Over the last several weeks our lives have been turned right upside down due to COVID-19. We, as a family, try to be vigilant about the spread of germs. We’re washing our hands dozens of times a day, keeping to ourselves as much as we can, and practicing social distancing while at work.
Even before this pandemic hit our shores I spent quite a bit of time researching optimal health. I follow some of the world’s leading health and nutrition experts and want to share what I continue to learn with you.
This may sound silly, as it’s oversimplified, but the 3 main things that you can do to protect yourself, and your loved ones, is:
- Sleep enough. Easier said than done for some of us. I technically suffer from a sleeping disorder, and due to that have to work very, very hard to get over 6.5 hours of quality sleep per night. I give myself a 8 to 9 hour sleep opportunity every night.
Sleep has been proven to be the single most important factor in building a strong immune system. If you have not done so yet, I highly recommend the excellent book on sleep by Dr. Matthew Walker; Why We Sleep
How to make it better? I’m now tracking my sleep with an Oura Ring. Not that it actually does anything to benefit me, but it does tell me some interesting information about each night and helps me keep focused on my duration, quality and readiness.
- Food: And not just food, but the type of food. I‘ve been involved in countless conversations about the benefit of a healthy diet, and more specifically what is a healthy diet. This is not a time for us to wrap our arms around our favourite food and make excuses for why we can still have certain foods ‘once in a while’. To be straight with you, unless you have certain sensitivities* to certain foods then this is the time to be eating a Whole Food Plant Based Diet.
What does that mean? There is now loads of information on WFPB living available online but even that can be a problem! Where do you start? Is there a perfect cookbook to buy? One magical coach to watch online? Sorry, no. Transitioning to a WFPB lifestyle to improve your overall health and immunity is a journey. To piece it all together can take dozens of books, loads of podcasts, and many, many, trials and errors in the kitchen. However, I can tell you first hand, that the journey is very much worthwhile.
Where to start? There are many excellent resources online and as you will remember from my previous emails, my all time favourite is Dr Michael Gregor of nutritionfacts.org. His website is packed with super useful information and his 2 books are now the gold standard to nutritional reporting. One of the main reasons that I follow Dr. Gregor so closely is that he’s not sponsored by anyone. His opinions may be biased towards his own personal choice however I’ll take that over money anyday.
There’s also Dr Joel Ferhman, who just came out with his latest book Eat for Life, who is very clear that the best way to combat COVID-19 is a WFPB diet. However, as great as these guys are, and how important their work is, the most relevant information for you right now is from two places:
- Dr. David Sinclair – Dr. Sinclair is the author of the book Lifespan, and has started a very important blog, which you can see here. He has compiled some of the most important information regarding COVID-19 and is helping me shape the future of Cook Culture, like, when can we teach classes again? His 2 latest blogs are really important to read.
- John Robbins, The Food Revolution Network – John Robbins is a pioneer in the food based health movement, and has been at it for over 40 years. His best selling book ‘A Diet for a New America’ was hugely influential which has literally transformed countless lives. His company, now run by his son, Ocean, hosts an annual online summit each year on the current state of health and wellness. This year will be focused on COVID-19 (read their latest blog here), and how an improved WFPB diet can be your best defence to fight off or deal with the virus. The summit is over 9 days and packed full of some of the most educated speakers you could hope to hear at this important time. Their Free summit is at the end of April, you can see all the information here.
To be honest with you, Ocean Robbins is not my favourite online personality and comes across as a bit disingenuous, and too salesman-y. However, I can tell you from following him and his Dad, and the people that they associate with, that The Food Revolution Network is one of the most influential and important companies promoting a healthier way of living. I hope you can see past his superficial flaws and see the importance of what they are offering. I’ve signed up for the whole summit package for $67 USD which seems like a steal.
- Exercise: This is a no brainer, as everyone knows that exercise is good for you. 30 min of moderate effort (fast walk) is what you need to keep your heart healthy.
What is lesser known, however, is that exercise is about fitness, and not health. Being fit is a cornerstone to health but you can be fit without being healthy. Strange but true. Maybe no one is better at explaining what this means than Dr. Gregor. He has a long list of great video blogs (including this one that you should watch), and his latest book is chock-o-block with data and research to support how this works. He goes into fine detail about how excess calories are what makes most of us sick and no amount of exercise can combate a poor diet. He advocates for you not to ever be on a diet and how only a lifestyle change can give us health, vitality, and longevity.
This is really only the tip of the iceberg and there are many caveats to eating a WFPB diet. What if you are allergic to legumes, some nuts and nightshades. That is a thing and needs to be addressed by a professional Naturopathic Doctor* . However, for the majority of us, including our kids, a WFPB diet is optimal for our overall health and a strong immunity. What this specifically means is to give yourself the absolute best chance you should:
- Give up alcohol – completely
- Give up caffeine – completely
- Stop eating cooking oil – completely
- Stop eating dairy – completely
- Stop eating meat and fish – completely
- Stop eating any medium to heavily processed food – completely
At first , this can seem like an extremely restrictive diet, but in time, with effort and desire, it becomes easy and a whole new world of food choices opens up. The transition can be hard, and for many people, impossible, but the benefit of extraordinary health is overwhelmingly positive.
The list above are the highest standard recommendations to get to maximum health however it’s critical that you are able to choose what will work best for you and your family. For instance, I have a small coffee each morning when I wake up because I love it. Could it be affecting my sleep? Quite possibly. Should I eliminate it? Probably. Am I going to? Maybe, but not tomorrow, but I sure am thinking of the reward/benefit of going cold turkey. Each step at a time, in a way that works for you.
In this blog, I‘ve been more forthcoming with my own opinion on food for the simple fact that the world is not ‘business as usual’, and I believe that lifestyle choices are our best chance of living better lives, as a community.
As always, I would love to hear from you, and your thoughts on how we can all live better, longer, happier lives.
All my best. Jed