Improve Your Health in 2 Simple Steps

Happy New Year’s Eve! I hope you are taking the time to set some goals and make plans for the year ahead.

Considering the turmoil in the economy, I understand if your primary concerns are to protect your wealth, boost your earning power, and increase your financial independence. But if you want to achieve all of that (and certainly if you want to enjoy it), you must also focus on your health.

When your mental and physical health are in top form, your thinking improves… you have more creativity and energy… you are more confident… your relationships get stronger… and your success is an inspiration to those around you.

When your health is at its best, your skin maintains its youthful appearance. You have fewer aches and pains. Your immune system protects you from illness. And your body naturally sheds fat, leaving a leaner, fitter you staring back from the mirror.

So I urge you to make the strongest commitment to regaining or maintaining your health and fitness this year. The great news is that it is not complicated and it doesn’t require toil and sacrifice. In this article, I will share with you two very simple things you can do that will make a PROFOUND impact.

It doesn’t matter whether your goal is to lose weight… heal a condition… reduce pain and inflammation … improve your appearance… have more energy and stamina… live longer… break free of prescription drugs… or just feel well again… the following two steps will help you achieve it!

Step #1 – Eat a Low-Glycemic Diet

The first and most important step you should take is to strictly limit the amount of sugar and high-glycemic carbohydrates in your diet. Carbs that are high on the glycemic index are rapidly converted to glucose in your system. This raises your blood sugar levels and requires a rush of insulin to shuttle the glucose molecules into the muscles where they can be used as fuel.

Here’s why that is a bad thing: Perpetually elevated blood sugar and insulin levels lead to premature aging, wide swings in mood and energy, reduced immunity, and chronic inflammation. Not to mention a much higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s and more.

Insulin is also the hormone that controls fat storage. If you want to convert your body to a perpetual fat-burning state, you must keep your insulin and blood sugar levels low. For many people, controlling insulin levels by eating a low-glycemic diet can produce nearly effortless weight loss.

High-glycemic foods that you should limit or avoid include starchy carbohydrates – potatoes, flour, rice, pasta, corn, cereal, bread and other grain products (even whole grains), and baked goods. If you can’t live without bread, tortillas, and cereal, look for Ezekiel 4:9 organic sprouted grain products made by Food for Life. They are all low-glycemic and taste great.

You should also strictly limit the amount of sugar in your diet. In one form or another, sugar is in most foods. And it is a primary culprit in our epidemics of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Read the labels and try to avoid anything with more than 10 grams per serving.

And don’t use artificial sweeteners. They can damage your health – and there are better alternatives. If you wish to sweeten foods and drinks or make your own desserts at home, use sweeteners like erythritol and stevia (or agave nectar, in moderation).

With these all-natural ingredients, you can make low-glycemic desserts that are perfectly healthy and taste even better than those made with sugar.

Step #2 – Balance Your Omega-3 to Omega-6 Ratio

The second highly important step you must take to improve your health and longevity, lose weight, and slow down the aging process is to balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

Omega-3s and omega-6s are known as essential fatty acids. They are essential to every cell in your body, and they must be consumed in your diet. Your body cannot manufacture them. However, while omega-6 fats are essential in small amounts, they actually promote disease when consumed in unnaturally large amounts.

Based on our evolutionary history, the ideal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 in the diet is 1:1. Our ancestors evolved over millions of years eating that way. However, our modern diet has skewed the ratio significantly.

A hundred years ago, the average American ate less than one pound of vegetable oil per year. Today, the average American eats more than 75 pounds of these polyunsaturated omega-6 fats each year. So, instead of the ideal 1:1 ratio, most people consume anywhere from 20 to 50 times more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids!

This is a prescription for cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cataracts, infertility, skin wrinkles, and much more. The twofold solution is very simple:

• First, reduce – as much as possible – the omega-6 fatty acids in your diet.

Strictly limit vegetable and seed oils – corn oil, soy, canola, safflower, and sunflower oils. You should also avoid fried and processed foods. Potato chips, baked goods, salad dressings, margarine, shortening, etc. all contain vegetable oils and high levels of omega-6 fats.

Replace any vegetable oils you currently use with extra virgin olive oil, organic grass-fed butter, and organic unrefined coconut oil.

Conventionally raised meats are also much higher in omega-6 fatty acids than meat from animals raised on their natural diet. Cattle raised on corn, for example, have a much, much higher ratio of omega-6 fatty acids in their meat than cattle raised on a natural diet of grass. Grass-fed beef is generally very rich in beneficial omega-3s. Buy organic, naturally raised meats whenever possible. (U.S. Wellness Meats is a multi-family run business that takes great care of their customers.)

• Second, boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in very few foods, which is why most of the population is deficient. This is a shame, because omega-3s are one of the most beneficial nutrients in the human diet. Hundreds of published studies show that optimal omega-3 levels can greatly improve your overall health, optimize your weight, increase your energy, and help you retain mental function as you age. Omega-3s also reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, and depression. And they can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, allergies, hyperactivity, diabetes, digestive disorders, and a host of other conditions.

While you can get omega-3s from flaxseeds and walnuts, these plant sources contain only the fatty acid ALA. The best omega-3 fats are those found in fish – DHA and EPA. Your brain is highly dependent on DHA. Low DHA levels have been linked to depression, memory loss, and a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s. Wild Alaskan salmon (not farm-raised) is one of the best food sources of these fats. But your best bet is to take a fish oil (not cod liver oil) supplement. I recommend Carlson’s Lemon Flavored. I find it’s easier to take from the bottle, rather than swallowing capsules.

That’s it!

1. Eat a low glycemic diet, and

2. Balance your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio.

And you will have taken two of the most important steps toward a lean, fit body and a lifetime of health.

Of course, that’s not all there is to it. You should also break a sweat on a regular basis. You should eat a varied, natural diet of whole foods, and avoid chemicals and preservatives. Drink plenty of purified water every day. And allow your body to rest peacefully at night.

It doesn’t matter what your age or prior bad habits… or how overweight and unhealthy you might feel at the moment. You can experience a higher level of fitness and the profound sense of well-being that comes with it – and you can accomplish it this year!

  • I’m sure your two rules are absolutely correct but I have a very limited knowledge of how to implement them. I have learned that the most important thing to diets and/or healthy eating is knowing “what to eat”………to a much lesser extent, “what not to eat”. From this article I gained no new insight into “what to eat”. As I read it I really can’t perceive what to shop for, today.

  • Suzanne Richardson

    Hi Charles –

    Thanks for your comments! You might enjoy looking through our health archives for articles on what TO eat. You can access the health archives here: http://www.earlytorise.com/issues/healthy/diet-and-nutrition

    Here’s one to get you started: Nutrition expert Kelley Herring wrote a piece a few months back about 5 superfoods everyone should eat more of. You can find the article here: http://www.earlytorise.com/2008/09/11/put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is-2.html

    Hope this helps!

  • Bennett Cohen

    Dear Jon,

    What kind of diet would you recommend for distance runners? Traditionally, distance runners rely upon a diet rich in carbohydrates, along with daily protein intake of 0.7g per lb of body weight (105g for a 150 lb man) for fuel. Does consuming protein with carbs lower the insulin rush and its negative effect?

    Regards

    Bennett Cohen