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Optimism and optimal health

Studies confirm the power of a positive mindset in achieving optimal health.

I'm often asked for simple tips for achieving optimal health. Here are my three top tips: 1) make the decision to change, 2) believe in yourself, and 3) apply the necessary strategies to get you there!

How many times have you said to yourself, "This time I'm serious, I'm going to follow a healthy eating plan," or "I'm starting to exercise tomorrow," only to find yourself doing the exact same thing you've always done, putting it off for another day? You can have the greatest diet ever invented, designed specifically for your individual biochemistry, incorporating all your favorite foods, or a surefire exercise program that will help you reach your goals in the shortest amount of time-but if you never implement these incredible tools, what good are they?

The power of positive thought
If you want to become wealthy, you know you can't simply sit back and hope your bank account will grow. Life doesn't happen this way. The same can be said for achieving a healthy body. It takes an investment, not of money but of proper foods and water, sufficient rest, a well-designed exercise program, and a positive mindset, all of which need to be consistently attended to.

Many of us have heard about the power of positive thinking, but how many of us have tried to apply it to our own lives? We are often faced with events that are less than positive: All we have to do is look at the front page of any newspaper or turn on any news channel, and no matter how great we're feeling, our positive attitudes will be tested. Nevertheless, in order to realize our goals in a reasonable time-frame, we all need to apply a positive mental attitude. Studies confirm the power of a positive mindset in achieving optimal health. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin discovered that when people exhibit negative emotions, their immune response is weakened, putting them at greater risk for illness.

What's known as the placebo effect is a measurable or experienced improvement in health not attributable to treatment. Scientists have always believed that the placebo effect was solely psychological; however, the placebo effect seems to have a physical component, as well. According to research from the University of Michigan, individuals who expected to receive a benefit from their medication (but received a placebo, instead) could trigger the exact same pain-reducing brain chemicals as those who received real medication. This study proves the theory that perception really is reality.

Optimistic aging?
What is it about old age that makes us think that elderly people are often grumpy? Could it be that we lose our optimism with age? Regardless of why some people seem to get grumpier with age, a 10-year-long study on 999 subjects aged 65 to 85 years presented in the journal Archives of General Psychiatry suggests that the more positive and happier we are, the longer we may live. At the start of the study, subjects filled out a survey on health, self-respect, and morale; after 10 years, the researchers found that more of the subjects who had described themselves as the most optimistic a decade ago were alive than their less optimistic peers.

The moral of the story is that if you are planning on embarking on a healthier lifestyle this year, don't put it off for one more day. Go forward with gusto, believe in yourself, and give your new life a brand-new start today.

  1. [1] Davidson RJ, et al. Affective style and in vivo immune response: neurobehavioral mechanisms. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Sep 16;100(19):11148-52.
  2. [1] Benedetti F, et al. Neurobiological mechanisms of the placebo effect. J Neurosci. 2005 Nov 9;25(45):10390-402.
  3. [1] Giltay EJ. Dispositional optimism and all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in a prospective cohort of elderly Dutch men and women. Arch Gen Psychiatry 2004 Nov;61(11):1126-35.

Brad King, MS, MFS

Brad King is a highly sought after authority on nutrition, obesity, longevity and one’s health and he has been touted as one of the most influential health mentors of our time.

He is an award winning nutritional formulator and was honored with the Best in Canada Award for Health Motivator/Educator and Public Speaker in 2010, was inducted into the Canadian Sports Nutrition Hall of Fame in 2003 and sits on the board of Directors for CHI the premiere sports nutrition education center.

Brad is the author of 10 books including the international best seller, Fat Wars 45 Days to Transform Your Body, the award winning Beer Belly Blues: What Every Aging Man and the Women in His Life Need to Know and his newly released The Ultimate Male Solution.

Brad is a leading health expert having appeared on NBC, ABC and CBS, some of these interviews include: The Today Show, Canada AM, Balance TV, Macleans, Oxygen, The National Post, Chatelaine and Live with Marcus and Lisa.