Many of us aspire to be the best version of ourselves that we can be, but according to a recent survey, many Americans aren’t sure which advice will lead them to down the road towards optimal health. Mark Hyman, M.D., explains.
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CLEVELAND – Many of us aspire to be the best version of ourselves that we can be.
But according to a recent Cleveland Clinic survey, many Americans aren’t sure which advice will lead them down the road towards optimal health.
For example, we know that good health is often a product of diet and exercise. But survey results show many of us are confused by conflicting advice on which diet and how much exercise we need to be as healthy as we can be.
According to Mark Hyman, M.D., director of the Center for Functional Medicine at Cleveland Clinic, conflicting advice can often lead to misconceptions.
“We’re all confused – we’re confused about what to eat; we’re confused about what kind of exercise we should do,” he said. “One of the myths out there is that the best way to lose weight is to exercise a lot, and then you can eat whatever you want. There’s actually great evidence that you can’t exercise your way out of a bad diet.”
Dr. Hyman said when it comes to diet advice, there are basic principles on what to eat that apply to just about everyone.
He said a plant-rich diet that is low in sugar and starch, with plenty of good quality fats and quality protein is the way to go.
Many of those surveyed said that they would rather be considered physically and mentally strong than thin. Likewise, many believe that society’s body image expectations are unrealistic.
Dr. Hyman said many of us fall into the trap of thinking that we have to have perfect habits all of the time to be healthy.
“I think there’s a lot of aspiration for people to do everything right – to eat right, to exercise right, to meditate, to sleep, and life intervenes,” he said. “The key is to focus on those habits that you can do consistently, and give yourself wiggle room when you’re not perfect.”
Many of the survey responders said they are worried about things like heart disease, cancer and Alzheimer’s, but haven’t made necessary lifestyle changes to lower their risk of these diseases.
Dr. Hyman said sometimes a big change can provide big results. He believes that when people focus on feeling better now, instead of thinking about what might happen in the future, it makes it easier for those healthy behavior changes to stick.
“Sometimes I think making more extreme changes, to get more profound changes in your health, very rapidly, is often a wake-up call for people,” said Dr. Hyman. “Making incremental changes and little changes can be helpful –and anything is good – but often, if you make a big change, you’ll often see a lot of your chronic issues go away and that’s motivating to continue.”