Walking and eating your way to good health
PANAMA. Often patients come to my office for a regular “check up”. They say that they feel fine but they want a “routine” physical. F...
PANAMA. Often patients come to my office for a regular “check up”. They say that they feel fine but they want a “routine” physical. Frequently their history and physical exam are OK, as well as their lab tests. Still, they want to know what more they can do.
There’s plenty you can do on your own if you consider that your body is like a house that needs a strong foundation and support beams to prevent illnesses and fight diseases.
YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT. First, you must have a nutritious diet that you enjoy enough to stick with and one that offers you enough variety that you don’t get bored or are caught up in a ‘feasting-fasting’ cycle. A healthy plate has about 50 percent vegetables, 25 percent carbohydrates, and 25 percent proteins. Among the vegetables: lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, zucchini, eggplants, cauliflower, etc. are some of the best. Carbohydrates includes bread, potatoes, rice, spaghetti, sweet potatoes, and sweet beverages (including diet coke and similar). Carbohydrates are the ones that make you fat (It is not the fat that makes you fat!).
Proteins include meat, poultry and fish. Better baked or cooked, not fried. It is also important that you eat reasonable portions: no more than a cup of rice; if you eat a potato, it should be about the size of your fist; meat or poultry about the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand (4 ounces).
WALKING FOR LIFE. Your second step to a healthy lifestyle is exercise. But don’t do like one of my patients who confused buying gym outfits and a ‘thigh-thruster’ with real exercise. She finally lost weight and felt much better when she decided to walk everywhere, including the hairdresser, supermarket, and the park. It’s really very easy to tune up your body through walking. An adult person should exercise 2 ½ hours per week, about 30 minutes five times per week. The recommended exercise is brisk walking at a pace of 5 km/hr (2 ½ km in 30 min)—about as fast as marchers in a parade.
If you swim, then you can do only about 20 minutes daily. Exercise should not be done only to lose weight, it is to keep you fit and healthy. If you want to lose weight, you will have to increase your exercise to 1 ½ to 2 hours daily. And what does “staying fit” actually mean? Simply that your body is prepared to withstand moderate stress, like having to climb two flights of stairs, or having an argument with your boss, or trying to cross Avenida Balboa to la Cinta Costera during rush hour.
It means that your system will not have an exaggerated rise in blood pressure and tachycardia (a racing heart) that appears in persons that do not exercise. That is why athletes usually had blood pressures in the range of 90/60, and pulses in the range of 50 to 60. Exercise also is good for your health because it liberates endorphins that make you feel good, and nitrous oxide, that helps to diminish joint aches, and improve sexual performance. That is why I call exercise the best medicine. You can get if for free, and it helps you a lot.
STRESS?AAARRGGHH. The Third lifestyle change I recommend is to avoid stress. Easy to say, harder to do. Chronic stress is a cause of hypertension and nerve breakdown. Try to take 15 to 30 minutes each day dedicated to yourself. Exercise, dance, listen to music, garden, meditate, play with your pets, or play board games.
These are the “foundations” to stay healthy. You should also avoid smoking. If you drink alcohol, do not have more than 2 drinks a day, or 10 per week, if you are a man, or 1 per day or 5 per week if you are a woman. A drink is defined as a can of beer, a cup of wine, or 1 ½ ounces of hard liquor. You should avoid keeping all for Friday night..!
And finally have a safe sex life.