My Recipe For A Happy Healthy Vibrant Human Being

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The recipe for a happy healthy vibrant human being is as simple as the recipe for a cake. A basic cake has seven ingredients: Sugar, flour, butter, vanilla extract, eggs, baking powder and milk. Each ingredient has a narrow range of the amount needed. If any ingredient is shorted or is left out, the cake will not really be a cake. By the same reasoning, if you put in too much of any one ingredient, it will also ruin the cake. So it is with life. The basic ingredients for a happy healthy vibrant life are: oxygen, sleep, stress reduction, nutrition, good relationships and sun. Let’s go through the ingredients and the relative amounts that most people need.

Oxygen


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This one is easy. Oxygen is absolutely needed for life. We can go about 6 minutes without it, period. Many people are chronically short of oxygen due to obstructive sleep apnea, including children. The complications are many, but here are the main ones: fatigue, high blood pressure and heart problems, obesity, blood lipid problems, liver problems, and diabetes. Normally, we don’t need to worry about the oxygen we need, but we to be aware of the symptoms which are: snoring, waking up gasping, insomnia, sleepiness during the day, short attention span, and irritability. If you have these symptoms, you should see a sleep specialist. In my office I assess the airway (we can even do CAT scans to evaluate the airway). Dentists can work miracles with airway problems. Watch this video of the panel I was on recently and listen to Dr. Boyd’s portion for more information on airway dentistry.

Sleep


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Sleep is way more important than most people suspect. Most of my patients don’t sleep enough and usually qualify it by saying that’s all they really need, as if they are super-human. I promise you that none of us are super human. It is fairly well established that we need seven and a half to eight hours each NIGHT. We are not nocturnal beings. According to a recent report from Gallup, the average American gets about 6.8 hours of sleep each night. 40 percent of us are sleeping 6 hours or less! The risks to improper sleep are similar to sleep apnea. Read this post I wrote about proper sleep hygiene to maximize your sleep. Make it a priority!

Stress


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Stress kills… We have all heard this, but it is literally true. We all have stress. There is not much we can do about some of it. Stress components can be remembered with the mnemonic NUTS: Novelty of the event, unpredictability of the event, perceived threat to us, and sense of loss of control. What we can do about it is change how we deal with it. There are so many stress management techniques to choose from. Here are a few: meditation, yoga, Tai Chi, massage, journaling, volunteering, mindfulness, and religion. In addition there are more than a few good apps like: Headspace, Calm, and Insight Timer. Youtube is great as well-search for guided meditation, yoga and deep breathing excercises. Just search for videos and relax! read my post on stress here.


Nutrition

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Since it is no secret that I like the flexibility of the paleo diet template, but there are so many diets that work, it is up to you to find out what works for you. ps I am including water as a nutritional element for the sake of this article-simply drink when you are thirsty. Period. We each have a diet that will work best for us, and it may even have to change based on the time of year like it does for me. If you think about it, identical triplets where one is a marathoner, one is a body builder and one is a couch potato each need a specific diet for thier lifestyle. The marathoner’s diet given to the couch potato would be a disaster. Just as the body builder’s diet for the marathoner would be terrible. For a good starting point, I recommend this post.


Movement

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This one is fairly simple. Be active most of the day. Walking is about the best thing you can do. I recommend about three weight training sessions (body weight is fine) per week. Cardio is easy to mix in, just don’t overdo it. Resting less or supersets are a big way to add cardio without adding time when you are lifting. Finally, intense bursts of activity a few times per week is ideal. I like Tabatas. Read my post for more info on




Relationships

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This is very simple. We need a small number of people in our lives who we can relate well to. Strong relationships contribute to a long, healthy, and happy life. On the other hand, being alone is similar to the risk factors for smoking and obesity. Research has shown that people live longer, have lower stress and are healthier when they have reliable friends. Research also shows that toxic relationships heighten stress, decrease health, and shorten lives.


Sun

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This is a contorversial one. Most people think that zero sun exposure is the way to go. I disagree. If you are familiar with my approach to health, you know that I focus everything through the lens of genetic adaptation. How can it be that we were hunter gatherers for so many eons and can’t be in the sun. The last time I checked, all of the plants and animals we need to eat are found outside. So clearly, we are meant to get some sun exposure. How much is the magic question. It turns out that white skin is as recent as the agricultural revolution. Prior to that, even though we were in an ice age, we had enough vitamin D containing foods, that we had darker skin. When we started farming, we no longer got the required vitamin D from food and needed another way to get it. The result is lighter skin that can much easier absorb UV light. The problem is that less pigmentation means less protection from harmful UV. The trick is to get just enough exposure to boost vitamin D, but not to burn. It turns out that too little sun is just as bad as too much sun. This talk bu Dr. Ruscio from AHS 2018 Boulder explains it all.If you get the proper amount of sun, you will have stronger bones, better sleep, improved mood, and a healthier immune system.


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In my practice, I stress the importance of the basic ingredients of a happy healthy life. I prescribe them like I would a pharmaceutical. If my patient is grinding their teeth, most likely stress and sleep are involved. I would rather the patient address these first on their own, instead of having an expensive appliance made for them to sleep with. Many people are unable or unwilling to make the changes needed. This is where conventional medical interventions come in. There is room in my practice for every type of patient from the most motivated to the least-no judgement on my part. I am fully aware of how hard change can be. That is why I love what I do. I am able to help my patients where ever their own comfort level is. I rarely see any patient that is happy to be in my dental chair. I feel it is my duty to let them know that their destiny can change if they are willing to change a few basic routines.


Scott Solomons, DDSComment