By Lisa Browdy
Many famous speakers – Deepak Chopra, Dr. Mark Hyman and Kathy Freston ("The Veganist") – came to share their ideas about health and wellness at last weekend's fall conference of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. As a student of the nation's largest nutrition school, I got to attend with 4,000 other health coaches to learn and be inspired to go out and make world be a healthier place.
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the author of the well-reviewed "Eat to Live," has a new book (released yesterday) called "Super Immunity." He described research that showed that our death rate from infections has doubled since 1980 (AIDS was a big contributor to that total), and suggests that the processed food in our diets has decreased our bodies' ability to fight off disease.
His "prescription," if you will, is a diet of cruciferous vegetables that have the properties of suppressing the genes that allow disease – even AIDS and cancer. Greens, onions, mushrooms, beans, berries and seeds (he's given it the unappetizing acronym G.O.M.B.B.S.) eaten often and chewed well can reverse D.N.A. damage.
My favorite speaker was Dr. David Katz, the founding director of the Yale University Prevention and Research Center, and the editor in chief of Childhood Obesity Journal. He described a series of studies from 1993 to the present that showed how 80% of deaths were caused by three things: tobacco use, poor diet, and lack of physical activity. "We have unraveled the mystery of the genome but can't eradicate disease," Dr. Katz said. "The master levers of medical destiny are our feet, forks and fingers."
"We have known this for 20 years, but have not yet shifted," he continued. "Knowledge is not power – it is necessary, but it is not sufficient. We need both a will and a way for vitality and good health that will give us more years in our life and more life in our years." Yes, I wrote it all down. I was hanging on this guy's every word.
As founder of the Turn the Tide Foundation, Dr. Katz helped create two programs, A.B.C. (Activity Bursts in the Classroom) for elementary school children and later A.B.E. (Activity Bursts Everywhere) for adults to use in their home, office, and even their commutes! These short, 3-8 minute exercises are easily accessed on videos at www.abeforfitness.com and require no special clothing or equipment.
"Before we ask people to take responsibility, they must be empowered," Dr. Katz says. He describes the forces causing our nation's "diabesity" as a vast flood, and that we must all work together one sandbag at a time to improve our health.
It was an inspiring and empowering weekend, and I came home happy and excited to begin my work as a health coach. My "sandbagging" will be done by supporting individuals and groups of people who want to make gradual, lasting and enjoyable changes for a lifetime of health and happiness. I am calling my company Health WithInsight, and you can learn about it at my new website, www.healthwithinsight.com.