Did You Know . . .?
•Your body is about 70 percent water. •Your muscles are about 75 percent water. •Your brain cells are about 85 percent water. •Your blood is approximately 82 percent water.
Even your bones are approximately 25 percent water
Pillar 1 : Why Water?
I start our study of The Seven Pillars of Health with water because it is the most foundational aspect of health. Water is the single most important nutrient for our bodies. It is involved in every function of our bodies. You can live five to seven weeks without food, but the average adult can last no more than five days without water.³ As a Florida resident, I have lived through several periods of drought, and when we don’t receive adequate amounts of rainfall, the local government rations water consumption. We can water our lawns only on certain days and during certain times on those days. Your body does a similar thing when it be- comes dehydrated: it begins to ration the water. And yet some people water their houseplants more than they do their own bodies! You are valuable; take care of yourself and properly hydrate your bod
H2O 101 Your body loses about two quarts of water a day through perspiration, urination, and exhalation.⁴
A Miracle Cure Many people never drink water. Some don’t like the taste of water, or they were never taught the importance of drinking it. Maybe their parents gave them juice, soft drinks, milk—anything but water. As a result, many people spend their day going from one caffeinated or sugar-based drink to another. They jump-start their mornings with coffee. By midmorning they have a soda for an- other boost, then drink sweetened caffeinated iced tea for lunch.
Late after- noon it’s another coffee-based or “10 percent juice” drink. Little do they know that all that caffeine and sugar are actually stealing water from their bodies, doing them more harm than good.
Take a Guess What percentage of water does the average adult male body contain? •a. 40–50 percent •b. 50–60 percent •c. 62–65 percent Answer: c. The average adult male’s body is 62–65 percent water, compared to women, who have 51–55 percent water. Men have more water in their bodies be- cause they generally have more muscle mass, whereas women have a higher percentage of body fat.⁶
Building Blocks to a Healthy Life Points to Ponder: Water is the single most important nutrient for our bodies and is considered a “miracle cure” for many health conditions. It is involved in every function of our bodies. Your body loses about two quarts of water a day through perspiration, urination, and exhalation. If you wait until you are thirsty to drink water, then you are most likely already dehydrated. Action Step: Instead of reaching for a soft drink or tea, drink clean, natural water.
Pillar 2 :
The Fountain of Youth
Lose Weight, Feel Great Proper hydration has other benefits for reversing the aging process. Water will also help you to manage your weight. When you are dehydrated, your body secretes aldosterone, a hormone that causes water retention. As you drink more water, your body releases the water it was storing for “survival mode.” During the first few days of drinking more water than your body is accustomed to, you are running to the bathroom constantly. This can be very discouraging, and it can certainly interfere with an otherwise normal daily routine. Take heart; it’s really your body’s way of getting rid of excess water and toxins. You are “flushing” out your system. New research also shows that being dehydrated may cause your body’s fat deposits to increase. Dehydration can contribute to an inefficient metabolism by affecting body temperature. When you are dehydrated, your body temperature drops slightly and causes your body to store fat as a way to help raise or maintain the temperature.¹ Also, as some savvy dieters know, drinking water reduces your appetite by giving you a full feeling.
H2O 101 As we age, our body’s signal for thirst tends to decrease, which may be the reason why some elderly people don’t drink as much water as they should. Their water reserves are typically lower, and their vulnerability to become more dehydrated tends to increase.²
Improve Your Memory Have you ever felt as if you were experiencing a “senior moment”? You don’t have to be resigned to the idea of losing your memory anymore. For some time, it was common knowledge that nothing could be done about memory loss. It was accepted as a part of growing old. That is, until experts discovered that humans can grow new brain cells. PET (positron emission tomography) and SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans can map brain activity and measure both the destruction and growth of new brain cells. This completely changed the way we viewed memory loss. Thanks to these marvelous advances, today we know that even damaged brains can grow new cells.³ If we know what areas of the brain can grow new cells, then we may be able to improve memory.
Water Revives Cells Cellular dehydration affects how our cells function. The first sign of failing health is a shift of fluid from the inside of the cell to the outside of the cell. About two-thirds of the body’s fluid is inside the cells, and the rest is outside the cells. But cells die when they don’t have enough energy to maintain the membrane pumps, which maintain the balance of water inside and out.
Pillar 3 : Restoring Your Body With Sleep
Edge of Collapse What if Walt Disney World stayed open all night or let people in at 3:00 a.m., cutting short the repair time? The park would eventually be unsafe, unsanitary, and unappealing. It would end up a run-down shadow of itself, careening to- ward financial disaster and, worse, causing injuries or deaths on rides that were not maintained properly. •••••••••••••••••• Did You Know . . .? Getting enough sleep will help you to learn new physical skills. Studies have shown that sleep builds procedural memory. What you practice during the day, you continue to learn while you sleep.
Transportation Safety and Sleep Deprivation When the Exxon Valdez ran aground in 1989, causing $1.85 billion in dam- age to the environment, the third mate was at the helm and had slept only six hours in the previous twenty-four.⁵ The crash of Korean Air Flight 801 in 1997 killed 228 people. The cockpit voice recorder picked up the pilot uttering the words “…really…sleepy…” as he made his final approach. The pilot’s fatigue was ruled as a major contributor to this tragedy .
What Happens When You Don’t Sleep The medical research is clear about what happens when you don’t get sufficient sleep. 1. You increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. One study published by the medical journal Lancet revealed that even in young, healthy
individuals, a sleep deficit of three to four hours a night over the course of a week affected the body’s ability to process carbohydrates, leading some people into a prediabetic state .
Are You Getting Enough Sleep? How do you know you are getting enough sleep?
Here’s a quick quiz:
1.Do you need an alarm clock to wake up in the morning?
2.Do you get drowsy while driving short distances or while waiting at traffic lights?
3. Do you run out of steam in the middle of the day?
4.Are you irritable and agitated? (Ask your spouse to answer!
5.Are you a light sleeper and wake up easily at every noise?
6.Are you unable to get persistent worries out of your mind?
If you answered “yes” to even some of these, you are probably lacking sleep. If you’re still not sure, try sitting in a comfortable chair in a darkened room for five minutes. If you can’t do this without falling asleep, it’s a sign that you need more sleep.
Pillar 4 : Living Food vs. Dead Food
Living Longer—but Better? Life expectancy in the United States increased to 77.6 years in 2003, according to a report by the National Center for Health Statistics at CDC. But half of U.S. residents ages fifty-five to sixty-four have high blood pressure, and two in five are obese.
Dr. Colbert’s List of Worst Fats to Consume 1.Hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats and trans fats 2.Excessive saturated fats 3.Excessive polyunsaturated fats
Did You Know . . .? People who restrict their calories live longer. More than two thousand studies support the fact that a low-calorie, optimal nutrition diet can extend life by 30 to 50 percent.²
Agreement to Lose Weight Repeat this agreement, aloud and with conviction three times a day before meals.
No longer will I only use my willpower to control my eating; instead I will use God’s power infused into my willpower through the Holy Spirit. I will crucify my flesh daily and give my body what it needs and not what it craves. I covenant today that no longer will food be my comforter, but the Holy Spirit will be my Comforter. From this day on, I refuse to pollute my body by eating junk food, sugar, fried foods, and any other food that is unhealthy.
I covenant to exercise at least every other day because I realize that I cannot lose weight and keep it off without exercise.
I CONFESS: • I want to lose weight and keep it off. • I deserve to lose weight and keep it off.
• Losing weight is good for me. • Losing weight is good for others. • It is safe for me to lose weight and keep it off. • With the Holy Spirit’s help, I will lose weight and keep it off.
Pillar 5 : The Benefits of Exercise
Exercise prevents cancer. Studies show that approximately one-third of cancer deaths can be linked to diet and sedentary lifestyles.¹ Simple movement and exercise decrease the risk of certain cancers such as breast, colon, and possibly endometrial and prostate cancers.² In 2005, the National Cancer Institute reported that “physical activity at work or during leisure time is linked to a 50 percent lower risk of getting colon cancer.”³ A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women who engaged in the equivalent of brisk walking for about one to two hours per week decreased their risk of breast cancer by 18 percent compared with inactive women.⁴ Bottom line: exercise goes a very long way in preventing cancer.
Exercise prevents heart attacks and heart disease. Ironically, exercise rests your heart. The reason is that an inactive person’s heart works much harder than an active person’s heart. How? Two ways. An active person’s heart usually beats about 60 to 70 times or less per minute. An inactive person’s heart usually beats 80 times or more per minute because it is unconditioned and less efficient. That’s like putting 33 percent more miles on your car every time you drive it. If your heart rate is 60 beats a minute, you will have approximately 86,400 beats in a twenty-four-hour period; however, if your heart rate is 80 beats a minute, it will beat 115,200 times in a twenty-four-hour period. That’s quite a bit of extra mileage on your heart each day.
Exercise improves lymphatic flow. The lymphatic system is a major microbe crime-fighter and cellular garbage collector in the body. It removes toxins and cellular waste, and it “keeps the peace” by rounding up bacteria, viruses, and other bad guys, bringing them to the lymph nodes where they are killed by white blood cells. Lymphatic fluid is so important that your body contains about three times more lymph than blood. The lymphatic fluid moves around via very small vessels, which usually run alongside small veins and arteries. But the lymphatic system has a challenge: it is circulated by muscle contractions, not by your heartbeat. When you don’t move, the lymphatic system becomes sluggish. But aerobic exercise can triple the rate of lymphatic flow. That means that the lymphatic system—your in-house police force and cellular garbage collector—does a much better job protecting your body from attack and removing cellular trash.
Exercise promotes weight loss and decreases appetite. Weight training and calisthenics are exercises that increase your muscle mass, which raises your metabolic rate and enables you to burn more fat. It is perhaps the safest method of raising your metabolic rate, which is the rate at which your body converts food into energy. Realize that the basal metabolic rate decreases by approximately 5 percent for every decade of life after the age of twenty. People who are sedentary have a significant loss of muscle mass as they age. In these sedentary individuals there is about a seven-pound loss of muscle mass every ten years past the age of twenty. So by age sixty, most have lost about twenty-eight pounds of muscle and replaced it with much more fat. Aerobic exercise such as brisk walking and cycling is also a very effective way to lose weight and keep it off.
Pillar 6 : Believe It or Not You’re Probably Toxic
Toxic Onslaught Most people are toxic to some degree—and I don’t mean their personalities, but their physical bodies. Everyone has toxins stored in his or her body. It’s similar to forgetting to take the trash cans to the curb on trash day, and the garbage piles up in your garage. Your cans eventually overflow, and the stench worsens. You feel sick just walking near them. After a few weeks the smell of the garbage is so bad that you can even smell it inside the house. That’s a similar picture of what happens in your body when you take in toxins but don’t get rid of them. Your body has waste management systems that keep you healthy when they function properly. But, like a city that neglects its trash removal, your body can eventually become overwhelmed with toxins. That’s what it means to be toxic.
Can Toxicity Be Avoided? I’m convinced that toxicity cannot be avoided entirely. We live in a toxic world. There are about eighty thousand chemicals registered for use in the United States, and we add about two thousand more every year. These chemicals are used in food, prescription drugs, supplements, household products, personal products, and lawn care products.¹ From the moment of conception a child is exposed to a plethora of toxins in his environment, first from his mother, then from the world into which he’s born. In a report by the Environmental Working Group, the American Red Cross took umbilical-cord blood samples of ten babies and tested them for contaminants.
Thankfully, there is an answer: detoxification. There are simple things that you can start doing today to rid your body of toxins and to help your waste management systems keep them out. Decrease your exposure to toxins by: 1. Choosing more living, organic foods, free-range lean meats, and low-fat organic dairy. 2. Choose clean, pure spring or filtered water instead of tap water. 3. Breathe clean air, and do not stroll, walk, or jog along busy roads or highways. Don’t wait outside airport terminals, inhaling diesel exhaust. Avoid secondhand smoke in restaurants and public buildings
Deadly Toxification I wish toxicity were only a matter of bad body odor, but it’s much more serious than that. When your body can’t break down a toxin or dispose of it properly, it usually stores it in fatty tissues, which include the brain, breasts, and prostate gland. Those “love handles” around your waist may actually be toxin-storage sites! Toxins may also trigger inflammation, which is the main cause of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, asthma, and many other diseases. Inflammation, we are finding, is strongly related to the foods we eat, like red meats. Highly toxic people open themselves up to many more problems, including: • Chronic fatigue • Heart disease • Memory loss • Premature aging • Skin disorders • Arthritis • Hormone imbalances • Anxiety • Headaches • Emotional disorders • Cancers • Autoimmune diseases
Pillar 7 : Coping With Stress
Stress Can Be Good Good stress is healthy, such as a wedding or a promotion. Stress is also our body’s natural reaction to a threat or perceived threat. It causes a sudden re- lease of adrenaline and other hormones that cause your blood pressure to go up, your heart to beat faster, and your lungs to take in more air among other physiologic events. These stress hormones give you extra strength and mental acuity for a few moments, and they empower you to either fight or flee. But when the stress response occurs too frequently or goes on long term, those stress hormones that were meant to save your life begin to actually harm you. They can leave you feeling depressed, anxious, angry, with low sex drive, and predisposed to obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and all kinds of illnesses. The same hormones that save your life in an emergency can actually begin to destroy your health.
The Consequences of Stress In June 2005, the Wall Street Journal devoted an entire section of their news- paper to how to live longer. The front-page article of the section said, “Increasingly, researchers are viewing stress—how much stress we face in a lifetime, and how well we cope with it—as one of the most significant factors for predicting how well we age.”¹ The article concluded that stress “kills” people as much or more than poor health habits like smoking, drinking alcohol, or not exercising. Stress is not just a mental problem; it’s the cause of many of the diseases and maladies I treat in my practice. Many recent studies have demonstrated this. The renowned Nun Study has shown that elevated stress levels inhibit and deteriorate the hippo campus, the part of the brain associated with memory and learning. A smaller hippo campus is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease .
Stress, Strokes, and Sickness Excessive stress long term can make you obese and unhealthy. In response to long-term stress, the hormone cortisol rises, which can cause the blood pres- sure to rise, can cause the release of fats and sugar in the bloodstream, and may cause weight gain, elevated triglycerides, high cholesterol, and blood sugar. Cortisol will save your life if you are a POW or experiencing famine, be- cause it slows your metabolic rate and helps to preserve your fat stores. But most of us aren’t POWs or experiencing famine, and so the high cortisol levels usually lead to weight gain.
how to avoid stress
Benefits of Happiness I believe the Bible is so emphatic about joy because joy sustains life: “A cheerful heart is good medicine” (Proverbs 17:22, NIV). That is literally true. According to Rich Bayer, PhD, CEO of Upper Bay Counseling and Support Services, Inc., happy people have more social contact and better social relations than their unhappy counterparts. Studies of positive people show that they rate high on having good relationships with themselves and with others. Their love life is better as well. Happy people tend to be kinder to others and to express empathy more easily. They also have the ability to use their intelligence more effectively. Some studies show that people become better students when they are feeling happy
Chuckle for the Day The new pastor was visiting in the homes of his parishioners. At one house it seemed obvious that someone was at home, but no answer came to his repeated knocks at the door. He took out a card and wrote Revelation 3:20, which says “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” and stuck it in the doorjamb. The following Sunday when the offering was processed, he found that his card had been returned with this cryptic message, and he burst into laughter. The message added was from Genesis 3:10, which reads, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid for I was naked.”
Points to Ponder: Create a habit of happiness and laughter instead of a habit of worry. When you laugh, it lowers stress hormones and relieves stress. Laughter also boosts the immune system, protects the heart, and improves overall health. Ten belly laughs a day are equivalent to getting a good aerobic exercise workout, and they’re the ultimate “stress buster.” Action Step: Find a TV show DVD or movie with clean humor, watch it tonight, and laugh a lot!