The 5 Things You Need To Do To Be Healthy: A Cardiologist Explains
My work as an interventional cardiologist over the last 23 years has been rewarding and challenging, and in that time, I've carved out a commitment to wellness. Here are some observations and tips that may assist you in maintaining your health.
1. Eat a healthy diet.
Get 6 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruits daily. (I prefer organic produce.) One easy way to achieve this is to prepare a smoothie with dark berries (often called "brain berries" for their beneficial effect on memory) from the freezer, “green” powders with vegetable grasses, spirulina, chlorella, and other protein sources, such as rice and pea protein powders, some kale or spinach, and some fresh orange juice or almond milk.
Lunch should include a salad, a vegetable soup and a piece of washed organic fruit. Dinner should incorporate vegetables known to promote health and reduce cancer risk such as the cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, brussel sprouts, cauliflower).
Spices are important with turmeric, cumin, sage, ginger, garlic, and hot peppers all having established medical benefits. At all costs trans-fats and high fructose corn syrup should be banished. Alcohol and caffeine should be moderated. Green tea should be the stable drink along with filtered water.
2. Make fitness a priority.
Without question we have become a sedentary society and physicians are not immune. We often sit for prolonged times at work and conferences and work long hours. It is important however to make fitness a priority. Usually early mornings are the best time, as the day gets busy.
A home gym, if available, is a great option but I find a nearby fitness center with group classes motivating to get up early and see workout friends. A minimum workout of 30 minutes, 4 to 5 days a week is important. This should rotate cardio training, weight training, and flexibility such as yoga.
Stand as much as possible. Recent studies show chair time is life shortening. Standing and treadmill desks, like the one I use at home, help promote movement. Exercise can be broken into two sessions such as 20 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes at lunch time with the same benefit as if done all at once.
3. Get enough sleep.
Perhaps the hardest aspect of good health is achieving at least 6 and preferably 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. Poor sleep may come from sleep apnea, late night eating and computer and TV stimulation, a bedroom not sufficiently dark, or, of course, a noisy pager. The health benefits of adequate sleep on mental function, weight control, and overall wellness are great.
4. Get supplements.
The modern American diet is calorie rich and nutrition poor. Much of this is processed foods and inadequate vegetables and fruits. Even for those choosing diets higher in nutrition dense foods such as vegetables and whole grains, the nutrients in soils in modern farming have dropped greatly and we are largely a country of overfed and undernourished people. Insist on natural based supplements.
- Vitamin D3. Vitamin D3 is not only important to bone healthy, but is a potent anti-inflammatory agent and is involved in brain function and cancer prevention. Blood levels should be checked (Vitamin D 25-OH) and most of us are low (usually below 30 ng/ml) and should be supplemented optimally to a level of 50-85 ng/ml. Doses of 2,000-6,000 IU of daily supplementation may be necessary to reach these blood levels.
- Probiotics. Our diets may be injurious to GI mucosa (dairy, gluten, alcohol, chemicals and pesticides). A leaky gut is now considered a factor in generation of diabetes, atherosclerosis and auto-immune diseases. Adding a probiotic of mixed flora is an easy addition and protection for the gut. Usually 10-20 billion colonies should be available in the daily probiotic supplement.
- Resveratrol: This polyphenol found in wine has been shown to effect the sirtuin family of longevity genes positively and mimics calorie restriction, a proven way to extend life. It is not possible to get adequate amounts from a glass of wine so a daily supplement of trans-resveratrol, in the range of 100-250 mg, is a reasonable addition.
- Omega 3 fatty acids: The data for the protective effects of omega 3 fatty acids on the vascular system and the brain are impressive. Good quality pharmaceutical grade supplements are available either from marine sources (salmon, sardine, krill) or plant based sources such as flaxseed, walnuts, and algae.
5. Don’t smoke.
I don’t need to say more.