With all the research I have done in diet and lifestyle by taking deep dives into current scientific literature, anecdotal reports of healthy populations and by observing my patients, I have formulated a healthy approach called “The Power of 5, the Ultimate Formula.” Its 5 components are worthy of addressing to live a long and healthy life.
Diet and Lifestyle
One of its components is sweets which pertains to diet and lifestyle. I chose this component as it might be the most important and impactful as people have the most to gain. It also might be more difficult as our eating lifestyle interfaces with many other people. Whether we eat with our family or friends, they may not share our preferences. Also, as a society we build many of our social interactions around food. Then there are eating out options which don’t always cater to our specific needs and desires.
I also readily admit that I did not always eat a healthy diet, but I do now, and I remind everyone that it’s never too early or too late to make changes to improve your life and lifestyle.
As a physician, writer/blogger, I observe people. There are times I have conversations in my head about what I see in the world.
I find it hard to control the out-of-control conversation that goes on in my head when I am in a public place, and I observe grossly unhealthy habits. Maybe the worst examples I see are individuals choosing to eat food served at sporting events. What irony; while sitting in a stadium watching world-class athletes; some of the most fit humans on the planet being cheered on by a mass of humanity eating 1000 calories of corn chips smothered with processed cheese and pulled pork. I see families with obese children, all chowing down their own whole personal stadium pizza each followed by soft ice cream and a sugary beverage. I feel sad for those who are doing something so unhealthy to themselves and it serves as further motivation for me to work harder to get my messages across … saving one life at a time.
It all starts with small steps toward more healthy eating. That’s how I did it and many others can do the same. It starts by recognizing the hazards of eating the kinds of unhealthy foods I just mentioned.
My wife Melissa, who prides herself as a chef and has already authored one cookbook and is completing her second, has been a vegetarian since age sixteen. She accepted some of my less healthy eating attributes when we first met, but in short order, I saw the light. (I expect to address what motivates us to change in another blog post this summer.)
My Journey Toward Change
As Melissa and I became more immersed in making healthy adjustments, we referred to ourselves as Pescatarians. Besides eating fish, we ate a diet with lots of fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and whole grains. We avoided foods that put us at risk from pesticides and chemicals, and it evolved into what we considered a Mediterranean lifestyle.
I love eating this way, it seems so natural for me, and I feel like I am back to my roots as an ancestor from the middle east. I included the Mediterranean lifestyle in the Power of 5 formula because for the past five years, the US News and World Report ranked the Mediterranean diet No. 1 in five categories: best diet for healthy eating, easiest diet to follow, best diet for diabetes, best heart-healthy diet, and best plant-based diet.
The Mediterranean lifestyle is versatile, and people can find food that fits this eating lifestyle anywhere and at most restaurants if you look carefully enough. Most of the recipes that Melissa makes at home and publishes would meet the criteria of Mediterranean diet.
Learning from the Centenarians
When I delved into the dietary habits of the longest living humans on earth, I discovered most excluded or severely limited animal products. I started my investigation in 1973 when I was still in high school. I read the cover story of the National Geographic magazine about centenarians who were living in communities scattered throughout the world. What I learned then and have been observing since is that to increase one’s chance of living a long and healthy life, eating a whole-food, plant-based diet works best. An unanswered question for me is why did I eat so many hamburgers between then and when I made my healthier transition? (I will answer that and many other questions about eating healthy in my next blog post.)
Diet and Lifestyle: Action Steps
Think about …
- what you know you should eat versus what you are currently eating.
- what changes you could make to improve your eating lifestyle.
I would even encourage you to …
- keep a 2-week eating diary—keep track of everything you eat for a 2-week period.
- use a mobile app that could calculate your caloric intake as well as fats, proteins and carbs.
It might provide the motivation to make some adjustments.
To a long and healthy life,
David Bernstein, MD