These Super 6 Lifestyle Pillars are critical in the prevention and reversal of chronic disease. Typically, one or more of these pillars need some nurturing. We encourage you to be curious about the choices you are making in these areas of your life. (what is in your control and what is not) and where you feel would be a practical next step to work on.
Get whole with awareness of Forks, Feet, Fingers, Stress, Sleep & Love
1.FORKS (Diet & Nutrition) : Eat More Plants!
It is a myth that we need to give up our joy of eating to be healthyI look forward to my overnight oats soaked in homemade hemp seed milk sweetened with dates and vanilla extract with berries, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger, cacao nibs for breakfast. I absolutely love my breakfast! I look forward to our curry potato, brown rice or quinoa vegetables stews for lunch and dinner or burrito bowls with pumpkin seeds, whole grains, beans and hot sauce. I do not feel deprived. I feel light and energized in my body. I am eating for optimal blood flow and loving every bite. With every meal I know I am repairing damaged blood vessels and healing my body.Where possible eat organic regenerative whole foods, not too much, mostly plants! Be mindful of the chemicals on the food. See the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 at ewg.org. At minimum choose organic if the food is on the Dirty Dozen list and worry less if the food is listed on the Clean 15.
The food we eat (and the chemicals permitted to be sprayed on the food) is the number one cause of disease in the US. The health of our soil directly correlates to the health of our own gastrointestinal system and within most of our functioning immune system. The lack of nutrients in the soil due to large scale farming practices and the chemicals sprayed on our food must be addressed. We must reclaim our right to healthy soil and a healthy immune system. Please go to these 2 websites to learn more:
Shift your whole to processed ratio. Perfection is impossible, to be whole is the goal!
Whole foods with fiber: Vegetables, fruits, beans, organic whole grains, seeds
Shift your plant to animal ratio, consider meat as more of a garnish then the main dish
To properly train your gut microbiome we need to start low and go slow with fiber.
Long term goal: Avoid or limit to 2 servings or less a week “meats and treats” which are foods WITHOUT fiber
Foods without fiber = meat, eggs, dairy, cheese, oils, white flour, sugar
Ideally limit meat to wild game or true pasture raise raised, and garnish portion or 2 servings maximum a week over main dish or go without completely. Note if you abruptly stop eating animal source foods you were more than likely have detox symptoms as your microbiome shifts from more carnivorous (bactericides) dominate to herbivore (prevotella) dominant strains. The herbivorous strains have the most profound anti inflammatory and anti cancer effects on our physiology which is why humans who eat a plant dominate diet live the longest and have the lowest rates of chronic disease including heart disease and cancer.
Minimize all conventional grains which are sprayed with glyphosate (Round Up) which disrupts are small intestinal health & can be a cause of cancer. Choose organic whole grains wheat, barley, rye (contain gluten) & wild rice, brown rice, quinoa, millet, amaranth (non-gluten)
Minimize all processed foods, fast foods.
Plant based diversity is the greatest predictor of a health gut so the goal is to increase the variety of whole plant foods in your diet.
Prioritize nutrient dense whole plant foods, see GBOMBS below.
Eat oatmeal with 1 tablespoon fresh ground flaxseed or whole chia or shelled raw hemp seeds with berries, cacao nibs and your plant milk of choice.
Try “overnight oats” for breakfast:
- Soak 1/2 cup of organic steel cut oats after rinsing before bed, soak in plant milk overnight in the fridge.
- Add 1-2 tablespoons of fresh ground organic flaxseeds, berries, cinnamon
We encourage a large salad with beans, seeds, whole grains for one meal a day.
Hemp milk recipe:
- Blend ¼ cup raw shelled hemp seeds with 2 cups water for 40 seconds
- Add a few pitted dates and vanilla extract to taste
- Ready to serve, no need to filter.
Try burrito bowls for lunch and dinner. Google: whole food plant-based burrito bowel recipes
Try making your own salad dressings with a base of walnuts, and or other seeds/nuts with raw apple cider vinegar and sea salt and spices to taste. Blend and serve. Add to fresh cut veggies, air fried or raw pumpkin seeds and brown or wild rice with lentils or other legume.
Can you replace one meal with a green smoothie? Try this combination:
1-part frozen banana, 1-part frozen berries, 1-part frozen or fresh darky leafy green like spinach or organic kale, 1 part chia or flax or hemp seed. Use water or a non-dairy plant milk.
Try living on sweet potatoes and kale with fruit for snacks and dessert for a few days. If you are transitioning from the standard American type diet be mindful that you will likely have significant detoxification systems when you drastically change your diet. A gentler approach would be to slowly shift your choices toward more whole fiber foods, eating slowly less fiber less foods.
Especially if you already have significant bowel symptoms you need to SLOWLY increase your intake of whole fiber foods.
Add a prebiotic like psyllium husk powder or capsule, start with 1 capsule daily and slowly increase up to 4 caps over a few weeks or from 1 teaspoon to a tablespoon daily
Consider other prebiotics: Beta glucans (found in oats, barley, wheat, rye) OR Acacia powder OR Wheat Dextrin (Benefiber)
Consider watching: Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change
Eat To Live by Joel Fuhrman, MD
The Pleasure Trap by Doug Lisle, PhD
How Not To Die & How Not To Diet by Michael Greger, MD
Nourish: The Definitive Plant-Based Nutrition Guide for Families by Brenda Davis, RD & Reshma Shah M.D. M.P.H.
2. FEET (Physical Activity): Play More!
Move your body a little bit every day as tolerated
For resistance exercise to build strength keep it simple with 3 exercises “Push, Pull, Squat” Using your own body weight start doing daily push ups, weight assisted pull ups and air squats. Slowly advance, see these tips for advancing push ups.
Unless you have severe shoulder issues, weight assisted pull ups and not advancing too fast are generally safe and in fact can be the best exercise if you have the most common cause of shoulder pain, impingement syndrome. See this video on tips to get started. This is also a good video for details on hanging.
Reclaim yours squat! We used to have to squat several times daily but due to the western toilet seat we are deprived of this natural strengthening and balance exercise. Add gentle mini “air squats” in your home, walk in the house or outside and advance slowly as tolerated, and/or add stationary cycling, gentle yoga stretches.
See this video for general calisthenics advice for beginners
Goal to increase exercise to 60 minutes a day, remember it is a marathon not a sprint, go slow and advance as tolerated. You are the expert of your own body.
Check out the 4 minute work out by Zach Bush, MD on YouTube
From Peter Attia, MD: In planning for The Centenarian Decathlon™, you begin by thinking through and identifying a set of activities you would like to be able to do at age 100.
Here are a few examples:
- Picking up a child from the ground (bonus points: from a crib)
- Lifting your luggage and placing it in an overhead bin on an airplane
- Carrying your groceries up four flights of stairs
- Getting up off the ground, from your back, with the support of only one hand
This list will look different for everyone and you’ll need to spend time thinking through which activities are most important to you.
There are four categories of exercise that provider the most value.
- Stability: Stability is what allows us to safely transfer force from our body to the outside world and vice versa. Virtually any orthopedic injury you sustain can be traced back to some deficiency here.
- Strength: In its simplest form, strength means utilizing muscle to generate force. And if you are interested in living a long and healthy life and playing with your great-grandkids someday, then muscle mass should be a priority. Never in the history of human civilization has a 90-year-old said, “I wish I had less muscle” or “I wish I was less strong.”
- Zone 2 training (aerobic efficiency): Zone 2 is defined as the highest metabolic output/work that you can sustain while keeping your lactate level below two millimole per liter. Functionally, this measures your peak aerobic efficiency.
- VO2 max (maximum aerobic output): Your VO2 max refers to the maximum rate at which your muscles can extract oxygen from your blood and put it to metabolic use to generate energy. There is no metric–biomarker or otherwise–that is more highly associated with the length of your life than your VO2 max.
- Stability videos from Peter Attia, MD
- Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization
- Postural Restoration Institute
Monitor your heart rate, target heart is 180 – your age ( to maintain aerobic and avoid anaerobic respiration)
Consider reading Finding Ultra by Rich Roll, Outlive by Peter Attia, MD
Watch the film The Game Changers
3. FINGERS (Substance Intake/Escape Behavior) : Thrive without.
Avoid tobacco use, if you smoke stay curious about quitting, practice posture and breath awareness, do body scans when reaching and commit to this practice if you still decide to have a cigarette. Increase fruits and vegetables and you will naturally smoke less. Stay curious about any repetitive behavior (smoking, alcohol or other drug use) that you may be using to help regulate your nervous system that may be hurting you acutely or in the long term. Stay curious about screen addiction & total screen time daily. Watch the film on Netflix “The Social Dilemma” and resources at https://www.thesocialdilemma.com. Is there a joyful activity or practice that you can reclaim or add to replace the negative stress management behavior? See STRESS below for positive stress management tools.
Books on Addiction:
Chasing the Scream by Jonathan Hari.
On ADHD: Stolen Focus by Jonathan Hari.
4. STRESS (Stress Management) : Stay Present!
To balance your nervous system, relax the body and prevent compression pain we need to recruit back your parasympathetic nervous system.
To do this:
Practice soft belly breathing and posture awareness
The belly should rise on inhalation and fall on exhalation
Inhale through the nose and exhale through the nose or mouth
Allow shoulders to rest on top of the rib cage avoiding ‘ear muffs’
Minimize slouching, goal for a straight spine and a strong core
Read Breath, The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor
See his breath exercise list at https://www.mrjamesnestor.com
Try These Vagus Nerve Exercises from Stanley Rosenberg
Practice slowing your rate of breathing. Silent count your inhalation & exhalation time and practice prolonging to a goal of 6 seconds in and 6 seconds out.
Consider adding 5 minutes of sitting or supine breath and sensation meditation practice daily.
Observe sensation of air beneath the nostrils to sharpen the mind, as you progress can add body scans, noticing any sensation of your body and slowly scanning from head to feet, feet to head.
Consider reading Mindsight by Dan Siegel, MD
Notice when your mind wanders away from sensation focus and gently bring mind back to sensations.
We are all perfectly imperfect holy beings, the benefit is in the practice not perfection! Every time you can bring your mind back to sensation is like a push up for the brain and will literally change how your brain works and will naturally create more acetylcholine that is deficient in many of us. This neurotransmitter is necessary for relaxation and optimal sleep and cannot be taken in a pill or drug.
5. SLEEP (Sleep Hygiene) : Rest Well
Prioritize adequate sleep, sleep deprivation is the most common and most difficult stressor to the body. Without adequate sleep, the body can not repair and heal.
“Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury, it is a non-negotiable, biological necessity. It is your life support system and it is mother nature’s best effort yet at immortality. The decimation of sleep throughout industrialized nations is having a catastrophic impact on our health, our wellness, even the safety and education of our children. It is a silent, sleep loss epidemic and it is fast becoming one of the greatest public health challenges that we face in the 21st century”. – From Matthew Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Founder and Director of the Center for Human Sleep Science. Author of Why We Sleep.
Avoid caffeine after NOON, minimize or avoid alcohol.
Avoid naps during the day IF you are struggling with sleep at night
Establish regularity of time going to bed and time waking up, regardless of weekday or weekend – regularity is king! Anchor your sleep and improve the quantity and quality of your sleep
Keep it cool! Set thermostat at 65 F.
Try to get 2-10 minutes of natural sunlight in the morning, if you can watch the sun set.
Minimize screen time 2-3 hours before bed that keep your melatonin levels inappropriately low when you need to sleep. Can you keep your mobile phone out of your bedroom at night?
Read a real book before bed. If you must look at electronic screens before bed, use blue light blocking glasses but know that other color frequencies affect natural melatonin as well – so the glasses are not fool proof.
Consider adding Magnesium L-Threonate 100-200 mg or glycinate 30-60 minutes before bed. Too much magnesium can cause loose stools.
Consider L-Theanine 200 mg and/or apigenin 50 mg 30-60 minutes before bed.
Consider melatonin assist, take 0.3 – 1 mg after dinner or 1 hour before bed – ideally short term use only
If you have not had your Vitamin D and B12 levels checked, ask for this. Then work with your doctor to get your D levels to 50-80. Too much won’t help!
Minimize lighting in the home in the evening
Try Non Sleep Deep Rest (NSDR) meditations, or other guided sleep meditations, listening to a boring book.
See my sleep hygiene handout at drkyle.com for more ideas: Suggestions for Better Sleep
Without a healthy gut microbiome we will not sleep well, so we need to eat whole foods and steadily increase our fiber intake and the diversity of whole plant foods to have a healthy microbiome. See FORKS above for details.
Reclaim your nose breath, if you can not breath through your nose you deserve further evaluation and options for correction. Let me know. Read the book Breath by James Nestor mentioned above.
Read Why We Sleep by Matt Walker
See extensive sleep resources at drgominak.com
6. LOVE (Social Connection) : Grow Love (Emotional/Spiritual/Mental Health)
“Trauma teaches you to close your heart and armor up. Healing teaches you to open your heart and boundary up.”
Are you isolated? We can not do it on our own. Seek out support!
Are your relationships nourishing? Are there relationships you need to let go or reclaim?
We need to be able to connect with ourselves & go inward but this can be very difficult due to trauma.
Perhaps start with just a few minutes every day for silent contemplation, prayer.
Practice gratitude: Place hands on chest and feel one thing you are grateful for for 1-3 minutes before getting out of bed in the AM each day.
Connect with others, perhaps volunteer?
Be curious about grudges, need for forgiveness, did we have support in our grief.
Do you have childhood trauma, or any trauma that has not been adequately addressed, in that case I strongly encourage finding a counselor, look for a therapist in your area. Ask for help!
“Human beings have 3 core needs: To be seen, heard, and authentically expressed for who we are” – Dr Nicole LePera
How To Do The Work by Dr. Nicole LePera
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel A. van der Kolk, MD
Lost Connections by Johann Hari
Be Healed by Bob Schuchts
Loved as I Am: An Invitation to Conversion, Healing, and Freedom Through Jesus by S.O.L.T. Miriam James Heidland
A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle