There is a common misconception that says, "If you suffer and do those things that feel bad, you get to live a long life." Of course the question arises, "If you do this, why bother living a long life?" Fortunately, however, the idea that suffering is good is a misconception. Both clinical experience and scientific research suggests that what works best is to keep those things in your life that give you the most pleasure, while also giving your body what it needs to stay healthy. It's kind of like having a Ferrari; you can drive it hard and have a blast with it. To keep it going strong though, you need to give it premium fuel and maintain it well.
I've got the pleasure part down. What do I do to keep my body young?
If you actually do have the pleasure part down, you are way ahead of most people-and that is great. To be sure that you are indeed having fun, check how you feel every so often. From a centered place, do you usually feel good? If so, what could you do, think or pay attention to that would feel even better? If you don't feel good most of the time, then you don't have the pleasure part down yet. That's okay. In addition to teaching you simple ways to keep healthy physically, we'll also discuss how to get and stay happy.
Keeping your body healthy and young can be boiled down to five key steps:
- Feed it properly
- Maintain optimal hormonal function
- Use it
- Rest it
- Follow your bliss!
Tell me more about these five key components.
Feed your body properly. We are now eating what is called the "Standard American Diet" or SAD-an appropriate acronym. The average American now eats an extra 150 pounds of sugar per year. Another 18 percent of our calories come from white flour. These two factors alone result in a loss of approximately one-third of our vitamins and minerals. How would you function with a 33 percent pay cut? When you add the effects of food processing and soil depletion, you have the recipe for dietary disaster.
To add insult to injury, the food enzymes that are needed for digestion are also being destroyed during food processing (to allow for long shelf life). This is one of the major reasons for the epidemic of indigestion and malnutrition in the U.S. The chronic use of medications that turn off stomach acid (e.g., Nexium) further worsens our ability to digest food. Using plant-based digestive enzymes (e.g., CompleteGest or Similase) and natural remedies for indigestion, such as mastic gum and DGL licorice, can eliminate indigestion while improving nutrition. To learn how to get off of acid blocker medications naturally and easily visit my Web site.*
As mentioned above, your diet can be fun and still be healthy. When you eat something, see how you feel a few hours later. You'll find that sweets and/or caffeine taken in excess may initially give you energy but then cause you to crash several hours later. On the other hand, eating chocolate in moderation (get the best tasting and decadent one that you can) will usually leave you feeling better and can actually be healthy for you!
For some, being vegetarian will feel best. Others will feel better on a high protein/ meat diet. Because we are all different, there is no one diet that is best for everybody-despite claims, by people who would make us all neurotic about everything, to the contrary. As there is no one diet that is best for everybody, I propose that you simply listen to your body to see what feels good, and is that is what is best for you.
In addition to paying attention to what feels good, we can also look at research that shows us what our body needs. Studies show that animals live longer when their body's energy furnaces (mitochondria) don't work as hard. The pattern seen in this research suggests that antioxidants can be very helpful for prolonging life. Oxygen is one of the most toxic elements. In fact, when algae evolved to give off oxygen, this killed off over 90 percent of the species then living on the planet. Humans developed to actually require oxygen, but doing so was very tricky. It required antioxidant systems to protect our body while using the oxygen to make energy. Not having optimal nutrition to make antioxidants can then result in our "motors burning out more quickly." In addition, many other nutrients are needed to supply energy (especially magnesium and B vitamins at high levels) and to help with tissue repair so we can avoid damage from wear and tear (critical to staying young).
Since there are dozens of critical nutrients that are lost in food processing, I found that it was getting both confusing and overwhelming for people who wanted to get the supplements they need. My job is to make it easy for everyone to get optimum health so my first step was to make an excellent powdered formula that replaces 25-35 supplement tablets a day with one capsule and one good-tasting drink. It is called the Energy Revitalization System.** This can easily, comprehensively and affordably supply optimum and outstanding nutritional support for everyone. In addition, getting the nutritional support you need is confusing because everybody is trying to sell you something. There's nothing wrong with making money-I simply do not want it to get in the way of your getting well.***
Besides needing vitamins, minerals, energy cofactors, antioxidants and adequate protein, we also need a large amount of good quality water. Most of what Americans drink is loaded with sugar and caffeine and often acts as a diuretic. As a society, we walk around chronically dehydrated-so much so that we don't even notice it. I do not recommend that you annoy yourself by counting the number of glasses of water you drink. Simply occasionally pay attention to your mouth and lips. If they are dry, you're thirsty and need more water.
Maintain optimal hormonal levels. Although each of these hormones can be the subject of a full article (and will be discussed in more detail in an upcoming article), let's look at the key hormones, how to tell if you need them and how to get them. Specific nutrients are also critical but the vitamin powder noted above will generally take care of these.
A. Thyroid. This is your body's gas pedal. If your thyroid is low, you'll be tired, achy, cold intolerant and gain weight. You don't have to have all of these symptoms to deserve a trial of natural thyroid hormone (Armour thyroid-by prescription). Unfortunately, the thyroid blood tests are horribly unreliable and miss most of the people who benefit from thyroid hormone (see my book From Fatigued to Fantastic!).
B. Adrenal. This is your body's "stress handler." If you tend to crash with stress, get hypoglycemic, or simply have a lot of stress, you probably will benefit from adrenal support. To note whether you're hypoglycemic, simply ask a friend or spouse if you have periods where they realize that they have three minutes to feed you or you'll kill them. If they rapidly shake their head up-and-down, you have hypoglycemia. Adrenal glandulars, licorice, etc. can help stress and your adrenal. I recommend a product called Adrenal Stress End.**
C. Growth hormone and DHEA. These are called the "fountain of youth hormones." Many people take growth hormone by injection at a cost of over $12,000 per year. I do not recommend this because of the expense, the medical risk and because there are more effective, less expensive and safer ways to raise growth hormone. The three best ways to raise growth hormone naturally are deep sleep, exercise and sex (see below). In addition, most of the effects of growth hormone are caused by DHEA (growth hormone stimulates DHEA production), which I do recommend. More is not always better, however. Like growth hormone, DHEA may be theoretically associated with an increased risk of certain cancers. Because of this, I recommend that DHEA (and most hormone levels) be kept at around the midrange of normal for a 29-year-old (to stay feeling like a twenty-nine-year-old). For DHEA dosing, check only a DHEA-sulfate (not a DHEA level, which is too variable) and keep the DHEA-sulfate level at approximately 150 mcg/dl for females and 400 mcg/dl for males. If your doctor will not give you a lab requisition to get the test, you can get one for this (and other tests-at no charge); check on my Web site.* I would note that for years my nephews thought that I was occasionally dying my hair back to its original color (which I would never do-I like the salt and pepper look). It turned out that when I was taking DHEA, my natural hair color would return. When I stopped the DHEA, I again got the silver color back in my hair!
D. Estrogen and testosterone. For decades holistic doctors have been telling people that it is insane to take pregnant horse urine (e.g. Premarin™). Traditional medicine has now realized that people die sooner if they take Premarin. Instead of simply switching people to the natural hormones, they now try to scare people about all hormones. I suspect that using the natural hormone Bi-Est (by prescription) and natural progesterone, one can stay healthier and younger after menopause. Bi-Est is a mix of the natural estrogens estriol and estradiol. My reading of the scientific literature suggests that estriol actually decreases the risk of breast and other cancers. In addition, the large majority of the studies I've seen suggest that if a man has low testosterone and he brings it up to the midrange of normal, he can decrease cholesterol, diabetes and angina while leaving him much younger and healthier (as opposed to the body builders who may be taking five to 10 times a normal dose-which is very dangerous).
Use your body. With cars and television, we're now living in the land of the couch potato. I am not recommending that you eliminate either of these two.
Do, however, find activities that are fun and give you a good workout at least three times a week. Besides protecting your bones and decreasing your risk of heart disease, studies show that exercise is as effective as Prozac™ in preventing depression. Fortunately, exercise does not cause Prozac's sexual dysfunction.
On that note, another important part of using your body is to have great sex. This is a natural function and is healthy for you. In fact, researchers found that people who have sex three times a week look 10 years younger. Don't you just love science?
Rest your body. This means getting at least 8 to 9 hours of good sleep nightly. A hundred years ago, the average American was sleeping nine hours a night. We're now down to six hours, which is not adequate for tissue repair (needed to stay young) or to recharge our batteries. This lack of sleep contributes to chronic pain and fatigue as well as growth hormone deficiency and premature aging. Unfortunately, excess stress can actually suppress our ability to sleep, causing the paradoxical combination of fatigue and insomnia. There are many natural things that you can do, however, to improve sleep, if you have insomnia. My favorite is Revitalizing Sleep Formula,** a powerfully effective mix of six herbals. Start, however, by making the time.
Follow your bliss! As important as feeding your body is to feed your psyche and soul. My new book, Three Steps to Happiness! Healing Through Joy, can teach you how to do this. Having spent the last 25 years researching effective treatments for crippling illnesses, it amazed me how developing a positive attitude to life contributed not just to joy but also to health. Sadly, not having truly lived at all is a bigger problem in our society than dying young.
For psychological health, the three steps to happiness can be summarized as:
- Be authentic with your feelings
- Let go of blame, guilt, and fault
- Keep your attention on what feels good.
Three Steps to Happiness! Is a short and fun book that will teach you how to get a life you love.
If you doubt that joy has anything to do with health, observe when you feel good and again when you feel poorly. You'll find that you feel energized when you feel happy and depleted and closed down when you feel poorly. What you are feeling is the life force and energy that keeps us vital and healthy. As you notice this more and more, it will become increasingly obvious that health and vitality flow naturally from doing, and keeping your attention on, what feels good. Follow your bliss.
To have a long, healthy and joyful life, simply do the following:
- Drink more water, avoid excess sugar (chocolate is okay and Stevia is a good natural sweetener), eat what makes you feel good, and take the Energy Revitalization System Powder and B-complex.**
- Be physically active in ways that are fun. Sex is a good start.
- Optimize hormonal levels. This is best done with the help of an holistic practitioner.
- Get at least eight hours of deep sleep a night. Natural remedies such as Revitalizing Sleep Formula** (a mix of six herbals) and calcium taken at bedtime can help dramatically.
- Follow your bliss. Only do and keep your attention on what feels good from a centered place.
Author's note: *Information on how to get off of acid blocker medications naturally is available on my Web site. Visit www.endfatigue.com and click on useful articles then click on eliminating chronic acid reflux and indigestion. Also available at no charge are lab requisitions for DHEA levels and other tests. Readers can also find a referral list of excellent holistic practitioners.
**The Enzymatic Therapy products mentioned above can be obtained at health food stores nationwide or through my Web site.
***I have a simple policy; I do not take money from any company whose products I recommend. I fund my own research and 100 percent of my royalties for the products that I make go directly to charity.