The ultimate goal of a healthy lifestyle is to lead a long and healthy life. In today’s show, Dr Orlena explores what contributes to longevity.
She reviews 2 books. “The Longevity Diet” by Dr Valter Longo and “This Book Could Save Your Life” by Graham Lawton.
Happily, the key take aways are aligned with Dr Orlena’s Super Simple system and her 4 pillars. (Nutrition, exercise, sleep and emotions and mindset.)
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Do you want to spend more time with your kids, have buckets of energy to read bedtime stories to them? And look amazing in your toned and strong body at the same time?
The Four Pillars I teach will help you live and enjoy a healthy and long life.
I have found books authored by science journalists that are in agreement with what I am teaching.
I am all about routine habits and systems. I can teach you more about these. Like me, you too will get clarity on how you will work on family habits and on changing your life.
Hello and welcome to fit and fabulous with me, Dr. Orlena Kerek. I hope you’re feeling fabulous today.
Today, I want to talk about longevity and how to lead a healthy life.
Before we start I want to think a little bit about where we are at the beginning of 2021. I’ve noticed over the last week or so that I’ve had this kind of strange feeling a little bit myself. It’s almost as if I'm counting down the days. By the time this recording comes out, it will be February.
I can see myself ticking off the days to get through to when we can be vaccinated. And when life gets back to normal.
When we can get back into our house which is a big project. It's not going to be anytime before December.
This is not the exciting life I want to lead. Now I know that life isn’t always exciting. That’s another interesting topic which actually we should cover in the next few weeks.
As my wise mother says, “do not wish your life away”.
I don’t want to be living like that. I don’t want to be living with this sensation at all. “It’s going to be better tomorrow”…
I realized right now that things are amazing and awesome as well.
When you’re in a routine, it’s easy to see the more difficult things and to forget about the beautiful things.
I’ve been sitting with that for a while and seeing what happens and a couple of changes I have made.
I’ve started thinking about being present in the moment. For example, reading to my kids before bedtime. We always have a bedtime story. It’s very easy for that to be an autopilot routine. I’ve been making an effort to enjoy our quiet time while having some snuggles and relaxed time, and enjoying the story.
We’ve been reading Michael Morpurgo. I love his books but we call him Morose Michael because all his books are so sad. I do think he is a fabulous storyteller.
We cycle to school, which at times can be a little bit challenging. We were working on it this morning. We did well in 26 minutes, which is under our usual 30.
I have worked out I can go alongside my son who's a little bit slow and I hold onto him. I can help him up the hill. It’s a little bit extra work for me but I am always enjoying it. It’s a little bit more of a workout. That is super good and gives him a bit of a boost and we get there a bit quicker.
On the way back, it’s still winter here. Most of the trees are pine trees that still have leaves but some other trees that aren’t pine trees don’t have leaves.
There’s something about it while looking at that beauty. It’s winter for me and I’m cold. We've had a lot of not-so-great weather recently which I find difficult. I hate being not locked up inside but I like to enjoy the sunshine and hear the birds. As I cycled home, I could take a moment to listen to those birds. I could see the green grass, the pine trees, and the nakedness of the trees that do not have leaves.
That’s one thing I have been working on. Being present and enjoying every moment for what it is. I know that’s not always easy.
Another tool I have is a little gratitude shell. We live by the sea and we’re always picking up shells. There are some snail shells that I liked that are long and twisty and we collect them. I often have a whole handful of them. I kept one in my pocket and my husband has one on his desk.
We call it our “gratitude shell”. When I see them, I have to think of something I'm grateful for. There's one of them that lives in my coat pocket. Every time I put my coat on, my hand goes down and feels it. I think about something that is amazing or just bring myself back to that moment. This moment I’m putting on my coat, I'm about to go and do this thing. The sky is blue or grey, whatever color it is and here I am at this moment.
I used these few little tricks and tools over the last week for me to stop feeling like I'm counting down the days. I'm counting down the days to whatever is around the corner so that I can enjoy it right here and right now.
Let's move on to how to lead a long and healthy life. This is what I love talking about now. Let’s recap the four pillars that I teach. If you have heard them, my apologies, but it is good to go over the basics over and over again.
I use the Mediterranean-style diet as a framework but it doesn't have to be that way. I like it because I'm here. Mediterranean-style diet is stronger on extra virgin oil. That is the only difference from other plant-based diets and I love extra virgin olive oil.
Lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lentils, nuts seeds. It has a little bit of fish, a little bit of protein. It's also minimizing the amount of white refined carbohydrates. These are pasta bread, cake, pizza (all those things that my kids love).
That's in a nutshell and healthy fats are in the Mediterranean style diet. Like Virgin olive oil and other things as well, so you know you can get fats from your nuts, your seeds, and your avocados.
Pillar number two is exercise. Pillar Number three is sleep.
Pillar number four is emotions and mindset. This is the bit which helps us feel happy. All these little things like the tools that I've been telling you about. We have to be aware of ourselves. How we think and feel has an impact because it affects our behaviour. Are we actually going to eat this way and exercise this way? A lot of that boils down to mindset.
I'm constantly reading books and listening to podcasts. I'm also thinking about the evidence, the science that is out there and most experts agree roughly. I guess nutrition is the biggest controversial area. Most experts agree that vegetables, a plant-based diet is a way to be going. Now you can talk about the minutiae details, for example, should you go vegan or should you not go vegan? It's an interesting and controversial topic which we have bought up before. There are different people on both sides of the equation.
I want to dive into a couple of books I have read over the last few months. I want to give you a few of the gold nuggets that I have taken away from them.
The title of the book is “This Book Could Save Your Life” written by Graham Lawton. He is a new scientist journalist. He is someone who spends his life reviewing the science out there. He writes articles for the new science magazine.
I recommend this book. It is written in very nice and small bite-size chunks so it's easy to digest. His way of writing is very personable, easy to get through. He goes through the different types of things and different myths.
Let us read a few out to you, for example, the truth about food, the truth about fat, the true truth about carbs and sugar. He goes into lots of different things. As a big takeout, I would say that what I like about this book is that he agrees with me. No, I don't mean that he agrees with me. He's never heard of me. But what I like is to see the evidence that confirms the framework I have (as I said, not everybody agrees).
Another example, the ketogenic diet doesn't fit into that framework. It says you have to cut out carbohydrates to a much lower level. That doesn't equate with eating lots of fruit and vegetables. Not everybody agrees with this from this framework. He does agree in broad brush strokes, which is amazing. I'll put out a few little snippets next time which I found interesting.
One of the things he was talking about is omega-3. He goes into this in more detail, but the common belief is that we need to eat oily fish to get our omega 3.
What he actually says is that there are two different types of omega-3. One of which is the most important which we find in linseeds, chia seeds, kiwis, and walnuts. That was very interesting and it’s something that I wasn't aware of. I've always thought we need to eat a little bit of fish to get our omega 3 but he goes into other myth-busting things.
He talks about calorie counting, and I found this very interesting. I don't teach people who want to lose weight how to count calories. What is actually happening on a cellular level is “calories in, calories out”. If you look at all the bodies, all the cells do an amazingly complicated equation. Essentially, the excess calories are stored as fat in the end.
If you want to lose weight you need to use up fat. You have to work out how to burn them. The problem with that equation is that it's very difficult to know exactly what's going on. He goes into it in more detail.
There are so many different variables, not least of all, how food is labeled. It's actually very difficult to measure the calories that actually go into your mouth.
Let alone what your body does with them. One of the factors is what does your biome do? What do all those bugs and organisms in your gut do? Which bits do they take away? What about the amount of time it takes to digest or the energy you're using to digest? The more you refine the food the less your body has to do to digest.
He has a very interesting bit about why calorie counting isn't a very good approach.
The other book is called “The Longevity Diet. It's by a gentleman named Dr. Valter Longo, who is a Ph.D. doctor and a research doctor. The super interesting thing is that he's from Italy but he moved over to the States.
He goes into the different types of research. You can look at it to see what factors influence how long people live. I have to confess his book is very well written and it’s personable but it is a little bit drier than the other book. It’s a little bit more sciency than the other, but I like science and I like this book.
He talks about a plant-based diet which is the pescatarian plant-based diet. He's saying that we should have some fish and that he talks about protein as well that we should aim for. He's got a calculation for body weight and how much protein you should be having.
One of the things he's saying is that you shouldn't get too much protein. I find this very interesting because a lot of people are advocating more protein. More and more we're seeing experts and research saying too much protein isn't good for you.
Interestingly, he says, you should eat all your protein in one meal to help your muscles more. He advocates around 40 to 47 grams of protein a day. It isn't very much at all particularly if your protein comes from meat. Fish and meat are all protein. If chickpeas and garbanzos are your sources of protein, it doesn't contain 47 grams of it.
He talks about minimising bad fats and sugars and increasing good ones. He also talks about increasing good olive oils, good unsaturated fats. Also, to increase nut oils, and good complex carbohydrates. He mentioned whole bread, legumes, and vegetables. Also decreasing things like pasta, rice, bread, fruit, and fruit juices.
On a side note, he mentioned that we should minimise fruits. I think fruit is very easy to eat. I do see it as a stepping stone particularly to changing the way you eat if you're a parent too.
If you're somebody who's thinking, “oh my goodness! I want to implement this new way of eating. Now I've got to get rid of all these packaged snacks. What am I ever going to eat?”
Just go with fruit as your treats because it is relatively high in sugar. It's much less high in sugar than cookies and biscuits, crisps, and all those other things. Also, it's wrapped up with good phytonutrients, fibre and other good things. I wouldn't worry too much about fruit right now.
When you get to the stage of like, “oh, I really need to refine my diet”, you can think about reducing a little bit of fruit. If that's what you want to do particularly if you have kids. I have children and quite often if they don't eat vegetables, they eat fruits. They might eat an apple, but in my mind, that's a stepping stone to what I normally eat. It’s training them to eat fruits and vegetables rather than all those other good treats.
If they don't like dinner, they will say, “can I have a green apple?” Quite often I will say yes, go and do that. If we've got carrots, I might say you can go and peel yourself a carrot if that's what he wants to do.
Valter Longo also talks about eating twice a day, plus a snack. This idea of how often we eat is interesting. He recommends periodic prolonged fasting. He recommends what he calls “time-restricted eating”. That is not eating frequently during the day and not eating into the night.
He has something which he calls “fasting mimicking diet”, which I think is a program that you have buy. He will tell you exactly what you can and you can't eat.
He says many cultures have periods where historically they have fasted. In the Christian religion, it would be lent or for Muslims, it would be Ramadan. Quite often there is a culture of fasting and eating less.
In modern-day culture, a lot of that time, it has gone by the wayside and we don't do that. He recommends two periods of five-day fasting. It’s reducing your calories by doing his particular way.
What I like about both of these books is they're accessible and interesting. They are science-based books and they're doable. If you look at the big bracket of the umbrella, they talk about eating vegetables and healthy oils. Also, reducing junk food. That's a doable message.
The other thing they both talk about is exercise. Exercise is my number two pillar. It's easy to lead a sedentary lifestyle. I have realized this since we moved into our new smaller house before Christmas. My step count has really gone down because I live in a small house. In my bigger house, I was walking round and round the garden. Now I sort of come in and I live in one room. I might move to another room and my step count has plummeted.
The flip side of that is when you have good and healthy habits, it is easy to make sure that you're doing enough exercise. So how much is enough exercise? Well, the biggest leap you're going to get is from a sedentary lifestyle to doing some exercise. It doesn't matter where you are. I would encourage you to go and do more exercise.
Both of these books are saying, the more exercise you can do, the better. It's not just about doing 5,000 or 10,000 steps. In fact, Graham Lawton says it's probably closer to 15,000 steps that we want to do.
Valter Longo recommends working all your body parts until you breathe rapidly. He also mentioned sweating for five to 10 hours a week. That's actually a reasonable amount of exercise. Don't panic. You can work up to this.
The other thing I would say is that every little bit counts. If you run up and down the stairs a few times that already counts. I would refer you back to my episode of “why I think everybody should get themselves a sports watch to track this.” It's difficult to know exactly how much exercise you're doing unless you're tracking it. The more exercise the better. Both those books are worth reading. They're both interesting and they both have positive messages.
How do you make yourself do these things? You create routine habits and systems. I am working on my challenge, my habits challenge. I have decided it's going to be “Healthy You Healthy Family Habits Challenge”. It's going to be taking place in April. That'll be super exciting. It will be a week-long free program where we'll talk more about habits. I’ll also show you how to implement them, and how you can create one healthy habit.
I want you to come out of that week thinking “Righ!. I can create this habit now.” Obviously, you can't create a habit in a week, but what you can do is set yourself up to create that habit and keep doing that. That will be coming in April and lastly, I still am offering a 30-minute chat, a free coaching session.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could dial down your cravings for certain foods?
Or increase your like for healthy foods? Wouldn't that make healthy eating so much easier?
Well you can! In just 30 minutes.
Alea didn't like blueberries until she did the Magic Likes exercise. She was eating them and enjoying them by the end of the call!
Tory stopped eating pretzels after she did the exercise.
Find out more about Dr Orlena's Magic Likes and Dislikes Exercise.
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Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
If want a healthy family and healthy lifestyle without having to think about it. And you'd like help, book a 30 minute "Healthy Life Roadmap" call here.