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Archive for the ‘ How To ’ Category

25 Jul

8 Essential Aging Hacks

We face eight key health challenges as we age.

The steps you take to prevent and mitigate these challenges can make the difference between just hobbling through your golden years and actually thriving. There’s just no reason not to enjoy energy and vitality well into your seventies, eighties and beyond.

Everyone’s into hacks: life hacks, brain hacks, productivity hacks, tech hacks, budget hacks, house hacks. I’m into aging hacks. Let us hack.

Here are the top health issues we all must face when we descend to the other side of the hill, and the smart steps you can take – now – to stop them. Although I think it’s worth stating that the hill metaphor of life should be chucked entirely. “Over the hill” doesn’t make sense in this day and age with all the amazing scientific and nutritional advances of which we can take endless advantage. So I prefer to think of life as a gently sloping valley that gets a bit steeper the closer you get to the other side. You just need a few more tools to ace the slope.

valley

1. Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

This is the biggest cause of preventable death, because it’s linked to virtually all the other major causes of death (cancer, diabetes, heart disease). 75% of adults over 60 are overweight or obese. Obesity and poor health go hand in hand. It’s almost impossible to live a long, healthy life if you are seriously overweight. No wonder we’ve got such a massive health care tab and drastically reduced quality of life among seniors. Though I ought to quibble with the BMI, for the purposes of this post I won’t. The general guideline is to make sure your waist is less than 40″ if you’re a man and 35″ if you’re a woman. I don’t recommend focusing on LDL cholesterol to the detriment of other crucial factors like raising your good (HDL) cholesterol and keeping your triglycerides and inflammation under absolute control.

The four simple steps required:

- Eat smart protein that contains good fat: grass-fed meat, wild fish, DHA-enhanced eggs, fermented tofu (and take a fish oil supplement, too).

- Cook with olive oil or walnut oil.

- Absolutely avoid all refined foods that contain processed grains, sugars, corn syrup, starch, flour, etc.

- Move a little. A daily walk is sufficient if you do your best to make it brisk.

2. Arthritis

Half of us will get it. I even have osteoarthritis from my time as a pro runner. We’re also prone to joint troubles thanks to our primal past – er, the fact that we walk upright hasn’t quite registered with our DNA. Hence, we experience knee and back issues like they’re going out of style (only as of yet, they are not). Of course, obesity is a big culprit. Losing just ten pounds can cut your risk in half.

I manage arthritis successfully by doing the following:

- Taking at least a gram of fish oil daily.

- Reducing free radical oxidation with…a diet high in vegetables, gluttonous amounts of olive oil, a few glasses of wine a week, and a potent antioxidant supplement.

- Following all the tips in #1.

- Resistance (weight-bearing) exercise at least 3 times a week.

3. Osteoporosis and Falls

Despite our love affair with Blunder Tonic, osteoporosis is one of our most prevalent diseases (and curiously missing from places like Africa and Asia where they consume little dairy). I don’t go in for the whole “dairy actually causes osteoporosis” scare manufacturing – protein will not leach calcium from your bones. But dairy will also not prevent osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is caused by a lack of exercise (particularly weight-bearing activity) and lack of sunlight exposure.

You can be a vegan or live on smoked gouda for all I care, but be warned: the triple-whammy of being overweight, sedentary and spending all your time indoors will set you up for osteoporosis guaranteed. And a simple fracture in old age can mean death. Falls are the #1 cause of death in people over 65. That’s just crazy, isn’t it?

4. Cancer

Your risk for cancer just increases as you age. I think of aging as being, essentially, progressive tissue wasting. As we age we are simply more susceptible to damage (oxidative, environmental, stress, deficiency, atrophy, you name it). It becomes that much harder for our cells to repair themselves. Immunity becomes compromised. Metabolism slows. Muscles weaken. Susceptibility to disease increases. You have to take sensible steps to mitigate – and prevent – the increased health risks of aging.

Aside from following the sensible diet, exercise, and supplement advice I’ve touched on, you should also be very proactive about medical screenings. Get over the hang-ups or nerves and just go see your doctor regularly because this is the best way to beat cancer. Cancer simply isn’t the death sentence it used to be – far from it. Caught early, survival rates – even five years out – are stunning. Live a sensible lifestyle, get screened, and should you happen to get cancer, your chances for many more quality years are excellent if you take immediate action. If you do not have insurance, there are plenty of economical options for routine screenings in most major cities, so do a little homework. (Of course, quitting smoking, managing stress and avoiding excess alcohol are hopefully things that go without saying.)

5. Cardiovascular Disease

See #1. Cardiovascular disease (CHD) is an umbrella term that includes heart disease, heart attacks, hypertension, arrhythmia and many other cardiovascular complications. In this case, prevention pays: follow a healthy lifestyle and your risk for CHD drops by a massive 80%. That’s huge!

- Get exercise (walking, hiking and intervals are great).

- Don’t smoke.

- Limit salt.

- Avoid all processed foods.

6. Vision and Hearing Loss

Aside from the basic preventive measures like careful sunlight exposure, resting your eyes, and not subjecting your ear drums to your teenager’s sound system emanations, you can actually eat your way to healthy vision and hearing.

A diet high in produce – I’m talking at least, at least 6 servings of vegetables daily, and preferably 9-12 – will provide your eyes and ears with a protective antioxidant arsenal against aging. No smoking, either. To stave off hearing loss, experts recommend that you avoid earbuds and use regular old headphones if you can – or at least don’t shove the buds into your ears tightly.

7. Teeth

I’ll say one thing, and one thing only: floss. Of course you brush twice daily, and few people need dentures anymore, but you can reduce inflammation and infection – not to mention cavities and expensive dental procedures – with daily flossing. Flossing also helps with bad breath.

8. Mental Health: Memory and Emotional Well-Being

Memory loss is not a requisite of aging. At all. Stress is what affects our cognition, alertness, memory and emotional health. To stay healthy and mentally sharp, you must limit stress.

- Exercise. End of story!

- Find a spiritual or emotional outlet such as meditation, yoga, prayer, or being in nature.

- Don’t think of yourself as old. You’re not. Mental outlook and a positive attitude are vital. Taking care of yourself can easily ensure you of 80, 90 or even 100 full years. Don’t talk about “senior moments” and your “brain farts”. Since when is a little extra life experience a reason to think of yourself as aged and crumbling? We’re not blue cheese. We’re people.

- Maintain at least a few close friendships (this is crucial).

- Hug or kiss someone you care about every day. Touch is really important, particularly as we age, when isolation and loss become more common.

- Have a pet, adopt a child, spoil the grandkids – love someone who is dependent upon you.

You also need to take active measures to keep the brain both elastic and healthy.

- Learn a language or build your math skills.

- Read a book a month, or better yet, a week. It is shocking how little we read. Choose difficult books or new topics and mix it up: novels, philosophy, history, memoir. Avoid the emotional political books and other pop culture reads that contain mostly irrational opinion (hey, that’s what blogs are for). Those “books” only cement stagnant and ignorant beliefs rather than truly challenging your mind. They calcify the brain.

- Stay current with technology and trends. Don’t start dressing like your kids (you mortify them enough as it is) but stay informed and interested. Learn and use new technologies like blogging, social bookmarking, portable communication devices, and media players.

- Travel, if you can. If not, make sure to expose yourself to new groups, communities, activities and hobbies. Try to make several new friends every year.

- Learn something new every day. Encourage curiosity and nurture growth.

Health is cumulative. The way you treat yourself aggregates. You must take care of yourself. Treat yourself as you would treat your best friend or your children. Do you feel depressed? Are you overweight? You are not taking care of yourself! And it will catch up with you, sooner than you think. If you are suffering from health problems as a result of personal neglect, you’re sending a pretty clear message that you don’t care about yourself. Why?

Further reading:

Most Popular Posts of 2007

This post was inspired by an article at WebMD

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17 Jul

10 Workouts That Don’t Feel Like Workouts

10. Check out the local real estate.

Walking through your neighborhood (or any neighborhood you admire) is a natural workout that is also an effective way to clear your head and reflect on the day. I get a 45-minute walk in while my son is at his music lesson. If you’re tired of walking around your own ‘hood, explore one you’ve been curious about. You just might find a good scoop on real estate while you’re at it.

9. Hike.

Hikes don’t have to be intensive all-day expeditions (though this is a very primal thing to do). Most towns have well-maintained, short hiking trails available nearby if you simply do some digging. Even a brisk walk around the local park is energizing. Make a point of getting out into the fresh air and soaking up a little vitamin-D-recharging sunlight as often as you can. I think 20 or 30 minutes daily of fresh air and light exposure is essential for good health – so do it as often as you can. A “hike” doesn’t need to kill you for days afterwards; an hour and a local hill are all you need.

weeds

Raisinsawdust Flickr Photo (CC)

8. Beach games.

If you’re near a lakefront or beach, invest 20 bucks in a good array of Nerf balls, Frisbees and other amateur sports equipment for some carefree physical fun with the family or your buddies. Do this once a week and it’ll feel like socializing instead of a workout (we’ve been doing Sunday group workouts like Frisbee and it’s been a blast). That’s really the whole message I want to reinforce here: exercise is a natural, enjoyable, and refreshing part of life, not another relentless chore on your to-do list. Reframe your mental image of exercise and watch your health improve.

7. Play with the kids.

Nothing beats quality time with your kids. Rough house, toss around a baseball, visit the local pool, have a water balloon fight in the backyard, get into a pillow fight (careful on the last one, dads). Physical play is a bonding activity that doesn’t even feel like exercise.

pool

Tobym Flickr Photo (CC)

6. Rearrange the furniture.

Periodically rearranging your furnishings is great for your mental health, but it’s also a good physical workout. Obviously you wouldn’t do this every week, but if you haven’t given your digs a refresh in a while, try it. All that pushing and pulling is a phenomenal weight-bearing workout session that the gym rats tirelessly replicate. You’ve got your own “gym” at home (and talk about a great way to clear your head and get into the moment).

5. Walk at the mall.

If you’ve got errands or enjoy window-shopping (I’d sooner count fork tines), this is a no-brainer workout. Just take a pedometer and make sure you log a couple miles. I get a lot of emails from people asking about ideal exercise methods and routines, often with the implied assumption that exercise has to be some sort of complicated, separate, intense deal to “count”. Not so. Walking is perhaps the best exercise, and certainly the most natural, of all.

4. Wash the cars.

Turn a Saturday chore into a fun family event. All that scrubbing and waxing is a terrific upper-body workout.

hose

This ought to do it. BWC Flickr Photo (CC)

3. Spring cleaning…party.

Need to get up on the roof and scrape those drains or deal with a loose shutter? That’s an excellent workout, but why not make it fun and get in five or ten of them? Host a neighborhood spring cleaning party where everyone gets together for a few weekends and pitches in on big cleaning and clearing jobs at everyone’s homes.

2. Walk downtown.

Do you have a lively or vibrant downtown district in your city? Walking is something we all need to do more of, and checking out the markets, shops and artists downtown (or beach-side) is a cheap date everyone loves – and you can’t beat people-watching.

venice

Young Grasshopper Flickr Photo (CC)

1. What’s your best non-workout workout?

You may be “working out” more than you realize…or perhaps not enough. Services are convenient and increasingly affordable, but there’s something to be said for washing your own car and mowing your own lawn. Beats the gym. Playing, walking, chores – these things are not only budget-friendly and socially healthy, they come with the workout built-in. I try to see “chores” as a welcome chance to unwind and recharge (it’s my version of meditation).

Further reading:

More Tuesday 10 Posts

Most Popular Posts

Sponsor note:
This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

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11 Jul

The 7 Habits of Thin (Healthy) People

row

Bibliona Flickr Photo (CC)

There are more diets than donuts, and the truth is that most of them will work in the short-term. But the reason few diets work long-term is because they are rarely sustainable for a number of reasons: boredom, severe restrictions, expense, impracticality, and so on. Most diets are vanity diets – we start them because we want to look sexy in that swim suit, rather than be fit and healthy. If humans actually thought with the end in view, we wouldn’t see such exorbitant rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer.

If you want to lose weight, I’d first encourage you to think about why you have the desire to do so. If it’s to impress everyone at your upcoming reunion, that’s certainly harmless (hey, we’re all vain). But I hope that you plan to lose weight for more than your reflection in the mirror. Studies show time and again that just a few pounds of weight loss can reduce your risk for diabetes, heart disease, depression and stroke. We don’t often think about the long-term, but we should. Changing your lifestyle right now – today – will yield you feel-good results for many years to come. And you’ll lose the weight sooner than you think, making a lifestyle change smart for the short-term, as well.

Here are seven essential steps for following a healthy lifestyle that will naturally shed those extra pounds. You cannot maintain long-term weight loss and simultaneous good health if you don’t make these changes.

1. Carbs: know good from bad

You frequent readers know that I ascribe to a diet rather like the “Paleo diet” or “Caveman diet”. My views on human biology inform my nutritional bent that I call “Primal Health“. I recommend complete exclusion of all refined starches, sugars and grains, and beyond that, I recommend that you choose vegetables, fruits, squashes, and legumes over wheat-based grain carbohydrates such as pasta and bread. Know good carbs from bad carbs. You don’t have to eliminate carbs entirely to remain slender (unless you happen to be very intolerant to begin with, as I believe many of us are). Axing an entire macro-nutrient is a recipe for a health disaster (and serious boredom, let’s be honest). But you need far fewer carbohydrates – particularly the ones that rapidly spike your blood sugar – than the U.S. government’s food pyramid tells you to get. See my Carb Pyramid below for more help with this.

2. Fat: ditto

You cannot be healthy without fat. Period. Fat is required for all kinds of important processes in the body, including digestion and nutrient absorption. But it’s not simply about health: you likely will not be able to maintain fighting form without fat, as well. We all avoided fat in the 90s, and nobody got skinny – just diabetic and depressed, evidently. Fat is high in calories, but being so nutritionally dense, it’s a smart, hunger-staving source of fuel. You’ll actually be able to maintain a healthy weight more easily if you nourish your body with a little fat at each meal. Focus on getting primarily “good fats” in your diet from grass-fed, organic meats, raw nuts, pure nut butters, wild fish, and olive oil.

3. Nutrition counts

You don’t want to do the cookie diet if you hope to have a shred of health in a few years’ time, though you can lose weight on cookies. Heck, you can lose weight on Snickers bars if you choose – but you will create a severe health deficit that is guaranteed to add up down the road. And if you feel like crap, who cares about being thin? Think about what you can maintain over a lifetime. Once you lose the weight from the latest miracle fad diet, what will you do? A sensible lifestyle focused on nutritious food is an actual strategy for a lifetime, not simply this month. Moreover, nutrition does eventually impact metabolism. Specifically, consuming sugar creates an inflammatory response, forces the liver to dump more fat in the bloodstream (triglycerides), and impacts hormones that regulate metabolism (see this article for a detailed explanation).

4. Portions

The reason most any diet, no matter how kooky, works – at least initially – is because they all typically restrict calories to between 1000 and 1600 calories per day depending on your height and size. But there’s nothing miraculous about this. And you don’t have to follow any particular diet to do this (although your particular diet does matter for health). There is nothing magical about the Mediterranean Diet’s recipes or Slim Fast twice a day. There is no secret ingredient. They all simply get you to cut calories. To lose weight, and to maintain it over a lifetime, eat a variety of delicious foods you enjoy but keep the portions small. You can invent your own diet, or check out what I eat in a day. Eat all the steak, butter and cream you want, if that floats your boat, or go vegetarian if you prefer. Just keep your portions reasonable – no matter what you eat, if you eat too much, the body is going to store it. End of story. And watch it, bacon-lovers: when creating your own lifestyle menu, aim for foods that are nutritionally-dense, natural, fresh, and whole (focus on unprocessed sources of Omega-3′s, lean protein, and fiber). And then just eat less of it all.

5. Water

Though I don’t go in for the whole 8-glasses-a-day myth (and it’s been heavily debunked by now), water is essential to health and weight maintenance. I hope I don’t need to pontificate on this one. Drink at least a few glasses a day, for the sake of your digestion, mood, mental clarity, organs, blood and overall health. Remember that food cravings, especially for sugar, are often a sign of dehydration. Drink. If you are drinking calories (liquor, milkshakes, energy drinks, lattes) instead of drinking water, you’re sabotaging both your health and your chance for meaningful weight loss.

6. Exercise

Exercise is as close a thing to a health panacea as we’re likely to ever get. Exercise reduces your risk across the board for diseases, obesity, depression, insomnia, anxiety, hormone imbalances, and much more. Exercise 3 or 4 times a week won’t necessarily make you lose weight (remember calories!). But sitting on the couch watching TV definitely won’t. If you have time to watch the news, you have time to exercise. A postprandial walk is absolutely acceptable – you do not have to be a slave to cardio or take up residence at the local gym. Just move daily. If you don’t use your muscles, your body thinks you don’t need them and begins to shed them along with precious osseous (bone) material. Exercise has cumulative benefits, meaning the longer you do it, the more impact it generates – including elevating your resting metabolism. You can drop a few pounds without lifting a finger, but you cannot be healthy. Period.

7. Hormone balance

This is one that doesn’t get discussed as much, but it’s vital to address. Hormones that are out of balance can trigger depression, which is linked to obesity. Further, excess stress to the adrenal cortex, which produces over 30 critically important hormones, can also cause weight gain (you can read more about the cortisol-weight gain connection in tomorrow’s Primal Health). And a dysfunctional thyroid can also cause incredibly stubborn excess weight. If you eat a truly healthful diet and exercise at least 3 times a week but cannot lose weight, you may have a hormonal issue that needs a specialist’s attention. And bear in mind that unhealthy lifestyle choices such as excessive alcohol intake, smoking, junk food, and drug use can and do interact – sometimes dangerously so – with your hormones.

Being both healthy and lean is entirely within your reach. Think lifestyle.

Further reading:

It’s the Calories, not the Carbs

My Carb Pyramid

Carbs Are not the Devil

Sponsor note:

This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

9 Jul

13 Simple, Timeless Kitchen Hacks (Banish Tears, Cuts, Burns, Smells & Stains!)

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1. Finally, a use for old potatoes: if you have added too much salt to a recipe, toss in a peeled potato while your dish is still cooking to prevent your tongue from shriveling up like a slug upon first bite. (Just don’t use taters that have any green tint creeping into the flesh. That’s a sure sign of the toxin solanine. Generally, solanine will not hurt you in small quantities, but just to be safe, avoid the kryptonite-hued spuds.)

2. Did you burn your finger? Immediately rub the singed spot with spicy mustard to draw out the pain. Bonus: this is a lickable solution.

3. Leftover wine? Pour the remains of the bottle into an ice cube tray, freeze, and store for future use in your drunk marinara. (Leftover wine = good problem.)

4. To remove the smell of garlic and onions from your fingers, simply run your digits along a stainless steel blade. Carefully! This won’t work for your mouth.

5. To keep sliced apples and avocados from browning, drizzle with lemon or lime juice.

6. Did you catch one of those invisible hair-like splinters that rivals a paper cut for the Most Annoying Pain Possible award? Simply press a strip of tape gently to your skin. This works far better than scraping away at your skin with fingernails or tweezers.

7. Don’t hatch your batch. To prevent cracked shells when making boiled eggs, simply add a pinch of salt to the water.

8. Keep tomatoes and citrus fruits like lemons far from the refrigerator for the nicest fragrance, juiciest results, and truest flavor (we’re horrifying grammar teachers everywhere, as we speak. Write. Read. Surf. Arrrgh!!!). Oh: nestled in a bowl in the sun is best.

9. To clean those ever-impossible crevices in vases and pitchers, just drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets, fill the item with water, and wait.

10. To prevent your eyeballs from putting on a miniature waterworks show when you are cutting up onions or shallots, simply press your tongue to the roof of your open mouth (and do not breathe through your nose).

11. Rather than taking harsh detergents to your pots and pans, scrub them clean with a dry paper towel and coarse salt. This is invaluable for cast-iron cookware.

12. To remove those fossilized food splatters in the microwave, place a water-soaked sponge inside and “cook” on high for two minutes. Leave the microwave door closed for another five minutes (you don’t want to scald yourself). The steam will loosen up the food and you can easily wipe it all off without the use of chemical cleaners.

13. Fix a finger nick with clear nail polish (wait for the bleeding to stop, silly). The polish will s-t-i-n-g momentarily, but you’ll have a waterproof, instant bandage that won’t get in the way of your slicing and dicing…food, this time.

What handy tips do you recommend? Speak up, baby!

Further reading:

Most Popular Posts

Useful Top 10 Lists

Source 1, 2

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17 May

Are There Any Good Carbs?

Fruits Are Not the Devil, and Other Carb Concerns

Although I espouse a fairly “low-carb” lifestyle for optimal health and a lean physique, this certainly means different things to different people. For some it means a strict Atkins-style diet of virtually no carbs, save for green vegetables. For others it means the inclusion of fruits, starchy vegetables such as yams, and legumes. For others it means any and all carbs – grains, rice, beans, pasta – that are complex or “whole grain” rather than refined and processed (pastries, crackers, breads, white pasta).

My “low-carb” philosophy is essentially grounded in my belief in fresh, whole, natural foods. In other words, a lot of plants. Organic, grass-fed or wild animal products (eggs, beef, salmon) are also included in my “natural” categorization. I’m not at all opposed to carbs that are from vegetables; the American diet is sorely lacking in adequate vegetable intake and it’s lunacy to avoid vegetables in the hopes of losing weight, as many low-carb dieters do. Since I believe fiber is king when it comes to health, I’m all for eating 6 servings of veggies daily – at a minimum. I recommend fresh or frozen vegetables and a small amount of starchy vegetables and legumes for your daily diet.

meal

This is Svanes’ Flickr Photo

But, I personally don’t encourage the consumption of grains, even whole grains. I think an occasional slice of sprouted-grain bread is fine, particularly if you’re an avid exerciser (and I hope you are). Additionally, I think the lectin fears about grains are rather overblown (another one of those marginal nutrition areas like wine, coffee, and dark chocolate). But a combination of vegetables and lean proteins offer more antioxidants, vitamins, protein, fat and even fiber (surprise!) than do grains.

This type of diet is easier for most humans to digest, as wheat gluten in particular is not friendly to the G.I. tract. Grains stimulate improper liver, thyroid, and pancreas responses in many people, and grains can also foster reduced immunity, fungal infections, skin problems, anxiety, depression and weight gain. Vegetables and lean proteins are more readily handled by your liver and pancreas, among other organs. Coupled with some much-needed beneficial fats such as organic butter, olive oil, nuts, avocados, and fish oil supplements, a vegetable-and-protein based diet is the most respectful to the human design. Consuming crackers, pasta and breads – even those manufactured with whole grains – is simply not ideal for the human body.

That said, other carbohydrates beside vegetables are, in fact, quite healthy – even some starchy ones such as yams, brown rice, and legumes. My concern is that many people rely on mostly refined and/or whole grains for their fiber intake and tend to “add in” some vegetables, when it ought to be the other way around. When it comes to vegetable sources of carbohydrates, we Americans favor starchy barely-vegetables like potatoes and corn. (Corn, by the way, is actually a grain, and a very low-protein, high-sugar grain at that.) Vegetables are a far superior source of carbohydrate because they do not impact blood sugar to the extent that grains do, they have important antioxidants and phytonutrients, they have far fewer calories, they are easier to digest, and they often have more fiber.

cukesalad

This is Laurel Fan’s Flickr Photo

Clearly, we need to be eating more vegetables. But it’s perfectly reasonable to eat some starchy vegetables and legumes on a daily basis, provided you are at a healthy weight you feel comfortable with, provided you exercise enough to burn your calories effectively, and provided you are not fighting diabetes or trying to reduce elevated blood sugar or triglycerides. If stress, inflammation, high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes or elevated blood sugar are medical conditions you are striving to overcome, you would do well to consider both eliminating grains and limiting starchy vegetables and legumes. And absolutely avoid the refined grains!

So, yes, there are plenty of “good” carbs. I don’t think eating bacon and steak is the path to fabulous health; no extreme diet is. (Although, it’s interesting to think about why we define certain things as extreme. What is extreme?)

I have my own version of the food pyramid. I call it my carb pyramid.

- At the base are vegetables – 6-11 servings daily.

- In the middle are things like legumes, brown rice, quinoa, wild rice, tempeh, soybeans, and oatmeal. Also in this category are the “whole grains” like sprouted bread, whole-wheat pasta, corn, and whole-grain crackers. These are best on a very infrequent basis or, if you have any of the previously mentioned health issues, not at all.

- And at the top are the no-no’s: pastries, cookies, cake, sweet sauces, breading, candy, sweetened beverages, white bread, white pasta, juice, chips.

A Word on Fruits

A reader recently emailed me about the issue of dried fruits. Are dried figs, dates, raisins, cranberries, apricots and the like a wise idea for those interested in health and weight loss?

Sure. The key is to realize that dried fruits are extremely caloric, and very high in natural sugars. Fruit is healthy, but fresh fruit provides more water content and fewer calories than dried fruit. Like fats, dried fruits are very nutritionally dense, so you don’t want to eat more than a handful now and then. I think a few servings a week of dried fruits is not a big deal at all – fruit is a natural, fiber-rich, vitamin-loaded food source. But because it is high in sugar – especially those dried fruits – you want to be careful to favor vegetables over fruits. Fruits taste better than vegetables to many people because fruits are so sweet. Who doesn’t love fruit? I do. But it’s important to make sure that, on balance, more of your plant carbohydrates are coming from vegetables. I think one or two fruit servings daily is plenty. Dried fruit is often the equivalent of four or five servings of fruit, so I’d recommend enjoying them just once or twice a week.

The other important thing to remember is that diet is not the only factor in weight management and good health. If you work out several times a week, not only will you live longer, boost immunity, reduce stress, and strengthen your bones and muscles, you’ll speed up your metabolism. If you don’t work out, you probably would need to live on steak and bacon and limited greens to lose weight. If you exercise, you can usually afford some starchy carbohydrates and certainly some fruit. Don’t overlook the vital necessity of exercise.

Note: if you’re one of the lucky devils to have a speedy metabolism that keeps you on the too-thin side of lean, enjoy fruits and starchy vegetables and legumes for those extra calories, but increase your fat intake a bit. This will help keep your blood sugar and triglycerides in balance.

Best of MDA

Everything I’ve Ever Said About Carbs

What do you think?

Sponsor note:

This post was brought to you by the Damage Control Master Formula, independently proven as the most comprehensive high-potency antioxidant multivitamin available anywhere. With the highest antioxidant per dollar value and a complete anti-aging, stress, and cognition profile, the Master Formula is truly the only multivitamin supplement you will ever need. Toss out the drawers full of dozens of different supplements with questionable potency and efficacy and experience the proven Damage Control difference!

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