Sunday, February 11, 2018

Thoughts on healthy lifestyles

As a self-described health nut, I'm always looking at ways to live healthier and happier--even into advanced age. Fitness has always been a big issue with me, and in fact I find myself frustrated about it way too often when the demands of my job and life as a caregiver affect my fitness plans, which they do frequently. Often also, in those fast-paced demanding days,  I find myself reaching for the easy thing to eat, instead of carefully planned and cooked meals. My lunches often end up as General Tso's Chicken along with some kind of pasta (though spinach pasta is part of the mix--or at least green pasta) with bits of broccoli in it.
That being said, I do put an immense amount of thought into doing what I can do easily to eat more healthy, and I investigate thoroughly the evidence for longevity and lifelong health that is evident in certain societies.
Which brings up something I just ran across today. I have done cursory investigation of the Paleo dieting regimen in the past and fairly recently discussed it with a fellow health enthusiast and was reminded that the Paleo diet ousts dairy products. The reason given for that is that humans eating dairy products is a relatively recent event in their eating lives. Recent meaning, only in the last 10,000 or so years have domesticated animals existed and prior to that, folks would have had to milk wild wildebeests and musk oxen--not a very pleasant sounding task.
My prior research into longevity though suggests that in one area of the world, goat's milk is a key contributor to that society's tendency toward long life. Dan Buettner's classic treatise on the subject, The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who've Lived the Longest identifies goat's milk as one of the factors. This according to longevity studies of the Ikarians of Greece. Goat's milk apparently promotes healthy intestinal flora and is high in tryptophan, which is a stress-relieving hormone. See the book review here: Clickety-click
I concur with much of the Paleo dietary guidelines though. I'd add that the late exercise and diet guru Jack LaLanne believed in eating things that were as close to their natural state as possible. I firmly believe that eating that way plus having a killer exercise regimen let LaLanne live until he was over 96 and much of that very healthy--at the age of 70 he pulled seventy boats, some with people aboard, for a one mile swim.
Though I haven't yet reached LaLanne's proficiency at either fitness or dieting, I'm working hard at perfecting both. For breakfast most days of the week I make a smoothie filled with all kinds of good stuff. The mainstays include spinach, blueberries, carrots, raw eggs, bananas, and turmeric, though I occasionally throw in other greens like kale and am planning on trying beets soon. When I don't feel like making the smoothie, I have some oatmeal with blueberries, real maple syrup, and plain whole milk yogurt. When I really go off the road of my diet I will eat whole wheat toast with Crazy Richard's peanut butter (made with only peanuts) and a glass of whole milk. Whenever I miss my smoothie, I try to make it up later in the day. That doesn't mean I don't go AWOL every once in a while on my good eating habits. I do. But then I try to get back to what's good and healthy within a day or two of messing up.
That being said the second component of maximum health is a good exercise plan. I am convinced that exercise is just as key as a good diet is at helping someone maximize their potential for a long and healthy life. Right now I'm doing a variety of strength training exercises along with stair climbing for cardio. Often on my days off, I am hiking, skiing, or just getting outside and working for those stress relieving, emotional healing, life invigorating excursions that renew both body, mind, and soul. I won't be towing any boats across the bay any time soon, but I hope to lead a vigorous life well into my nineties, if not beyond.
Lastly, the keys to good healthy lifestyles include having good interpersonal relationships with family and friends, laughing a lot, and lots of hugs. That kind of thing I can get behind any day of the week.

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