It’s all in the details. Some say the devil is in the details. I say the power of knowledge thrives there!
In part one of our preparing for health post, I discussed the “how” in finding your way toward a healthier you, which included getting a few lab tests done, monitoring your foods, and measuring your waist. Now, I will give you the details—the “why”—so you can understand just how important these steps are in preparing for your health. Since our bodies function like a spider web—where all parts work together and affect one another—it is very important that we know how to take care of it. So first, let’s review those tests and what the optimal results are for the general population.
- Optimal level: 50-70 ng/ml
- Best sources: sunshine
This vitamin is commonly fortified in foods; however, it comes in very low doses. Therefore, this is one micronutrient that needs to be supplemented. According to Dr. Holick, leading expert on Vitamin D, a daily dose of 5,000 IU is very reasonable and extremely safe for adults. He reports in “The Vitamin D Solution 2010” that, if deficient, higher doses of Vitamin D are necessary. In children, 1,000-2,000 IU per day is an appropriate dosage. Taking Vitamin D with magnesium and Vitamin K is essential for proper absorption. Most Vitamin D supplements have these other elements in them just check to make sure.
Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio (or ALA: EPA)
- Optimal ratio: 1:1
- Best sources: cold water, oily fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines
Omega 6’s and 9’s are high in the Western diet due to excess ingestion of grains, soybean, sunflower, safflower, linseed oils, and trans fats. All of these are found in processed foods. According to Michael Pollan in his book In Defense of Food, “Too much Omega 6 may be just as much of a problem as too little Omega 3.” Unfortunately, Western diets have a ratio of 10:1 and even 25:1, according to “Molecular Neurobiology 2011.” This tells us that western diets are deficient in Omega 3 fatty acids. Remember that Omega 3’s are incorporated into every cell membrane, which means it is critical for cellular strength and many biochemical reactions. Ultimately, we all need to be striving to reduce systemic inflammation, and supplementing with Omega 3 oil is a great strategy for doing so. But don’t forget the anti-oxidants! According to Dr. Dan Murphy, when ingesting Omega 3 oils, you need to pair them with anti-oxidants. Two great anti-oxidants are Vitamin C—1000 mg for adults and 500 mg for children—and glutathione, which is the best brain anti-oxidant. Glutathione in the form of undenatured whey—21g for adults and 7 g for children—or N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)—120 mg for children and 240 mg for adults. Supplementation of Omega 3’s with antioxidants, along with dramatically reducing our processed food intake, is essential to attaining an appropriate ratio. Daily dosing of 3000 mg of Omega 3 for adults is recommended with EPA being slightly higher than DHA. Children should have 900 mg daily of an equal ratio of EPA:DHA.
CRP (C-Reactive Protein)
- Optimal level: less than 1.0 mg/L
The highly sensitive CRP is a great test to determine your cardiovascular disease risk. If our diets are high in processed foods, as stated above, we are at risk not only for cardiovascular disease, but multiple system disease.
The fractions that make up the total number in your cholesterol level results are important to understand. Traditional medicine believes HDL (which is the good stuff) should be greater than 50, LDL (which is the bad stuff) should be less than 130, and TG (which is the really bad stuff) should be less than 150. However, we need to remember that our brain and the outer coating of our nerves are made up of cholesterol. Therefore, cholesterol levels that are too low (some studies say below 240) may contribute to cognitive decline, i.e. dementia. I believe the key to functioning well is to assess everything in the patient’s lifestyle, not just looking at one parameter like cholesterol, with a focus on balancing and incorporating consistent, great lifestyle habits.
Food By God, Not By Man
What does that mean? We want to fill our bodies with food that is closest to its natural state—recognizable as real food. Many of the foods we eat that are made by man cause cellular inflammation. These include:
- All processed foods in any amount—white sugar, flour, hydrogenated fats/oils (trans fats), fried foods, soda, fast food
- Grains—more than 2-3 servings per day
- Dairy—more than 1 serving per day
- Alcohol—more than 1 oz liquor, 5 oz wine, 12 oz beer per day
- Caffeinated coffee— more than 8 oz per day
We want our diets high in plant-based foods, some fruits, lean proteins (wild fish, locally-raised eggs, organic chicken, grass-fed beef only), nuts and seeds, and plenty of clean, filtered water. I also consider a few servings per week of whole grains (sprouted or fermented like sourdough), legumes, and dairy (preferably a grass-fed source) as part of a healthy nutrition plan.
Get your heart rate up enough that you start to perspire! Even exercising 15 minutes per day, 7 days per week will have great results. It’s all in the intensity and consistency. (There are no excuses with that plan!) As your time increases, your days decrease. I have seen the best results with 30-40 minutes, 4-5 days per week of interval resistance training with high intensity cardio bursts. Try it, you’ll be surprised. It’s efficient and effective.
Resistance is critical in gaining muscle mass. The only way to increase muscle is by putting strain through that muscle so the fibers microscopically tear, then repair under proper nutrition, rest, and training. Increased muscle mass leads to a host of benefits:
- Decreased body fat, both subcutaneous (under the skin) and intra-abdominal (around the organs—the really dangerous kind of fat) means a smaller waist circumference
- Increased immune response by increasing white blood cell production
- Hormonal balance—less body fat in women means less estrogen production
- Decreased stress hormones—cortisol and adrenalin
- Increased metabolism (long-term)
- Balanced blood sugar and insulin
- Increased bone strength
- Improved sleep
Wow! That’s a lot of benefits that I think many of us would enjoy.
So, do you get the picture? It is important to grasp the fact that our lifestyle choices are a divinely orchestrated web—one thing affects another, and another, and another. Nothing in our body functions in isolation.
And there you have it. My hope is that you do something with this knowledge. This is how I encourage my patients, friends, and family and it’s the way I live my life—not perfectly, but always trying to improve and do better. A wise professor once told me, “The biggest room in the house is the room for improvement!” Practice makes better, not perfect!
Remember this concept:
We are dynamic beings and our health is no different. We are either moving toward wellness or away from it. Nothing is stagnant as long as we are alive. I choose to move toward wellness and away from illness. Now it’s your turn to choose.
Choose well. Your life depends on it!