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130620_MEDEX_CIGAR.jpg.CROP.article568-large (Copy)A big fat duuuuuuuhhhhhh in the world of health today, as a new study discloses that half of all cardiovascular deaths are due to preventable factors. Why duh? I have been reporting on this phenomenon since I wrote my quintessential health manual, The Six Keys To Optimal Health, a decade ago. Okay, okay, to be fair, many of you have not read it; and I am certain many of you do not peruse the health news in the same manner I do. However, saying that, we all know the risk factors for cardiac events, so why are people not taking heed?

The study, published today in the Annals of Internal Medicine online, looked at data from the BRFSS (Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System) 2009–2010 of over 500,000 people, ages 45 to 79, to asses risk factors associated with cardiovascular deaths (heart attacks, heart failure, etc). The five primary risk factors were: smoking, obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure—and all are preventable. Complete elimination of each of these risk factors would reduce cardiovascular deaths—the leading cause of death in the U.S.—by 54% in men, and nearly 50% in women.

heart disease risk factorsSmoking and high blood pressure led to the highest proportion of preventable deaths, and nearly 80 percent of people reported exposure to at least one of the five risk factors. Despite these risks being preventable, if every state was brought to the level of the best state, only ten percent of the deaths would be prevented. Get it? What this means is that Americans, in general, practice risky cardiovascular behaviors. Yes, eighty percent of the country either smokes, is obese, has high blood pressure, high cholesterol or diabetes. And many have several, and some have all! Do you get it? That’s freakin’ abysmal. And we wonder why health is so poor in the U.S. Can’t blame healthcare (sickcare) for this one.

Like I said, we all know the risks, so why do we fail to avoid them? Ummmm…I can take a guess…let’s see: because American citizens have become so spoiled by ease and comfort that we believe we are entitled to live as we please, and then be “saved” by medicine. That’s precisely what universal health care was all about – our inalienable right to have our preventable conditions treated – and this study proves it. Preventable! I know it is hard to hear, and it certainly doesn’t endear me to the masses when I say it, but it’s the truth and we both know it.

So let’s go over it again:

I know we are all going to die, but nobody reading this wants it to be them, not prematurely anyway. So do the right stuff and I promise you will get more out of life, and more life to get things out of. I’ll continue to send out tough love via health information, facts, and no nonsense interpretations meant to wake…you…up. Hope you are listening.


Holy Hormones Honey! Interview with @DrNickCampos - Applying Universal Principles to WellnessI spent last Wednesday evening being interviewed by the fascinating Leslie Carol Botha for her radio show, Holy Hormones Honey! The Greatest Story Never Told. The show’s topic was Applying Universal Principles to Health and Wellness (listen to archived show here). While I have written previously on The Four Dietary Principles, I thought I would touch on some more universal principles as they pertain to physical health and wellness here. As a quick review, the four dietary universals are:

  • Food as an energy source
  • Food as a vital nutrient source
  • Food as a source of hydration
  • Food as a source of body composition

Remember that universal health principles are true for everybody no matter what age, gender, creed or color, while health nuances may be true for some people, or more exaggerated than true, as many cases tend to be. Take for instance the above universals—these dietary needs are true for everyone and all living things, no exceptions. Some associated nuances, however, might relate to a way of eating, like vegetarianism, or Paleo, or raw food diets, and so forth. While some people thrive on each of these diets, none is correct for all people.

So what are some other universal health principles? In no particular order:

  •  hydrationHydration — all living things need water; life cannot exist with out the good ol’ H2O. The universal solvent is a must and so getting sufficient amounts (two liters per day minimum) is imperative.
  • Movement — we live in a dimension of movement; movement is the hallmark of the physical universe. If you are not moving, you are stagnating, collecting cobwebs, degenerating, and your time in this plane will neither be long nor pleasant. Get moving regularly—stretching, contracting, and aerobically—and more than half of your physical problems will be solved.
  • Touch — all living things need to exchange energy with other living things; touch is the most effective form of this energy exchange (as well as a source of comfort and security). What would happen to a plant, a pet or a child if it were rarely or never touched? We know that children deprived of touch have different levels of circulating hormones, which has major affects on brain development.
  • Rhythm — this pertains mostly to cycles, although it can also refer to the universal sound (also cycles or oscillations) within space, the oceans, and of course, music. The universe has a multitude of cycles including the orbiting of planets, solar systems and galaxies. Our seasons are cyclical (sun), as are our months (moon) and days (earth). Being mindful of the changes that occur in accordance with these cycles is paramount, and operating within these cycles — sleeping more during winter months, planting seeds (goals) during spring, and so forth — will lead to the greatest growth, fulfillment and wellness.Touch is love
  • Rest — one such rhythmic cycle is the sleep/wake cycle. Getting sufficient rest is of utmost importance, and while everyone is different, we all need both REM and non-REM deep sleep. There was a movement some years back on conscious sleep deprivation, and I must say I have heard of nothing stupider. Many regenerative and storage/sorting processes occur during sleep. Consistent lack of sleep is one of the most damaging acts one can carry out. It is bad enough when one has trouble sleeping, but to deprive oneself when one actually can sleep is pure foolishness.
  • Moderation — which can also be thought of as balance. This is the true essence of a harmonious cycle—fluctuating calmly between two poles, around the center, avoiding the extremes. Extremes are body, mind and soul disrupting, while smooth and small fluctuations are more rhythmically enhancing and growth inducing. We can apply this principle to diet, movement, touch, sex, mind-altering substances, medications, herbs, teas, tinctures, caffeine and other foreign or toxic substances. And most crucially, balance is necessary with regard to the mind.
  • Balanced mindBalanced Mind — The Buddha said, “Whatever an enemy might do to an enemy, or a foe to a foe, the ill-directed mind can do to you even worse.” A chaotic mind is the foundation for all other “problems” and human suffering. We cannot control the circumstances of life but only our perception of those circumstances. A balanced mind is adept at being still. In stillness lies awakened perspective, insight and wholeness. All other aspects of wellness are enhanced by this most powerful of universal principles.

I am certain that these universal principles will get you farther than any particular diet, extreme fitness regimen, supplements, special pH water, or any other nuance you’ve been sold as the answer. Take it from me — I’ve studied health and wellness for going on three decades; I’ve met many of the masters. These universal principles are the common themes of all great teachings as they apply to wellness; they also happen to be common themes present throughout the entire universe in various forms. Apply these principles and forget about the fads. If you find a nuance that works for you, it is because it fits in a greater universal scheme as applied to your unique individuality; but in the end it is the universal aspect that nuance falls within that is bringing the most benefit. Think about it, and I believe you will see the truth behind this statement.


earth2 (Copy)When I talk about health, I generally like to focus on universals–that is, what is true for everybody across the board, and not just the nuances of one diet or another. For example, drinking the juice of an açaía berry is not universal. It may be rich in antioxidants (although there is no scientific evidence to support this marketing claim), but it is not an essential food consumed by people all over the world. Having a diet rich in antioxidants, however, is a universal. Drinking water from a hole in Costa Rica is also not a universal, although maintaining sufficient hydration most certainly is. To pound the point home, there isn’t one person reading this that wouldn’t suffer the same fate were he or she to swan dive off a ten-story building. That’s because everybody is subject to the law of gravity–it’s universal, get it?

Okay so when it comes to dietary health, then, only four universals exist. The human diet must fulfill all four of the following:

  • Act as an energy source—food provides us with energy, measured in calories; energy not immediately used is stored as fat.
  • Act as a nutrient source—in the form of vitamins and minerals that are necessary for metabolism, regulation and tissue repair.
  • bigstock-close-up-view-of-bacteria-12354305 (Copy)Provide water for proper hydration—some “experts” believe that we get all the fluids we need from our food, but I am not one of them; no doubt, though, that diets high in plant-based sources get a good portion of their daily water replenishment from food.
  • Maintain a beneficial gut environment—we now know that the foods we eat directly influence our gut microbiota: the organisms that inhabit our intestines and, among other things, help the digestive process.

That’s it. A healthy diet should fulfill these four universal requirements in the most efficient way. This is a point worth elaborating: While many diets (and I’m speaking of a way of eating here, not a fad diet, per se) may fulfill all four universals, they may not do so efficiently. This is likely the case for the majority of people on the typical western diet (some whole foods, lots of processed foods), which is high in calories and low in nutrients. These people often get their necessary nutrients, but at the expense of having to eat more food to do so. They are not malnourished, but instead over-nourished. Think about it, a diet low in essential nutrients will cause the body to communicate, “More nutrients, please!” in the only way it knows how: By increasing the appetite.

malnourished (Copy)Other diets, like those based on junk food, candy, and/or near-starvation (anorexia) lead to none of the universal being fulfilled, which causes malnutrition, and eventually the breakdown of the body.

So, again, the healthiest diets fulfill the four universals most efficiently. But what’s the best diet for you?  The one that fulfills all four universals with the least amount of food.

Now to say there is one diet that can fulfill this requirement for all people would be lie…because everybody is different. My body type is such that I need lots of protein. When I eat carbohydrate-rich meals, regardless of the source, I get weak and shaky within an hour. Thus, I need protein in every meal. Because of this personal nuance, I find that concentrated sources (meat, eggs, dairy) work best for me. This is NOT a universal; it is a nuance of my dietary needs. Believe me, I know plenty of people that thrive on a predominantly plant-based diet. Physiological variability I tell you.

That’s why I say stick to the universals. If veganism gets you there, then groovy, man. If it’s raw foodism—rock out. All that matters is that the four universals are most efficiently met.

Don’t get caught up into dietary nuances. Eat the widest variety of whole, natural foods that your body likes and craves, and try to get everything you need nutritionally with the least amount of food possible. I promise that you’ll get closer to achieving optimal nutrition by following these principles. It’s the human variability that throws the monkey-wrench into most popular diets, but universal is universal, so keep that in mind every time you eat. And if your way of eating already fulfills all four dietary universals, then you’re doing just fine.

Yo kid, whatcha drinkin’?  Not water, that’s for sure.  A recent study to be published in the October issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, shows that children in the U.S. are drinking far too little water.  Since water makes up the bulk of the human body weight, getting sufficient amounts is vital.  And since we can’t store water for the long term, running on a water deficiency can wreak havoc on the health.

According to the study conducted by the Queens College of the City University of New York and the U.S. National Cancer Institute, American children drink far less than the minimum amount of water recommended by the U.S. Institute of Medicine.  The study looked at the water intake of 3,978 boys and girls, aged 2 to 19 years, who had been included in a national nutrition study from 2005 to 2006.  They found that only 15-60% of boys and 10-54% of girls, depending on age, drink enough water.  Instead, children are primarily drinking…yup, you guessed it, sugary drinks like sodas.

The study found that most kids drank sweetened beverages with meals and not plain water.  Yecchh!  And girls overall drank less water than boys.  The good news is that as children age, they start to drink a bit more water, but not enough to preserve good health.  Let’s go over some points on the importance of proper hydration:

  • Human beings cannot live without water for a few days
  • We lose approximately two liters of water per day through sweat, urine, tears, saliva and the breath, among other processes
  • Caffeinated drinks–sodas, iced tea, coffee drinks–are diuretics, which make us urinate more, thus increasing the need for water
  • Insufficient water levels lead to
  • fatigue
  • increased hunger
  • muscle weakness
  • headaches
  • dry mouth
  • heat stroke and other maladies

Furthermore, high consumption of sugary drinks leads to…yes, right again, obesity (along with other illnesses like diabetes).  And you heard childhood obesity is due to the common cold virus, now, didn’t you?

Listen, adults in the U.S. aren’t doing much better.  Sodas are still the number one consumed beverage in America.  And kids learn from their parents, so if you are a soda junkie, don’t expect less from junior.

Simple solution: stop buying soda! If you have younguns at home, don’t give them any of that crap, period.  My girls have never tasted a soda in their lives, and they won’t ever in our house.  Yes, I’m on a soapbox on this one, and I’m not getting off anytime soon.  That garbage is killing people, and I’ll keep screaming it till people listen.

Water is the elixir of life, and if you or your child are not getting enough, then you’re playing with fire.  Play with water instead, give your kids good ol’ H2O to drink and watch them flourish.  It’s in your hands parents–do the right thing.

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