I originally wrote this article back in October of 2020. Overall, this still holds truth and value today as it did two and half years ago.
This year I was blessed to celebrate 30 continuous years of never missing a day of work due to sickness. Sure, I had days where I didn’t feel the best, and a cold here and there, but nothing serious. I don’t believe my relatively good health has occurred strictly by luck. I am also aware that some illness could be lurking and just like anyone else next week I could come down with it. As my Aunt Frances so often said to me, “Joey, no one knows what’s around the corner.” That said, I have lived my life like Jeff Olson’s book, The Slight Edge, recommends. When it comes to getting good results, Jeff Olson says, “It’s the little things we do every day (eating sensibly, engaging in regular exercise, getting a good night’s sleep, etc.), and the little things that we don’t do (smoking, eating the wrong foods, drinking alcohol to excess, etc.), that either give us, or take away from us, the slight edge.”
I’ve been studying health-related issues for over 40 years. In addition to reading law journals each month, I read five separate publications which provide healthy-living advice from multiple sources. Most of the information I rely on does NOT come from pharmaceutical companies. Most of the advice I do follow comes from medical doctors (cardiologists, internal medicine doctors, etc.), and naturopathic experts. While many of my friends suggest to me that I don’t seem to age much, the truth is I’m aging just like everybody else. Perhaps the difference is that I have a plan which I try to stick with while hoping for the best. I also know I’m far from perfect, as I don’t always eat the best, but that doesn’t mean that for the most part I try to eat healthy foods and in the right combination (see the book Fit for Life). The message I give to everyone, is to do your best to help yourself improve your chances to live a longer and healthier life. Obviously, that benefits you, but perhaps equally important, it also has the potential to benefit those that love and depend on you as well.
So, here’s what I’ve been doing for the last 40 plus years. Over the last 3 years, as I’ve worked even harder to refine my approach to living a healthy lifestyle. I call these my “timely health principles for a healthy life.”
Eat a Mediterranean Diet
It all starts here. Limit meat, white or red. Eat wild caught fish in moderation. Make a lot of salads with olive oil, balsamic and vinegar. Avoid all other sugar laden salad dressings. When you start your day, do so by eating fresh fruit. Eat an avocado a day, lots of fresh uncooked veggies, spinach, cauliflower, and greens. Avoid sugar like the plague. Sugar, among other things, feeds cancer. Avoid processed carbohydrates. Extra carbohydrates and sugar end up being stored as belly fat which leads to diabetes and contributes to heart issues. Eat whole foods. Don’t drink processed fruit juices, like apple juice. Read Dr. R. Steven Gundry’s reports on the internet regarding avoiding lectins (gluten is one type of lectin). I try to avoid lectins as much as possible. Read Harvey and Marilyn Diamonds’ book, Fit for Life, regarding the best way to consume fruit (all by itself), and the 20-30 minute waiting period before consuming other food.
Do your own research as to what food supplements you believe your body needs. While I don't regularly take any prescription medications, I do take numerous supplements daily. Turmeric Forte, manufactured by Standard Process is one of my favorites. That said, I take many more supplements to help my body get what I believe it needs to protect me from what I don’t get from whole food consumptions. I avoid most wheat-based breads, but if I am going to eat a wheat bread, I try to eat sour dough bread. I take additional supplements to address deficiencies in Vitamin A, B6, B12, C, D, E, Iodine, Magnesium, and Potassium.
Every day I like take a dose of Omega 6’s with Flaxseed oil. I get my Vitamin D naturally from unprocessed fish oil and I take prebiotics and probiotics (yes, there is a difference), and I try my best to feed my biome, as I’m convinced that a healthy gut leads to a healthy mind and body. Typically, I use coconut oil rather than butter and I drink distilled chlorine-free water as much as possible, and I try to drink lots of water each day.
I avoid antacids like the plague. I don’t ever mix a lot of meat with a lot of starch, as our digestive system needs acid to digest meat, while we need alkaline to digest starches (potatoes and bread). When meat and starches are combined, and the body produces both acid and alkaline, they tend to cancel out each other resulting in indigestion and a drawn-out digestion process. In the 1980’s I first learned to avoid this combination from the book Fit for Life.
When you eat also matters. I try to engage in intermittent fasting five days a week. This daily intermittent fasting has helped greatly in keeping my weight stable and allows me to indulge a little on the weekends. I also weigh myself daily to keep an eye on any weight gain. I don’t eat an early breakfast – holding off until noon or later, and eat between 12:00 p.m.7:00 p.m. I try to avoid late night eating so my body can detoxify itself without the digestive system kicking in to digest food from a late-night meal (I’m not always successful!!).
Based on the above suggestions, I recommend that each of you take charge of your diets. Based on your genetic and family history, you decide what supplements you need to give you the best chances for a healthy life.
Sure, we all hear it’s good to do, but what kind of exercise? Obviously, the existing condition of your body may present issues for you as to whether you are able to participate in certain types of activities. If you have multi-skeletal problems, you may not be able to walk like the next person. That said, I recommend a combination approach of strength conditioning and cardiovascular activities.
My research indicates that it’s more important to engage in strength conditioning than any other form of exercise. Previously, in my October 2019 Barberi Law Insider, I discussed the benefits of approaching strength conditioning from a slow burn regimen perspective. The book, Slow Burn Fitness Resolution, by Fredrick Hahn, Michael R. Eades, M.D., and Mary Eades, M.D., is an excellent book to read for anyone serious about strength conditioning. Prior to reading this book, I used to do 30-40 pushups at a time, in quick succession. The last 10 were the toughies. Now, I do 7-10 pushups. But those 7-10 pushups are done by me slowly moving up and down without using momentum or gravity. I move one inch every three seconds. It takes me about 90 seconds to do the 7-10 pushups before I reach what is described as muscle fatigue. The last 2 pushups are now the toughies! I have developed a regimen of about 12 exercises that take me 30-40 minutes to perform. I do these slow burn exercises in one session about every 4-5 days. These slow burn exercises are designed to achieve a buildup in muscle mass.
I’ve looked for ways to reverse the decline of muscle mass as we age. A decline in muscle mass starts early in life, somewhere around 30, but speeds up once we get over 50. Doing slow up and down squats and lifting weights, slow up and down lunges, eliminating gravity and momentum, is the best way that I’ve come across to slow the aging process by building muscle mass.
As your body permits, also find a way to engage in cardio exercise 2-3 times a week. Swimming or walking is the least stressful on your joints, but if you can’t walk or swim, consider riding a bike. As the Slow Burn Revolution book discusses, intense running puts a lot of stress on body joints which may outweigh the cardio benefits. That said, each individual has to decide what is best for them. My approach is to focus on walking, which I do with my wife, and bicycle riding, which I also do with my wife. In addition to the cardio, it offers some opportunity for stress reduction and meaningful relationship building, which may not be available in other forms of cardio exercises.
Get a restful sleep each night
Statistics say that as many as two-thirds of all Americans don’t get enough sleep. Our body requires consistent amounts of sleep to promote never-ending necessary repairs to our body. Every cell is affected by our 24-hour circadian rhythm. Synchronizing our circadian rhythm is extremely important to maximizing our brain’s alertness during the day and gives us the best sleep at night. This best allows for our pineal glands to produce the hormone, melatonin, to do its job. As our bodies age, however, we produce less melatonin. Accordingly, a melatonin daily supplement, depending on your age, of between 2 mg. to 5 mg. (over 75) could be helpful to those suffering from restless sleep issues.
In addition, the following are tips:
- Install window shades that block out all ambient light from the outside (streetlights can be a big distraction). No interior light is left on in our bedroom at night from a TV set or alarm clock. Any light left on inhibits our natural production of melatonin.
- Set a regular sleep schedule that is best for you. If possible, make sure whenever you plan to go to bed, that it is dark outside and avoid any light until it’s time for you to wake up in the morning.
- Minimize light exposure just before bedtime, especially the blue light that comes from computers, mobile phones or TV’s.
- Avoid stimulants right before retiring for the night (coffee, spicy foods or exercising).
- Limit alcohol and monitor sugar intake before going to bed. Too much alcohol (a depressant) can affect your jaw muscles, increasing snoring and restricting air flow. If you have blood sugar issues, and your sugar level drops too low, after a few hours, your body may awake you in an effort to stimulate your adrenal glands (people who suffer from hypo adrenal).
- Reduce the temperature of your bedroom (60°F to 67°F). Colder temperatures also promote melatonin production.
- If you are taking melatonin supplements, do so about 1 hour before going to bed.
So, to summarize these are my three principles:
1. Eat a Mediterranean diet; avoid processed and cooked foods that are bad for you while eating a lot of fresh fruits and raw vegetables. Additionally, drink lots of distilled chlorine-free water every day. The value of a good water source cannot be overstated.
2. Engage in a combination of regular strength conditioning and cardiovascular exercise.
3. Get a good night’s sleep.
Every human being that follows some form of these three timeless health principles, will dramatically increase their odds for living a healthy and long life. I realize there are other ways to enhance a healthy lifestyle, such as reducing stress through meditation, yoga, etc. Reducing stress is unquestionably a good thing. That said, I’ve tried to focus on the three most important things you can do, from my perspective, and those three are simply your diet, your exercise program and getting a good night’s sleep.
Additionally, I suggest that you partner with your family medical doctor once a year for lab work and a physical checkup. As always, my best to you. God Bless!