YOUR HEALTHY TRIAD:
The foundation for your best life
If you truly want to build a strong foundation for your health, you have to have three pillars in place: diet, movement/activity and stress management. If this base is solid, acupuncture, medicines and supplements, surgery, physical therapy, and so on will all work better.
Hippocrates said food is medicine—make sure it’s good medicine.
Research has shown time and time again that what you eat can impact your risk of a variety of health problems, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, dementia and certain cancers. But “diet” has such a negative connotation—deprivation, boredom, rice cakes. I prefer to think of the term not as a “you can’t have this” philosophy but more as a sustainable, enjoyable way of eating that fuels your body. I don’t buy into one-size-fits-all fads like high-fat, low-carb, Paleo or gluten-free (unless you have Celiac disease). Certain people do well on these while others don’t. You have to figure out which one works best for you and your lifestyle. My go-to diet recommendation is what I call a moderation-based diet—everything in moderation. The way of eating I like best is the well-researched Mediterranean diet. It’s high in plant-based foods (fruit, veggies, seeds, legumes) as well as fish and poultry, and low in red meat and processed foods. Click here to find out more. One thing I know for sure: If you give your body good food, it works better and can even heal itself.
MOVEMENT / ACTIVITY
Let “move more and often” be your mantra
Here’s another case where studies have spoken loud and clear. You can lower your risk of disease by increasing your daily activity. Exercise can even work as well as medication for certain conditions! Again, there are so many ways to be active but you have to find something that you enjoy and will continue to do. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends getting at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity “cardio” exercise (that’s about 30 minutes five days a week) and doing strength training twice a week (and you can always combine the two). If you ramp up the intensity to vigorous (for example, with high-intensity interval training, or HIIT), you can log fewer minutes, but you don’t have to “work out.” Biking, hiking, walking, skating, dancing, yoga, Zumba, tennis, swimming—they all work! The point is to get off the couch and move your body every day.
A little stress is good. Too much stress creates a toxic environment.
As a society we are always “on” these days. It’s almost a badge of honor to be stressed out. Some stress is good for you (exercise is stress), but too much of it highjacks your body. It releases a cascade of hormones that trigger all sorts of negative changes, not least of which is the deposition of fat in your abdomen—the dangerous kind that oozes in around your organs and ups your risk of dying early. I try to help clients find their off switch (I like to call it their “happy place”), whether it’s through acupuncture, exercise, meditation, taking a walk around the block or playing with the kids. Stress is as much of a health hazard as a diet full of doughnuts or sitting all day long. You have to learn how to control it and take your body back.