In this week’s column, I would like to ask you all to take a health quiz. When it comes to health and wellness, most of us have read a fair amount of information on the subject and we believe we know enough to keep ourselves healthy. I think you may be a little surprised that you may not know enough about important health and wellness aspects.
The following are 12 true or false questions. Read through them and see what percentage you get correct.
1. Exercising as little as 15 minutes a day can help prevent a heart attack.
2. Consuming foods high in cholesterol is the major reason we develop heart disease.
3. If your blood pressure is 100/85 or lower, it is considered ideal.
4. Only 20 percent of Americans do not get enough exercise each day.
5. Eating whole grains every day is part of a good nutrition plan.
6. Consuming saturated fats of any type can lead to high cholesterol.
7. Lack of sleep during the week can be corrected by sleeping in on the weekends.
8. Lack of proper sleep over time can lead to chronic life threatening health problems.
9. You can be overweight and considered extremely fit and healthy.
10. Burning 3,500 calories will burn one pound of fat.
11. Eating nutritious whole foods, coupled with daily exercising will make you smarter.
12. Eating small amounts of carbohydrates between meals is a great way to control weight and appetite.
Here are the answers to the above questions —and some may not agree on all of them, but they are all based on studies, research and medical findings.
1. Yes, only 15 minutes of exercise each day can help prevent a heart attack. In fact, a study published in the journal Lancet concluded that 15 minutes of exercise each day can add three years to an average person’s life expectancy.
2. Cholesterol plays a critical role in our body’s ability to manufacture specific hormones and effects how our metabolism functions. When we limit cholesterol from food, our liver produces more cholesterol which is needed by our cells. The answer to this question is false, high cholesterol foods is only a small piece to a much larger issue tied to lifestyle choices such as smoking, high insulin production from poor nutritional choices, inflammation and obesity. All of which helps drive atherosclerosis and arteriosclerosis.
3. Understanding your blood pressure is a key factor for managing your health. The answer to this question is both true and false. An ideal blood pressure range is set between 100/80 to 120/80. Low blood pressure can be a bigger health concern then high blood pressure in some cases, so working to maintain your blood pressure in the ideal range should be a health goal.
4. The answer to this is false. Only 20 percent of Americans get enough exercise every day.
5. Grains are highly inflammatory due to the fact they have gluten and lectins in them. In fact, whole grains have the potential to be more inflammatory then refined grains since their bran and germ are not stripped out. Either way, grains are pro-inflammatory and are not required to meet your daily needed nutritional guidelines.
6. This is also false. In recent years, studies have found that fats for the most part are needed and should be part of your nutrition. Various fats are very different based on their make up from short chain fatty acids to medium chain and long chain. The worst fats have been modified during processing to be hydrogenated and, of course, trans fats are very bad for your health. Eating good saturated fats does not by itself lead to high cholesterol. There are other food factors and lifestyle factors that come into play to increase your health risks to high cholesterol.
7. This one is false. Poor sleep habits during the week cannot be fixed by sleeping more hours one or two days a week. Consistent sleep patterns play a major factor to your overall mental and physical health.
8. This is true. Poor sleep habits and lack of proper sleep over time can become a contributing factor to metabolic disease, complications to heart health, stroke, diabetes and many other serious health conditions.
9. This is true. Many people are genetically well equipped to handle body weight and higher than normal fat percentages than others. In some circles this is referred to as fit-fat. Being healthy but heavier than what a BMI charts shows as a healthy weight can be very frustrating to those folks who naturally carry more weight than others and have very good health stats.
10. This is in fact false. There has been a standard that burning 3,500 calories is needed to burn one pound of fat. This varies from person to person and a one-size-fits-all mathematic formula can, if followed precisely, add unwanted weight over time. Reduce your caloric intake to fit your energy requirements based on activity. Also eat nutrient dense healthy whole foods, staying away from processed foods and sugars to become very good at burning fat.
11. This is true. Regular exercise coupled with a consistent healthy nutrition plan will stable your mood and increase your cognitive function.
12. This is false. Small portions of carbohydrates tend to spike your blood sugar, driving an increase in your appetite and the desire to overeat. Eating small amounts of protein based foods and certain whole raw vegetables periodically throughout your day will work much better.
As I mentioned, not everyone will agree with some of these answers. What is important is to stay informed and knowledgeable regarding health and its related aspects. Challenge yourself daily to have a better understanding of health and wellness.
Judd Jones is a certified primal health coach and fitness consultant in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.