Book review - The Nordic guide to living 10 years longer
I came across a brand new book about the Nordic view of living written by Bertil Marklund a Swedish medical doctor and a professor in general medicine and a specialist in public health. To me almost everything in this book make sense. It is pleasant, easy reading and with words everyone understands. It doesn´t promise any miracles and forget any quick fixes tips (we know they don´t work anyway). The Swedish term "lagom" which translates "just right" goes as a red thread through the book. In Sweden this term is often seen as boring but is it a very good term to live after. Same as moderation is not the most exciting way of living but a wise one.
According to the author the biggest threat to our health is the ongoing inflammation in our bodies mainly due to unhealthy lifestyles. Longtime inflammation increases the risk for cancer, stroke, dementia, infection, heart attack among others. The main reason for inflammation is free radicals. With an unhealthy life style there are too many free radicals and the body can´t take care of them all and it leads to cell damage.
You can reduce the inflammation with these 3 steps:
- Make sure you have a strong immune system.
- Decrease your production of Free Radicals.
- Eat more antioxidants
To reach these steps healthy life style is the key factor. The book talks about 10 tips but I will focus on what you can do with food since that is my field.
- Antioxidants helps protect your body from free radicals. The more free radicals your body have the more antioxidants you need to eat. Fruit, berries and vegetables all contain antioxidants and the more colorful they are the better. Ever heard of "eat the rainbow"? It is not only a way of talking to children about fruit and veggies it is also a simple way of explaining how important the different colors are. The recommendations are to eat 2-3 fruits per day and 2-3 servings of vegetables per day. If you try and add some to every meal it is much easier. Antioxidants are destroyed by heat so try and eat as much fresh or frozen as you can. Dark chocolate (70% cocoa) also contain antioxidants which my brighten your life a little ;-)
- Omega 3 and Omega 6 (both essential fatty acids that we need to get with our food) in the right ratio helps are bodies. Historically humans have always eaten more Omega 3 than 6 but today it is the opposite. Omega 6 in high doses or the imbalance between the two causes inflammation. The best sources of Omega 3 are fish and shell fish but also nuts, seeds and avocado contain some as well. Foods rich in Omega 6 are foods we should limit like sweets, cookies, cakes, trans fats and often processed foods.
- Low GI foods which is food that leads to a low rise in blood sugar and insulin after consumption, helps keeping the inflammation at low levels. Good sources are fruit, vegetables, pulses, brown rice, whole grain, sour dough and yogurt.
- Fiber helps lower the sugar level and fat content in the blood. It also brings healthy bacteria to our guts and that is good for our immune system.
- Probiotics the good bacteria is found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, saurkraut, kombucha and in fiber. Probiotics protects the body against harmful bacteria.
It is no secret that the weight among people are constantly increasing. Being overweight can cause many health conditions and also increases the inflammation in the body. You don´t need to be slim but not being overweight will benefit you and try and keep your weight in check.
- Think portion control and don´t stuff your self. Out portions have increased over years, just look here at the difference in plate sizes over the years.
- Eat slowly and don´t take seconds. Be mindful while you are eating and think of what you eat, how it taste and don´t have any distractions at the table or eat in front of a screen. It takes 15-20 minutes before your brain register that you are full.
- Make good food choices. Think MORE fruit, vegetables, whole grain, nuts, seeds, fish, healthy fat, exercise and LESS red and processed meat, sugar, salt and alcohol.
For a Happy Healthier Life!