Most of us know there is a lot we can do to support good health. No one argues that “healthy habits” are really healthy. You probably know some things you could do to become healthier, but the problem is motivation. You know what to do, but it seems overwhelming. So day after day goes by, and you have yet to start taking steps. Your work and home life is hectic, you can’t imagine time for making better food or for an exercise program, and when you go to bed, you find yourself unable to sleep because your mind is still churning from the day’s activities.
Food, exercise, and rest are three clear areas which, if you pursue them, they will pay you back in health dividends. You may even be able to get better control over your hectic schedule, being able to handle life’s demands with more energy and focus. The good news is: you don’t have to be perfect to improve your health. A little work on all three makes a big difference.
Frontiers in Psychology published a study from the University of Otago looking at the synergistic combination of food, exercise, and sleep. They studied young adults, but other studies show similar advantages to all age groups. They found the study participants had better mental health with a good combination of raw vegetables and fruit, active exercise, and sleep between 8 to 9.7 hours. They consider diet, exercise, and sleep to be the three pillars of mental health. How do they work together to be so beneficial?
Raw Plant-based Diet
This is the easiest area to deal with, no matter how hectic your schedule. Raw food is easy to get and easy to transport. It does require more trips to the store, due to its short shelf life, and some does require refrigeration. But you can save time by skipping the cooking — just grab and eat. Some discretion is necessary with a plant diet, primarily because of sugar — this is particularly true of fruit.
A study of 209,000 adults, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, found that participants who concentrated on plant foods such as vegetables, nuts, legumes, some fruit, and healthy oils had a much lower risk of heart disease than any other group, and were also leaner with more energy. Those who ate “plant-based” but focused on fruit juices, refined grains, and processed vegetables increased their risk.
Plants contain so many special nutrients (called phytonutrients), that we are still attempting to discover all of them. Simply bringing those unique nutrients into your body improves your mental and physical health in both obvious and subtle ways. Processing destroys many of these nutrients, and excess sugar is harmful, so focus on raw, unprocessed vegetables.
How does this work with a hectic schedule? Seeds and nuts make a great snack. Bring some raw veggies to work and park them in the local refrigerator until lunch.
The best exercise does take some time, so you may think you can’t work in that time if you are extremely busy. Here again, you can take some steps that will be extremely beneficial. You can get exercises, which are short enough to do during a small break from work or before you get out the door in the morning. Then, during the day, you are likely to have opportunities to take stairs rather than elevators, walk a few blocks during lunch time, and do a few sets in the evening. Anything that gets your blood moving gives immediate and longer term benefits.
To prove the value of exercise, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), compiled from data of fraternal twins in Finland, had one main objective: to show how impactful exercise was to people where genetic factors were removed. Occasional regular exercise was enough to show a 24% reduction in risk of death in men, and 34% in women. Yes, a full conditioning exercise program was even more effective in the study, but the effect of some exercise was striking.
If you can take a lunch hour or other time to just go for a brisk 20 minute walk, you will be moving into the “conditioning” category. Twenty minutes is enough to push you into the health promoting range. Now you are tapping into major health benefits.
What happens when you combine diet and exercise? A lot. For one, your metabolism burns off calories, so if you do take in some extra, you burn them rather than leaving them to spike sugar levels or being stored in fat. Exercise utilizes nutrients faster, so good conditioning requires a high nutrient diet. Exercise increases blood flow and promotes good digestion of food. Diet and exercise complement each other, and actually need each other to get the full effect of either. And there is even more synergy you can gain…
When you read this newsletter, you see dark characters against a light background, or the reverse: it is the contrast between the two that makes it readable. Likewise, rest and sleep are complimentary contrasts to exercise and diet. Exercise does temporary metabolic “damage”, which sleep restores. Some food assimilation requires proper rest. Sleep is a vital compliment to the other two “pillars”.
Learning and memory require sleep to properly process and complete. Sleep gives the body time to heal from the metabolic toxins produced during awake periods. Sleep completes our daily cycle. Chronic loss of sleep is linked to diabetes and glucose intolerance, obesity, cardiovascular issues, and mental conditions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a study which shows that over one third of American adults do not regularly get enough sleep to promote optimal health. Without that sleep, the repair and restoration processes required by the body are incomplete.
So, with a hectic schedule, what can you do about sleep? If you are not even setting aside enough time for sleep, making that time an obvious first step. There are many things you can do to encourage sleep, and some of us just don’t give sleep a fair chance.
Sleep compliments both diet and exercise, and both good diet and proper exercise promote sleep. All three have a potent effect on health. That was what the University of Otago study found — a synergistic effect when all three are in play.
Put them together
If you are only motivated to take a few small steps toward good health, try working on each of these three “pillars”. Once you see how much difference they can make in how you feel, think, and take on the day, you may be motivated to take more steps. No matter your schedule and the demands you face, you can make big progress even with little efforts in these three areas.
Dr. Nemec’s Comments:
At Total Health Institute we have promoted 7 Basic Steps to Total Health for over 35 years. These include ideal diet customized to each individual, proper oxygen levels, proper hydration, ideal exercise program, proper sleep amount, timing and cycle, fasting/detoxification and prayer/meditation/stillness. This present research supports the power of three of them and that power is multiplied as you combine them. It is not additive, but exponential, so 1+1+1 does not equal three, but more like 30. No more excuses — just start doing it: no matter how little, it is multiplied for a great return.
If you want help on your health journey here are the ways we can work together:
- Outpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-has the most benefit of teaching, treatment, live classes and personalized coaching. This program has the most contact with Dr. Nemec with 3- 6 month programs that can be turned into a regular checking and support program for life. This is our core program that has helped so many restore their health and maintain that restoration for years.
- Inpatient Comprehensive Teaching and Treatment Program-is our four-week intensive inpatient program for those that are not in driving distance, usually over 4 hour drive. This is the program that is an intensive jumpstart with treatment, teaching, live classes and coaching designed for all our international patients along with those in the US that do not live in Illinois. This program is very effective especially when combined with our new membership program support.
- Stay at Home Program-is offered to continental US patients who cannot come to Total Health Institute but still want a more personal, customized plan to restore their health. This program also includes our Learn Membership Program.
- Membership Program is our newest program offered for those that want to work on their health at a high level and want access to the teaching at Total Health Institute along with the Forums: both Dr. Nemec’s posts and other members posting. And also, to have the chance to get personalized questions answered on the conference calls which are all archived in case you miss the call. The Membership Program has 3 levels to choose from: Learn, Overcome and Master. The difference is at the Overcome and Master levels you received one on one calls with Dr. Nemec personalizing your program for your areas of focus.