7 Benefits of Healthy Living Beyond Being Healthy

Businesswoman Crossing ArmsSure, eating right and getting enough exercise will lessen your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. And doing so is likely to help you live longer. But is that all?

For many people, lessening the risk of disease or living longer is a rather boring, un-spectacular motivation for maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Because of habit, convenience, or laziness our lifestyle naturally deteriorates in an unhealthy direction. You can blame some of that on stress, media, environment, and more.

Understanding more of the “other” benefits of healthy living can help us find more of the motivation necessary to actually make those healthy lifestyle choices. Here are some of those benefits.

A healthy lifestyle will help you:

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What Your Lifestyle Can – and Can’t – Accomplish

Green Pea on a ForkGoing to extremes is only human, but it’s not healthy. Many people have a difficult time finding a healthy balance in lifestyle choices.

On one extreme are those who throw caution to the wind. They eat – overeat – anything that tastes good, overuse alcohol, smoke, and never exercise. “It’s my life, and I want to enjoy it!” is their motto. If and when they do develop obesity, diabetes, heart disease, or some other illness, they expect a magic pill to make it all go away.

On the other extreme are those who wouldn’t eat a piece of bacon or a candy bar if they were starving. It’s raw, gluten-free, and organic, or it doesn’t pass their lips. They spend as much on supplements as they do on food, and work out ten hours a week or more. And if they get sick they desperately search for some alternative way to get better.

And then there are those who jump between those two extremes – with no better results.

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Nature or Nurture: Managing Your Genes

DNAThe more than 3 billion base pairs that make up the DNA in each of your body’s cells provide a blueprint for everything about you. Francis Collins, leader of the Human Genome Project, called itThe Language of God.”

But are those encoded messages infallible? Are you doomed to live out the results of whatever your parents passed on to you – good or bad?

Every time I ask a patient about their family medical history we’re talking about genes. There are a comparatively few diseases that we can now pinpoint to specific genetic abnormalities, and new research in the field of genetics is exploding. But the more we discover, the more we realize how much we don’t know.

You can’t change the natural color of your hair, or how tall you grow: those are easy genetic factors to understand. And for certain genetic illnesses the medical certainty is great: sickle cell disease, Huntington’s chorea, cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and others. As sad as some of those illnesses are, the vast majority of genes we can do something about!

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10 Tips for Losing Weight

10 Tips for Losing Weight

Losing weight is one of the top resolutions people make every year, and yet one that people find hard to follow through on. The emotional, physical, and relationship cost of being overweight is heavy! And it’s expensive: the US diet control and weight loss market is worth about $62 billion/year.

Here are some tips for losing weight that I give to my patients. I believe a lifestyle change is the safest, healthiest, and wisest way for most people to lose weight, but you may need some help along the way. Here are some tips to provide some of that help:

  1. You are more than your body weight! Your happiness, your relationships, your spiritual life – all are more important than your BMI (body mass index). Keep things in perspective.
  2. It’s not what you’re eating: it’s what’s eating you. My friend Kathrine Lee likes to talk about this. The emotional, mental, relationship, or spiritual baggage you carry may be what is really weighing you down. Deal with that, and food may become a much smaller problem.
  3. Keep it natural.
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The Supplements I Recommend, and Why

Supplement PillsAmericans love supplements! Roughly half of us use them. We spent $11.5 billion on supplements last year, and that number is consistently climbing.

In one sense that’s a good thing: it indicates we are interested in being healthy, and are trying to do something positive.

But on the other hand, are we getting our money’s worth? Are all those supplements doing any good? Or are they perhaps doing harm? How can we know? Are we using supplements as an excuse to continue living an unhealthy lifestyle?

I’m not a fan of the US Food and Drug Administration, but I do believe we need to use science rather than hype to make decisions on what we put into our bodies. Anecdotes don’t convince me. Scientific research has its limitations, but it’s still the best we have in answering the question, “Is Product X safe and effective?” The FDA is, right now, the best we have – and they don’t control the supplement industry except when they make specific statements claiming to treat or cure disease.

Consumer Labs is a private company that does offer some independent evaluation for the plethora of nutritional products available.

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