My Health Winners of 2015
Rather than tell you about my resolutions for 2016 (I don’t have any as I am perfect), I have listed those components of my 2015 that made me a healthier, happier, and better person. I hope my health winners of 2015 can do the same for you.
Health Winner #1: Maldon Salt
I am a big fan of salt and I even dedicated an entire chapter to salt in my book Misguided Medicine in order to defend it from the erroneous beating that it has taken from the medical community over the past several decades. Battered and bruised, salt is actually delicious and healthy, supporting our cardiovascular system while providing support to our cells.
Maldon salt is a flaky fresh tasting salt that makes any vegetable dish as a delicious experience, especially when accompanied by some butter from grass-fed cows. In 2014 I strayed from using Maldon for no apparent reason, but reintroduced it into my cooking in 2015 and quickly remember why it is my favorite salt. Maldon salt and Kerry Gold butter helped bring Brussels Sprouts back to the dinner table for some members of my family, providing nourishment both to my 94-year-old grandmother (her birthday is today) and her 94-year-old bowel bacteria.
Health Winner #2: Paleo Manifesto
I was a little late on this one as it was not published in 2015. I have spent some time with the author, John Durant, at PaleoFX and the Ancestral Health conferences. He is passionate about the health benefits of a Paleo lifestyle (not just Paleo diet) and incorporating it into our modern lifestyle. Along these lines, he can be seen running the streets of New York City barefoot. As we see eye to eye on most, if not all, of these aspects of heath and modern living, I mistakenly pushed Paleo Manifesto off for a while. Yet, it was an enlightening and enjoyable read for anyone that wants to improve their life and live like our ancestors in a modern world. I would go as far as to say that everyone should read this book.
Health Winner #3: Misfit Activity Tracker
I was initially anti activity trackers as I consider myself very active; I felt that no rubber device on my wrist was necessary. I was wrong. The Misfit activity tracker helped me to increase my background activity and the miles per day that I walked – an area where I was oftentimes inadequate.
What I found out via my Misfit Shine was that while I often made it to the gym, my overall activity levels exemplified by my distance walked were certainly lacking at times. The small circle on my wrist motivated me to ensure I got over 3 miles per day. While I am a motivated person, my monkey brain still requires a basic reward system and the simple metric that gauges progress – a circle of lights that fill as I complete my goal – is effective and ingenious in its simplicity. It is cheap, durable, and attractive as it often becomes a topic of conversation when I am seen wearing it.
Health Winner #4: Grain-Free “Bread”
Paleo bread, Nordic bread, grain-free bread – call it what you want – this has been an important addition to my diet in 2015. I largely dislike paleo baked goods or similar food products that take the best parts of a paleo diet and somehow manage to make them unhealthy, leading to healthy deception along the way. A good paleo bread manages to combine both health and convenience while avoiding the trap of many paleo baked goods.
My recipe is as follows:
- 5 eggs from pastured chickens
- A half cup of almonds, flax-seed, pumpkin seed, walnuts, and sunflower seeds
- A tablespoon of oil (your pic)
- A teaspoon of salt
- Mix and add to a Pyrex dish (lined with butter to avoid sticking)
- Cook at 320ᵒF for 50 minutes
I often bring this to work and eat it as part of my daily brunch. It is filling and delicious. I have made this for many of my patients and am hoping the recipe continues to get passed along.
Health Winner #5: Ghee
My love affair with ghee got hot and steamy in 2015. Much like Maldon salt, for no apparent reason I got away from using ghee while cooking. Well, a random sighting at the grocery store got me right back on it and I am back to using it for cooking all of my meat source. Delicious, healthy, and heat-stable, ghee is a great part of any cooking repertoire. It is also a great way to increase your daily consumption of conjugated linoleic acid.
Health Winner Bonus: Triumphs of Experience
2015 was a year in which I reevaluated the happiness aspects of my health as I look to the future – and I do not mean assessing what makes me happy on a daily basis. In fact, I am starting to get sick of all the happiness hysteria as of late, filling online sites and the self-help isles of book stores (do people still go to book stores?). I looked for the future and began to invest in activities that will pay dividends in my happiness decades down the road – quality relationships, continuing to surround myself with people who motivate me to be a better person, and engaging in more quality projects that will pay dividends in the future. We are the average of our five closest friends, and for me that is where durable happiness starts.
Triumphs of Experience by George Valliant is a book that certainly helps put these elements of “happiness” into perspective. Dr. Valliant is a researcher, psychiatrist, and professor at the Harvard Medical School and the most recent scientist to report on results from the Harvard Grant Study, which followed men from their years at Harvard University throughout their entire lives, reporting on associations between their social and family lives and mental and physical health. Valliant’s report may be one of the last, as the remaining members of the study are now in their 90s.
Valliant’s report on almost nine decades of real-time data pertaining to what makes us healthy and happy is certainly an essential read. His story telling throughout the book makes it both informative and enjoyable. I took a lot from the book and applied it to my life in 2015 and will continue to do so moving forward.