Posted By Dr. Mercola |
You might have seen these before and after celebrity comparisons around the internet. I thought it was an interesting testimony as to what happens if you don’t take care of yourself, even if you are incredibly fit and good looking.
What the original story failed to mention is that it is possible to preserve most of your looks if you follow Jack LaLanne’s approach to fitness, which you can see below.
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Jack LaLanne once said, “People don’t die of old age, they die of neglect.” And he is a perfect example of the truth of his own statement.
He also said, “Exercise is King, nutrition is Queen, put them together and you’ve got a kingdom.”
About two years ago I ran an article about Jack, and it sure seemed appropriate to share it again now in light of these pictures. He was certainly a man ahead of his time and a major testimony to how exercise and optimal nutrition can help preserve you. He is a phenomenal role model for all of us.
How to Create and Maintain Optimal Health, for Life
Remember, it’s never too late to make changes for the better when it comes to your health. And this is ESPECIALLY true for exercise, and specifically strength training.
It’s important to realize that there are certain basic tenets of optimal health and healthy weight that have remained consistent truths, regardless of what modern science or the latest diet program claims to be the “truth” right now.
Following is a run-down of my 10 Steps to Optimal Health that will never go out of style.
Many people don’t realize that I spent months of hard work compiling a comprehensive set of healthy nutritional guidelines. I would STRONGLY encourage you to review these very carefully when you have a moment as they are very comprehensive, and broken down into beginner, intermediate, and advanced, depending on the level you’re starting from.
Step 1: Address Your Emotional Traumas
In my experience with patients with serious chronic illnesses, the vast majority have previous emotional stress that contributed to their problem. And for most of the serious illnesses, the trauma stems back to their childhood.
Women who were sexually or physically abused as children, for instance, may have alterations in their brain chemistry that make them prone to depression and anxiety. Researchers have also identified at least four abnormalities in the brain that are much more prevalent in adults who had been abused and neglected as children.
But according to at least one recent study, it doesn’t take serious physical or sexual abuse to cause these changes. Even normal “everyday” emotional experiences can have a detrimental impact on your future health.
During your childhood years your body is rapidly absorbing the emotional experiences you go through. If you experience an event as traumatic, it can negatively imprint you for life – even if the experience might not be considered traumatic to others.
The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, which is perhaps the largest scientific study to examine the relationship between childhood trauma and health, found that both the prevalence and risk increased for severe obesity, physical inactivity, depressed mood, and suicide attempts as the number of childhood exposures to trauma increased.
Step 2: Get Optimal Exposure to Sunlight
Surprisingly Jack did not put a major emphasis on this area. It really is the only glaring lack of emphasis in the plan he discusses in the video above. Of course 99% of what we know about vitamin D was only learned in this century so you certainly can’t fault him for that oversight.
Vitamin D, often referred to as “the sunshine vitamin,” is different from other vitamins in that it influences your entire body. Vitamin D receptors have been found in almost every type of human cell, from your brain to your bones, so its power to optimize your health is truly great.
Please remember that vitamin D will optimize over 2,000-3,000 genes in your body or 10 percent of your total genes! It is not necessarily that you are born with a rotten deck of cards but rather your actions in life that allow your genes to be expressed. It is all about the expression or regulation of your genes that counts, not so much the actual genes themselves.
Studies have shown you can decrease your risk of cancer by MORE THAN HALF simply by optimizing your vitamin D levels with sun exposure.
Beyond cancer, researchers have pointed out that increasing levels of vitamin D3 could prevent a number of diseases that claim nearly 1 million lives throughout the world each year! For example, optimal vitamin D levels are known to positively influence the following conditions:
Hypertension Heart disease
Autism Obesity Rheumatoid arthritis
Diabetes 1 and 2 Multiple Sclerosis Crohn’s disease
Cold & Flu Inflammatory Bowel Disease Tuberculosis
Septicemia Signs of aging Dementia
Eczema & Psoriasis Insomnia Hearing loss
Muscle pain Cavities Periodontal disease
Osteoporosis Macular degeneration Reduced C-section risk
Pre eclampsia Seizures Infertility
Asthma Cystic fibrosis Migraines
Depression Alzheimer’s disease Schizophrenia
Step 3: Drink Plenty of Clean Water
Every day your body loses water through urine and sweat, and this fluid needs to be replenished. You can actually survive without food for months, but without water you’d die after a few days, so needless to say, water is absolutely essential to life.
But how much water do you really need?
Since your body is wise beyond words, you can easily tell what your water requirement is by using your thirst and the color of your urine as guides. These are good ways of ensuring your individual needs are met, day-by-day.
As long as you are not taking riboflavin (vitamin B2), which fluoresces and turns your urine bright yellow (it is also in most multi-vitamins), then your urine should be a very light-colored yellow. If it is a deep, dark yellow then you are likely not drinking enough water.
In addition, when your body begins to lose from 1 percent to 2 percent of its total water, your thirst mechanism lets you know that it’s time to replenish. If you are healthy, then drinking whenever you feel thirsty should be an adequate guide of how much water you need. You can confirm that you are drinking enough water by looking at the color of your urine, as mentioned above.
As for obtaining clean, pure water, installing a water filter in your home is your best bet. Don’t fall for the idea that bottled water is purer than what’s in your tap.
For the latest recommendations on the methods that work best to remove impurities and toxic byproducts caused by water chlorination from your tap water, please review this previous article, Tap Water Toxins—Discover Your Three Best Solutions, Straight From the Experts.
Step 4: Limit Your Exposure to Toxins
Jack did not mention this one either, but the world was a far cleaner place when Jack was teaching his material.
The sheer number of toxic chemicals that you are exposed to on a daily basis is truly staggering. With some 100,000 different chemicals being used throughout the world, and 1,500 or so more being added each year – all without any major oversight or testing for safety until after the fact – is it any wonder that you’re not as healthy as you should be?
They’re everywhere; in your air, water, soil, food supply, and in a vast majority of the personal care, household and yard products you use on a regular basis. They’re even in the circuitry boards of the electronics you surround yourself with, and the mattresses you sleep on.
The number of toxic chemicals and their sources is so large, addressing them all could easily require an entire library, but I believe you can help you keep your toxic load as low as possible by becoming an informed and vigilant consumer.
For a review of some of the most common sources of household dangers, I suggest you review this previous article, or search my database for any number of different toxins by name.
Important common ones that are frequently overlooked are mercury in foods, especially sea food, and fluoride in water and toothpaste.
Step 5: Consume Healthy Fat
The science is loud and clear on this point: omega-3 fats are essential for optimal health.
The omega-3 found naturally in fish and seafood is high in two fatty acids crucial to human health, DHA and EPA. These two fatty acids are pivotal in preventing heart disease, cancer, and many other diseases. Your brain is also highly dependent on DHA — low DHA levels have been linked to depression, schizophrenia, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
Researchers are now also linking inadequate intake of these omega-3 fats in pregnant women to premature birth and low birth weight, and to hyperactivity in children.
Unfortunately most fish commercially available today (even wild-caught varieties) are polluted with mercury, PCBs and other toxic substances, which is why I recommend you take a supplement like krill oil instead of getting it from your food.
For a good refresher on the important role omega-3s play in your health and the development of disease, please review this previous article.
Step 6: Eat a Healthy Diet That’s Right for Your Nutritional Type
Generally speaking, eating a meal that is right for your Nutritional Type™ should produce marked and lasting improvement in your energy, your mental capacities, your emotional well-being, and leave you feeling well-satisfied for several hours.
If you are already feeling good, eating should, at the very least, help to maintain your energy level. But if you feel worse in some way an hour or so after eating, such as:
* You still feel hungry even though you are physically full
* You develop a sweet craving
* Your energy level drops
* You feel hyper, nervous, angry or irritable
* You feel depressed
… then it might be due to an improper combination of proteins, fats and carbohydrates at your last meal. You might be eating the perfect foods for your metabolism, but having too much of one type of food in place of another can easily produce the symptoms listed above.
If you’re new to this idea, then my beginners nutritional plan is a good place to start.
Step 7: Eat Plenty of Raw Food
One of the most important aspects of a healthy diet that is most frequently overlooked is the issue of eating your food uncooked, in its natural raw state.
Unfortunately, as you may be aware, over 90 percent of the food purchased by Americans are processed foods. And when you’re consuming these kinds of denatured and chemically altered foods, it’s no surprise we have an epidemic of chronic and degenerative diseases.
Ideally you’ll want to eat as many foods as possible in their unprocessed state; typically organic, biodynamic foods that have been grown locally, and are therefore in season.
But the challenge is, even when you chose the best foods available you can destroy most of the nutrition if you cook them. I believe it’s really wise to strive to get as much raw food in your diet as possible. I personally try to eat about 85 percent of my food raw, including raw eggs and meats.
Step 8: Optimize Your Insulin and Leptin Levels
It is now a well-known fact that insulin speeds up aging. Eating sugar and grains will increase your insulin level, which is one of the fastest ways to premature aging.
Leptin is another heavyweight hormone associated with the aging process.
Leptin is a hormone produced by fat that tells your body whether it needs more energy, and what to do with the energy it does have. This is how it regulates your hunger. But it also influences, if not controls, the functions of the hypothalamus in your brain, which impacts your:
* Thyroid function
* Adrenal function
* Sympathetic nervous system
Like your insulin levels, if your leptin levels become elevated, your body systems will develop a resistance to this hormone, which will wreak havoc in your body.
Disruptions of either of these two hormones have been linked to many so-called “age-related” diseases, including:
* Elevated blood pressure
* Increases in blood coagulation
* Heart disease
* Increased inflammation
Ron Rosedale, MD, who is one of the leading experts on leptin does an excellent job of explaining the links between insulin, leptin, your weight and your overall health, and have done so in numerous articles posted on my site.
Your diet, as discussed in step six and seven above, is the key for maintaining the balance of these two hormones.
Step 9: Exercise
The benefits of exercise are staggering, and if you think you can achieve or maintain optimal health without it, you’re deceiving yourself. For example, it helps you to:
* Sleep better
* Lose weight, gain weight or maintain weight, depending on your needs
* Improve your resistance to fight infections
* Lower your risk of cancer, heart disease and diabetes
* Help your brain work better, making you smarter
If you’ve fallen off the exercise wagon, my article Five Ways to Pick up the Exercise Habit Again, can help put you back on track.
Step 10: Get Plenty of Good Sleep
Scientists have discovered that your circadian rhythms regulate the energy levels in your cells. In addition, the proteins involved with your circadian rhythm and metabolism are intrinsically linked and dependent upon each other.
Therefore, when your circadian rhythm is disrupted, it can have a profound influence on your physical health. For example, lack of rest or disruption of normal sleep patterns can increase your hunger, leading to obesity-related illnesses and accelerated aging.
Research has also linked disrupted sleep cycles to more serious health problems like depression, coronary heart diseases, and even cancer.
If you have any kind of sleep problem, whether you’re having trouble falling- or staying asleep, my article 33 Secrets to a Good Night’s Sleep may be able to help you find a winning combination to finally get some good rest.
Always remember that leading a common sense, healthy lifestyle is your best bet to produce a healthy body and mind, and increase your longevity.
The drug industry spends about $15 billion a year manipulating and distorting your perceptions about the proper solutions for your health challenges. They want you to believe that drugs can offer you optimal health and extend your life, but the truth is getting out, and it’s only a matter of time before the old drug paradigm will shatter.
In addition, there are several health myths out there that you need to be aware of if you want to be optimally healthy, because even though these beliefs are incorrect, conventional healthcare practitioners and media still keep advocating them. These include:
* Sun exposure causes skin cancer
* Pasteurized milk does your body good
* Whole grains are good for you
* Fish is good for you
* Saturated fat causes heart disease
There are many others, but I’m sure you get the idea—question the status quo! Don’t swallow everything you hear whole without considering the source of the information.
Fortunately, you can still take self-responsibility, educate yourself, and make better, healthier choices so that you too can look and feel like LaLanne at the age of 90 and beyond.
By adhering to the basic tenets of optimal health I outlined above, you are building a healthy mind and body, and thereby safeguarding yourself against a multitude of health problems and serious diseases that could knock years off your life span.