Recently I received a message from an email subscriber, understandably overwhelmed with the amount -- and contradictory nature -- of health advice available these days.
Here's his message:
I am NOT happy Karina.
It is hard enough being 70 years old and simply trying to do the right thing in order to survive. My brother is 72 years old. And there are many, many people who are much older than we are.
Now I can understand what could be called "a diversity of opinion" in the medical establishment. But in my opinion, it is not kind or helpful.
Where can I begin? Old people like me and my brother can't do ANYTHING to survive!
Dr. Dean Ornish: Eat almost entirely vegetarian.
Dr. Johnathan Su, author of the best-selling "6-Minute Fitness at 60+”: Older adults need more high-quality protein.
What is high-quality protein? He gives a list: chicken, steak, turkey, lamb, pork, eggs, salmon, tuna, tilapia, cod, rainbow trout, shrimp. Every meal!
If my brother and I do not eat enough steak and rainbow trout (high-quality protein), he says this could happen: Skin fragility, decreased immune system function, poorer healing, long recuperation times after illness.
Ornish: mostly vegetarian.
Su: steak and rainbow trout or else!
I am not happy. Don't worry, Karina. It gets worse.
Exercise can kill you or cripple you without natural alignment. Body alignment must be done first for exercise!
I have been studying Kathryn Porter's book, "Natural Posture", every day for the past 2 months. Right now, I am sitting on a wedge she sells on the internet. This aligns the posture.
But…exercise can kill you. If you do not have “natural alignment” — don’t exercise. If you have alignment, you can do just about any exercise at all.
Fine. After I have good “alignment” — I eat only steak and shrimp!
Bill is not happy! I am a senior citizen. I would like to live a little longer. What do I do?
I don't mean to be sarcastic, Karina. But this is getting ridiculous! And it is not really funny! We senior citizens are becoming more and more confused!
I like you, Karina. And I know you are not part of this madness. If you have any view that could allow me, my brother, and other seniors to get past this madness so that we can simply do what is healthy, I would appreciate it!
Here's the message I sent back:
Thank you for your message! Diverse (read: conflicting) opinions abound in every industry, but especially in the fitness, nutrition, and health industries.
I have two suggestion for you, your brother, all our clients, and anyone else who wants to move past the madness. The first:
Don’t follow individuals.
Whether they’re world-renowned doctors, experienced coaches, or best-selling authors, individual humans will always have their own opinions and biases. For you and me, this approach is far too overwhelming and conflicting, causes way too much stress, and takes up too much time.
What we want to look for is consensus within the research literature. This can be quite challenging to find, of course, but the first step might be to start following larger organizations, rather than individuals. Examine.com is one of my absolute favourite resources for nutrition and fitness research critiques and summaries. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is another great resource.
That said, of course there’s a time and a place for following individuals. (My whole business is based on clients having a coach!) I follow a lot of individual professionals on social media, I have my own strength coach, etc. However, every single individual’s advice (including mine!) should be taken with a huge grain of skepticism. Look at what the research literature as a whole has to say about it.
Keep it simple.
You do not need to weigh your food, track your macros, drink lemon juice and cayenne pepper in your water every morning, align your posture before you exercise, etc. etc.
Here’s what I focus on (and I completely ignore the rest):
1. Eat only plants. 80% whole foods, 20% whatever you want (but still plants).
2. Intentional movement most days of the week. Prioritize strength training.
3. A mental health practice. Meditation, yoga, hobbies, whatever.
4. Deep social connections.
That’s it! No need to overcomplicate things.
Take it from my grandparents. My Grandpa made it to 95, and my Grandma to almost 97. My Omi is 96, still lives completely independently, swims in her pool every day in the summer, and is sharp as a tack. None of my grandparents ever read a research study, tracked their macros, or followed a diet guru.
Just focus on the basics: a varied diet of mostly whole, plant-based foods, intentional movement, hobbies, and social connection.
Keep it simple.
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