Step 1: Drink adequate amounts of fresh and clean water
The first thing in any quality diet is to drink adequate amounts of clean and fresh water. Yep, believe it or not that tasteless liquid sensation making up 60 per cent of your adult body (more for a younger person, and less for older people) is an essential part of life. You cannot live without water, not even for a few days. You are definitely not made of alcohol, Coca Cola, wine (even though some silly Christians claim the blood of Christ is red wine), or whatever else people may think you are made of. You are substantially made of pure water. If you are not sure of the known health benefits to come from drinking water, especially for the brain and body, you should visit this page.
Speaking of drinking water, a sprinkling of balance is probably in order here. When you drink water, you must be careful not to go overboard with consuming lots of water. If you force yourself to drink too much, you can cause serious kidney problems. Also, you should drink slightly less of the absolutely pure water compared to mineralised water from underground springs or from rivers. There is a difference between pure water and water containing natural minerals.
Likewise, there is a balance in the amount of impurities you should accept in your body when drinking water. Consume too many impurities, including bacteria, and the body needs more water to flush out the impurities. And if the impurities contain harmful minerals or high levels of bacteria (or even just a small amount of the more dangerous types of bacteria), these will accumulate in the body and affect your immune system. In fact, drinking bad water can potentially kill you. There is an ideal balance one should seek between absolutely pure water, and water that contains impurities. And those impurities should be made up of natural minerals. By minerals, we do not mean heavy metals like lead or uranium. They should be more in the range of a little iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium and some salts (especially for people who sweat a lot in hot countries) as these are beneficial to your health. Likewise a little bit of natural bacteria (all natural waters contain some microbes) will not kill you. If anything, it will help the body to adapt and deal with a few bugs and strengthen your immune system. But if you are not sure the quality of the natural mineral water you get (as where it is sourced and how it is bottled can vary the amount and type of impurities in a significant way), consider adding pure water to liquids foods such as home-made vegetable juice for the body to absorb all the important minerals.
Beyond that, only drink as much water as your body needs. Never any more (although you will hear camping instructors suggesting that you should drink as much water as possible before the start of a long journey). The brain will tell the body when it feels it has enough
Also, if you are trying to lose weight, drinking water adds absolutely no calories to your body. The truly perfect nutrient to have in your diet.
Step 2: Eat a combination of protein and vitamin-rich foods, preferably from plant-based sources
The next thing you need in your diet is a combination of high quality proteins (to build and repair tissue) and plant-based foods (for the water-soluble vitamins and minerals, as well as certain chemicals to help mop up free radicals in the body as a means of preserving the body and brain for longer), including some unsaturated plant-based fats (to acquire vital and hard to find or "create in the body" fat-soluble vitamins). Which of the two main food groups mentioned here you should focus on depends on whether you want your body to go into growth mode, or preservation/longevity mode.
Step 3: When to eat more protein
As a child, it is natural to be in growth mode. Muscles and bones need to be developed to reach a minimum adult size. Therefore, the ratio of protein to vitamin-rich plant-based foods should be higher in favour of protein.
On the other end of the age spectrum, older people need to be more in preservation mode with only the occasional growth mode spurts at certain times (to replace old and damaged cells, so long as the DNA inside the cells are well-preserved from the excesses of radiation exposure in the environment).
This would explain why some people believe in the claim that living in a colder environment for a long time tends to make them look younger and potentially live longer so long as they keep themselves protected from the universal background radiation and the Sun from the occasional highly energetic radiation penetrating the body. Some health clubs may even offer cold environment therapies inside a room to help reduce body temperature before the customers decide to return to normal room temperature after the session. Alternatively, wearing a thin and flexible skin-tight metal suit to utilise the symmetry of the body can help to reduce the amount and quality (or frequency) of the radiation (and so reduce temperature) inside the body. And if the body is kept warm indoors, the metal suit also provides effective radiation shielding properties. Such benefits can only be seen by wearing the suit for long periods of time, quite literally for years. Or else, you must learn to stay indoors out of the sunlight for long periods to get a similar level of radiation protection.
In terms of losing weight, it is actually in the protein area of your diet (and to a certain extent some fats too, so long as they are from plants, such as avocados and nuts, so as to avoid the problems of accumulated toxins in animal fats entering your body) where you will reduce your hunger more quickly for a smaller amount of food you consume of it. That means your body will receive less energy, and it takes longer and requires more biochemical processes to convert some proteins and fats into energy (if the body requires extra energy). Because of this delayed release in energy, you tend not to accumulate extra energy, and as a result you will lose weight and stay thin. Furthermore, the added benefits of eating extra protein is not just a reduction in your hunger with less food consumed, but it will be used by the body to replace old and damaged cells with new ones, add a few new cells to help build your muscles (if you need it), and over time you will feel a little stronger and smarter, as well as show a shining health in your hair, fingernails, skin, eyes and other parts of your body.
And, of course, extra protein is also needed for pregnant women because they obviously need to build the tissues and bones for creating a healthy baby.
Ideally, you should always eat adequate protein from plant-based foods. However, you do need to eat quite a bit of plant-based foods to gain adequate proteins (especially for athletes that need extra protein to build and repair the body). Until a range of high-protein plants becomes genetically engineered and/or concentrated from natural sources, we recommend only the freshest and cleanest (sustainably farmed) fish you can find for an excellent source of high quality proteins and fats. Or choose a quality organic low-fat/high protein milk, cheese, yoghurt or other dairy product. However, don't consume too much dairy products as they tend to have high calories and extra fat content (and may even come with additional sugar from corn syrup as a means of encouraging people to drink more milk by some American food manufacturers). We recommend that you consume no more than a glass of low-fat/high protein milk per day. Better still, and for the extra good bacteria your gut needs, drink a glass of probiotic Swedish-style yoghurt (with no added sugar).
Step 4: When to eat more vitamin-rich foods, preferably from plant-based sources
You would eat more vitamin-rich foods with extra fibre for a healthy gut when you are ready to preserve the body for a longer lifespan. That means you must increase the ratio of vegetables to protein, and also reduce sugar intake. This should be followed by light exercises to ensure the bones remain dense and strong and you have reasonable muscle tone.
At the very least you must always complement protein foods with plenty of different organically grown and freshest fruits and vegetables on the planet (free from the pesticides that come from non-organically grown stuff) in order for you to obtain a wide range of known and unknown vitamins and minerals for your body and brain to function properly, and enough fibre to keep yourself healthy on the inside (the intestinal tract has its own set of muscles that need to work properly as well as help to clean the intestinal tract and support the more beneficial bacteria in the large colon to protect yourself from colon cancer, boost your immune system etc.). Only eat more plant-based foods (e.g., vegetables) if you want to preserve the body and brain for longevity.
When choosing the right foods, we strongly recommend going for the non-genetically-modified variety of foods until science has spent enough time testing the quality of the modified variety for proper human health. Or go for natural hybrids of existing foods to gain the benefits of additional nutrition.
Basically, the fresher the fruits and vegetables and the more natural and cleaner their sources, the more vitamins and minerals they retain and the healthier the food becomes for you (and the better it tastes). Don't rely on artificial vitamin supplements as the only source of vitamins and minerals (i.e., as a replacement for fruits and vegetables) unless your doctor has proven you have a serious deficiency in a known chemical (such as levels of iron or iodine in your diet). Otherwise, you are throwing away money on pills that eventually end up in the toilet as you excrete the extra vitamins and minerals your body does not need, or at worse could cause harm to your body (as some vitamins can be quite poisonous to the body if taken to excess). If you must choose between fruits or vegetables, we recommend going for the vegetables. Less fructose (a form of sugar) found in most sweet tasting fruits is better for you, but don't eliminate all sugars.
Step 5: Reduce sugar consumption
And finally, don't eat too much sugars (a form of carbohydrate). Easy to say than do as there are plenty of profit-motivated food manufacturers out there wanting to add sugars to their processed foods as a means of enticing people to eat more. As you know, sugars make food taste sweet. Our taste buds are able to register sweet things, and the brain knows how nice this is. So you are more likely to eat sweet foods than anything else. However, you have to remember that eating something sweet does not necessarily mean it is healthy. Fruits will generally taste sweet because the aim is to entice animals to transport the fruit to another location, eat the fruit flesh, and leave the seeds in the ground. With a little fertiliser dropped near the seed from the animals, this is enough for the seed to grow into a tree. In the meantime, the animals are constantly moving around, finding more foods, running away from predators, and chasing the females for breeding that the animals tend to burn off the extra calories absorbed from the sugars. That is why the animals are thin and healthy.
Humans have little need to run away from predators (apart from some humans, sharks and a few other animals) or anything else. Sitting around watching a movie, playing a video game, or chatting a lot in a cafe is probably about as much exercise as most humans would want to do. Unfortunately, if you are going to eat extra sugar, you are going to have to find a way to exercise more to burn off the calories. That is the reality of life.
You must get it out of your head that healthy foods must always taste sweet. Everything does not have to taste like ice cream. In fact, the healthiest foods will not taste sweet. If you need an example, drink some natural Swedish-style probiotic yoghurt. As you may notice, it tastes slightly sour. Definitely not sweet Does this mean the yoghurt is bad for you? Not so. This type of yoghurt is essential to a healthy gut with its load of good bacteria, not to mention the fact that it provides a good source of calcium and protein, and various other nutrients. All considered important for your body and brain.
If taste is what matters to you, grow your own food. Nothing beats growing your own vegetables and discovering the extra taste in them. Vegetables never have to taste bland (a common problem with fruit and vegetables sold in the supermarket). Healthy and fresh vegetables and the right combination of herbs will make all the difference in making healthy foods taste great.
Eating in a nutshell
In summary, keep to a balanced diet of some protein preferably from plant-based sources or some fish, eating more vegetables (for extra fibre, vitamins and minerals), together with a little saturated fats (but don't overdo it with coconut oil, red meats, and so on, and choose the more plant-based fats), more unsaturated fats from natural seeds (to get some fat-soluble vitamins), especially from olives (freshly cold pressed olive oil is hard to beat), some fruits and a little carbohydrates for energy (a little more energy is okay for genuine athletes or those working a lot), and keep the total sugar intake to a minimum (especially the refined simple sugars). This is particularly true when you are not exercising a lot.
Need scientific support for this diet approach?
It is easy to talk the walk unless there is something to back up this dietary approach to a healthy life. With this in mind, it may be worth your consideration to listen to an expert in human nutrition at the University of Sydney, Professor Jennie Brand-Miller PhD. According to her research in nutrition, she gave considerable support for the above diet. Of course, variations in the diet is reasonable and expected (as we have seen at different stages of human life). For example, eating more or less protein will depend on your age, weight, physical and mental activity and other individual factors. However, the overall core diet is one of high vegetables and a reasonable level of protein (depending on whether you need to grow or stay in preservation mode), some fats, and low in easily digestible carbohydrates (e.g., sugars). Only the slower digestible carbohydrates found in high fibre foods is preferable for a slow release of energy. Or you can get a little energy from the protein and fats you consume, but it will be harder to obtain because of the type of biochemical processes needed to turn the food into some energy. So if you need a little extra energy, it is okay to eat some carbohydrates. Just remember to consume carbohydrates of the type that does not release too much energy quickly. A slower energy release is considered much better for the body.
Co-author of The Low GI diet: Lose Weight with Smart Carbs, Professor Brand Miller said:
"I think we've moved away from one-diet-fits-all to a horses-for-courses approach. Regarding percentages of fat and protein, there's room for variation. Some people prefer a higher-fat diet, others a protein diet. It depends on your culture and childhood habits. This is OK as long as food choices are appropriate.
You can have high-carbohydrate diets as long as they're the good carbohydrates that is, if they're slowly digested and absorbed. High-protein diets are OK if you make sure you pick lean meats, not high in saturated fats. Some say a good diet is one with little fat and a lot of carbohydrates. But too many fast carbs quickly digested ones can make you hungry [and fatter]. Many of the "lite" low-fat foods are full of fast carbs.
[A balanced diet] contains lots of fruit and vegetable choices, lean meat and dairy, salads. The ratios can vary from person to person." (Plater, Diana. "Chew the right fats": The Sydney Morning Herald (Spectrum Supplement). 12-13 March 2005, p.7.)
Now in late May 2005, the reputable CSIRO has published the results of research into the diets of humans to determine which foods will reduce weight and keep you slim for the long-term as well as giving you a lot of essential nutrients that your body and brain needs. The results have been distilled and encapsulated into a high-quality "coffee table" glossy edition for the public to understand called The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet by Dr Manny Noakes and Dr Peter Clifton. For a summary of the results, click here.
The scientific results are in and they are clear: eat foods high in protein (1) and with only a small amount of plant-based fats for the fat-soluble vitamins (and eat more vegetables for the water-soluble vitamins and minerals) and reduce the number of kilojoules entering your body (which is just another way of saying reduce the easily digestible energy food variety).
Is this all you have to do to lose weight? From a purely dietary standpoint, yes. But this is not the complete picture. Each person will be different and whilst most people on this type of diet will lose substantial weight (and look healthier), other people will probably need to combine the diet with some exercise (although you should always seek the advice of your doctor first to determine your level of health before carrying out exercise of any sort, especially if you have never exercised before). And, of course, there are also issues of religion and ethnic origins which could see some people not follow a strictly high-protein diet mainly from animal products. If this is you, then choose plant-based protein foods over any form of animal products.
As Dr Clifton, the research director for nutrition, obesity and related conditions at CSIRO Health Sciences and Nutrition, said:
"We're saying this is one way you can lose weight. We're not saying it will work for everybody, but we know it's effective in large groups of men and women we've studied.
It's one well-validated option you can use." (Price, Sarah. "The CSIRO Diet - Why science says this one will work": The Sydney Morning Herald (The CSIRO Diet Supplement). 28-29 May 2005, p.1 (pp.1-4).)
For further details about the CSIRO's recommended diet, download the CSIRO summary brochure. Here you will learn more of the findings and how you should eat for you to lose weight and be healthy.
The importance of eating the widest and freshest variety of foods possible
Otherwise, if your weight is within the healthy range, just eat a wide variety of foods (but always keep in mind the sugar intake). There are added benefits in eating broadly (starting from a young age (2)), and in particular natural plant-based foods. Apart from getting enough plant fibre for a healthy digestive tract (it develops the muscles in the tract to push food through efficiently and provides additional nutrients), some plant materials can actually help to develop a healthy colony of essential bacteria in the gut considered vital to helping you to lose weight, look good, and have more energy, as well as boost your immune system (and so reduce the chances of developing allergies). You need the right types of bacteria in adequate quantities within your gut to get the full health benefits. You have to remember that there is a symbiosis between the microbiome of bacteria and your gut established over millions of years and is something you must nurture and support throughout your life. Yes, you must feed these little critters just as much as you feed yourself. Why? It is because some species of bacteria found in your large intestinal tract actually help to properly breakdown plant-based materials and extract a wider range of essential nutrients needed to maintain a good immune system and ensure the health of other parts of the body. If you don't eat enough plant-based foods, those essential types of bacteria will starve to death and reduce in numbers and you will slowly gain weight, have to fight off more infections than usual, have trouble maintaining energy for longer, your large colon will suffer inflammation from the higher levels of bad bacteria, and in the long run you will not look quite as healthy as you could be.
The majority of bacteria in your gut are classified under two broad camps: bacteroidetes and firmicutes. Clostridia is an example of a firmicute, Among the wide range of species comprising the bacteroidetes, Bacteroides acidifaciens is a typical example. Other minor groups of bacteria include verrucomicrobia, proteobacteria, and actinobacteria. The essential bacteria you need in your gut are those in the firmicutes group. The bad ones you need to keep in check are called bilophia (e.g., bilophila wadsworthia), actinobacteria, and verrucomicrobia. For example, too much bilophia in the gut is thought to be a cause for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and has been found in association with inflamed gut wall diseases such as appendicitis. For example, bilophia wadsworthia is known to break down the natural gut mucosal barrier by releasing a waste product called sulfuric acid. A similar breakdown in the mucosal barrier also occurs with high levels of verrucomicrobia. To restore the mucosal substances needed to protect the gut wall, you need to consume healthier, mostly high-fibre foods to help feed and restore a balance in the beneficial bacteria (e.g., bifodobacterium adolescentis and bifidobacterium longum), and with it a healthy gut. And when your gut is healthy, you begin to control and keep your weight down to a normal range, your immune system improves, your mental health improves, and you start to look much healthier.
The key here is maximising microbial diversity in the gut and to raise the number of the more beneficial bacteria needed for good health. Essentially you are looking at increasing the range of different bacteria (including the good and beneficial ones) to help balance the more harmful bacteria (they will always exist in the gut) and keep them in check while ensuring the beneficial ones do their job of keeping the mind and body healthy and the gut wall well-protected and doing its job (i.e., absorbing nutrients). We can never totally eliminate all harmful bacteria. That is not possible. It is better simply to promote diversity in bacterial species and let enough of the beneficial bacteria increase in populations in order to do their job of restoring balance within the gur. That is the essence of what good gut health is all about.
Now, if you eat too much easily digestible sugary foods and/or high amounts of animal-based proteins, and practically no plant-based foods (other than potato chips), the levels of healthy bacteria in the colon by way of firmicutes go down over time. The only exception to this low sugar consumption approach is when you consume bioactive honey. This type of honey has a combination of simple and complex sugars. The simple sugars will naturally get absorbed in the gut. However, research has shown that the more complex sugars in the active honey can survive the journey to the large intestines where the more beneficial bacteria can feed off of these complex sugars. Other than that, highly refined simple sugars have little nutritional value for your body other than as a quick energy boost in times of heavy exercising. For a more steady release of energy, more complex sugars are necessary. Should you rely too much on simple sugars, it means you will lose out in not gaining some of the useful by-products of the breakdown of plant-based foods by way of high quality nutrients and protecting the gut wall from inflammation with the help of these beneficial bacteria from the firmicutes group, especially if your diet is not supplemented with high fibre plant foods.
Support for this idea of feeding your (good) bacteria just as much as yourself can be seen from this quote from Professor Stephen Simpson, Director of the Charles Perkins Centre at the University of Sydney:
"The food that you eat feeds directly or indirectly the microbes that live in your gut. That's why they are there because you are a source of nutrition to them." ("Gut Revolution Part 1: A Catalyst Special". ABC (Australia), televised on 17 October 2017)
Professor Stephen Simpson
It should be clear. The way to control the type of bacteria and their population levels inside your gut comes down to your choice of foods, and hence your diet. As Associate Professor Andrew Holmes of the Charles Perkins Centre has said, get the diet right and you can expect the right kinds of beneficial bacteria to live, grow and thrive. And this will mean only one thing: you will receive additional nutrients that science is only beginning to understand in the 21st century. Not only that, but these beneficial bacteria can help to protect the lining of your gut wall with the right chemicals.
In essence, the key to your good health, including weight loss (and those who suffer from anorexia, so long as a psychologist is present to change your thinking about food), and good mental health, lies in the foods you eat (3). As Professor Holmes said:
"Diet is the thing that most directly is going to change our microbiome as an adult, and essentially it means that we've got this double-edge sword with diet. We eat for ourselves, but we are also eating for our microbiomes." ("Gut Revolution Part 1: A Catalyst Special". ABC (Australia), televised on 17 October 2017)
Associate Professor Andrew Holmes
Yet there is another factor to affect the levels of certain bacteria in your gut; it is your level of stress. The more stressed you are, the more nutrients you will need. If you do not get enough nutrients of the right types, your immune system goes down. And that includes the fact that some beneficial bacteria get affected in their population levels as well. You basically need to eat more healthy foods in times when you are more stressed. (4)
In fact, a good healthy diet is also known to play a crucial role in your mental health. Your diet and the type of bacteria that live in your gut can even affect your mood. If you are constantly agitated and getting upset at everyone, it is possible that you are not feeling healthy on the inside. And the likely cause of it are the levels of beneficial bacteria going down to reduce your nutrient intake.
Among the foods you should definitely avoid (or at least not in great quantities) are anything with a high sugar content, especially of the simple sugar variety. Of greatest concern for scientists and nutritionists are the artificial variety of refined and artificial sugars. These include Saccharin, Sucralose, Acesulfame Potassium, Neotame, and Aspartame.
As for foods that help to increase your firmicutes count and improve gut health are any plant-based food with adequate prebiotic fibre content. For the richest sources of this type of fibre (only processed in the large intestine) and so helps to feed the good bacteria are things like barley, chick peas, beans, and lentils.
Remember, the critical bacteria needed for a healthy gut are those living in the large intestine. This is where approximately 98 per cent of all bacteria in the alimentary canal reside. It is here where a kind of war is raging inside your colon everyday between the good and not so good bacteria. What you want is more of the good bacteria to keep the bad ones at bay while providing additional nutrients from plant-based foods. The nutrients tend to be of the "short-chain fatty acids" variety acting as food and energy for the gut cells and the rest of the body, and so help you to get healthier and stronger.
The natural process of good bacteria breaking down plant-based foods (mainly the fibre as shown in green) in order to provide a plethora of additional nutrients that eventually get absorbed through the gut wall is an essential aspect for a healthy mind and body. A healthy gut is essential to your physical and mental health. But also the process can lead to extra flatulence (shown by the bubbles)
Flatulence the inevitable side-effect of healthy eating
Of course, the natural side-effect of obtaining these extra vital nutrients from plant-based foods is to produce gas, and quite a bit of it too. A natural by-product of the good bacteria doing their work. When enough gas is produced, humans naturally have to pass wind. So if you think flatulence is not normal, think again. Your good health depends on your ability to pass wind, and on a regular basis too.
So f*rt to your heart's content!
Still worried about doing it. Why should you be? There is no need to kick up a stink over it. See it as perfectly normal. Perhaps you are more worried the wind might smell. Well, think again. Plant-based diets tend to run through the body more quickly than those who eat only a meat-diet. So things are generally fresher inside for people who are described as vegans. And if you do have to pass wind, you might be surprised to discover that it doesn't hardly smell at all. A meat-eating diet, on the other hand, is quite a different situation all together. Eating meat actually causes food to linger in the gut for longer, and by the time it passes out, you might be wishing you had a gas-mask on. Or if you pass wind, make sure you are near an open window to get it out into the open and dissipate faster than you can say, "Holy cow!"
As for the noise, you might as well enjoy it. Seriously, it is not going to kill anyone (especially from a more plant-based diet). Or learn to exercise the muscles that control the rate of flow of the wind so the skin does not have to flap around so much to create such a loud noise. It should feel like a warm breeze rushing out into the environment. Otherwise, eat less food before attending and during an important social event, and eat more when you are on your own. It is really simple.
At any rate, if you are one of those people who might be gassing about more than usual because you have chosen to eat a healthy diet, consider eating after dinner and as a snack before going to bed a couple of pineapple rings in pineapple juice. Complete the process by drinking 250ml of probiotic Swedish-style natural yoghurt drink. By the time the next morning arrives, the extra fibre from the pineapples and the extra moisture from the juice will push everything out very smoothly (some say it feels better than sex, especially when you have so much to come out in one sitting).
How amazing it is to have a good pineapple in your life!
CSIRO is looking at the connection between allergies and gut biomass microbial diversity. Generally Australians have a lower diversity and reduced populations of the good bacteria in the gut compared to other nations and this might explain the high allergies. Experiments are being carried out to determine whether children eating a high fibre diet are more resistant to getting allergies.
Feeling tired despite plenty of exercises and eating plant-based foods?
As Theodore Friedman, MD, PhD, said:
"With my patients, I talk about the three pillars of health: sleep, diet, and exercise, If you aren't getting good sleep, it's hard to eat well, and it's hard to exercise. And the same is true the other way around. They're all related."
Speaking of physical exercises, you only need to strengthen the core (the abdominals), work on the arms and legs, and keep the cardiovascular system healthy.
For arms and legs exercises, doing a little weight work is fine, but don't overdo it. In terms of the legs, there are various ways to exercise them, but the most obvious one is to use the weight of your body as a means of strengthening the leg muscles. For example, some jumping exercises will strengthen and lengthen the leg muscles, as well as burn some extra calories. For arms, it might be a little too hard for people to go upside down and jump up and down on the arms to achieve the same exercise. So consider some push ups. Or try carrying some weights in the hands, but never too much. This is particularly true when the muscles are being made to perform quick and repetitive exercises. When that happens, use lighter weights. No quick and repetitive exercises? Fair enough. Then just hold a slightly heavier weight in a position that requires activating the arm muscles to hold it in position. That is perfectly sufficient strength-building exercises. As for the legs and the idea of jumping for extra leg strength, check your body weight is not too great in order to preserve ankles, calf muscles, knees and hips. Next, consider doing a reasonable amount of running to help reduce your butt size to a reasonable level and at the same time strengthen the cardiovascular system. Finally, finish it off with a good solid set of abdominal exercises. The exercises for the core can be a combination of strengthening the abdominals and stretching them. When you have a strong core, all other exercises become easier to perform. People with lower back pain will also benefit from these core exercises so long as there are no other underlying issues (always speak to your doctor first).
In the initial stages of exercising, you need to be motivated to do the exercises. So consider combining all your exercises into a type of fun sport with others, or play and listen to your favourite music as you do the exercises, to help give you the incentive to keep going. The aim in exercises is not to feel like it is a chore, but something you want to come back to again and again. Or are you one of those types that like to see a good looking butt in front of you exercising while you do yours? Fair enough. Then join a fitness class where as you exercise you can admire the best butts in the business. Remember, it should be fun and enjoyable for you. And don't listen to the fitness fanatics that say, "No pain, no gain!". It should not be that painful (unless the fitness experts are trying to build excessive muscles and strength for themselves). Any kind of extra movement in your arms and legs (something a little more than using your fingers to text message someone) and causes you to have a slightly faster heart rate is considered sufficient exercises. Do it repeatedly and over a reasonable time and the movements will burn extra calories. Add a little weight-bearing exercises, and you can have improved strength and burn more calories. That should be the aim of all exercises (athletes competing to be number one in their sporting field may have a different opinion). Of course, you can go to extremes in your exercises. For example, if you do extra weight work (and start to feel some pain), then you will look more muscular and heavy (especially if you supplement it with adequate protein intake to help repair and build the muscles). Well, this is a natural physical side-effect when you work on your muscles this way. Combine this with a more intensive regime of abdominal exercises and some cardiovascular workouts and you can look like one of those Chippendales at a strip club. But definitely don't overdo the weight work. You can easily suffer back problems later in life from the excess weight caused by heavy muscles and overly powerful muscles contracting on bones that can cause discs in the back to slip out, as has occurred for the world's greatest body builder, Ronnie Coleman. On the other hand, if you do more running and avoid the weight training, then you can look thinner, lighter and taller.
The ideal physique is somewhere between the above two extremes. You are looking for good (but not excessive) strength to the lowest weight ratio. This is ideal to handle an incredible number of things you will encounter physically in life. Of course, if you can achieve very high strength for no increase in your mass (and hence maintain low weight), that is an added bonus. We have all seen those impossibly super human people in fantasy films such as superman. However, the reality is that extra strength means extra mass, and hence more weight on your body. Remember, muscle is heavier than fat. At the same time, some strength is fine and necessary, but never focus excessively on extreme strength. Avoid this at all costs for the sake of a long life. Longevity should be one of your important goals in life.
The aim in exercising is to be neither too muscular nor too thin. Or to put it another way, avoid being too heavy with excessive muscle development. As for how lightweight you can be, there is nothing wrong with being as lightweight as possible, although genetics and the nature of the physical universe will dictate a minimum weight requirement based on the nature and shape of your body and what you need to do to achieve goals in a physical sense (and hence you will need some muscles). However, absolutely never become anorexic (5) to achieve extreme lightweight characteristics. You need some muscles to perform work in this physical universe, and that means you must eat a sensible diet that includes some protein, and be prepared to gain a little weight in doing so.
It is all about being balanced in your life.
Likewise, a similar balance must be applied to the amount of exercises you do. Avoid exercising so much that you are totally exhausted and in pain. Apart from the body telling you to reduce the exercises and for you to eat extra protein to repair body tissue, the immune system can also be seriously affected. Should your immune system go down dramatically and you do not give adequate time to recover, not only will your body experience more flus and colds, but the ability of the body to remove old cells and stop some cancerous cells from growing could be affected. Exercising too much is not good for you. And don't feel like you must constantly be doing something to move your body and to a greater extreme because it is better. Some exercise is important, but not to the point that you drop dead, create stress fractures in the body, tear muscle tissue, and eventually get cancer. Your exercise should be reasonable and you should be able to enjoy the exercise. If you cannot smile and have a normal conversation with someone because of the extreme nature of your exercise, you are probably doing too much.
This brings us neatly to the opposite of exercising: relaxing and sleeping.
With regards to sleep, you need to get adequate amounts of it every day. You must give yourself enough sleep because your energy levels will improve, you will feel more alert, your muscles will respond more strongly and quickly to good solid rest, bones build to a stronger level, and your immune system is more effective at fighting infections and removing cancerous cells, and your brain organises and stores the most important aspects of your daily information in a way to help improve your memory recall of the information. A minimum of 8 hours is highly recommended, and don't skimp on this amount. Even if older people can sleep on less hours (and boast about it too as if it is a competition to see how long one can go without sleep), don't do it. Having trouble sleeping? Use your imagination to will yourself to sleep for longer. Or do some exercise during the day for your body to be tired enough to want to sleep (but don't exercise to a level that you cannot keep still because of cramps and pain in the muscles of your legs). Still cannot get to sleep? Talk to your doctor for further advice.
Do not compromise on your sleep under any circumstances (unless you are in the Army and sleeping less hours makes the difference between whether you live or die on the battlefield in normal life, you need to balance this kind of extreme thinking).
Finally, there is the diet issue to consider as well.
Are you eating plenty of food, and all of it plant-based foods? Outstanding! The key to weight loss and looking healthy certainly comes with eating lots of plant-based substances, and with enough indigestible fibre. However, what happens as we get older? For example, it is known that absorbing nutrients into the body diminishes with age. Also, being entirely vegetarian may restrict the amount of essential nutrients you need and can only get worse as you get older. And sometimes you need to occasionally rebuild damaged cells. So, when you are very young, eat a regular healthy diet as described above, perhaps with a little more protein to get the body to grow. Once you enter into your late twenties, a combination of reducing food intake for a period of time called fasting will help the body to break down old and damaged cells, but afterwards you can eat a healthy diet containing adequate protein from fish and plant-based materials to rebuild new cells from what remains, which should be from the replication of healthier cells.
In old age though, relying entirely on plant-based foods is a noble thing to do. However, at the end of the day, nutrient intake will reduce over time. You will need to eat more foods, and consider expanding the range of foods, including certain types of protein, to ensure as many different nutrients are absorbed into the body.
One thing often stated by vegetarians is how often they feel tired despite eating industrial scales of salads compared to those who are not vegetarians. Now could the number and types of nutrients available for absorption be a clue? Generally a lethargic feeling during exercises is usually evidence of certain nutrients not being produced, not getting enough of it though food, or not being absorbed properly into the body. And the lethargic feeling could get exacerbated by sticking to a purely vegetarian diet. Otherwise, the only thing we can recommend is for you to check with your doctor. However, if you are okay and exercising is simply getting harder because of a lack of energy, it has to be a diet thing (assuming you get enough sleep). So consider expanding your range of foods.
As you get older or exercise more, you may need to expand your diet to include certain types of meats containing higher concentrations of iron and consuming enough orange juice to help the body absorb the iron. Limited levels of iron in the body can easily affect the levels of red blood cells and their ability to carry oxygen around the body. It is a disorder called anaemia where less oxygen to the muscle may result in feeling low in energy. To get a quick boost of essential iron and other nutrients, get your hands on the freshest beef liver you can buy from the markets, slice it into 1 cm thickness pieces, coat them in flour with black pepper and a little salt, pan-fry for 3 minutes on each side in 30g of butter, and add a good splash of a top quality balsamic vinegar.
We also recommend that you do not entirely cut out all digestible carbohydrates from rice and pasta. Too much is obviously no good, but too little is just as bad. You still need these forms of carbs to provide enough energy for the muscles (and brain) to do their work.
There are other things you can do to improve energy levels. For now, we strongly recommend that you try the above areas first. In most cases, getting enough sleep, improving your diet, and exercising should form the basis for gaining back a significant amount of your energy levels to a proper and balanced level.
Starting the healthy diet revolution
Want to get on the healthy diet for the 21st century and beyond? Excellent choice! Begin by increasing the amount of plant-based fibre into your diet. If things are difficult in this regard, consider using bioactive honey to start the process of changing the gut microbe populations to the more healthy variety. Sugars in this type of honey come in both the simple and complex molecular forms. Complex sugars tend to stay in the gut for longer, and that means it will reach the large intestines reasonably intact. Simple sugars tend to get absorbed in the small intestines, so not much help to the good bacteria in the large intestines. Fortunately for honey, it has a combination of both types of sugars. Sticking to the bioactive honey for about a month means the good bacteria in the large intestines will be feeding off from the more complex sugars as well as any plant-based foods you eat during the day.
Next, you must exercise the body to help improve muscle tone and strength, at least in the gut area. In other words, we recommend you do abdominal exercises (the other approach is to consume more fibre). If you have never exercised before, exercises should be simple and slow at first. Arching of the back and relaxing while on all fours in a doggy-style is a simple and effective exercise for improving abdominal muscle strength. Once you are comfortable with this exercise, the next level is to lift the legs straight up to a vertical position as you remain lying on the floor. Even if you do nothing else, just performing these two simple exercises is enough to activate the abdominal muscles significantly. Then, as your gut gets stronger and able to move food through more efficiently, you should be able to try a variety of different foods, mainly from vegetables and to a lesser extent protein from meats.
Want to feel more happy? Scientists are now discovering the link between microbial activity in the gut and mental health. The essence of the research is this: People with depression and anxiety tend to have reduced diversity and too much of the bad bacteria that don't protect the gut wall, not to mention a reduction in the number of different and beneficial chemicals needed for supporting the immune system etc. To reverse this trend, exercises will help immensely, but so will a good diet. So start introducing more variety of foods, including natural probiotic yoghurt. Try new types of fruits and vegetables. Try a piece of fish. Aim towards a more Mediterranean diet, which is the healthiest for the gut's beneficial bacteria.
And don't forget to eat enough of these healthy foods so that the microbes are not being starved. Make sure you feed the bacteria as well as yourself.
Combine all of this with plenty of sleep and you will feel better, and look much healthier.
Before we end this section, there is one more thing you and the rest of society must do. Make sure you have a reasonably well paid job. You need this to cover the cost of buying healthy foods. In the future, society will soon force governments to legislate new tax measures to help provide a disincentive for poor people to rely on junk food (including refined sugars). One can see why poor people choose junk food: it is cheaper. Unfortunately the cost to the health system and not helping people to be at their best will create an incredible economic burden over time as more and more people become overweight and obese. As a society facing bigger problems such as climate change, we cannot afford this. It is time that we all help one another to guide every member of society towards healthy foods and to consume them in reasonable quantities.
To control the consumption of unhealthy foods, there has to be a kind of junk food/sugar tax. The idea is to put on a substantial "bad food" tax and use the money raised from this tax to subsidise the cost of healthy foods. That is how it should work. Then more and more people will be able to afford the cost of buying healthy foods.
As people get healthier, the cost to the health budget for governments will go down over the next 10 years. A simple revolution on the gut and the foods we eat by implementing the above changes will result in substantial cost reductions for a nation.