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Do You Have the 4 Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors?

Do You Have the 4 Healthy Lifestyle Behaviors?

Researchers looked at the effect of four healthy lifestyle characteristics on 13 cardiovascular biomarkers including blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, and fasting insulin. They found that the more of the healthy lifestyle characteristics a person incorporated on a daily basis, the more favorable biomarkers levels they had. These results aren't surprising. What was surprising is that only 2.7 percent of the population has all four behaviors as part of their lifestyle. 

If you think about it, four items make a pretty short list. How would we change our life if we knew that by doing just four virtually free things every day, we could lower our risk of dying from the nation's number one killer, heart disease? Just four things. The ideas are not new, but maybe we've never seen them put together in a list like this. Simply doing these four things will cost us so little, but can make a big difference in our heart health as we reach midlife and beyond. Do you want to know what these low cost things are?

  1. Not smoking
  2. Being active for 30 - 60 minutes a day
  3. Eating a healthy diet 
  4. Maintaining a normal percentage of body fat

These four healthy lifestyle behaviors are pretty standard advice.  Since most of us know that we should be doing these things already, the researchers found that the majority of people have adopted one or more of these habits.

  • 71.5% of adults don't smoke
  • 46.5% of adults are physically active for 30 - 60 minutes a day
  • 37.9% of adults consume a healthy diet as defined by eating foods from the USDA's Healthy Eating Index
  • 9.6% of adults have a normal percentage of body fat

The data for the study was taken from 4,745 people enrolled in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study. As I look at the percentages, I'm struck by the relationships that exist — and don't exist — between the lifestyle characteristics. The statistics from this study indicate that anti-smoking campaigns have been relatively successful among the adult population. But choosing not to smoke doesn't seem to exert much influence on the other lifestyle behaviors. Further, physical activity doesn't appear to be predictive of eating habits. And none of the other factors seem to be helping our waistline. What's wrong here? In my medical practice, I'm seeing a much different picture than the one shown by this study. 

I've helped scores of patients incorporate these four healthy behaviors into their daily lives. What I find is that if we begin eating Starch-Smart®, the other habits start falling in place. I suspect this happens in part because we make choices about eating at least three times every day. Consciously choosing health that often makes us more aware of other choices we're making. Over and over I've seen that as people choose to eat right, their body mass index (BMI) begins to drop and their energy level takes off. Exercise not only becomes much, much easier, but some people find exercise almost necessary in order to burn off their excess energy. Others who aren't as naturally motivated to exercise still begin moving more simply because they are excited about the changes in their body and want to continue improving their health and looks. Most of my patients who are smokers are glad for some help and encouragement to drop an addiction that doesn't fit with their new lifestyle; I recommend that they read Allan Carr's Easy Way to Stop Smoking.

Eating Starch-Smart® means choosing our meals from the delicious abundance of low-fat vegetables, legumes, fruits, whole grains, and nuts and seeds that nature provides. We concentrate on whole plant foods, rather than foods that have detoured through a factory for processing. Because oils are not whole foods but rather concentrated fats stripped from the fiber and nutrients of the original plant, we don't include them in a Starch-Smart® plan. As our taste buds recover from the years of assault by the typical Western diet centered around meat, eggs, dairy products, and processed foods, we discover that whole, natural plant foods taste good and make us feel great. Plus, those who choose this eating style find it is significantly more economical. When we don't pay the factories to formulate, prepare, and package our foods, the cost per meal comes down. Eating Starch-Smart® lowers our medical bills and our grocery bills!

While it may not be in our power to join the storied 1% on the income ladder, all of us can join the 2.7% who enjoy freedom from elevated risks of cardiovascular disease. The four healthy behaviors are largely free. Not smoking means no expensive cigarettes or lost work time from the lung-damaging effects of tobacco smoke. We can walk 30 minutes a day for free. We have to pay for meals anyway, but whole plant foods are the least expensive and most efficient way to meet our nutritional needs. And it costs us nothing to carry around less body fat. It's just four things every day — four virtually free things that can lower our risk of dying from the nation's number one killer. How about trying my free Starch-Smart® System and improving your lifestyle today? You can learn more by exploring this website and by joining the Starch-Smart community at https://www.drcarney.com/club where we eat "From Sun - to Plant - to Plate."

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