Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Realistic Truth about Health and Fitness

The industry of health and fitness is young and research is still being conducted daily with new findings being published continually.  If you don’t stay diligent and keep up with it, you’re likely to be practicing techniques based on outmoded and disproved data.

For example, in the seventies, everyone thought whole wheat was healthy.  Today we not only know that whole grains are harmful, but that wheat, in particular is a dangerous choice because of the almost 100% chance that commercially grown wheat is from a genetically modified crop which can cause immune system dis-function, birth defects and other unpleasant things.

In the 80’s, everyone jumped on the Low Fat bandwagon. But the incidents of heart disease still skyrocketed seemingly mysteriously. The latest research is showing that low fat diets increase inflammation in our bodies and that inflammation is the biggest contributor to not only heart disease but practically every disease known to man.

Another misstep in the 80’s was the Aerobics craze. The common thinking was that low-intensity, long term exercise was the best for burning fat.  But then, after two decades of experience and further research, the consensus in the industry is that long, slow cardio sessions at best, don’t do much to change your body and, at worst, can actually cause damage to the heart muscle among other things. 

Since I’ve been in the industry long enough, i am starting to see some of these health and fitness fads recycle themselves. An example of that is a craze that hit around the turn of the millennium; this was the high protein-low carb kick.  Although I wasn’t around for it, I am aware that this was a resurgence of a similar craze that had surfaced way back in the 1950’s. Sixty years ago, and again today, this is not a good way to live. Carbs are a crucial nutrient and your brain cannot function without them. Totally eliminating them from your diet is dangerous and unnatural.

So what can we do?

Well there are a few pieces of advice that have stood the test of time and keep coming back again and again as an answer to all of the problems and repair to all of the damage caused by following these ‘fads.’  I have said something to this effect many times to people with whom I’ve discussed the topic of artificial sweeteners: If we had this conversation 15 years ago, you’d be touting the benefits of saccharin to me.  Wouldn’t you be embarrassed now that we know it’s carcinogenic?  And eight years ago, you would have told me how great Aspartame was.  But since we now both know that Aspartame is referred to as “the most dangerous substance in the world” today your argument would have shifted to extolling the virtues of Xylitol.  While I would hold fast to the same stance and beliefs that I’ve held since the beginning, still you won’t listen to me, thinking I’m a kook or that I’m missing the boat on this secret substance that allows you to buck the laws of nature. I would also suspect that at some point in the future, once Xylitol has fallen from grace and been proven to cause whatever side effects it will eventually be proven to cause, you will have switched your loyalties to the latest chemical food substitute, blindly and ignorantly believing the label and the ads - despite the poor luck you’ve had with artificial sweeteners. While my argument will have remained unchanged because I stick to the basics. I took a conservative approach and only considered those things that nature has provided for us as things appropriate for our nutrition.

And science is slowly but surely catching up to me.  Oh sure, there is still a large faction of science that isn’t concerned with the real truth, because unless you’re a farmer, there isn’t much money in the truth.  If you’re selling cholesterol lowering drugs, why would you want the public to know that simply eating greens and avoiding processed food will work even better?

So what are the basics?

Eat your vegetables.  Organic vegetables. Especially the green ones.   Eat six to nine cups daily.

Eat meat, but eat it sparingly and from a source that you’d approve of your children seeing. If your meat comes from a torture and murder factory that would give a five year old nightmares, then you will not glean health from it. If your child sees a cow in a beef factory, she would probably refuse to eat any meat after that. This is another example of how children can be so intuitive before they become indoctrinated into our societal ills. Your child expects cows to be on pastures. So do I.  I personally will not eat meat that wasn’t raised on a farm in a way consistent with the norms of the species.

Drink plain water. There is no reason to consume any other type of beverage.  Any other beverage you drink is taking away from your optimum health. Beverages are probably the biggest, sneakiest villain in the drama of our health and fitness. The second step I usually take with any new client is an examination of their beverages.  I get more immediate results from addressing that than I do from addressing the solid food diet.

Exercise enough, but not too much. I don’t know why, but it seems like most people either skip it altogether, or do way too much exercise. Both parties in question would benefit from a regular, moderate bout of exercise every day.  Nothing crazy, but just enough to stimulate and relax you mentally, emotionally and physically. We say we just want to be ‘in shape’ but we go around thinking and acting as if we need to do enough exercise to compete in elite sporting events.

I’m sorry that what I have to say isn’t more exciting. I know that being on the ‘cutting edge’ is what really interests people, which is why this information is so often scoffed at.  I think people assume it’s too simple, too provincial or too quaint to possibly work.  But it is the truth.

As un-romantic as it sounds; it works.

I think it’s tragic that treating illnesses and pursuing health and fitness with diet and exercise alone is considered a radical approach, but surgery and drugs are administered in droves every day.  Both surgery and drugs have terrible, debilitating side effects and neither one tends to address the root of a given problem. Stick to the basics and you’ll see; nature has given us everything we need to thrive. Just take it.

4 comments:

Georgia Lister said...

Agreed! Well written, Jason.

Jason Alan Griffin said...

Someone asked me, "You say that beverages are the second thing you address in a new client. But what is the FIRST thing?"

And the first thing I ask about is actually their sleeping habits. I can't work with someone who isn't getting a sufficient amount of sleep. It would be like accepting a job as captain of a ship with a leak in it. Doomed!

In my mind, sleep has always been the first step. Second I go to beverages and thirdly I look at breathing. Then, depending on the individual and what they need most help with, I'll move on to either exercise or food.

Coffee, Chocolate and Nia (Jill) said...

Agree with everything. Fabulously well-written. You're one of my health gurus. Thank you!

Ursula Parks said...

Well said; I appreciate the simple, clear, intuitive information.