Monday, June 6, 2016

Beating the Odds

Interesting article on MedicalXpress just now: Few engage in five behaviors for preventing chronic disease

They picked the top 5 health killers and examined how many people do all five...not many.
  • No smoking
  • Moderate to no drinking
  • Exercising
  • Normal BMI
  • Getting enough sleep

All told, just 6% of the respondents did all five. 31% complied with 4 of the 5 aspects of a healthy life.

The way I see it, we should all be doing all of these things, and if we are overweight, we should be actively trying to get our BMI into a normal range. I would be upset if I thought that only 1/3 of the people reading this could check off only 4 items on the list.

These items are the low-hanging fruit! Things that we control. There is so much that we can't control, like pollution, genetics, and age. Let's get a handle on the things we can control, so we don't need to worry about the things we can't

I'd like to add five more:
  • Eating plenty of fiber and real, whole foods
  • Avoiding processed foods and foods fried in vegetable oils
  • Getting your hands dirty
  • Getting out in the sun as much as possible
  • Removing stressful situations from your life

Let's hear it in the comments. What's your score? I'm 10/10!  Did I miss any?



  1. 8/10. Or maybe 7. It depends on how you define "exercise".

    I think it's a mistake to be too virtuous ;-)

    1. OK, if we're being that honest, I'm a 9.5/10.

  2. Okay,I am 10/10. Wish it were that easy!

  3. There are a couple of items that despite best intentions some people just can't achieve - removing stressful situations and getting enough sleep. Lots of apartment dwelling city folks would have trouble with getting their hands in the right kind of dirt, too. These lists always strike me as just a little .. judgey. And as Navillus points out, being a 10/10 isn't a guarantee, either.

    1. That's right, you could do all 10 and add another 50 and still have issues. Isn't this what they call, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of good."?

      I like the Top-5 that the researchers used: smoking, drinking, sleeping, exercise and weight.

      I've been known to inhale a whiff or two, take a sip or two, stay up late, skip my pushups and pinch more than an inch from time-to-time, but I'm not a pack-a-day, 12-pack guzzler who stays up all night playing video games and waddling to the bathroom for exercise.

      But the Top-5 they used do seem to be the biggest problems for most people, and probably are the biggest in terms of payback. Well, fiber, too.

  4. I'm 4/5 but I'd consider myself 11/10 on Tim's list! Lots of fiber...

    I like my beer and wine. It's probably moderate, but I'm not sure what that really means. I'd say it's higher than average for my cohort. But beer and wine are food, and I think the right ones can be good for you (in moderation, whatever that means).

    1. I think beer and wine, especially home-brewed, are exceptionally healthy drinks in moderation. I know lots of people who drink 6-12 cans of cheap beer every day, and it shows.

  5. Replies
    1. Yeah, "BMI" has its issues, but I think it's a pretty good indicator, especially if someone has the accompanying big belly and metabolic syndrome symptoms. I learned a long time ago that government produced charts are full of holes. Also, people who are underweight are usually either genetically inclined or have some serious issues.

      Sisson just put up a good posting about the different kinds of fat we can develop and the dangers of certain kinds/benefits of others.

      To me, "normal BMI" implies being at a healthy body weight, irregardless of what the official BMI chart shows.

    2. No 4 is my sticky point too. No matter what I try, I can't get my BMI down to 20.

      The others are easy peasy for me. I've never smoked in my life. One glass of wine a year, no problem.

      The second five also no problem, except for avoiding stressful situations. That is often out of our control. Riding a bike in Amsterdam, and avoid some idiot council truck driver, can send my stress levels sky high.

      Jo tB

    3. Haha, the benefits of riding a bike hopefully outweigh the stress created. I think by "stressful situations," they refer to major stresses like an abusive marriage, rotating shift work, crazy daily commutes, constant money worries, etc.

  6. Probably 8, with some half credits thrown in. ;)

    Thank you, Tim and your crew of commenters. Your articles, research, and extensive commenting here have helped me find an approach that is working for me. I'm female, 57 years old, and have Hashi's. The Hashi's has been controlled for years with Armour, but weight loss has been a challenge. A combination of walking 3 to 4 miles a day (Fitbit), mindful food selection, potato starch, and supplementing fiber has been working.

    I've lost 5 percent of my starting body weight (BMI of 29) and probably 20 percent of my target since mid-April. The PS and fiber (say, not quite a "half-Wilbur") seem to eliminate my cravings for (former) comfort foods. My gut is noisy, but happy, and is settling down gas-wise. It did take about a month of faith before any results showed up on the scale. And what *really* thrills me is seeing FBG readings under 100 the past two mornings. (I had stopped taking readings a month or so ago because it was making me, hmm, just a bit nuts.). My A1c was 6.2 in early April, which has been a big motivator. So, I'm delurking to share my interim results and my appreciation for all you do here.

    1. Thanks for the note! Glad it's all working out.

  7. I’m so glad you mentioned smoking so that I have an excuse to bring it up myself (while in reality hijacking your thread!).

    I quit smoking 10 weeks ago. It was easy peasy. Not because I’m a champ but because I read Allan Carr’s book, and Carr is a genius.

    That’s when all hell broke loose.

    I’ve had IBS (self diagnosed) for a couple years, but it’s nothing compared to what’s happened since I quit smoking. First off, my hunger went off the charts. Internet “wisdom” (not to mention doctors) will tell you it’s because nicotine is an appetite suppressant. Or because you’re swapping one addiction for another. I say bullshit. This was unrelenting, ravenous hunger unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. (And because I used Carr’s method, I had no cravings, so the addiction theory was also BS.)

    For various reasons, the hunger isn’t nearly as bad now, but I still have the 2nd huge problem--bloating. Unbelievable bloating. It doesn’t matter what I eat or what I do. The hunger/bloating combo is what made me try the potato hack 8 weeks ago. What was most amazing about the hack is that 24 hours into it the bloat was gone entirely. But after a day or two of eating normally again, the bloat was back.

    If you Google smoking + bloating, you will get an avalanche of stories from desperate people who cannot get rid of the bloat, even after months or years. Of people who start smoking again, not because of cravings but because they don’t want to look pregnant anymore. I have a coworker who quit many years ago who says her gut has never been the same since.

    As I mentioned, I did the hack for a few days, I’ve taken Elixa and other probiotics, I’ve experimented with many varieties of fiber (I can’t handle much yet), I’ve taken various digestive enzymes, blah, blah, and although I’ve made a bit of progress, I think, I’m still a mess.

    What I want to know is WHY?!? There’s that study showing that when you quit, your gut bacteria shift toward the positive. So why does my gut feel worse than ever?? Especially when I’ve made such an effort to help it out? There are days that I obsess about the idea of smoking again, even just one a day, to see if that would “fix” it. Those who’ve gone back say that the bloating disappears literally before their eyes as they puff on that first cig. How??

    Do any of you great minds here have a clue? Because it’s driving me crazy. And to top it all off, I’ve gained almost 10 pounds after being my perfect weight for 6 years (and not because I ate enough in 6 weeks to put on that much weight—I’m sure it’s my biome fucking with me) AND now my hormones are whacked too. I’ve had weird PMS type stuff, often severe, just show up randomly, ever since I quit.

    Doing something good for yourself isn’t supposed to feel this bad, is it?

    Bloated in Bloomington (Denise)

    1. People smoke because they NEED it. Nicotine is neuroprotective etc.

      There was "nicotine riboside" mentioned briefly some time ago at this blog. Look it up. You may need it.

    2. "The hunger/bloating combo is what made me try the potato hack 8 weeks ago. What was most amazing about the hack is that 24 hours into it the bloat was gone entirely."

      Denise, I forgot to add this: potatoes are from Solanaceae family, so is the tobacco plant. Eat your nicotine? (plus other goodies in potatoes, sure). Maybe you need PH more than others.

    3. I have quit on and off for the last 15 years, but every time I take it back up again I have the best BM! It's as if I can't have a decent one when I'm not smoking and the relief is so tangible directly after the first cigarette, despite eating a variety high-fibre whole foods, fermented foods, supplementing with PS, doing the PH, taking Elixa, drinking coffee every day etc.

    4. Errata: "nicotinamide riboside", not "nicotine riboside".

    5. Denise, I sympathise with yur pedicament, although I have never smoked. I read that there ae over 4000 chemicals used in making sigarets. Go figue which one of them (or all of them) is causing the bloating. And going cold turkey will also have its problems.

      Have you tried electronic (vapour) cigarets? They're supposed to be better than the cigarets themselves. I looked into this for a fiend who was smoking 40 cigarets a day. From what I understood about vapour cigarets is that you can dose your nicotine very easily, thereby weaning youself off sigarets slowly. And you don't get any tar or nasty chemicals in your system. You can lower the dose of nicotine every time you refill the ampul.

      Hope this info is of help.


  8. Gemma, what is probably going on is a reduction of metabolism after cutting out the nicotine. Hence slower transit time and hence bloating. Lots of people need a morning cup of coffee i order to have a bowel movement. Some people need a cigarette or two for the same effect.

    The other thing is nicotene has an effect on thyroid hormone activation. There are some who think that quitting smoking more successfully can be achieved through the use of thyroid hormone supplementation for a year or so. fT3 levels can be boosted by smoking. So it is possible that all these hypothyroids in the USA wouldn't be if they would be smoking which is what was going on decades ago.