Sunday, July 26, 2009

Water - Pillar 2 of DIY Health

Recently an Australian town made headlines by being the first to ban the sale of bottled water (see link). This was done on the basis that water comes in plastic containers that “pollute” the environment.

Now the health of the planet is important. So is the health of the people who live on it. As I write in the upcoming book Dr Joe’s DIY Health - Putting you in charge of your health “The second pillar of health is water. The body is comprised of 70% water and to work at its optimum, water in the body needs to be turned over regularly.

There are different recommendations for how much water people should drink each day. The standard recommendation is 2 litres per day. Another recommendation is to drink between 30-35ml per kg of bodyweight per day. So, a person who weighs 70kg will need 2.1 to 2.5 litres. This is the amount of water that is required to turn over just for day to day normal activity”.
Some of the roles of water and hydration in the body are, transportation of nutrients, elimination of wastes, lubricating the joints and tissues, facilitating digestion, aiding concentration, keeping the skin looking younger and more vitality.

If you are doing any physical activity, then you need more water. People who work outdoors on hot days may require four, five or six litres of water per day. Researchers have questioned the need for this amount of water each day, but there is not really any need for researchers to tell us the body needs water. To illustrate why the water in the body needs to turn over and move, think about a stagnant pool and a flowing river. A stagnant pond doesn’t sustain life because it has no energy about it. A flowing river sustains life and has a tremendous energy about it. The molecules of water are the same, but the difference is the molecules are moving in the case of the river and not in the stagnant pond. Water needs to move through and not stagnate in the body.
Now an argument put up for the bottled water ban is that you can get water from the tap. That is true and whilst tap water is OK (as I wrote on March 16), have you ever seen what a water filter looks like after a few months use? We put one in at home and I was stunned when it was changed to see the amount of sludge and crud on the filter. Ordinarily my family would have consumed this. The filter picked it up and we didn’t. Bottled water is filtered and is better for us, even though tap water is OK and certainly is better than other beverages for hydrating the body.

Furthermore can you go into a lunch bar or deli and buy a glass of water (and take it with you)?
So the people in Bundanoon can drink fizzy or coloured drinks with lots of additives but not water even though the containers are the same and the effect on the environment is the same.

Some say they don’t like the taste of water. Overcome this by squeezing lemon or orange juice into the water. If you’re not used to drinking much water, every time you have one glass, have a second. Or, to start more gradually, have an extra half glass when you have one full glass of water and build it up from there. The aim is to get this to a stage where you actually miss your water if you don’t have it.

People who spend much of their lives in a slightly dehydrated form don’t have a comparison.
Common symptoms of this are tiredness headaches and problems concentrating. Once the body is hydrated, you will notice when your body is getting slightly dehydrated. This will send you running to replenish. When you are at this stage you have reached sustainability.

The body is 70% water and like a river the water needs to flow. It is easy once you get into the “flow” of it. Water-the second pillar of DIY Health,27574,25754710-421,00.html

Monday, July 20, 2009

Pillar 6 of DIY Health-Relaxation

The sixth pillar of DIY Health is relaxation As I write in the upcoming book Dr Joes DIY Health-Putting you in charge of your health:

“Unwinding and letting go of tension and stress is essential for leading a healthy and happy life. Some people find it easy to relax, while others find it difficult and often get to the end of their holidays before they start to feel relaxed and carefree.
Research from Stanford University suggests that the ability to manage stress may be the most important factor in longevity. The body reacts physically to stress (either physically or emotionally) and releases hormones such as adrenaline and cortisol which increases heart rate and blood pressure. This is useful if you’re trying to escape a tiger, but certainly not helpful when you’re trying to go to sleep.”

Relaxation is about the things you do for the enjoyment they bring, not for any other purpose. It is about playing ball for fun not to win. It is walking in the park, listening to music, being with your loved ones or whatever you enjoy doing and has no time frame to it.
Recently it has been time to practice what I preach. With self-publishing a book and also getting a web site developed my stress levels also started to climb over the preceding weeks. It was therefore timely to have a 6-day break. With my family we went to the south coastal town of Albany.

Now Albany in the middle of July is cold and a bit wet. The beauty of this is that you can slow down. Country towns in general have a slow down feel about them and when the weather is cold this is amplified a bit.
So what does one do on such a holiday? Not very much. The best part is actually not having any commitments and not having to be at any particular place at any particular time. Now most days we did get out and about for a while. The countryside is pretty. Albany has a great farmers market on a Saturday morning .The organic eggs were brilliant and there was natural honey as well as fresh blueberry produce and organic olive oil.

On the Sunday we travelled out to Denmark (a small town 50km to the west of Albany). Just out of there was a toffee factory, which also produces a range of, jams and sauces. The toffee has no artificial ingredients. Nearby is a small nature park where one can feed and pet a number of animals including kangaroos and Alpaca goats. This type of activity is very grounding and really allows you to slow down.

Back at the lovely 2-bedroom holiday apartment the whole family was able to catch up on some reading and watch a DVD or two as well as have quiet walks along the windswept beach. Quiet family time together without external commitments is also valuable. The proverbial icing on the cake was the capacity to sleep in and catch up a bit of a backlog of sleep.

Being able to do things at a slow pace and have no commitments allows us to literally slow down .The world today is rapid paced and it is no use hoping that it will slow down for you. Indeed it can be very productive and efficient to move at speed. However at some point there needs to be a balance. A break such as the one I have just had allows a recharging of the batteries. Virtually everything we did was done for its own enjoyment, and not to any pre conceived plan or time line.

This is true relaxation –an easy to overlook but nonetheless vital pillar of DIY Health

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Fun and Purpose-Do what you love

The life expectancy of humans has been increasing at a steady rate for a bit over a century. The increase is about ¼ of a year life expectancy per year. The graph is not showing signs of plateauing. Claims that the next generation my be the first to see a decrease in life expectancy, is scare mongering on the part of public health officials.

The fastest growing sections of the population in the developed world are the over 90s and centenarians (albeit percentage increases are greater coming off a low base).

There are two vital things that people need to do as they get older. One is to maintain their health and the other is to have enough money to live on. There is currently little debate on either of these two issues at government levels.

The article from the Economist (see link) discussed retirement age and how pensions are going to be funded. In 1950 the OEDC average of people working to those over 65 was 7 to 1. Now it is 4 and the projection for 2050 is 2 to 1. Also in years gone by life expectancy was lower so the number of years on a pension was less. Today a person retiring at 65 may have easily another 15-20 years to live.

So what has all this got to do with health you may be wondering? Pillar 8 of DIY health is fun and purpose. As my friend George Helou says, “If you are looking forward to retirement you are in the wrong job”. When you look at those who have been highly successful in their business, often they are the same people who continue to work long past “retirement” age. Rupert Murdoch is one who comes to mind. Donald Trump is not yet 65 but there is no way he will retire at that age.

Successful business people could most easily afford to retire but don’t. It is not because they need the money. It is because they enjoy what they are doing. In my upcoming book Dr Joes DIY Health-Putting you in charge of your health I write about the importance of Authentic Happiness. This is defined (by Prof Martin Seligman) as fun, challenge and purpose.

What we do needs to be fun but eventually lying on the beach will get boring. We need a challenge because that stimulates us and we need to feel that what we do matters, that there is purpose in what we are doing.

People doing jobs, which provide none of these factors, will be hanging out for the next holiday and certainly looking forward to retiring. Those whose work (and it can be voluntary work or other pursuits such as writing) still enjoy a break but don’t want to stop, because they love what they do.

As I wrote in the book, “We all like to feel that we matter and what we do has some relevance. This may be at the family level, at work or at a broader community level. One level is not particularly higher or lower than the other. Purpose relates to your desire to contribute and be part of something that is bigger than yourself.
This connects us to our fellow human beings, be they in our family, business or community. Purpose is related to challenge in that having purpose is setting about obtaining a goal. This could be building a house, raising a family, starting a new business or doing voluntary work. Each person has unique skills and talents and deep down, we all feel that those skills and talents are meant for a purpose.”

When we are doing what we enjoy then retirement is not on the radar. We are having too much fun and don’t want to stop. In turn when what we do is of value then there will be an energy (money) flow and reliance on a pension becomes a non issue .

Do what you love and love what you do-fun and purpose is a pillar of DIY Health.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy Fourth of July

Two years ago I had the pleasure of being in Hawaii on the Fourth of July. This was a family holiday and we were staying in Maui. This gave me the opportunity to see first hand some July 4 celebrations and also talk to people about the significance of July 4 to Americans.

Australia and The USA share some common background. The British colonized both and both are countries made up predominantly of migrants. Both have welcomed the diversity migrants bring to the countries. Australians and Americans have shared ideals and have served side by side to protect freedom in this world.

However, Australia never had to fight for its independence nor forge a constitution in the way the USA has done. Australia has never endured civil war.
There is something profound in having established a country through a war of independence. Whilst this was over 200 years ago (and 12 years before Australian settlement) the spirit, which has made America great, lives on today.

Being in the USA on July 4 made me understand better why Americans are as proud of their country as they are. Every country makes mistakes but the ability of the USA to learn from these and forge new ideas is unmatched.

I would like to wish all my American friends a happy Fourth of July.