You have an issue, you visit a hospital and come out of it with a bag of pills. You smile, since now your issues are fixed and you can keep doing what you were doing.
On other extreme, your doctor says after your yearly check-up “You have a bit of fat in your liver. You should eat a bit less of this or that” and sends you home without doing more tests or addressing the root cause of the issue.
The system is broken. It prioritizes quick solutions over finding the root cause. It prioritizes doing nothing over working on finding solutions that work long term.
And there is a way. It is called lifestyle. Fortunately there are voices speaking up. Check out the interview (here) of cardiologist Dr. Bret Scher and his opinion on statins, the most widely used cholesterol lowering drug.
I strongly believe that in many cases, lifestyle is the first and only preventative measure needed to be (or become) healthy. This post does not constitute a medical advice but I really want to raise your awareness of how important lifestyle is.
Lifestyle matters. Your life matters.
Our body is the most complex machine in the world and nutrition is probably the A to Z for it to function properly.
Most of our organs work day and night to provide energy and fuel to our brain and muscles. And we need a lot more fuel, to heal, repair and grow. If we don’t eat the right food we can’t give our body the right fuel and it will slowly start breaking down. Nutrition needs to provide right the building block for every single function in our body. Too much or too less of something can tilt the balance which the body is fighting so hard to maintain.
Here are some examples of what might happen if our nutrition is not on point.
Take for example insulin. Insulin is an essential hormone. If you don’t produce insulin you have Type I diabetes and need to take insulin for the rest of your life. On the other hand too much insulin causes Type II diabetes and is associated with every single disease out there.
Furthermore, most people are not aware that all sex hormones depend on cholesterol. If you are a male and want to keep your testosterone levels you depend on eating cholesterol!
Everything in our body works in balance. Minerals work synergistically when in balance or they compete with each other when not. A great example is sodium and potassium. Those two go together like yin and yang. They are the two primary electrolytes in our body, working together to maintain fluid balance in cells, blood plasma and extracellular fluid. Potassium is found primarily inside cells, and sodium is the main electrolyte in extracellular fluid. However, doctors recommend us to reduce salt from our diet…
Nutrients work together
The methylation cycle is a series of chemical changes that occur in the body, which regulates genetic repair and expression, and generate energy-rich molecules. The methylation cycle begins in the blood vessels with folate (B9) obtained from diet. But in the whole process also requires Mg, Zn, B12, Cu, P5P (B6) and a number of hormones. If this process goes wrong due to any deficiencies a number of disorders can start appearing.
- Nutrients and hormones balance, is key to avoid a number of disorders.
- Taking supplements in most cases is shown not to work.
Sleep is the most under-rated healing process in modern life.
All species sleep. Sleep has survived millions of years of evolution and all species still sleep even at the face of danger and being attacked while at sleep. What is amazing is that aquatic mammals and birds sleep by turning half of their brain off so they can continue to swim or fly. Some animals like the brown bat, spend more of their time sleeping and even for 19 hours per day.
REM and NREM Sleep
NREM sleep takes place mostly in the first part of the night and is considered as the integration phase where we are interconnecting past and new experiences building an accurate model of how the world works.
REM sleep is the part of the sleep, during which the brain is functioning as if we were awake. Still our muscles are paralised. During the REM phase, also called as reflection phase, we have vivid dreams which are used for storing our experiences and strengthening our skills, imagination and creativity.
Sleep can help to
- Burn more fat and keep it off.
- Increase your intelligence and concentration by 3 times.
- Make you look and feel younger.
- Have limitless energy during the day.
- Protect against neurodegeneration and diabetes.
- Just alone a daily noon time nap is associated with reducing the risk of mortality.
I see stress as an extension of sleep. When stressed out, the heart rate elevates and our blood pressure increases making it impossible to sleep. Managing stress, relaxing and breathing through the nose are key elements to prepare for a good night sleep.
- Not sleeping properly can lead to many disorders, like diabetes, and even increases the risk of mortality.
Exercising is crucial for life. The benefits are countless and we can only list some of them.
- As we get older we can lose 1% of lean muscle mass every year. This can lead to serious diseases like sarcopenia and even osteoporosis. Doing resistance training is crucial for maintaining muscle.
- Exercise creates new brain cells, makes new connections and helps with learning.
- Exercising helps with mobility and flexibility to avoid movement limitations which as we age leads so many elderly to a sedentary life and loss of connection from the family, friend and all social interaction.
- Exercise helps with cardio vascular health, by improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugars.
- Mitochondria is our energy producing power house in every single cell in our body. Exercising leads to continuous production of new healthy mitochondria which translates to more energy capacity in our every day life.
- Fitness will help you reduce cardiovascular issues and keep a healthy brain.
- Choose any sport you enjoy and you can maintain doing, and have fun.
- Remember not to over-train and take time to recover.
Health does not come into a box of pills. It comes from making lifestyle choices. Maybe all the above seems like you have now to climb a mountain, but you should not stress yourself. Every journey starts with the very first step, so here are some simple suggestions you can already implement:
- Take 5-minute actions : Define a few small actions that will help you move in the right direction. This is your declaration of intent! It can be anything, that you can do on a regular basis. Take a 5-minute walk in the morning, or floss, or meditate for 5-minutes.
- Start a journal : Write how your day went. How you feel, what went well and what not so well. Focus on your health.
- Know your status : Plan a blood test. Know what your health status is and if you need to focus on a particular area. I would also suggest to measure on a daily basis your blood glucose, blood pressure, heart rate and sleep. These four metrics will give you a lot of information on your health status. What we need today is not what we needed a year ago. We are always evolving and our needs change over time especially as we grow.
We all know of what proper lifestyle choices look like. Eat better, sleep better, exercise right? But that is all it takes! It is a simple model with great benefits as long as you prioritise yourself, your health and longevity.
We really don’t need to put a limit to our quality of life of our lifespan. This is our key driver in ketOntrack.
Finally, I think we need to complement and support the health care system to also include lifestyle choices as critical part of health. And wellness coaching can play a key role into supporting a person overall health.