BECOME YOUR BEST SELF
How to eat, move, and breathe your way to feeling younger and healthier now
Hey, slow down! Longer periods of low-intensity exercise are better for your health than shorter bursts of higher-intensity moves, if the calories burned are roughly equivalent. In other words, if standing and walking for four hours burns the same calories as rock-climbing for one hour, the better option is standing and walking, as cholesterol and blood lipid levels were shown to improve greatly, in a new study out of Maastricht University in the Netherlands. We think it pays to be a career mailman or museum tour guide!
Brown University scientists now have neurophysiological proof that meditation prevents depression. Their study shows that people who practice being mindful of the present moment and of simple functions like breathing have better control over their sensory cortical alpha rhythms. Translation: They can tune out persistent negative thoughts and focus away from signals of physical pain. Time to sit and count those breaths! Download a free podcast from UCLA's Mindful Awareness Research Center at marc.ucla.edu.
Repeat after us: Superfoods are your friend. Why so super? “They are nutrient-dense foods that help you look and feel younger by fighting free radicals or toxins, and by thwarting the aging process,” explains Orecchio. It’s easiest to find them at health food stores like Jimbo’s, Sprouts, and Whole Foods. On your shopping list: Chia seeds, which are loaded with fiber (and help rid your digestive tract of toxins), antioxidants, and essential minerals. They’re also a complete protein. Mix them in yogurt, breakfast cereal, or a smoothie. Another zinger is goji berries—filled with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Their high-ORAC value fights aging while the carotenoids are great for your eyes. Orecchio also recommends raw cacao (hey-o, chocolate!), which promotes cardiovascular health. The extremely high source of magnesium helps the brain, builds strong bones, and regulates blood pressure.
“Wheat grass is a miracle worker for cleansing the body of toxins,” says Christa Orecchio, clinical nutritionist and owner of The Whole Journey in Encinitas. You can order it at a juice bar and shoot it, or buy it in powder form and mix it with water. “Filled with vitamins, minerals, live enzymes, antioxidants, and protein,” Orecchio raves, “it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet.”
Another reason to get your Zs: When you’re on restricted sleep, fatty foods actually appear more rewarding, according to a study from St. Luke’s–Roosevelt Hospital Center and Columbia University in New York. People who haven’t slept a normal night are more tempted by junk food. For sleep help, turn to page 80.
Photo by Justin Lheureux
“Sex saves lives and makes those saved lives better,” raves Dr. Samuel H. Wood, medical director of The Reproductive Sciences Center, and scientific director at the La Jolla Centre for Sexual Health. “In a study from the University of Bristol, men who had intercourse at least twice a week were half as likely to die—of all causes—than those who had infrequent sex, when followed over a 10-year period. This rivals the health benefits of diet, weight loss, exercise, and cessation of smoking.” In addition, “Ongoing sexual activity is associated with a lower risk of fatal heart attacks, strokes, and breast cancer (due to the effect of oxytocin released during orgasms).” It also makes you look younger. “In a study that examined the characteristics of people considered to be ‘superyoung’ in appearance (men and women whose age was routinely underestimated by seven to 12 years), one of the most strongly correlated factors was that they had intercourse three times per week as opposed to the control group, which had sex an average of twice a week. The bottom line? For the health benefits of sex, make sure you have sex twice a week, while for the youthfulness benefits, bump that up to three times a week!”
// Erin Meanley
Ask Dr. Chaudhary
Local wellness expert talks sleep, cooking, and Dr. Oz
What is the most pressing health concern for San Diegans? So many of our foods are filled with preservatives and harmful ingredients that come in a box, bag, or can. Eating natural foods prepared at home is the most important step that a family can take towards their health. No parent would dare put the preservatives found in processed foods in the meal they are cooking on the stove.
What about sleep and exercise? Sleep is like investing in the stock market—it is not just how much you get, it is when you get it. The most important hours to sleep are from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., when your body rejuvenates itself. As for exercise, even short routines can have big rewards for your health. You don’t have to be able to run a marathon to be fit enough to prevent chronic disease. Start with just a brisk walk for 20 minutes three times a week and already you significantly reduce your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and Alzheimer’s disease.
What is it like appearing on Dr. Oz's show? I think Dr. Oz’s success is due to his authenticity. He genuinely is interested in helping Americans become more healthy and he practices these principles in his daily life. You can’t be an effective teacher if you don’t practice what you are teaching.
Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary is the Director of Neurology at Wellspring Health in Scripps Memorial Hospital.