Friday, September 09, 2005

Food Pyramid

The 20 May 2005 episode of Science Friday discusses the new 2005 USDA food pyramid. This new pyramid has changes in what food is recommended, but also adds exercise. In particular, if you exercise more, you get to eat more. Eating more allows you to have more discretionary calories - sort of a reward for exercise. Though they have a list of things to avoid, like processed sugar and transfat, they emphasize things you are supposed to eat.

In my opinion there are four things to do for good health, not two. Eating right, is one. Exercise for your cardio vascular system is another. In addition to exercise for your body, you need exercise for your brain. The forth is to drink plenty of water.

Exercise your brain. Take up an intellectual hobby. There are a number of good ones. Reading. Crossword puzzles. Building up mental arithmetic skills. Write essays. Astronomy as a hobby, which has the side effect of getting you out of the house. There are plenty of others. Pick one or more that you actually enjoy. One benefit is that you will be doing something you enjoy.

Each of these features of healthy living has a noticeable benefit. Eating right should bring your weight to some semblance of trim. You may not notice being at lower risk of diabetes, etc. Exercise like biking or running will give you noticeable energy and endurance. The most compelling reason for adults, especially over 30, for exercise is sex life. I don't mean attracting partners - as you can certainly be in good physical condition while being overweight. I'm referring to performance. Mental exercise of various kinds can noticeably improve your memory and mood. Drinking more than enough water will reduce the severity and frequency of disease.

I personally have never lost weight through exercise. I have only lost weight by reducing my food intake. I have never gained energy by changing my diet. That requires exercise. These are often confused.

The old recommendation was 30 minutes of exercise, three days a week. The new recommendation is 30 minutes every day. Add 30 additional minutes of lighter exercise.

I did not see water intake in the food pyramid. A search for 'water' does not get any response. For healthy living, drink at least half a gallon of water, every day. That's eight eight ounce glasses. If you work at a desk, you should have a glass in front of you, and you should sip at it all day long. Soda and coffee do not count. There should be no sugar or caffeine in these drinks. You can drink more water if it is room temperature than if it is refrigerated. The noticeable benefits are reduced disease, such as colds, and increased energy. Psychologically, its more difficult to consume soda and other things you should be avoiding if your water intake is high. Its also easier to eat less if your water intake is high.

Changing my habits in these four areas has improved my life in dramatic ways. Avoidance of sugar has allowed me to lose weight - about 35 pounds. I have improved my time for a mile run from about 12.5 minutes to about 8 minutes. This has dramatically improved my energy and endurance. Twenty minutes of mental exercise a day has improved my memory and concentration. Drinking a half gallon of water has contributed the lion's share of essentially eliminating disease from my life. The result is that i feel better, and am likely to live longer.

1 comment:

FreeThinker said...

You may not have noticed weight loss when you exercise, because your muscles gained mass and weight. (That's a good thing!)