Have a Happy & Healthy Holiday

ALIVE MAGAZINE—December 6, 2012

by Dr. Robert Brown

Cramberries_BrownGaining weight during the holiday season is almost expected. Then we make a New Year’s resolution to take it off.  Most doctors and healthcare professionals agree that such a “roller coaster” weight program is detrimental in many ways.

Most of us understand that maintaining an optimal weight helps us to avoid many serious health problems including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and stroke.

Before you take a big helping of that store bought spinach dip or grab a plate full of those tasty little BBQ flavored baby hot dogs, take a moment to look forward. Do you want to spend future holidays at parties with friends and family or in an assisted living facility once you reach your 60’s, 70’s or 80’s? What you do now makes the difference between having an active and enjoyable life in your golden years and turning that gold into straw.

It’s more now than just carrying extra pounds around and suffering from the many side effects of doing so. In 2009 the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine was awarded to three scientists for finding that the ability of our cells to reproduce is greatly affected by the breakdown of telomeres, which are pieces of DNA that form a protection to the chromosome allowing the cell to replicate itself and divide. Fat affects that. By the way, Dr. Blackburn and her graduate student, Carol Grieder, discovered telomerase, which corrects the damage done to telomeres, by cell division, basically creating a fountain of youth, on Christmas Day in 1984.

This gives us even more reason to stay good to our bodies. The kind of foods that make you fat, along with ingesting processed foods and chemicals, can increase the shortening of the telomeres and greatly accelerate your aging process as well as give you cancer.

I hope I have captured your attention, but I still want you to have fun and enjoy the holiday season while avoiding the need for that weight loss resolution.

You can make great spinach dip with all fresh ingredients and not need to fill it with poisons. The manufacturers of processed foods have to give that food the longest shelf life they can as well as preserve the color and enhance the flavor to make it taste fresh. They do that by adding chemicals, salts and fats that do us great harm. I used to own a cooking school, The Cuisinary in Danville. I never put turkey or chicken fat in my gravy and people loved it.

Beware that some cheeses have far more calories and fat than others. Olives and nuts, smoked salmon and oysters as well as wild shrimp make great hors d’oeuvres. Avoid vegetable oil, especially deep frying your holiday turkey. Eat as close to nature as possible. Pureed celery root can be absolutely delicious. Occasional desserts can be tolerated by our body, but not every day. The glucose found in most desserts is also found to have a negative effect on telomeres.

Since eating more than normal during holiday events is a given, you should avoid exacerbating the problem by eating a lot of gluten and dairy and over-imbibing in high-calorie holiday punch and mixed drinks.

The purpose of this discussion is not to put a damper on your holiday season, but to take a damper off the rest of your life. Combining the stress most of us face on a daily basis (another factor that damages telomeres) with poor nutrition and additive poisoning is absurd.

The good news is that science is now finding the mechanisms by which our aging process is accelerated and how we can prevent it. If you truly want a full, long, enjoyable life, we are getting to the point where we can get into the driver’s seat and achieve it. So many of our most common problems that totally take the joy from life for so many people, rich or poor, can be overcome. It only requires a commitment to paying attention to what you put into your body and getting into the habit of sensible, more natural eating.

In short, the closer your plate is to nature and the further you keep it from fatty and processed foods, the better. A long, enjoyable, productive life is achievable if we just pay attention to what we put in our bodies during the holidays and throughout the year.

Robert Brown, DDS has a TMJ and sleep apnea practice in Danville and thoroughly enjoys discussing holistic medicine. You can contact him at 925-837-8048, at info@aodtc.com, or visit his web site at www.aodtc.com.

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