Thursday, January 29, 2015

Improve your health, fitness & vitality

A closer look at point #6 of my Modern Victory Movement concept. Check out my Introduction to the Modern Victory Movement for an explanation of the concept.

MVM #6: Improve your Health Fitness, and Vitality

The ancient Greeks had a moral value called Menos. Very loosely translated it means "life, energy, vitality."  More than just good health, the value also embodied physical and spiritual fitness, and a certain vigor of life. Someone with menos is in excellent health, physically fit, mentally and emotionally fit, and highly energetic - ready and willing to enthusiastically take on life's challenges. The value of menos is one that I, particularly as a prepper and a believer in self-reliance, seek to build in my life. Of course, I have a ways to go yet.

Here is a list of basic rules to promote better health and fitness. Healthy living is a much more complex topic, of course, but this list makes a good starting point.

     1) Avoid smoking and/or abusing drugs or alcohol. This one should be obvious, but a lot of people fail to achieve this important step to improving their health.

     2) Get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep per night. I know plenty of people who claim to get by on six hours of sleep a night or less. You might "get by" with less, but the research is overwhelming - adequate sleep is very important to good health. Lack of adequate sleep not only makes you tired, but according to research, impairs your concentration, memory, fine motor skills, and negatively impacts your mood. Not only that, but a long-term lack of adequate sleep compromises your immune system and plays a role in developing high blood pressure, heart disease, type II diabetes, and even several forms of cancer. Getting enough sleep on a consistent basis really is a must for your health.

     3) Eat 5+ servings of fruits & vegetables a day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a cornerstone of a healthy diet, and you cannot eat too many. Try to eat a wide variety fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, carrots, and the cruciferous veggies, which include cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy, radishes, horseradish, and various greens (turnip, mustard, kale, collard, etc). Legumes (beans, peanuts) should be eaten for their fiber, protein, and other nutritional value. Of course, use common sense and avoid any foods to which you are allergic or otherwise sensitive.

     4) Eat whole grains instead of refined grains. Many studies suggest that the high rate of consumption of refined (or white) flour, bread, pasta, cereals and rice are contributing to the current epidemics of obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even cancer. Switch to whole grains whenever possible. Avoid grains entirely if you are allergic to them, or have a gluten sensitivity.

NOTE 1: Legumes and grains are agricultural foods, and as such are more recent additions to the human diet. Human biology has not fully adapted to them (which is why you can't eat most of them raw) and they can create problems ranging from simple flatulence to dangerous, even fatal, allergies. Be aware of how your body handles them, and reduce or eliminate consumption if you have a problem with them. Also, if you do consume legumes and grains, make sure they are always fully cooked.

     5) Consume much less refined sugar. A major contributor to obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer is the high rate of sugar consumption in all its forms, especially high fructose corn syrup. Cut back drastically on the amount of sugar you consume, and when you do use sweeteners, prefer natural sources such as fruit & honey (again, avoid foods that you know you are allergic to).

     6) Consume fatty fish at least a couple of times a week. Fatty, or oily, fish contain very important omega-3 fatty acids that are difficult to adequately get elsewhere. Fatty fish are typically cold water fish, and include salmon, tuna, trout, herring, sardines, and mackerel. Please enjoy your fish baked or grilled, not fried in oil. If you don't eat fish at least twice a week, consider taking an omega-3 supplement. Again, avoid any foods to which you are allergic or otherwise sensitive.

     7) Be physically active everyday. Many experts recommend at least one hour of moderate exercise a day, at least five days a week. What is moderate exercise? It should be vigorous enough to cause you to break out in a slight sweat. Walking, hiking, swimming, and bike riding are excellent, ways to exercise, as are gardening and yardwork. Use common sense - if you are elderly, badly out-of-shape, or have a serious health condition, please get your doctor's advise before starting an exercise program.

     8) Visit your doctor & dentist for regular check-ups. Find a doctor you like and are comfortable with, hopefully one who takes a holistic approach to your health care, and believes as strongly in preventing disease as he or she does in curing disease. What constitutes "regular check-ups" depends on your age & health conditions and should be mutually decided on by you and your doctor.

NOTE 2: Industrial foods should be avoided. Industrial foods are even more recent additions to the human diet than are agricultural foods, and human biology has had even less time to adapt to them. By industrial foods, I mean highly processed and refined foods, often with lots of extra chemicals not normally found in foods (preservatives, additives, artificial colors, etc.).

These industrial "foods" include refined flour ("white" bread, etc.), processed oils (especially margarines - butter is typically much healthier), and refined sugars (such as high fructose corn syrup, or HFCS). It also includes foods containing large amounts of preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, and artificial antibiotics & hormones. Most prepackaged foods and restaurant meals

NOTE 3: Achieving menos includes not just good health and fitness, but also emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects. I will address those aspects in future articles.

See Also

Mediterranean diet: A heart-healthy eating plan (on the Mayo Clinic website)

Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Pyramid (on Dr. Andrew Weil's website)

Traditional Asian Diet (on the Jackson Siegelbaum Gastroenterology website)

The Paleo Manifesto (fascinating book by John Durant)



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