How To Live Health First

26
May

How To Live Health First

In my last post I talked about my revolutionary idea of putting your health at the center of your life. Growing up all we hear about is do good in school, go to college, get a job, and eventually retire. This paradigm has lead to our population being fat, weak, and unhealthy. Obesity is at an all-time high, along with diabetes, heart disease, and mental illness. Bipolar, ADHD, and depression are now rampant among our youth, and yet, still we continue under the same old order. 

I think it’s time we stopped using our kids, work, and school as excuses to be unhealthy, and start focusing on building our lives with a health-centric focus. I know you are probably like “Sure John that’s easy for you to say you own a gym, and your job is staying healthy.” While that may be true, that doesn’t mean you can’t begin to make some shifts in your own life towards a more health-focused way of living. 

The first thing we have to understand is what exactly health is. Health by definition is the condition of the body and the degree to which it is free from illness, or the state of being well. In other words free of DIS-EASE. But what does it take to be disease-free? It means being in homeostasis or another of saying being in balance. Balanced mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. How many of us can say we are really balanced in those four categories? I know I am constantly making adjustments to my balance. In order to be in balance we have to look at several factors, among them the biggest being nutrition, exercise, recovery, and sleep. This does not even touch time with our families, friends, and finances, or the fact that all of these are constantly changing as we age. 

Today I will focus on the big rocks so to say, and because each of these could fill a chapter in a book(foreshadowing anyone), I will spend the next couple of emails covering one topic at a time. So without further ado, let us begin with the most important one;

Nutrition

It’s a common saying that being healthy is 80% nutrition and 20% exercise, and while this stat may not be completely accurate is does have merit. I have seen plenty of people try to out-train poor eating habits and the results are always the same, non-existent. On the other hand, I have seen people completely change their body composition with very little exercise and good nutrition habits. 

You have probably heard the saying “You are what you eat.” Well you literally are. The food you ingest literally becomes the cells in your body. Your hair, nails, skin, and organs, are all rebuilt over and over again by the foods you eat. That means if you aren’t eating the right foods, your body will eventually begin to show it. Brittle nails, thin hair, dry skin, and dysfunctional organs can be just the beginning of longer-term issues such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. 

So how do we avoid disease and keep our bodies full of nutrients? We do it with principles. Here are 3 of the most important principles that I recommend. 

1. Eat Mostly Whole Foods 

No not the overpriced grocery store, the foods with a balance of macros, micros, and fiber. Macros are short for Macronutrients. Macro means big and these are the nutrients you need large amounts of. Protein, Carbohydrates, and Fat are all macronutrients and your body needs all three to build muscle, build cell walls, and create hormones to name a few. 

They also contain Micronutrients. Micronutrients are vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals. These nutrients are needed in smaller amounts but are just as important because being deficient in these can cause digestion problems, skin disorders, stunted or defective bone growth, and even dementia. 

Fiber is key to balancing our body’s blood sugar response. When we eat foods without fiber like refined carbohydrates, soda, alcohol, and even juice (gasp) our blood sugar spikes and our bodies release insulin. Without fiber the blood sugar spikes too much and our bodies release too much insulin. Over time this creates insulin resistance and eventually blood sugar dysfunction or early-onset diabetes. 

One easy way to make sure what you are eating is a whole food is by looking at the ingredients if it has more than 1 than it’s not a whole food. Kale has only kale, beef is only beef, and avocado is only an avocado. If it comes in a box don’t eat it.

I also say MOSTLY whole foods because well things like pizza, cheeseburgers, and cookies are good for you ONCE in a while, like 1x a week each.

2. Eat Protein At Every Meal

Protein is the most important nutrient for building muscle. Muscle is a critical player in an overall healthy metabolism, because it allows you to use carbohydrate calories for what you want (energy and activity), and not what you want to avoid (storage as fat). In more scientific terms, it increases insulin sensitivity and protects against insulin resistance. In helping your body use carbohydrates this way, muscle mass is ultimately protective against metabolic syndrome and diabetes, which are really just diseases of inadequate carbohydrate metabolism (for more on this, see the full explanation here).

On the flip side of this, sarcopenia (the technical term for inadequate muscle mass or quality) is strongly associated with diabetes. So far studies have only established a correlation, not a causation, but the strength of the relationship is telling. One group of researchers studied 810 subjects in Korea, and divided them into two groups: diabetics and non-diabetics. 15.7% of the diabetics, but only 6.9% of the non-diabetics, were sarcopenic. And in American subjects, another group of researchers found a strong correlation between sarcopenia and impaired glucose metabolism independent of body fat. In other words, the less muscle you have, the more likely you are to develop insulin resistance, metabolic syndrome, and ultimately diabetes.

In fact the older you get the harder it is to maintain muscle mass, so as you age you have to eat even more protein to keep the same amount of muscle. Having protein also helps keep you satiated between meals (That’s fancy talk for full). This will allow you to eat less food overall and maintain a leaner body composition, AKA looking good naked 🙂

3. Avoid Drinking Alcohol

Yes, I said it, Alcohol is poison. Your wine, beer,  and whiskey( I’m looking at you Santi) are all killing your gains. Alcoholic drinks are often referred to as “empty” calories. This means that they provide your body with calories but contain very little nutrients. The opposite of whole foods.

There are almost 155 calories in one 12-ounce can of beer, and 125 calories in a 5-ounce glass of red wine. By comparison, a recommended afternoon snack should have between 150 and 200 calories. A night out with several drinks can lead to consuming a few hundred extra calories.

Drinks that have mixers, such as fruit juice or soda, contain even more calories. This is just the tip of the iceberg too. I could write a whole post on the dangers of alcohol and how it can negatively affect your whole life but I’m at 1200 words already and if you are still here then I appreciate you. I will however link this Healthline article if you want to read about the myriad of ways alcohol can mess you up. 

https://www.healthline.com/health/alcohol-and-weight-loss#alcohol-and-weight-loss

In closing I want you guys to begin looking at your behaviors and habits when it comes to your health. Healthy people want lots of things but sick people only want one thing, to be healthy. So start making changes today. If you are eating out a lot, try cooking more. If you don’t have time order a meal plan. Add some egg whites at breakfast, shop the perimeter of the store, and stop drinking! 

Look out for parts 2 and 3 where I cover training and recovery strategies that lead to a healthier, happier, and more gratifying health-centric life.