What to Prioritize

No matter where we are in age, there are always things we can tweak in order to feel better. To improve or simply maintain our health and energy levels as we get older, there are numerous things we need to work on. Once you start digging, it can look like a never-ending list of strategies to implement and it can be overwhelming. Maybe you don’t know where to start or maybe you are not sure at times that you can keep the goals you have set for yourself.

It’s important to keep in mind that only three things are at the foundation of feeling better: adequate sleep, nutrient-dense foods (which implies doing away with processed foods), and enough exercise/movement throughout the day. These are the pillars needed to build a stronger you. There is more to add to that, of course, but if you don’t prioritize these three things first, whatever else you implement will fall short.

Adequate Sleep

In How to Be Well, Dr. Frank Lipman said, “Some reasons to make sleep a priority: it’s when your body repairs, restores, maintains, and detoxifies itself. How you sleep is as important as how you live during waking hours.” Dr. Lipman recommends, for instance, to:

  • Go to bed when you’re tired.
  • Don’t eat your evening meals too late.
  • Avoid alcohol close to bedtime.
  • Leave technology (and TV) out of the bedroom.
  • Sleep in a very dark room.
  • Stay comfortably cool at night (in a room that is around 60-67 degrees Fahrenheit) as it has been demonstrated that one sleeps better that way.
  • Don’t go to sleep angry.

Nutrient-dense Foods

I had mentioned in a previous post about The Primal Blueprint Food Pyramid which types of foods someone should consider eating (according to the primal/paleo template). The bulk of any meal is vegetables. In smaller quantities then comes meat, fish, fowl, and eggs. The middle of the pyramid highlights the importance of consuming healthy fats, followed by certain foods you can eat in small amounts. Lastly, herbs, spices, extracts, and supplements top the pyramid of primal-approved foods.

Keep in mind that even these primal-approved foods may not work well for everyone. It is up to you to experiment and see how your body responds to each food you consume. To be more attuned to your body and how foods make you feel on a daily basis is part of becoming more knowledgeable about your health and overall wellness.

Exercise/Movement Throughout the Day

In a previous post about The Primal Blueprint Fitness Pyramid, I had explained how moving and exercising enough shouldn’t feel like yet another challenging goal to put on your to-do-list. Our ancestors were doing basic functional movements (squat, crawl, walk, run, jump, climb, carry, throw, etc.) when going about their daily activities.

Our lifestyle has changed tremendously over the centuries, especially in the last 100 years, but this doesn’t mean that we cannot throw in a few stretches and bodyweight exercises (for instance) as simple 1-2-minute-breaks throughout the day every day. Moving frequently, exercising your muscles and getting your heart rate up occasionally is all you have to do.

In Summary

Adequate sleep, better-quality foods, and exercise/movement throughout the day are the necessary first steps on your quest to feeling better before implementing other strategies. The same goes if you want to address daily stress. When we feel rested and with a nice flow of energy, we feel grounded and able to deal with each day’s ups and downs.

Until next time!

References

Gottfried, Sara. Younger : A Breakthrough Program to Reset Your Reset Your Genes, Reverse Aging, and Turn Back the Clock 10 Years. New York, Ny, Harperone, 2017, pp. 68–69.


Lipman, Frank M D. How to Be Well: The 6 Keys to a Happy and Healthy Life. Houghton Mifflin, 2019, pp. 108-9.

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What is Astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid, a plant pigment found in single-celled freshwater algae. Under stressful conditions, the unicellular green cell Haematococcus Pluvialis (the main source of astaxanthin) makes astaxanthin in lipid droplets. This turns the cells bright red and protects them from the harsh environment. This red substance goes up the food chain and is the source of almost all of the red in crustaceans, fish, and birds. In humans, astaxanthin helps with cellular survival too.

A Few Impressive Numbers

In The Kaufmann Protocol, Dr. Sandra Kaufmann explains that, “When antioxidant capacities are compared, […] astaxanthin is 10x greater than lutein and zeaxanthin, 14x greater than vitamin E, 54x greater than B-Carotene, 65x greater than Vitamin C and 100x greater in antioxidant activity than alpha tocopherol. Astaxanthin is simply more powerful than its competitors.” 

Benefits of Consuming Astaxanthin

Being a remarkable antioxidant and free-radical scavenger, astaxanthin offers many health benefits, as highlighted at draxe.com

  • Improves brain health
  • Protects your heart
  • Keeps skin glowing
  • Eases inflammation and improves immunity
  • Enhances your workout
  • Supports healthy vision
  • Improves cognitive function

In Summary

In a previous post, Eating the Rainbow: Is it Important? I had mentioned the benefits of eating fruits and vegetables of various colors. These colors are the product of different chemicals such as anthocyanins, chlorophyll, and various carotenoids that offer high antioxidant values. Astaxanthin is yet another carotenoid to include in our diet. It is found in abundance in wild-caught sockeye salmon, krill, algae, red trout, lobster, crab, shrimp, crawfish, salmon roe, and red seabream. So pick seafood that contains the “king of carotenoids” whenever you can!

Until next time!

References

Greenfield, Ben. Boundless : Upgrade Your Brain, Optimize Your Body & Defy Aging. Las Vegas, Victory Belt Publishing Inc, 2020, p. 533.

Kaufmann, Sandra, et al. The Kaufmann Protocol : Why We Age and How to Stop It. Kaufmann Anti-Aging Institute, 2018, pp.153-168.

Link, Rachael. “This ‘King of Carotenoids’ Is Even More Beneficial than Vitamin C.” Dr. Axe, 6 Dec. 2018, draxe.com/nutrition/astaxanthin-benefits/. Accessed 13 Sept. 2020.

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Implementing a New Habit

While I’m blending ghee and C8 MCT oil into my coffee in the morning, I like to do 1 set of 30 standing calf raises. And as I prepare a second cup of coffee for later on in the day, I do a second set of 30 calf raises. While on my way to work, I use a hand grip strengthener and do 3 sets of 15 each hand as I wait for the traffic lights to turn green. These are two examples of how we can integrate new habits with what we are already doing regularly. Implementing a new habit can then become a painless process.

Implementation Intention

“Implementation intention” is described by James Clear in his book Atomic Habits, as “a plan you make beforehand about when and where to act. That is, how you intend to implement a particular habit.” Just stating that we want to exercise more or read more, for instance, is not enough. We have to concretely plan ahead when and where we can start the given new habit based on our schedule. Depending on what we want to implement into our routine, certain times of the day may be more suitable than others. It’s all about “clarity” and being determined with mapping out how we want to reach our goal.

 James Clear gives a few examples such as:

  • Meditation. I will meditate for one minute at 7 a.m. in my kitchen. (Starting small is okay, as mentioned in One Simple Way to Build a New Habit for Good).
  • Studying. I will study Spanish for twenty minutes at 6 p.m. in my bedroom.
  • Exercise. I will exercise for one hour at 5 p.m. in my local gym.

Habit Stacking

What Clear calls “habit stacking” is one form of implementation intention created by Standford professor BJ Fogg. In this case, instead of focusing on the time and location for the new habit to be carried out, you just want to “pair” the new habit with another already built behavior. This might even be easier as the time and location have already been decided for the established habit. Clear gives a few examples like:

  • Meditation. After I pour my cup of coffee each morning, I will meditate for one minute.
  • Exercise. After I take off my work shoes, I will immediately change into my workout clothes.
  • Gratitude. After I sit down to dinner, I will say one thing I’m grateful for that happened today.

You can then build more habits on top of the two first ones, or insert a new habit in between two already established behaviors, for instance. The choice is yours. This strategy leads to a great number of options to map out everything that you want to get done every day.

In Summary

Starting a new habit to reach a specific goal can be done with ease. Planning ahead and being consistent is necessary, but not much more than that is needed. Commander Mark Divine, a retired Navy SEAL, said, “Consistency is the omnipotent force behind change.” One new habit at a time, one step at a time.

Until next time!

References

Clear, James. Atomic Habits : Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results : An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. New York, Avery, An Imprint Of Penguin Random House, 2018, pp. 69–79.

Divine, Mark. Unbeatable Mind : Forging Mental Toughness. United States, Mark Divine, United States, 2015, p. 14.

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The Gut Microbiome

The gut has trillions of microorganisms from three hundred up to a thousand different species (it varies from person to person). In Your Personal Paleo Code, Chris Kresser adds that “those microbes have one hundred times more genes than the human genome does.” Stanford microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg concluded: “Humans can be regarded as elaborate vessels evolved to permit the survival and propagation of microorganisms.” We are clearly more bacteria than human!

The gut microbiota (or gut flora) helps with normal gastrointestinal function and with protecting us from infections. Indeed, it is home to most of our immune cells and it helps regulate metabolism. Knowing that the gut microbiota is critical to our overall health and wellness, it is important to stay away from things that can disrupt it.

13 Ways to Help Protect Your Gut Microbiome

The following strategies are mentioned in Young and Slim for Life, by Dr. Frank Lipman:

  • Avoid GMOs whenever possible – we simply don’t know enough about them.
  • Keep away from sweet and starchy foods.
  • Avoid junk food and processed food, as most have trans fats, GMO corn, GMO soy, or industrial seed oils.
  • Keep away from gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some other grains, as well as in soy sauce, seitan, beer, and a lot of packaged and processed foods.
  • Steer clear of preservatives and artificial ingredients.
  • Keep away from conventionally farmed meat, poultry, dairy products, and eggs as they likely contain antibiotics and hormones, and as they likely have been fed on GMO corn or soy.
  • Whenever possible, avoid antibiotics, (NSAIDs, and other medications).
  • Steer clear of artificial sweeteners.
  • Drink filtered water. You can add water filters to your home taps, for instance. Also, there is the Aqua Tru countertop water purifier that I like to use.
  • Consume fermented foods – kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, or other fermented vegetables. Fermented foods offer natural bacteria that help protect your gut microbiota.
  • Consume prebiotics: foods that have the fiber on which friendly bacteria feed (like garlic, onions, radishes, leeks, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes).
  • Find efficient ways to deal with stress.
  • Get sufficient sleep.

In Summary

Hippocrates said, “All disease begins in the gut.” Many things can influence gut health, so we want to do our best to put into practice as many of the above strategies as possible, as a start. By choosing to eat a paleo/primal diet over 6 years ago, I got to eliminate the unwanted or suspect foods that can easily disrupt the gut microbiome. And as mentioned in My Paleo/Primal Eating Habits, I do not contemplate, even for a minute, going back to eating foods that are not beneficial to my health and wellness. 

Until next time!

References

Kresser, Chris. Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life. 1st ed., New York, NY, Little, Brown and Company, Dec. 2013, pp. 162-66.

Lipman, Frank. Young and Slim for Life : 10 Essential Steps to Achieve Total Vitality and Kick-Start Weight Loss That Lasts. Carlsbad, California, Hay House, Inc, 2016, pp. 33–42.

Mailing, Lucy, and PhD. “The Ultimate Quick-Start Guide to the Gut Microbiome.” Lucy Mailing, PhD, 11 Feb. 2020, http://www.lucymailing.com/the-ultimate-quick-start-guide-to-the-gut-microbiome/. Accessed 3 Sept. 2020.

You can also find me on Instagram.