By: Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H.
Over the past several articles I have written about things like Vitamin D, Calcium, the Myth about Cholesterol and the Thyroid. I was trying to think of a new topic while I was jogging at Reagan Park and it occurred to me that the weather is breaking and soon we can spend a lot more time outdoors playing. Can’t enjoy doing that if you’re not healthy. So here are about 10 tricks of the trade I’ve found to stay healthy.
1) Avoid Pasteurized Milk: Milk is the most common source of allergies in America. Why? Because of all the chemicals and hormones that are fed to the animals to increase their milk production. Those same things pass into the milk and guess who gets to drink them? Pasteurization heats the milk to above 170 degrees F and destroys any good stuff that may be in milk in the first place. It may kill some bacteria but if this is as bad as the government says, mankind should have been dead from infections from milk centuries ago. Unfortunately Ohio prevents us from buying unpasteurized milk from farmers.
2) Don’t Eat Trans Fats: These are also called partially hydrogenated fats. Fats are long chains of carbon atoms. Enough science. The thing is they are flexible and can be used to make and fix cells in the body. Certain fats are good for you no matter what you may have heard. When you hydrogenate a fat you stick a bunch of hydrogen atoms on that chain and it makes it stiff. Therefore it can’t be used easily in the body and does much more harm than good. Why hydrogenate? Fats spoil over time. Even if you keep them refrigerated they will eventually spoil. Stick a bunch of hydrogen atoms on them and they will last for decades. It increases the shelf life of oils but significantly decreases the shelf life of us.
3) Don’t Eat “Bad” Carbs: All carbohydrates eventually turn into sugar in the body. That is a good thing. It gives us energy. When you eat carbs like table sugar and white flour, they damage the body. Again just like fats all carbs spoil. If you process the carb (like sugar or wheat) you take all the nutrients out if it along with the stuff that helps you digest it. Take that stuff out and it won’t spoil (increases the shelf life, see a pattern in processed foods yet?). So what you are left with is eating a lot of non-foods. This results in malnutrition and constipation. Remember, you can be malnourished and still weigh 300 pounds.
4) Prescriptions, Watch Them: Prescriptions are the fourth leading cause of death in America. Now don’t just stop your medications. Talk with your family medical physician and review what you need and may not need. Too many times a person will have several doctors and none will know what the other has prescribed for you. You need a captain of the ship and that is your family medical physician.
5) Digestion Can Stop You In Your Tracks: To me the most important organ in your body is your gut. How well you digest your food determines how well your bowels move. Your bowels determine how well nutrients are absorbed so that your body can use them. Literally all fruits and vegetables have things called enzymes in them that help us digest our food. When these foods are cooked or processed, those enzymes are destroyed. Your digestion suffers and you end up with constipation and more gas than Exxon. The longer stuff stays in your colon the more it putrefies and produces gas and toxins harmful to the body. Everyone should have at least 2 bowel movements a day. In a perfect world we should be going to the bathroom about an hour after we eat. So eat more raw live foods.
6) Water: I remember a Star Trek episode when humans were called “big bags of water”. That’s about right. We are more than 70% water so that is what we should be drinking. It helps prevent dehydration and allows the body to get rid of toxins. The rule of thumb is one half your body weight in ounces a day. If you weigh 150 pounds, that’s 75 ounces of water a day. The more you sweat the more you may need. Now work up to this if you haven’t been drinking this much in the first place or you’ll get a stomach ache and puke.
7) What You Eat and How You Eat It: I could fill this newspaper with what you should and shouldn’t eat. It really comes down to common sense. Eat in moderation (the Bible even says that). Eat it in as near a raw form as possible. I eat red meat. Not a lot but I like it and I eat it rare. Eat more foods that will alkalinize your body with things like fruits and veggies. The green foods. Cut down on acidic foods like alcohol, processed foods and the like. Check the internet and search acidic or alkaline foods and you’ll get pages of them.
8) Get Off Your Duff: Movement is all important to good health. It stimulates the heart and lungs, builds and exercises muscle, it clears the head, and it helps move things around in your body such as in your gut and lymphatic system. Walk, jog, swim, ride a bike, jump on a rebounder, lift weights, exercise along with a video workout, I don’t care what you do. Just do something and do it every day. Start slow and work up to it. Don’t think for one minute that you can do what you did back in high school or even later. Walk for 20 minutes a day for a week or two and increase the time and speed slowly. Also remember to add resistance exercise (weights), especially the women. It helps prevent osteoporosis. Do it at your pace. No matter who you are, you may feel sore after exercise but I defy anyone to tell me they don’t feel better or exhilarated.
9) Keep Your Home Toxin Free: Welcome to the 21st century. The EPA says that more than 100,000 chemicals are used in commercial products. All we can do is our best not to be exposed. So for example, don’t smoke indoors. Use a good air filter. Use alternatives to insecticides like cedar chips. Keep cleaners away from little ones. Use non-chemically based cleaners. If you do use a chemical cleaner, make sure the room is well ventilated. Check your home for radon (EPA Radon hotline 800-767-7236). Wash all foods before use. Wash your hands a lot. When it comes right down to it. Use your head.
10) Take Time For Yourself: Take time to smell the flowers. Get a hobby. Call a friend. Volunteer at the hospital, church, food bank, school. Do something that will give you pleasure and inner satisfaction. Do something for your soul. The list is endless and you will thank yourself for doing it.
As you can see keeping healthy is pretty simple and doesn’t cost too much. Talk about it with your family MD or DO or call us at the Balance of Life Clinic and we’d be happy to help you start your own plan. A smart health care consumer is informed and aware.
Clifford Sonnie, M.D., M.P.H. is a physician at the Balance of Life Clinic.