Sunday Thoughts (Evidence)
For all the good that access to information has for all of us, there’s a downside too.
In today’s world, anyone with a keyboard and an internet connection can sound like an expert.
Who among us hasn’t read something from a Facebook friend or Twitter follow and taken it as gospel?
While that might be harmless when it comes to celebrity gossip, with your health, misinformation can be deadly.
That’s why before I recommend anything, I do the research. I check the facts. And I’m careful not to hop on trends that seem a little too good to be true.
Because often, they aren’t true at all.
So I thought I’d take this Sunday to drop a few facts on you.
They form a foundation for health that – if you actually follow them – will put you on a path to a lifetime of success.
And trust me, the science is there to back every single one of them.
Ready for a little rapid-fire truth-telling? Good. Let’s begin.
(If we need a fancy way to think of this, how about “Jeff’s 17 Facts That Can Change Your Life”?)
1. Watch your sugar intake.
Added sugar is one of the worst ingredients in the modern diet. It’s tied to all kinds of ailments, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. And sugary drinks like soda are among the worst things you can consume.
A cookie isn’t going to kill you. But know that sugar is not good for you, so look at it as an occasional treat, not a regular part of your diet.
2. Eat nuts.
Nuts are incredibly healthy. Loaded with nutrients. And they can help fight a host of diseases. Eat them regularly.
3. Choose real foods, not junk.
Americans treat junk food as a badge of honor, a measure of freedom of choice. That’s all fine and good. But know they’re engineered to trick you into overeating, they’re incredibly calorie dense, and low in nutrition. So what you’re really choosing when you load up on processed foods instead of real ones is poor health.
4. Coffee is fine (and healthy).
Coffee gets a bad rap. Yes, it’s not for everyone. And if you don’t like it, or can’t tolerate it, I’m not pushing you to start. But it’s proven to be very healthy and full of antioxidants. Coffee is linked with increased longevity, and reduced risk of diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other illnesses.
5. Know your fats and choose wisely.
The “low fat” craze threw our nation’s health into a ditch. It’s time you knew the facts. Fatty foods like fish or olive oil are filled with “good fats” which reduce your risk of heart issues, strokes, dementia and depression.
Saturated fats can raise cholesterol, that’s true. But it also raises good cholesterol and shrink the particles of bad cholesterol. The association between saturated fat and heart disease is questionable at best.
Man-made trans fats are unquestionably bad. They DO raise your risk of heart disease. Fortunately, many companies are actively phasing them out.
6. Sleep is critical.
The importance of sleep can’t be overstated. Poor sleep is one of the strongest risk factors for obesity. Which leads to all kinds of issues. Get your rest.
And a light-filled environment (especially blue lights from electronics) is shown to be very disruptive. Turn them off well before bed.
7. Probiotics protect your gut.
At the core, digestion is health. You aren’t just what you eat. You’re what you digest and absorb. And a disruption in gut bacteria is tied to some of the worst ailments you can experience.
Probiotic supplements, probiotic-rich foods and fiber (fuel for your gut bacteria) all can help.
8. Drink water with every meal.
When you drink enough water, your body thrives. Science shows it can boost your metabolism, so you burn more calories. Just 2 cups 30 minutes before a meal can increase weight loss by more than 40%.
9. Take vitamin D3.
You know I recommend supplements. And this is the absolute most important one. It’s linked to better bone health, muscle strength, mood, immune function and even longevity. It’s cheap, readily available and incredibly safe. Take it.
10. Fruits and veggies should be your focus.
People who eat the most fruits and vegetables live longer, period. They have a lower risk of almost every disease. This isn’t news, and not really open to debate.
11. Eat enough protein each day.
Protein is also vital for your best health. It’s important for weight loss, keeps you full longer, lowers blood sugar and blood pressure, and protects your muscles.
12. Move your body.
I get it. People don’t really like to exercise. They say they don’t have time. It’s hard sometimes. It can be boring. But with diet and sleep, it’s the “holy trinity” of good health. The science doesn’t lie.
13. Not all carbs are equal. Choose wisely.
Refined carbohydrates, processed to remove fiber, are low in nutrients, set you up for overeating, and can spike your blood sugar. If you focus on reducing refined carbs and sugar in your life, and replace these things with real food, your body responds.
If you don’t believe the science, I challenge you to be mindful of how you feel after a carb-heavy meal. It’s probably not great.
14. Relationships are nourishment.
A social network, and healthy relationships, are proven to be beneficial for your mental health, and your physical health too. If you have close friends and family, the bottom line is, you’ll live longer. Treasure and nurture these connections.
15. Belly fat is bad.
Forget about looks. Belly fat is harmful because it taxes your organs, and is highly linked to disease. Your waist size is a stronger marker of health than your overall weight. The good news is, if you follow the other science and get your diet right, belly fat comes off.
16. Diets fail. Lifestyle changes stick.
The studies don’t lie. Going on a “diet” is one of the strongest predictors for future weight gain. You need to focus on nourishing your body, adopting healthy things into your daily life. Not depriving.
When you transition to healthier choices, weight loss follows. Slow & steady wins this race.
17. Eat your eggs.
The “bad takes” on eggs are particularly annoying. Whole eggs are so nutritious they’re like a multivitamin in a shell. A particularly large study of over 263 thousand people showed no association with heart disease. Other studies show they have no impact on blood cholesterol on most people. And the yolks have most of the nutrition.
And on that note, I’m wrapping up the science class, and whipping up some eggs.
Remember: question what you read. Do your research.
And if you have questions about any of this… let me know.