“(On what her longevity is attributed to) Red meat and gin.”
“I intend to live forever. So far, so good.”
You do not have to die.
At least not right now. Yes, you will die someday. And yes, if a piano randomly falls on you while you’re walking down Broadway, there was probably nothing you could have knowingly done to prevent it. But this is the exception, not the rule. In most cases, you can do a lot to extend both the duration and quality of your life.
Just as medical doctors spend their lives practicing medicine, you can spend your life practicing invincibility. No matter what your overall purpose in life is, you should continually be seeking ways to enjoy life more and boost vitality. I call this, “practicing invincibility”. Consider how clinicians practice medicine; they will spend their entire lives trying to increase their knowledge of medicine, practicing the best medical techniques and procedures, and applying what they have learned on patients.
Every doctor knows that the field of medicine will continue to move forward long after they have stopped practicing. But they practice anyway. They practice to get as close to mastery as they possibly can. In the same way, you can strive for invincibility. You can continually seek out tips on healthy living and ways to eat healthy. By finding new ways to boost vitality each day, you can constantly enrich and possibly extended your life.
Practice invincibility by paying attention to the following three categories: bodily health, bodily protection and mental health. Research of the top 10 causes of death in America shows that heart disease and cancer are number one and number two, respectively. Also in the top 10, you will see cerebralvascular, kidney, liver and respiratory disease, and diabetes. These causes comprise the bodily health category. Respiratory infections such influenza and pneumonia, as well as the general term, “accidents”, are also listed in the top 10. I call this group the bodily protection category. Finally, suicide, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and other dementia comprise the mental health category. The following quick start guide is an easily digestible manual for avoiding the above health problems and practicing invincibility:
1. There is no such thing as an essential carbohydrate.
Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes have all been linked to increased levels of inflammation in the body. So what is causing all of this inflammation? Contrary to the conventional belief held by most of the medical community for the past 60 years, it is not dietary fat intake. Instead, a substantial case has been made against the carbohydrate.
Increased carbohydrate intake leads to increased insulin production and increased levels of inflammation. If you’re trying to figure out how to avoid belly fat and bloating, start eliminating your carb intake. You can dramatically decrease the inflammation in your body by eating less than 150 grams of carbohydrates every day. The simplest way to do this is without being miserable is to drink only water and avoid grains at all costs. Most sodas, fruit juices and flavored beverages have at least 30 grams of sugar per serving, which is about 70-80 grams per bottle.
Grains are a nightmare for at least two reasons; first, they contain massive amounts of carbohydrates (e.g. two slices of bread have 40 grams of carbohydrates); and second, insoluble grain fiber irritates your gastrointestinal tract and can perforate its outer lining. This can lead to the malabsorption of nutrients and stool in your blood (gross). Avoiding grains is one of the quickest ways to eat healthy and boost vitality.
2. A pound of bacon a day keeps the doctor away.
If practicing invincibility is your objective, achieving your goal requires that you learn to love healthy fats. This includes avocado, almonds, coconut, salmon, egg yolks, grassfed beef and my favorite, bacon. Dietary fat, especially the saturated kind, has been demonized for more than half a century in America. Yet, the obesity epidemic continues to worsen. This is because the Fat Free craze of the 1980’s drove food manufacturers to replace the fat in their products with sugar. Compare the nutrition labels of any food product with its Fat Free counterpart and you will see 5-10 additional grams of carbohydrates in the Fat Free version. For example, in an average sized bottle of regular Ranch dressing there is 1 gram of carbohydrates or less. In the average bottle of Fat Free Ranch dressing, there is over 20 grams.
Practice invincibility by understanding the importance of a healthy diet. Start replacing the majority your carbs with healthy fats. Fats have little or no impact on insulin and, as a result, promote the burning of both dietary and stored fat as fuel. This is why fats are an incredible source of energy. The key is to “teach” your body to rely on fat for fuel by limiting your carbohydrate intake. An added bonus to eating more healthy fats is that they rapidly breakdown into compounds that tell your body, “stop eating, you’re full”. Finally, there are some fats that you want to avoid at all costs. These include transfats, interesterified fats, or anything with the word “hydrogenated” on the label. These anti-invincibility fats will kill you.
3. Personalize your nutrient intake.
Most multivitamins, mineral supplements and performance enhancing supplements are not worth your money. More importantly, ingesting the wrong ratios and amounts of some vitamins and minerals can actually damage to your body. A better way to boost vitality and ensure that you’re getting your daily vitamins is to eat a few nutrient-dense foods each day. This includes, egg yolks, asparagus, almonds, avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, cabbage, beets, cauliflower, broccoli and bok choy. If you lack the time to cook anything substantial, make it a goal to have one spinach and broccoli salad a day. This simple act will radically decrease your risk of developing cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
Enjoying a large salad every day will help you reach and surpass your daily vitamin and mineral requirements; however, there are a few critical nutrients that you cannot easily ingest by eating whole foods. In order to achieve ultimate vitality and be a sexual Tyrannosaurus Rex, you will have to supplement your food intake with omega-3 fatty acids, Vitamin D3, and kelp. Fish oil, or omega-3 fatty acids, are essential to your body’s health and substantially reduce your chances of developing chronic diseases such as arthritis, heart disease and cancer. Aim to ingest 1-3 grams of EPA and DHA per day by taking an omega-3 supplement or by eat salmon 2-3 times per week. Omega-3 fatty acids have helped many overweight people figure out how to avoid belly fat fast.
The second nutrient you may need to supplement is Vitamin D3, or calciol. Deficiency of Vitamin D3 has been linked to increased risk of at least 20 different types of cancer. There are only two ways to increase the levels of vitamin D3 in your body, oral supplementation or sun exposure. The third nutrient you should consider supplementing is iodine, which is extremely difficult to get in food but is essential to the function of your thyroid. Iodine deficiency is associated with infertility, autoimmune disease and thyroid cancer. You can supplement iodine into your diet using kelp tablets.
4. Drink coffee and alcohol. Not a lot. Not together.
It’s impossible to boost vitality and increase happiness without indulging in reasonable vices. Reasonable vices give you something to look forward to keep you from overindulging in things that will really damage your body (like crack). The key to indulging in caffeine and alcohol is being consistent. When it comes to these vices, your body hates to be surprised. The human body learns to rely on stimulants and chemicals very quickly. This is why people feel so awful after binge drinking on the weekends; their bodies are going through withdrawals. Likewise, if you skip your daily Grande Americano coffee one day, you are going to feel it. However, drinking moderate amounts of coffee and alcohol each day has been shown to boost vitality.
People who drink coffee are less 35% likely to develop type 2 diabetes and are less likely to have a heart attack or stroke. Higher consumption of coffee is also strongly associated with a decreased risk of Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia. Most surprisingly, increased coffee consumption has been shown to reduce your chances of developing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. Rsearchers from the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program in California reported a 22% daily reduction of liver cirrhosis risk from alcohol with each cup of coffee consumed.
The statistics are equally astounding regarding moderate alcohol consumption. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that the lowest death rate from all causes occurs at the level of one to two drinks each day. Moderate drinkers have fewer heart attacks and strokes, survive more heart attacks, have higher HDL (good cholesterol) levels and have better arterial elasticity. People who have 1-2 drinks a day also have a decreased risk of duodenal ulcers, gallstones, intestinal infections, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoporosis, type II diabetes, thyroid cancer, kidney cancer, and Alzheimer’s disease.
The NIAAA describes moderate drinking as a man consuming no more than four drinks on any day with an average of 14 drinks per week. For women, it is consuming no more than three drinks in any one day with an average of seven drinks per week. I would error on the low end of the scale while keeping in mind that consistency counts. Consistency will help you increase happiness while finding ways to eat healthy and drink healthy.
5. Use protection and plan an escape route.
Practicing invincibility involves practicing the art of awareness. From prophylactics to hardhats, the right protection matters. The general term “accidents” is consistently listed as the 5th overall cause of death worldwide. About half of these accidents involve motor vehicles. This means you can proactively avoid the 5th most common cause of death simply by buckling your seatbelt, staying off your cell phone and paying attention while you drive. The biggest things you can do overall to avoid becoming a statistic is to wear a helmet when skiing, boarding, and biking, and by memorizing escape routes in buildings, planes, and trains. The English sociologist, Ed Galea, discovered the five-row rule of surviving plane crashes. After analyzing the seating charts of more than 100 plane crashes and interviewing 1,900 survivors and 155 cabin-crew members, he discovered that survivors usually move an average of five rows before they can get off a burning aircraft. Exits matter.
Part 2 of this quick start guide will reveal even more ways to practice invincibility. Moving beyond the importance of a healthy diet and finding ways to eat healthy, part 2 will discuss ways to boost vitality by exercising and increasing your mental health.