Cover image of The Longevity Plan with Dr. John Day
Fitness & Nutrition

The Longevity Plan with Dr. John Day

Updated 6 days ago

Fitness & Nutrition
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Real Food. Real Living. Real Happiness. ®

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Real Food. Real Living. Real Happiness. ®

iTunes Ratings

44 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great podcast!

By Bella'sLuckyMommy - Aug 05 2018
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Supports claims with research & cuts through the jargon to be really helpful. Thank you Dr. Day!

Thanks for the great advice on life. Keep it coming

By PandaWwwjjj - Feb 28 2018
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Thanks so much for all your advice. Keep it coming!!!!!

iTunes Ratings

44 Ratings
Average Ratings

Great podcast!

By Bella'sLuckyMommy - Aug 05 2018
Read more
Supports claims with research & cuts through the jargon to be really helpful. Thank you Dr. Day!

Thanks for the great advice on life. Keep it coming

By PandaWwwjjj - Feb 28 2018
Read more
Thanks so much for all your advice. Keep it coming!!!!!
Cover image of The Longevity Plan with Dr. John Day

The Longevity Plan with Dr. John Day

Updated 6 days ago

Read more

Real Food. Real Living. Real Happiness. ®

Rank #1: Is there a Low Carb Diet Mortality Risk? New Study Results

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Is there a Low Carb Diet Mortality Risk?
Everyone seemed to think carbs were bad until this new study was published last week.  Is there a way to follow a low carb diet and still live a long life?  In this article, I'll teach you how to optimize your carbs so that you can avoid the low carb diet mortality risk.
The Dietary Carbohydrate Intake and Mortality Study
In what has to be one of the biggest carbohydrate studies ever done, Harvard University researchers included a total of 447,607 people.  Of these 447,607 people, a total of 46,464 people passed away during the 25-year follow-up of this study.  These Harvard researchers then analyzed their mortality risk based on food questionnaires filled out over the years prior to their deaths.  Here are the results:

1.  If you ate a moderate amount of carbs (40-70% of your total calories) you lived the longest.

2. If you followed a low carb diet (less than 40% of your calories are carbs), you lost about 4 years of life.

3. If you followed a high carb diet (more than 70% of your calories are carbs), you lost around 1 year of life.
How do you explain these results?
As carbs have been blamed for the obesity crisis, diabetes, and just about every other health problem, how can these study results be explained?  The answer is really quite simple.  Just as there are good and bad carbs there are also good and bad proteins and fat.

In the case of this study, people eating the most carbs ate a lot of flour and other processed carbohydrates.  As a result, their lives were cut short.  This fits nicely from what we know from countless other studies.

For the low carb eaters in this study, the problem is that they replaced their carbs with animal proteins and fat.  Indeed, these lost years of life could have been avoided had plant-based proteins and fat replaced their carbs.  Once again, this finding is something that comes up in study after study.

While nutrition studies are hard to do and sometimes reach the wrong conclusion, the results of this study seem believable based on what we already know.  Personally, I really don't think what percentage of carbs you eat matters provided you are eating a mostly real food plant-based diet.  In other words, if you choose to eat meat it is a very small portion of wild meat.  The bulk of what is on your plate is vegetables and you also have a healthy fat like nuts, seeds, avocado, etc.
How do you find out your carb percentage?
It is really easy to find out what percentage of your calories come from carbs.  Simply download the free version of either Lose It or Cronometer from iTunes or Google play to your smartphone.  If you still use a flip-phone, there is also a free desktop version to both of these apps.

Next, enter in everything you ate today.  Both of these apps will then automatically calculate what percentage of your calories came from carbs.
How to Eat Low Carb and Live a Long Life
Many of my patients swear by the ketogenic diet.  Some of the biggest celebrities in the world are also following the ketogenic diet.  Even my own carbohydrate intake this past week was 40%.  This 40% number was just 1% away from falling into the danger zone according to this new study.

Yes, you can eat low carb and still live a long life according to this study.  The way to do this is to replace your carbs with plant-based fat and protein.

For example, nuts, seeds, avocados, olives, and coconuts are all mostly fat.  Likewise, there is a lot of protein in beans, lentils, and other legumes.

The big take away for me from this study is that unless you want to eat more plant-based you should probably moderate your carbohydrate intake.  If you are trying to lose weight or reverse diabetes with the ketogenic diet, start embracing a much more plant-based way of eating.

Does that mean you have to give up meat and dairy if you want to eat low carb?  Of course not.  However, a 95% plant-based approach is probably optimal.
Aug 19 2018
7 mins

Rank #2: The 6 Best Foods to Boost NMN and Slow Aging

Mar 25 2018
12 mins

Rank #3: Flax vs. Chia: Which Seed is Best?

May 20 2018
20 mins

Rank #4: A Great Hack: How to Prevent Weight Gain After Over Eating

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Here is the podcast episode of a very popular previous blog.  To read this popular blog, please click on the link below.
Oct 05 2017
12 mins

Rank #5: Reverse Aging: 4 Scientifically Proven Strategies

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To read this article, please click on this link.
Oct 01 2017
11 mins

Rank #6: The 30 Minute Rule for Longevity

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The 30 Minute Rule for Longevity
The 30-minute rule for longevity may be the most critical factor in determining who stays young and who gets old.  In this article, I will share with you what the 30-minute rule for longevity is and the latest research backing up this rule.
The 30 Minute Rule for Longevity Study
Dr. Keith M. Diaz from Columbia University in New York City recently published his findings on the 30-minute rule for longevity after studying 7,985 people age 45 or older.  Now, he didn't explicitly call this the 30-minute rule for longevity, but that is what he found.

In this study, Dr. Diaz strapped accelerometers to these 7,985 people for one week.  He also performed many other health tests for these people.  After gathering all of this data, he then sat back and watched to see who was still alive and doing well four years later.
Results of the 30 Minute Rule for Longevity Study
After waiting four years, here is what Dr. Diaz observed in this study.
1. The more you move, the longer you live.
He found that it didn't matter your age or how much you weighed, those who moved the most were the ones alive and well four years later. No surprise here with this finding as many other studies have shown similar results.
2. Going to the gym faithfully every day can't save you from sitting.
Sitting more than 12.5 hours a day, regardless of whether you work out or not, puts you at high risk of an early death.  While 12.5 hours of sitting might sound like a lot, it isn't for most people.

Many of my patients are surprised to see how long they are sitting each day once they start tracking it with a smartphone, smartwatch, or Fitbit.  For example, eight hours at work on a computer, driving to the gym and your work, and one television show at night could quickly get you to 12.5 hours of sitting.
3. Sitting for more than 30 minutes at any time put you at risk for an early death.
Interestingly, the most fidgety people in this study lived the longest.  In other words, those who couldn't sit still lived far longer than those who could sit in their chairs.

This is the basis of the 30-minute rule for longevity. If you want to live a long and healthy life you can't sit for more than 30 minutes at a time.
Is Sitting the New Smoking?
Today, I’ve become convinced that sitting is the new smoking. And by some calculations, in fact, it might be even worse.

By just comparing the life expectancy of smokers with that of non-smokers, then subdividing the difference by the average number of cigarettes a smoker will consume over a lifetime, one study noted that each cigarette reduces one’s lifespan by an average of 11 minutes.

Using similar methods, a different study computed the difference in life expectancy between heavy TV watchers (sitters) and those who watch no TV at all (non-sitters), and concluded that every hour of TV watching after the age of 25 reduces one’s lifespan by 22 minutes!

Yes, according to these estimates, both of which are admittedly crude, an hour of sitting down is as bad for you as two cigarettes!  The way I see it, then, if you’re going to sit down, it really should be for a compelling reason.

Even at the cellular level sitting is toxic for your health.  Indeed, one study showed that sitting prematurely ages your cells by ten years!

Of course, correlation is not causation and untold other life choices that are shared among those who tend to sit for periods of time longer than 30 minutes.  The overwhelming scientific evidence, though, tells us that any sort of prolonged sitting is simply bad for us.  Studies show that even cancer rates skyrocket for sitters.
The Benefits of Fidgeting
In the past, fidgeting was a bad thing. Indeed, children who fidget at school are often inappropriately labeled by teachers as having ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder).

I want to challenge you to look at fidgeting as a good thing.  Perhaps we should all fidget a little more.

For example,
Oct 12 2017
8 mins

Rank #7: Do You Have These Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms? 10 Reasons Why You Need More

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Do You Have These Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms? 10 Reasons Why You Need More
Studies show that up to 89% of all Americans are magnesium deficient.  In fact, you just may be one of these magnesium deficient people and not even know it.

In this podcast, I discuss the common magnesium deficiency symptoms.  I also discuss 10 reasons why you need more magnesium.

If you would rather not listen to this podcast to learn more about magnesium deficiency, here is a link to an article I wrote on magnesium deficiency.
Sep 18 2017
21 mins

Rank #8: Harvard Scientists Reveal 5 Life Extending Hacks: Your Best Lifestyle for Longevity

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Harvard Scientists Reveal 5 Life Extending Hacks: Your Best Lifestyle for Longevity
Wouldn't you like to know the real secret to a long and healthy life?  Based on the latest longevity study, Harvard researchers found five easy life-extending hacks that could get you to age 93.  In this article, I’ll share the very best lifestyle for longevity.
What Does it Take to Get to Age 90?
The human body is genetically programmed to make it to 90.  As long as we don't screw it up, 90 is within reach for most people.  If you can get a few simple, healthy lifestyle habits down, then the odds are that you will thwart a fatal cancer or heart condition.  Indeed, if you can stave off heart disease and cancer then cruising past 90 should be a breeze.
The Latest Longevity Study
In search of life’s Holy Grail, Harvard researchers recently revealed five simple life-extending health hacks. These five hacks are all you need to know to find your best lifestyle for longevity.

As part of this new study, Harvard researchers painstakingly dissected the medical records of 123,219 people. With an average of 34 years of medical records at their disposal, they were able to deconstruct the five secrets to a life free of heart problems, cancer, or a premature death.

When it comes to beating heart disease, these five health hacks will slash your heart disease risk by 72%!  If a 72% reduction of death from heart disease isn't compelling enough, these five hacks will also drop your cancer risk by 52%!

As you will likely be free of heart disease and cancer, this study shows that for women you will get 14 bonus years of life allowing you to reach 93.  For men, these same five health hacks predict 12 bonus years of life achieving an age of 88.
5 Life-Extending Hacks
Without keeping you in suspense any longer, here are the five longevity hacks to find your best lifestyle for longevity.
1.  Breathe Clean Air
Okay, nothing new here. While this study specifically looked at smoking, countless other studies have linked any form of air pollution to heart disease, cancer, and a shortened life.  The message is simple.  Make clean breathing a must.

In addition to not smoking, you also don't allow anyone to smoke around you.  The same goes for electronic cigarettes.

Besides smoking, air pollution can be a huge problem.  Indeed, studies show that air pollution may rob you of up to 5.5 years of life!  And when it comes to air pollution, indoor air quality is generally much worse than anything you may encounter outside of your home.   For indoor air pollution, studies show that even breathing the stench of smoke on the clothes of smokers puts you at risk.

What can you do?  Besides banning cigarettes in your home, don't go anywhere near where people are smoking.  If air pollution is bad, then don't exercise outside.  For your home, invest in many indoor plants and be sure to also buy a HEPA filter.  These filters are cheap and can be very effective at scrubbing the indoor air of pollutants.
2. Keep Your BMI Between 19 and 25
I'm guessing that if you are like most people, this will be the most challenging longevity hack.  Food manufacturers have scientifically designed their fake foods to get you hooked, steal your money, and make you gain weight.

Not quite sure what your body mass index (BMI) is?  Here is the link to find out. If you are like most people, you are probably in shock as to how high your BMI is.  The natural inclination is to say the BMI system is wrong, bogus, or a terrible measure of health.

Yes, there are limitations.  No system is perfect.  For example, it doesn't account for excessive muscle mass.  Thus, if you are faithfully doing hardcore strength training, your BMI measurement won't be accurate.

Despite the limitations, BMI is a proven predictor of longevity within a population of people.  And when it comes to living a long life, studies show that the BMI sweet spot seems to be 20 to 25.
May 28 2018
12 mins

Rank #9: How to Keep Your Heart Young and Free of Disease

Jan 20 2018
19 mins

Rank #10: How to Bulletproof Your Brain

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How to Bulletproof Your Brain
I want to share a message of hope for those of you with a family history of dementia.  According to a new study, one simple habit can cut your risk of dementia by 90%!  In this article, I will teach you how to bulletproof your brain.
The Swedish Dementia Study
Researchers from Sweden just published a study that rocked the neurology/dementia world.  After following the people in this study for 44 years, researchers found that for those who are in the top 5% of their age group for physical fitness, then the risk of dementia dropped by 90%! And in those incredibly rare cases where a very physically fit person did develop dementia, it didn't happen until after age 90.

No other intervention has ever been shown to have such a profound effect on protecting the brain. Of course, to make it to the top 5% for physical fitness in your age group will also require that you are eating right, optimizing sleep, etc.
How does exercise bulletproof your brain?
Studies show that exercise helps clear the dementia debris that piles up in the brain as we age. Also, physical activity is the most potent stimulator of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which causes the growth and development of brain cells.

Other studies have shown that people cut back on physical activity about ten years before developing dementia. Thus, if you have had no drop off in your daily exercise, then these studies suggest your brain will stay sharp for at least ten more years.

As dementia scares me to death, since reading this study I have significantly bumped up my daily exercise regimen.  I'm banking on the fact that because my physical fitness continues to improve that I can bulletproof my brain.
Key Takeaway
The message here is clear. If you want to bulletproof your brain it is going to require a very high level of physical fitness.  Walking around the block just isn't going to cut it according to this study.

In addition to a high level of physical fitness, you also need to cut out the sugar and dramatically boost the veggies.  At least seven hours of sleep, embracing stress, and learning new things daily will also help to bulletproof your brain.

Of course, If you haven't done much more than walking, now is the time to work with your physician on finding the right way to increase your stamina.  Don't boost your daily exercise without speaking to your physician first.
Mar 26 2018
6 mins

Rank #11: 3 Reasons Why Meal Timing Matters for Health and Longevity

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3 Reasons Why Meal Timing Matters for Health and Longevity
In our new book, The Longevity Plan, we report that living in rhythm is a key component for health and longevity.  In this article, I share the latest research showing why meal timing, or eating in rhythm, can allow you to eat more without gaining weight, prevent heart problems, and possibly even extend your life.
What is Meal Timing?
Just as it is important to sleep at approximately the same time each day, so too is eating at about the same time each day.  Emerging research shows that eating according to your natural circadian rhythm can optimize your body weight, prevent heart issues, and promote longevity.  In contrast, eating "out of rhythm" can set you up for a life of health struggles.
Longevity Village Meal Timing
“My life is simple. Because of this, it is easy to know when something is out of balance.”


Maxue, one of many centenarians we met in Longevity Village, rose each morning with the sun.  And by the time it had crested over the lush, green mountains, she had finished her simple breakfast of porridge and vegetables.

She ate her midday meal at about the same time each day, and it always consisted of the vegetables, fruit, legumes, or possibly fish that had been gathered and harvested that morning. In the evening, she would sit down for a light and early dinner with her family.

The only exception came during Chinese New Year, when the workload was lighter, the meals were bigger and the nights were longer. Even this, though, came in rhythm.

In the fall of 2012 when we first met, Maxue was 103.  She, like everyone else in the Village, had lived a life of almost perfect rhythm. And although she had been confined to a wheelchair for nearly a year following a fall that broke her hip, she was in good spirits.

When I asked if she had any other medical problems, Maxue laughed. “This is the first thing that has been wrong with me that I can remember,” she said. “Until my fall, I had not needed a doctor in my life.”

I marveled at this as I checked her pulse. It was strong and steady, and I told her so.

Still, Maxue told me, she sensed she wouldn’t be alive much longer. And if these were her final days, she said, that was fine. She would rise each day with the sun, as she always had, and make the most of the time she had left. She would spend her time with her family and continue her work.  She would live out her time with the same rhythm of life she’d always maintained.

“We are not supposed to be here forever,” she said. “It is very good to have a long and healthy life. And when it comes to an end that is good, too. That is part of the rhythm of our lives.”  Sadly, Maxue died peacefully at home a few months after we met.
Keeping Your Heart in Rhythm
As a cardiologist, I have a privileged perspective on the importance of rhythm in our lives. No matter how often I look at a person’s heart, be it in surgery or through an echocardiogram, I never cease to be amazed at what this exquisitely designed organ does throughout our lives.

To do this so well, and for so long, our hearts must stay in near-perfect harmony with our bodies.  The heart must speed up when we need more blood and slow down when that need has run its course.

Most people’s hearts beat about 100,000 times each day. Think of what that means when it comes to reliability. Can you imagine anything that, having been used more than 35 million times in a year, is likely to be just as good at what it does next year as it is right now?

When you think of it that way, it’s really quite astounding how rarely things go wrong. But sometimes they do. One of the most common problems is when the heart falls out of rhythm and the upper chambers are no longer beating in synchrony with the ventricles. When this happens, it is usually due to a heart rhythm abnormality called atrial fibrillation.

As a significant percentage of my cardiology practice is dedicated to atrial fib...
Jul 04 2017
14 mins

Rank #12: Dr. Day’s Riced Cauliflower Fast Food

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Dr. Day's Riced Cauliflower Fast Food
It often seems like there is no time to prepare healthy food.  Wouldn't it be great if you could have great tasting healthy food in 5 minutes?  In this article, I'll share my riced cauliflower fast food meal.  This dish is guaranteed to fill you up for hours!
My "No Cooking Skills" Disclaimer
I am not a chef. In fact, I am horrible in the kitchen.   While my wife is a fabulous cook, I'm not.  If your time and cooking skills are limited, like me, you may want to consider giving this recipe a try.
4 Ingredients from Trader Joe's
We love Trader Joe's.  For those of you outside of the US, Trader Joe's is a popular and affordably priced health food store.  We have one between our home and my hospital.  While these four ingredients all came from Trader Joe's, you could easily improvise with your local health food store.
1. Frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower
While you could buy fresh riced cauliflower, I like the frozen variety better.  It is always fresh and I never have to worry about it going bad.  Given that it was frozen immediately, you don't get the loss of nutrients that often comes from long farm to plate transport times. I use the whole bag for this riced cauliflower fast food meal.
2. Frozen Melodious Blend
I love the frozen melodious blend from Trader Joe's.  There are only six ingredients with no chemicals, preservatives, or any added sugars.  The six ingredients are cooked green lentils, cooked red lentils, cooked green garbanzo beans, tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt. This little-frozen concoction is a meal unto itself.  I just use half the bag for this riced cauliflower fast food dish.  If you don't have a Trader Joe's near you, I would suggest substituting in one cup of cooked lentils in light olive oil.
3. Can of Organic Diced Tomatoes
I like the 14.5 oz (411 g) can of organic tomatoes (diced and no salt added) from Trader Joes.  I use the whole can which works out to be 1.5 cups of diced tomatoes.
4. Salt or Garlic Salt to Taste
I can't give you an amount because everyone's tastes and health needs are different.  You can make this rice cauliflower fast food dish with or without added salt.

If you choose to skip the salt, it will be a little bland.  Personally, I like to use garlic salt.  I like the added flavor that comes from the garlic.

I would suggest adding in a little salt or garlic salt and see how it tastes.  If you want a stronger flavor, add more.
Combining the 4 Ingredients
Preparation is simple.  Use the whole bag of organic riced cauliflower (12 oz or 340 g).  Add in half the bag of the melodious blend (or 1 cup of cooked lentils in olive oil if you don't live near a Trader Joe's).  Mix in the entire small can of diced organic tomatoes (1.5 cups, 14.5 oz or 411 g).  Then add salt or garlic salt to taste.

Given that most of the dish comes frozen, you can heat it on the stove or in the microwave.  I often throw the frozen bags and can of tomatoes in my computer bag when I leave in the morning as it is so easy to prepare everything at my hospital.  The total preparation time for me, including warming it up, is 5 minutes.
The Nutrition Stats
I eat the entire dish and it fills me up for half the day.  You could easily share this meal with a couple of other people.  Assuming you eat the entire dish by yourself, here are the nutritional stats.
Cauliflower 80, melodious blend 200, and tomatoes 90 for a grand total of 370 calories.  No other 370 calorie meal fills me up as much as this one does.  When you see how much food is in this 370 calorie meal you will be amazed.  Be prepared to use a huge container for this meal as it probably won't all fit on your plate.
Cauliflower 8 g, melodious blend 11 g, and tomatoes 3 g for a combined total of 22 grams.  Considering the average American only eats 15 g of fiber daily, this single dish of 22 grams of fiber crushes what most people can do in a day.
Jul 24 2018
9 mins

Rank #13: The 3 Most Dangerous Over-the-Counter Medications…And How to Get Off Them

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The 3 Most Dangerous Over-the-Counter Medications
Just because you can buy medicine without a prescription doesn't mean it is safe.  In this article, I share the three most dangerous over-the-counter medications and offer simple solutions to avoid these drugs.

As a disclaimer, please don't stop any medications without speaking to your doctor first.  As with everything in life, your doctor can help you weigh the risks versus benefits of any treatment.  It is possible that your doctor has you on one of these drugs to prevent a life-threatening health condition.
1. Proton Pump Inhibitors (Prilosec, Prevacid, and Nexium)
Proton pump inhibitors, or PPIs, are a multi-billion dollar industry.  No other stomach acid blocking medication comes anywhere close to PPI drugs with regards to efficacy.  As 60% of all Americans experience acid reflux in any given year, it is no wonder why PPI drugs are so popular.

While PPI drugs may help to prevent cancer in people with a diagnosis of Barrett's esophagus, a new study this week showed that taking PPI drugs increases your risk of stomach cancer. If the risk of stomach cancer wasn't frightening enough, my former Stanford professor, Dr. John Cooke, recently published a study showing that PPI drugs can wear out your heart, brain, and kidneys.

Studies also show that PPI drugs block the absorption of crucial vitamins and minerals for health like magnesium, iron, vitamin B12, calcium, and vitamin C.  Perhaps this explains why PPI use is associated with an increased dementia risk.  Lastly, PPI drugs have been shown in studies to wreak havoc on the gut flora.

With all of these risks, why do people still take PPI drugs?  Speaking as someone who used to gobble down PPI drugs for eosinophilic esophagitis, PPI drugs allowed me freedom from acid reflux chest discomfort without having to change my lifestyle.

In my case, eliminating dairy and junk food, in addition to losing 35 pounds, cured me of acid reflux.  For most of my patients, cleaning up their diet and losing weight has also got them safely off PPI drugs.  As one of the main causes of acid reflux is increased pressure within your abdomen, just losing weight may be your acid reflux cure.

I should point out here that just because you have acid reflux doesn't mean you should avoid dairy.  Dairy and junk food, in addition to being overweight, were my acid reflux triggers.  What it does mean is that you should look for your own specific acid reflux triggers or food allergies.

Other natural treatment strategies for acid reflux include eating smaller meals, avoiding fatty foods, staying away from anything with caffeine, sitting up for a few hours after eating, eating an early dinner, increasing physical activity, and finding ways to embrace stress.  If you must take a PPI drug, make sure your doctor is aware and that you take the lowest dose possible to control your symptoms.
2. Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (Advil, Motrin, Aleve, etc.)
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can seem like a lifesaver to people with arthritis or musculoskeletal pain.  As someone who used to suffer from an autoimmune disease, ankylosing spondylitis which attacks the spine, my neck and back were always in a state of discomfort.  NSAIDs, or in my case Aleve, is what helped me to get through the day.

The two main problems with NSAIDs are that they increase your risk of a heart attack and internal bleeding. Indeed, studies show that all NSAIDs increase your risk of a heart attack by about 50%.  In addition to the heart attack risk, studies also show that NSAID users have up to a 4-fold increased risk of gastrointestinal bleeding and are at significant risk of kidney failure.

In my case, the two most important things I did to dramatically reduce my NSAID use was cleaning up my diet and losing 35 pounds.  As most people take NSAIDs for arthritis or musculoskeletal pain, getting back to a normal weight allows your joints to heal na...
Nov 01 2017
14 mins

Rank #14: Just Thinking You Should Exercise More May Cause an Early Death

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Just Thinking You Should Exercise More May Cause an Early Death
Do you ever feel like you should exercise more?  If so, you may have just increased your risk of an early death by 71% according to a new Stanford study.  In this article, I'll review this latest study and offer practical tips to a more mindful approach to physical activity.
Kristen's Experience
Like most young moms, Kristen had too many things on her plate.  Trying to care for small children while at the same time meeting her employer's demands and somehow also finding the time to get to the gym was too much.

She knew she should exercise more.  However, there just were not enough hours in the day.

The guilt and shame that came from the feeling that she was slacking off on her exercise worried her.  This worry ultimately led to heart palpitations, an emergency room visit, and then to a consultation with me.

Fortunately, all of Kristen's tests came back normal.  Knowing that her heart was still strong allowed me to help her develop a more practical and mindful approach to physical activity.
The I Should Exercise More Study
In another brilliant study on the mindfulness component to physical activity, Dr. Alia J. Crum and colleagues from Stanford University tackled the health risks that come from guilt and shame.  To address these health risks, Dr. Crum studied 61,141 Americans over the course of 21 years.

In this study, Dr. Crum asked participants how they felt about the amount of exercise they were doing in comparison to others.  Interestingly, those who felt that they just weren't exercising enough were 71% more likely to die over the 21 years of the study.

What makes Dr. Crum's study really interesting is that even if you were exercising, eating right, and maintaining a healthy weight, just thinking you were slacking off on your exercise increased your risk of dying prematurely. This study highlights the importance of a mindful approach to exercising.  It also raises the possible dangers of a nocebo effect.
The Nocebo Effect
While everyone has heard of the placebo effect, many of you may not be aware of the flip side which is the nocebo effect.  With the placebo effect, the mere thought that a food, supplement, medication, or procedure will help you causes it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

For example, studies show that a "dummy pill" can actually be curative in up to 62% of cases.  Studies like these highlight the untapped power of the mind to heal us.

However, their is a flip side to the placebo effect.  It is called the nocebo effect.  With the nocebo effect, people who believe that a food, supplement, medication, or procedure will harm them also causes it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I see the nocebo effect everyday in my cardiology practice.  People who are convinced that a treatment won't work for them are generally right.  Conversely, those people who are convinced that a treatment will work are also generally right.

While the mind can heal us it can also cause disease.  This study from Dr. Crum and her team at Stanford University raises the question that the feeling we just don't measure up when it comes to exercise may put our hearts and our lives at risk.
Eliminate the Word Exercise
I wish we could eliminate the word exercise from the English language.  The problem is that when many people hear the word they immediately feel guilt and shame from not measuring up.

Too often, when we hear the word exercise we feel like we should be going to the gym more often.  While hitting the gym is a great way to exercise, it is also a huge time commitment.

Most busy people that I know don't have one to two extra hours to spend at the gym everyday.  Not to mention the fact that many people, myself included, hate going to the gym.
Replace Exercise with Physical Activity
The solution is to replace the word exercise with physical activity.  Physical activity doesn't carry all of the guilt and shame that exercise does...
Jul 29 2017
15 mins

Rank #15: Low Carb or Low Fat: Which is Best?

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Low Carb or Low Fat: Which is Best?
Should you go low carb or low fat for weight loss? I'm guessing you would pick low carbs. However, if I had asked you this same question 20 years ago, the answer would likely have been different.  Would you believe me if I told you that it probably doesn't matter based on a big new study from Stanford University?
The Best Low Carb vs. Low Fat Study
In this new study, Stanford researchers recruited 609 adults who were willing to eat either low carb or or low fat for a year based on the "flip of a coin." A year later, the low-fat group lost about 13 pounds and the low-carb group also lost about 13 pounds.

When they looked at glucose and insulin metabolism, they also saw no meaningful difference. Where things really got interesting was when they looked at the genes of everyone in this study. Even if your genes predicted you would do better eating low fat or low carb, the study results showed that it just didn't matter.
The 3 Success Factors to Losing Weight
Interestingly, when these Stanford researchers analyzed those who lost the most weight in the study, they found three factors.
1. Those losing the most weight avoided sugar.
2. Those losing the most weight avoided flour.
3. Those losing the most weigh ate a lot of vegetables.
Number one on this list, avoiding sugar, should come as a surprise to no one.  Almost everyone loses weight if they can give up the sugar addiction.

Likewise, number three, eating a lot of vegetables, is another no brainer.  If you fill up on vegetables you'll lose weight and feel so much healthier.

Number two, avoiding flour, however may come as a surprise to many. The reason for this is that when a grain is pulverized to a dust-like form, the body absorbs it so fast that it raises blood glucose almost as much as eating straight sugar. Thus, to keep your metabolism in check, if you choose to eat grains only eat intact grains.
What does this study tell us?
Even though it may seem counter intuitive, this study fits nicely with what we know about diets and nutrition. The bottom line is that low carb or low fat can be healthy provided you avoid sugar, including flour, processed foods, and eat a ton of vegetables. Basically, you need to find what works for you and then stick with it.
Mar 26 2018
5 mins

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