30 Health Lessons I Learned Before Turning 30

If you've been reading my newsletter (SIGN UP FOR THAT HERE) or following my writing, you'll know that I believe living a healthy life is based on both mind and body. What we think effects us physically, and what we do physically can effect us mentally.

So, with that mindset and as I enjoy my last day in my 20s, I decided it would be best to take a look back at my wellness journey and pick out the top things that made a difference in my life. 

Here are the 30 Health Lessons I Learned Before Turning 30:

  1. Eat greens every day.
  2. Diets don't work. Lifestyle changes do.
  3. Happiness is a choice.
  4. You can't change someone, you can only change how you react to them.
  5. Walk 10,000 steps a day.
  6. Guilt is not a real emotion.
  7. Forgiveness is empowering, not a sign of weakness.
  8. Feng Shui works.
  9. Sit in silence once in a while.
  10. Surround yourself with positive people.
  11. Not every day is a good day, but there is good in every day.
  12. Your future starts with your next thought.
  13. Do everything with intention.
  14. 70% of your immune system is in your gut, so take care of it.
  15. Spaghetti squash is an excellent substitute for pasta.
  16. Indulge from time to time.
  17. Travel.
  18. Cry. Sometimes it's the only way to release that energy and refocus.
  19. Write a letter to those who hurt you. Even if you never give it to them at least it's no longer effecting your soul.
  20. Go to bed early. Trust me your memories at 6am are much more magical than at 3am. 
  21. Give back.
  22. Stop creating a story for yourself.
  23. Carbs aren't the devil.
  24. Pain is a sign something needs to change.
  25. Miracles happen every day.
  26. Drink more water and less alcohol.
  27. Dreams and goals will change. Be flexible with yourself.
  28. Focus on making memories, not money.
  29. Not all calories are created equal.
  30. Don't judge yourself or others. Everyone's journey is different. 

Why People in These Countries Are Living Longer (PS It Has to do With Pasta)

Originally appeared in the New York Post

In recent years, we’ve all been told that to eat healthfully, we have to forgo bread and pasta and up our protein intake.

But according to one researcher, the people living the longest, healthiest lives are doing the opposite. In his new book “The Mindspan Diet: Reduce Alzheimer’s Risk, Minimize Memory Loss, and Keep Your Brain Young” (Ballantine Books, out now), Harvard biologist Preston Estep III singles out what he calls “the mindspan elite” — countries whose residents not only have long life spans but also have relatively low rates of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

“Life expectancy is only one measure of health, and it doesn’t include quality of life. If it is accompanied by a very high dementia rate, then that effectively subtracts years,” Estep tells me. “Life expectancy [can be] misleading.”

According to Estep’s data analysis, Japan came out on top in terms of “mindspan,” with an average life expectancy of 84 and low rates of cognitive decline. Mediterranean France and Italy, Spain and Costa Rica also rank among the elite. Despite having a life expectancy of 79, the US is a “mindspan risk” country, according to Estep, because of its high rates of Alzheimer’s sufferers.

Estep found some surprising similarities among the top-ranked diets. The main food source for many of the longest-lived people is bread, pasta and rice. “Refined carbs are the base of the ‘mindspan diet,’” Estep says.

But these countries aren’t enjoying the same carbs we are. In the US, bread and pasta — whether it’s whole wheat or white — tend to be enriched to contain about three times the amount of iron as their non-enriched equivalents in the Mediterranean, Japan and Costa Rica. Estep believes consuming too much iron damages DNA, cell membranes and neurons. “People with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s have substantial amounts of iron and other metals in their brains,” he says.

While the “mindspan elite” have the lowest rates of cognitive decline and brain disorders, places with high iron consumption — such as the United States, the United Kingdom and Finland — lead the world in Alzheimer’s disease incidences. This excess iron can also come from too much meat consumption, according to Estep.

“Parts of northern Europe lead the world in dementia risk,” he says. “High meat consumption and [the] resulting high body stores of iron are likely a primary reason they have such a high dementia burden.”

“It’s a myth that we need to eat so much protein, especially from meat,” he continues. “In fact, it’s hard on the kidneys and may promote cancer and accelerate the progression of dementia. Pinto beans, found in the Costa Rican diet, [contain] just the right amount [of protein].”

Olive oil was another common denominator of the “mindspan elite,” especially among the Mediterranean and Spanish diets. “Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fatty acid (MUFA), which is less reactive in the body,” says Estep. Foods with MUFA have been linked to a decreased risk for breast cancer, heart disease and stroke, as well as helping weight loss and lowering cholesterol — all things that help you live longer.

Countries that rely on butter and other animal products, he says, tend to rank among the “mindspan risk.” Despite the controversial nature of some of his assertions, Estep insists he approached his research with an open mind and wasn’t looking to favor bread over beef.

“I just followed the evidence with no particular dietary philosophy in mind,” he says.

The Scientific Reason You Love to Travel

From my Travel + Leisure article:

Itching to hit the road? There may now be a scientific explanation for that desire.

Studies over the years have proven a link between an excess of dopamine in the brain and a tendency to engage in impulsive and dangerous behaviors. This surplus dopamine has also been associated with a specific variant of the DRD4 gene, which codes for a single type of dopamine receptor called the 7R+ allele. While this genetic variation has previously been tied to issues like gambling and addiction, it can also explain a more benign compulsion, the urge to travel.

Justin Garcia, an evolutionary biologist at Indiana University’s Kinsey Institute, said that the DRD4 gene and the consequent extra dopamine may have helped provoke prehistoric man to leave home and explore other territories in hopes of finding food, mates, and shelter. Though those survival needs are no longer at play, that biological background might have morphed into modern-day wanderlust.

While there’s obviously a combination of nature and nurture in most scientific explanations, Garcia said that DRD4 could explain why some view traveling as exciting and others deem it terrifying. J. Koji Lum, an anthropologist at Binghamton University explained this concept further to Nomadic Matt.

“DRD4 is one gene and, of course, its contribution to any complex behavior is going to be small. But those small differences add up,” he explained. “To a certain extent, assessing risk is just running an algorithm in your head. The different genetic variants mean that algorithm is running at slightly different levels in different people. That’s where all of this comes together: people are running slightly different algorithms that help define whether or not they will take a risk. And, ultimately, over time, that one small difference in the algorithm ends up in very different lives lived.”

So, if people think you’re crazy for wanting to see the world, know that your impulse may be grounded in biology.

It’s OK to Indulge on Thanksgiving. Here’s Why.

Thanksgiving is a time for family, vacation, and tradition. It’s also all about turkey, heaping portions of mom’s homemade stuffing, and impossible-to-resist pecan and pumpkin pies. Just as much as we look forward to the holiday, so too do we freak out about the excess calorie intake and what it will do to our bodies. It’s easy to find healthy recipes for the feast, or you can line up an after-turkey workout session, but is it really all worth it? We hit up four experts to weigh in on how to handle the fantastically fattening feast. It was music to our ears when we were told to not worry and just indulge.

Click HERE to learn why!


Want to live longer? 9 tips to living a healthier and happier life

The Fountain of Youth: something written about in fictionalized stories where young men and women set out to find the secret water so they’ll never age. While this holy grail of youth doesn’t physically exist anywhere in the world, there are some places on the planet where people are living far longer than the average human.

Curious to see what was making the folks in different parts of the world consistently reach three-digit ages, author and National Geographic fellow Dan Buettner took multiple expeditions to discover the secrets to longevity in these regions. He dubbed the five places as “Blue Zones”, where people were not only living long and healthy lives, but measurably happier ones as well. These places include Okinawa, Japan; Icaria, Greece; Nicoya, Costa Rica; and a section of the community in Loma Linda, California. “From all of our research we have found that there are nine lessons, which we discovered in every Blue Zone in the world,” Buettner says. “We call them the Power 9.”

Click HERE to find out what they are! 

The health benefits of being naked: How stripping down is good for you

How many times during this year's super hot and humid summer did you just wish you could strip all of your clothes off to cool down?

Well, it turns out being naked may not only be more comfortable but healthier as well. Some experts say that donning your birthday suit more often can help with myriad physical and psychological problems.

So how do you reap the benefits? Click HERE to find out!