart disease and cancer. Here, where only 7 percent of the diet is plant-based, over 66 percent of all deaths are from degenerative disease. In his book Eat to Live, Joel Fuhrman, MD, makes the case for a fresh food diet. “Substances in broccoli and cabbage sprouts sweep toxins out of cells. [Those] in nuts and beans prevent damage to our DNA. Other compounds in beets, peppers, and tomatoes fight cancerous changes in cells. Oranges and apples protect our blood vessels from damage that could lead to heart disease.” And, this just scratches the surface of the health-giving wonders of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Because Food Is Not Enough
Nutritional supplements are a good idea. Studies involving thousands show the difficulty of getting the nutrient protection we need through food alone. Even the AMA has suggested that everybody could benefit from a daily multivitamin-mineral formula. A personal supplement program has two parts: general and specific. General supplements are needed by most people. Specifc supplements target particular needs. For example, both a multi- formula and fish oil fit into the first category while people who have trouble sleeping might take a target supplement such as the amino acid tryptophan or the herb valerian to help them sleep. Here, we discuss the general supplement recommendations. These include a multivitamin-mineral formula with additional vitamins C, D, and E. Also, we add a bone building formula, additional zinc for men, and chromium for everybody. An omega-3 (DHA/EPA) supplement is essential, and, if you are over 40, add quality CoQ10. Recently, because life feels so hectic to many of us, we now recommend adding an adaptogen such as ginseng or Rhodiola rosea.2 2 Adaptogens are herbs that help our bodies adapt to stress.
- Multivitamin-mineral formula. Vitamins and minerals are not an option. Each vitamin and mineral has a necessary and specific job in the body. Ultimately, death is the result of not having any one of them. A concise overview of what these nutrients are and what they do can be found in Nutrition News, “Because Food Is Not Enough”. Purchase a vitamin-mineral formula that contains chromium.
- Vitamin C. This vitamin literally keeps our bodies together. Although it is also a powerful antioxidant, C’s main job is in the production of collagen. The body’s most important structural substance, collagen is a glue that supports and holds the tissues and organs together. Without it, the body actually disintegrates. This is what happens with scurvy, the vitamin C deficiency disease. Without vitamin C, one would die within a year. Take at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily, in divided doses. (I take 2-3 grams of a buffered, highly absorbable product.)
- Vitamin D. The recent discovery of new receptor sites for vitamin D has put it in the limelight. Our bodies make D when exposed to sunlight. Unfortunately, many of us get very little exposure. The most potent steroid hormone in the body, D signals the genes to make hundreds of cruicial enzymes and proteins. The connection between vitamin D and degenerative disease is very strong. D influences bone health, heart health, diabetes (normal insulin secretion depends on vitamin D), cancer prevention (not a typo), and relief from autoimmune disease. Rickets (very weak bones) is the vitamin D deficiency disease. Take at least 1000 IU. (I take 5000 IU.)
- Vitamin E. There are over 50 known uses for “Vitamin Everything”. Among them are heart health, preventing premature aging, reducing cancer risk, immune health, curbing cataract development, relief ofleg cramps, increased male fertility, wound healing, detering AIDS, and improving skin health. Also useful with diabetes, asthma, allergies, menopause, and the effects of pollution. Researchers at the National Institute of Aging (of the NIH) are studying the connection between vitamin E, Alzheimer’s and other degenerative nerve diseases, such as Parkinson’s.
Vitamin E occurs in nature as a family of eight compounds, not just alpha-tocopherol. They are alpha, beta, gamma, and delta of both tocopherols and tocotrienols. The smart money is on “complete vitamin E”. Take at least 400 IU.
- A bone building formula. Although generally taken by women, it is also a good idea for men with small frames. Bone building formulas are rich in magnesium. Minerals are involved in enzyme processes in the body, and magnesium activates at least 300 different enzymes. It influences B vitamins; plays a role in protein synthesis; regulates the absorption of calcium and reinforces the integrity of bones and teeth. It is required for the proper transmission of nerve impulses. In turn, it is integral to muscle function, including the heart muscle. Incidentally, the brain can’t make serotonin (the neurotransmitter important in mood regulation) without magnesium. 300-400 mg are recommended.
- Zinc. Often called the man’s mineral, zinc is essential to good prostate and reproductive health. Commonly deficient in the diet, it is essential to several hundred enzyme systems, including antioxidant enzymes. Zinc impacts growth, wound healing, and our sense of taste and smell. Take 12 – 15 mg.
- Chromium. This mineral is needed to help insulin carry glucose (blood sugar) into the cells. This makes the glucose available for energy production. Chromium is crucial to both blood sugar utilization and cholesterol metabolism. 200-600 mcg.
- Fish oil. We need two types of fatty acids (the building blocks of fats and oils): omega-3 and omega-6. We need them in a balance ranging from 1:1 to 1:4. Instead, many of us average 1:40. One reason is the universal presence of omega-6 corn and soy oils in processed foods. The problem is that omega-6 interferes with the body’s ability to use omega-3. This is thought to account for the growing prevalence of heart attack, cancer, asthma, lupus, schizophrenia, depression, accelerated aging, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, metabolic syndrome X (“pre-diabetes”), obesity, and diabetes. Take 3-6 grams of EPA/DHA daily. Vegetarians can take 1T of flax, perilla, or hemp seed oil. Microalgae (blue-green, spirulina, and chlorella) is also a rich omega-3 source.
- Coenzyme Q10. Called a miracle nutrient, CoQ10 can energize the body, strengthen the heart, revitalize the immune system, control periodontal disease, normalize blood pressure, overcome infertility, reverse the effects of aging, and (if you’re deficient) even help with weight loss. CoQ10 has this far-reaching effect because it is needed for energy production in every cell of our bodies. However, as early as our twenties, our bodies begin to lose the ability to make CoQ10. When this happens, we experience a decrease in energy and a general deterioration of our health. This is the time to supplement Coenzyme Q10. Also, it is extremely important that you supplement CoQ if you are taking a statin drug or even red yeast rice. Healthy people need 30-60 mg per day. As a preventive in cardiovascular or periodontal disease and for patients using statins, take 90-120 mg.3 (I take 100 mg.) As with all the nutrients mentioned here, a complete issue of Nutrition News has been dedicated to the wonders and the need for CoQ10.
3 Statin drugs, such a Lovastatin, are prescribed for lowering cholesterol levels.
The “Is It Healthy?” Game
Optimal health is part of nature’s design. So are we. Yet we’re the only creatures on the planet that can voluntarily “opt-out” of nature’s success plan for us. And, let’s face it, if we don’t have health, we’re in decline. This is a very good reason for choosing to play the “Is It Healthy?” Game. Having health requires a context, a framework in which something can occur. When we’re talking about health, our context either supports our health, or it doesn’t. Playing the “Is it Healthy?” Game can powerfully expand our context for health. The context is always decisive. When our awareness and attention along with our commitments and choices get filtered through the context of playing “Is It Healthy?”, our actions result in miraculous and unpredictable consequences. This means more health starts to show up in our lives. The “Is It Healthy?” Game is about who we’re being in the matter of our health. Until our health context is part of who we’re being, our success, satisfaction and results are often unreliable. It’s not just about “knowing” how to be healthy. For example, most of us already know how to lose weight: Diet and exercise, right? But if just knowing made the difference, we’d all be thinner and more fit. In our lives, we’re all dominated by something. Some of us are dominated by resisting. Choosing what will dominate us from moment to moment is a powerful act. We created the “Is It Healthy?” Game to find as many of you as possible who choose to be dominated by playing The “Is It Healthy?” Game. Playing the game powerfully comes from playing in all the domains of our lives. You win every time you ask, “Is It Healthy?” and answer, “Yes.” As Darth Vader said, “Resistance Is Futile”. So let’s get started. We’re there for you and with you, Siri & Gurumantra Khalsa Join us and play The “Is It Healthy?” Game.