There is something magical about being outside, surrounded by nature — grass, rocks, trees, water, wildlife, dirt, fresh air. The natural world has the ability to calm, center, and clear our minds on our most scattered days. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to spend many cumulative months immersed in nature, camping, backpacking, boating, hiking, and exploring. For me, those adventures coupled with emerging research, have illuminated the transformational power of being outside.
One of the most enduring aspects of my personal wellness journey is a continual effort to find balance and avoid extremism. The health and fitness industry is permeated by black and white, good or bad thinking, but I believe it’s in The Gray that most people find true wellness. The ability to not obsess over diet, exercise, weight, or appearance — but to still have those things matter and have importance — is essential to optimal health.
Living within your gastrointestinal tract are 100 trillion microbes from over 1000 different species, collectively referred to as the gut microbiome. Recent research into the microbial world within our bodies has illuminated many previously unknown connections to our overall health. Indeed, the human body is an ecosystem with many sub-ecosystems (such as the gut), and just like the environment, when one of those ecosystems malfunctions, it compromises the entire system.
The three cornerstones of optimal health are: diet, physical activity, and sleep. Yes, sleep. Although Americans are very good at minimizing the importance of sleep, it is critical to vitality. Because we pretend we’re superhuman, needing far less rest than we actually do, and we try to minimize non-productive time — sleep, a time when we are resting and not producing something of tangible value, is dramatically undervalued. But viewing sleep as a time of unnecessary rest and of non-productivity is faulty logic.
We are built to move. The human form is beautifully and perfectly suited for endurance, power, and flexibility. For optimal health we must respect, celebrate, and nurture our physical abilities with purposeful and enjoyable activity.
The modern food system, and therefore modern eaters, have a dysfunctional and unhealthy relationship with sugar. It’s one of the most addictive substances (up to 8 times more addicting than cocaine) that humans regularly consume and added sugar is in nearly every processed food product made.
For decades, we have been told that when it comes to weight gain, loss, and maintenance, a calorie is a calorie. Meaning, that a calorie — which is a specific amount of chemical energy — coming from an energy-yielding macronutrient (carbohydrates, proteins, fats or alcohol) will all function the same in the body. It also implied that a caloric intake of 2,000 calories will have the same impact on weight status, regardless of it’s composition (the respective ratios of carbs, proteins, fats and alcohol).
This is the third and final post in a series addressing the fundamental Minimal Wellness dietary principles. We are using the framework of Michael Pollan’s iconic dietary advice “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” to help guide the discussion. Make sure you check out Parts 1 and 2 of this series for proper context.
This is the second post in a series addressing the fundamental Minimal Wellness dietary principles. We are using the framework of Michael Pollan’s iconic dietary advice “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” to help guide the discussion. Make sure you check out Part 1 of this series for proper context.
Diet is a fascinating topic — there’s an endless amount of nutritional nuance, refinement, and data available, with all that information it is possible to create a prescriptive personalized diet. Yet, what is appropriate for one person’s diet may not necessarily be ideal or work for another — we all have different taste preferences, come from different families and cultures, have different health profiles and resources, and have unique life circumstances.