Conference prepared for HSBC, Montréal - December 4, 2006
"The first wealth is health" famous words by Ralph Waldo Emerson, 19th century American author, poet and philosopher.
Maintaining good health by eating right and maintaining a healthy lifetyle is not a new idea. Mark Twain (1874-1891) back in the 19th century humorously addressed this fact by writing: "The only way to keep your health is to eat what you don't want, drink what you don't like and do what you'd rather not".
The 'Diet-Disease Connection' principle has been established and confirmed throughout the years by numerous peer reviewed scientific publications. In fact, research results have shown that:
Positive lifestyle changes reduce the incidence of type-2 diabetes.
The Arthritis Society confirmes that some forms of arthritis can be prevented and that the small actions you make today may prevent years of pain in the future.
The Canadian Cancer society states that overall 30 to 35% of all cancers can be prevented by eating well, being active and maintaining a healthy body weight.
These are but very few examples of the impact of lifestyle choices on our current and future health and wellness. In fact the severity, duration and progression of every disease or health condition (whether acute or chronic) can be negatively or positively affected by our choices and behavior.
We must understand that the choices we make every moment of every day result in one of two things: "improve our health or compromise our health" making us active participants in our own wellbeing. By making good choices we increase our chances of avoiding many degenerative diseases and living longer, healthier and more youthful active lives.
Ten Good Habits to Adopt
Eat a diet rich in fiber: whole grains, raw vegetables, fresh fruits
Eat at least 5-10 portions of fresh vegetables each day
Choosing lean meats, preferably from organic or grass-fed animals
Add wild fish (low mercury content species) to your diet 3-4 times per week
Eat healthy fats: extra virgin cold-pressed oils, avocado, coconut oil, hemp and flax
Drink 1-2 liters of clean water each day
Get 8 hours of sleep each night
Participate in regular daily exercise: aerobic and resistance
Use relaxation therapies daily to reduce stress: mindful breathing, meditation, prayer, giving, …
Be kind to someone, do a good deed, or learn something new every day
Ten Bad Habits to Avoid
Avoid simple carbohydrates: white flours, white sugar, etc.
Avoid eating transformed and canned foods, fast food
Avoid trans-fats, saturated fats, fried foods
Avoid chemical additives: food colors, artificial flavors, artificial sweeteners, MSG...
Avoid or reduce stimulants: coffee, alcohol, caffeinated beverages and teas
Avoid sodas and fruit juices
Avoid excessive exposure to screens
Reduce sedentary habits: walk, jog, ride a bicycle, climb the stairs instead of using the elevator, …
Avoid or reduce the negative stressors in your life
Avoid negative actions and feelings (anger, resentment, frustration, jealousy...)
Two Important Thoughts to Always Remember:
Health cannot be qualified as only the absence of disease. It is a complete state of wellbeing and balance of your physical health, mental health and emotional wellbeing.
Youthfullness is not measured by your physiological age but more accurately by your biological age.
Youthfullness is in fact more a state of mind rather than a stage of life, its a combination of your personal outlook and perspective on life as well as your lifestyle habits. By chosing healthy habits and adopting a positive outlook you increase your chances of enjoying a long, healthy and youthful life.
Phytherapy, as the name implies, is the use of plants as therapy. The medicinal properties of plants have been known and used since ancient times without understanding their mode of action. Modern science has been able to isolate the active molecules in plants which are responsible for these properties. Following is a very brief outline of some examples of 'SuperFoods':
Green Tea: rich in polyphenols, catechins and tanins, according to research it may help prevent cancer, protect against heart disease by lowering serum cholesterol levels, promote longevity and protect against tooth decay. I also has anti-bacterial properties and supports the immune system. Last but not least, it has been shown to promote weight loss. Remember to steep the tea leaves for 8-10 minutes in order to extract the maximum amount of active molecules.
Blueberries: an exceptionally high source of antioxidants called proanthocyanins, blueberries are known for supporting in eye health as well as for reducing the risk of developing or slowing the progression of macular degeneration. Blueberries also boost the body's immune system. Half a cup of blueberries equal one portion and since they are just as healthy fresh or frozen this makes them available all year long.
Curcuma (Turmeric): the flavorful yellow spice from the east which has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for hundreds of years. It has strong anti-inflammatory properties, cancer fighting properties and antioxidant properties and is also used as a digestive aid and for menstrual problems.
Tomatoes: rich in the antioxidant lycopene, tomatoes protect against degeverative diseases, heart disease and certain cancers (ex. prostate cancer) by stimulating the immune system. Cooked tomatoes contain less water and thus offer a more concentrated quantity of lycopene than fresh tomatoes.
Garlic: Some consider it a herbal wonder drug, it has cancer fighting properties, it is well known for its anti-infectious and anti-inflammatory properties and has been extensively researched for its role in supporting a healthy cardiovascular system because of its lipid-lowering and blood pressure lowering actions. It is also used topically, fresh or in the form of garlic oil, to alleviate insect bites and warts. Two cloves of freshly crushed garlic cloves are a good source of allicin.
Papaya and Pineapple: rich in vitamins qnd minerals but also a source of enzymes which explains their use as digestive aids and as anti-inflammatories. They may also be beneficial for people suffering from allergies, auto-immune conditions and certain cancers.
Flax seeds: A very rich source of fiber (both soluble and insoluble), omega-3 fatty acids and lignans.This wonder food has numerous health benefits including relieving constipation, lowering blood lipid levels and improving cardiovascular health, improving immune function, protecting against the development of type-2 diabetes, relieving certain symptoms of menopause and PMS as well as acting as an anti-inflammatory. Three tablespoons of ground flax seeds a day will keep the doctor away. Always drink plenty of water when consuming flax seeds.
When diet is not enough or health is compromised, supplementation with vitamins, minerals, antioxydants, probiotics, fiber or essential fatty acids may become necessary:
Vitamins: They are essential building materials for normal growth, metabolism, energy production and good health. The body cannot manufacture vitamins and therefore has to obtain them from the diet which should be rich in fruits and vegetables.
Antioxydants: They are micronutrients involved in the prevention of cellular damage and slowing down the aging process by helping the body neutralize free radicals. They protect agaisnt certain diseases such as strokes, heart disease and certain degenerative conditions. When free radical production becomes excessive, extra supplementation via supplements is needed. Vitamins C & E, selenium, grape seed extract, pycnogenol, Coenzyme Q10 and lycopene are examples of antioxydants.
Minerals: 4-5% of our body weight is mineral matter. Minerals are found all body tissues and fluids but are highly concentrated in bones, teeth, nails, hair and muscles. Over 20 minerals are considered essential to good health and they are involved in all chemical reactions in the boday including the transmission of nerve impulses, the regulation of blood pressure and heartbeat and in maintaining the acid-base balance in tissues and in the blood. Calcium (Ca), Sodium (Na), Potassium (K) and Magnesium (Mg) are alkaline minerals whereas Chlorine (Cl), Sulfur (S), and Phsophorus (P) are acidic minerals.
Enzymes: Not only are they needed for a complete digestion, they are also necessary for every chemical reaction which takes palce in the body. Partially digested food putrifies and ferments in the digestive tract leading to bloating, discomfort and poor absorption and assimilation of nutrients. Poor digestion could therefore result in deficiencies as well as auto-intoxication due to the accumlation of the toxic by-products of partially digested foods. Our bodies, particularly as we age, may not produce enough enzymes for optimal digestion. This situation can be remedied by adopting a diet rich in foods naturally high in enzymes such as raw vegetables and fermented foods and/or by using an enzyme supplement. It should be noted that overprocessed and overcooked food contains few or no enzymes.
Probiotics & Prebiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria which ensure healthy intestinal health, good immune function as well as the production of certain vitamins (ex. vitamin K). Prebiotics are sugars which serve as nutrition for the intestinal microbiome. Several studies have demonstrated the efficacy of probiotics in the prevention or reduction of antibiotic-induced diarrhea and more specifically in the treatment of C. difficile infections. They support a regular bowel movement, improve the digestion of lactose, reinfoce the immune system, reduce blood lipid levels, have anti-inflammatory properties, improve eczema, may help with weight loss and may also prevent or slow down the progress of colon cancer.
Essential fatty acids: They are liquid at room temperature and when refrigerated. Unsaturated essential fatty acids cannot be manufactured by our bodies and must be obtained through our diet. They are present in all cell membranes, in hormones and the brain and they have many functions in the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids are very strong anti-inflammatories, mood and memory enhancers and are essential for proper brain function as well as for cardiovascular health. Fatty fish and flax seeds are excellent sources.
Omega-6 fatty acids are necessary for healthy skin, heart health and fat metabolism. Borage and evening primrose oil are excellent sources
A n omega-3 to omega-6 ratio of 4:1 is essential for good health; however, the North American diet usually favors a ratio of 1:20 or higher which is highly inflammatory. Supplementation with omega-3 is necessary in this case to correct the imbalance.
Fiber: Prevents constipation, reduces cholesterol levels and helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels. Because fiber slows down the absorption of simple carbohydrates it is beneficial to persons with diabetes and it is also necessary for a healthy metabolism. Psyllium, flax seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes are all good sources of fiber.
BECOME YOUR OWN DOCTOR FIRST!
Conventional medicine is focused on symptom management and sickness. Today's doctors are very well equipped to deal with medical emergencies and diseases, they save millions of lives daily and are indispensable for diagnosing and treating illnesses. But, remember that you see your doctor for only a few minutes every year, while you are with your body 24 hrs a day 365 days a year.
Take Control of Your Health Now! avoid illness through positive lifestyle choices and a healthy diet. Give your body the high quality nutrients it needs and as few toxins as possible. Help your body perform its main metabolic functions as efficiently as possible: building, maintenance and detoxification.
Be a proactive participant in your health today because as Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, stated in back in 370 BC:
"Prayer indeed is good,but while calling on the gods a man should himself lend a hand"