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Healthy Aging Strategies

10 Steps to a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

Nathan Zassman

Health is our greatest possession, yet most Canadians spend more money on transportation, clothing, recreation, insurance and furniture, than they do on health. While most who are reading this do not fall into this category, you might be surprised to learn that Canadians spend almost as much on tobacco and alcohol as they do on their health.

Most of us are concerned with preventing accidents, avoiding natural disasters or ensuring our food supply is safe and uncontaminated. We wear seatbelts and helmets, and drive vehicles with air bags, but accidents are out of our control and when compared to the leading causes of death, including heart disease and cancer, accidents represent a very small percentage of the causes of death.

It becomes obvious that we need to focus more on a healthy lifestyle, as the majority of deaths are from chronic diseases which can be prevented by adopting many of the concepts presented in this document.

We are really “Hunter-Gatherers”

While evolution occurs over millions of years, our ancestors were until fairly recently hunter-gatherers. Our environment has changed quickly, but our hunter-gatherer bodies have not had the time to adjust to an over abundance of food that is completely different in composition to the food our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed.  These significant dietary changes and our sedentary lifestyle have resulted in the explosion of chronic diseases that were rare a hundred years ago.

For example, it is estimated that our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed predominately unsaturated fats. Unsaturated fats have a wide variety of benefits, and I’m sure most of you have heard of omega 3 and omega 6 fats. When in balance, both omega 3 and omega 6 fats are important. Our bodies were designed to utilize these fats in a 1-1 or a 3-1 ratio, which means 1 part omega 6 to 1 part omega 3, or as high as 3 parts omega 6 to 1 part omega 3. With the increase in consumption of omega 6 fats, which are found in almost all liquid vegetable oils, the ratio for most people now averages from 10:1 to as high as 20:1 or higher. The higher percentage of omega 6 fats trigger inflammation and the increase in inflammation may contribute to many of our chronic diseases.

As food processing technology has advanced, we now consume a much higher percentage of processed and refined food. The problem with processed and refined food is that our foods become much lower in nutrient density.

It is estimated that over 72% of the energy in the North American diet comes from food that would not have been consumed by our ancestors. The result is that our diets now contain much lower levels of nutrients, including lower levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and fibre. Some estimates are that our pre-agricultural diets had from two to ten times more micronutrients than our present diets.

Researchers have learned a great deal by studying our hunter-gatherer ancestors, and what I have to share with you in this series -- a 10-step program -- combines this information with important research into how you can be younger, healthier, happier, and thinner next year.

10 Steps to a Longer, Healthier and Happier Life

Step 1: Choose Growth, not decay
Step 2: Diet and Foundational Nutrition
Step 3: Optional Nutrients for Enhanced Health
Step 4: Anti-Aging Dietary Habits
Step 5: Dental/Oral Health
Step 6: CRON – Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition
Step 7: Growing Younger through the Chemistry of Exercise
Step 8: Understanding the Limbic Brain, the importance of connecting with and caring about people, and the dangers of isolation and pessimism.
Step 9: Build a Life That Means Something
Step 10: Sleep


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