When the Welsh physician Robert Recorde wrote the first modern equation with an equal sign in 1557 (14x + 15 = 17), it sent mathematics into a higher orbit. But we think our equation - 6 + 2 = Your Best You - is even more revolutionary. It can, for the record, transform your life, give you a younger Real Age and prevent disease, distress and disability.
The way to achieve all that is to set clear and attainable goals. And then plan on the steps you will take to make you succeed. So let's get started!
No. 1. Regain and maintain normal blood pressure. Your target: 110/75.
No. 2. Regain and maintain a normal level of lousy LDL cholesterol. Your target: 100 milligrams per deciliter or lower if you do not have diabetes or vascular disease; below 70 if you do.
No. 3. Regain and maintain a normal fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or below, or HgbA1c below 6.4 mg/dL.
No. 4. Achieve the healthy weight for your height. Search for "What is a healthy body mass index?" to consult a Body Mass Index chart online.
No. 5. Practice ongoing stress management. Your goals: Sleep well and feel at ease in your own skin.
No. 6. Have no primary, secondary or tertiary smoke from tobacco in your body. Declare yourself a smoke-free zone.
How to do all that?
Well, fortunately the steps to achieve No. 1 are much the same for No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4.
- You eliminate trans and sat fats from your diet (no red or processed meats) and ditch added sugars and syrups, too. Stick with only 100 percent whole grains and eat seven to nine servings daily of fresh fruits and veggies. For animal protein, choose skinless poultry and fish like salmon and ocean trout.
- You aim to walk 10,000 steps a day or the equivalent and do two to three 20-minute strength-training sessions weekly. Aerobics help you protect your heart, brain and sex life! Strength-training with hand weights, stretch bands or even using your own body weight for resistance can help increase bone strength, regulate glucose, increase insulin sensitivity and reduce body fat, lousy LDL cholesterol levels and blood pressure.
- Take one 81-mg low-dose aspirin twice daily - morning and night - with a half a glass of warm water before and after each dose to help prevent heart woes, colon cancer and at least nine other cancers. Consider a daily multivitamin (half in the morning, half at night), 900 mg of DHA omega-3 in algal or fish oil and 1,000 IU vitamin D for immune system, brain and heart health.
Reducing stress - don't stress about it!
No. 5's stress management can evolve in several ways.
- Meditate for 10 minutes morning and night using yogic breathing techniques, mindfulness or other forms of meditation. Check out the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health website; search for "Meditation: In depth."
- Disconnect from digital devices, especially before bedtime. Establish a healthy sleep routine in a dark, quiet room, aiming for seven to eight hours nightly.
- Find time to walk, sit or exercise in nature whenever possible.
- Get regular massages.
- Spend time with friends and family.
Become truly smoke-free
No. 6 involves making sure your near and dear are not smoking, even outside of the house (they bring particulate pollution back in with them on their clothes and in their hair); stay clear of people soaked in secondhand smoke; and insist that your employers create a smoke-free environment.
Then add two more steps:
- See your primary care doc for a full-body checkup so you know your numbers, including blood pressure, lousy LDL cholesterol, blood glucose, the inflammatory marker hs-CRP and blood vitamin levels.
- Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Boosters are essential to protect you from whooping cough, tetanus and diphtheria. Everyone needs an annual flu shot; it decreases flu and lung problems plus lowers stroke and heart attack risk. Folks 50-plus need the shingles vaccine and 65-plus need the vaccine for pneumonia.
Now that's a formula for great health.
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