I heard an interview late last week of Sanjiv Chopra on James Altucher’s podcast. Sanjiv is Deepak Chopra’s brother and is also a world renowned doctor that has written a couple of books. The latest being The Big Five
In the interview Dr Chopra was very open with what was important for better health and fitness and he went into detail on why certain things work well and why others do not to be fit and healthy.
And in case you are wondering what kind of Doctor Sanjiv Chopra is, he is a liver specialist and was Faculty Dean for Continuing Medical Education at Harvard Medical School, and Senior Consultant in Hepatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. He is a really smart guy.
What are The Big Five Simple Things
The title of the book The Big Five: Five Simple Things You Can Do to Live a Longer, Healthier Life is a mouthful but the five simple things are not nearly as difficult to remember.
The five recommendations are Drink coffee, get some sun, get some exercise, eat nuts, and meditate.
These all seem very simple but in the book it is bit more complex as Dr Chopra goes into detail using lots of studies and charts so that we can be sure that he is not just making things up.
Lets Look into Some Detail at The Five Simple Things
Drink four cups of coffee a day – Some people don’t like coffee, some people can be kept up late at night from coffee, and some people get very jittery from coffee. These are all the drawbacks that we know of.
Coffee though is a very good thing to have in your diet as it helps to stop liver damage, even in heavy drinkers, as well as helping the prostate and other major organs.
Coffee is also linked to longer health and lower incidences of suicide and skin cancer.
Funny enough, most people look at coffee as a great stimulant because of the caffeine but that can actually affect your sleep if you drink it to late in the day. Dr Chopra stops drinking it at 3 PM. The active healthy ingredient in coffee is not the caffeine but actually a host of compounds that is still being researched.
Get Some Sun – Actually the prescription is more than just the sun Dr Sanjiv Chopra points out that a huge number of people are Vitamin D deficient.
As we have all heard, Vitamin D is the sunshine vitamin. The trouble is that people are scared to go out without sunscreen, and the higher amount of pollution in many cities around the world is decreasing the amount of ultraviolet light that would activate Vitamin D.
I had not heard of the idea of not wearing sunscreen as we are always told to wear sunscreen when in the sun.
There are lots of reasons to get your Vitamin D up if you are deficient. Some of the help is by lowering the incidence of obesity and cancers, as well as preventing heart disease. Vitamin D also works closely with Calcium for strengthening bones and teeth.
Dr Chopra says that if deficient you should takes 4000 IUs a day and even if you are at a healthy level you should supplement with 2000 IUs daily.
Get some Exercise – Dr Chopra is a fan of easy exercise and says that walking for 30 to 45 minutes a day will do a lot to make you more healthy. This can also be used as the time that you get that Vitamin D in the section above.
When asked about running and weightlifting he was a little less excited. Running can be hard on the joints and weightlifting as well although it is great for helping balance.
The idea is to get any exercise that you like the most so that you will continue with it. There is no point in saying you will run every day if you hate running.
Dr Chopra mentions a large study that showed that walking for 150 minutes a week will increase life expectancy by 3-5 years. And most people enjoy walking anyway.
Eat More Nuts – Nuts are a great food that some people avoid because of indigestion and higher fat content. Dr Chopra says though that a single nut is only 4 calories.
The problem for most people is that they eat nuts quickly and sometimes when you put a few in your mouth you will not chew some of them at all before swallowing. He recommends just eating the nuts one at a time and research shows that any nut is a good nut.
So what are the advantages to eating nuts? There are antioxidants in nuts like Omega-3 fatty acids, phytonutrients, antioxidants like vitamins B and E, selenium and magnesium.
Plenty of benefits to having these nuts as well, lowering the risk of developing heart disease as well as being diagnosed with several types of cancers. Nuts also lower cholesterol and blood pressure.
Meditation – Dr Sanjiv Chopra says that he spends 30-40 minutes twice a day doing transcendental meditation. He recommends people to just get one or two sessions of 15 minutes a day in though, once first thing in the morning and maybe again around 4:00 or so.
Meditation lowers stress levels as well as increasing focus and concentration as well as increasing creativity, and studies have shown that people that meditate are happier.
Science has found that neurological changes really do happen if you practice meditating once a day. Dr Chopra has a great video about meditation here.
The Big Five: Five Simple Things You Can Do to Live a Longer, Healthier LifeThis is a great book. Many of us know exactly why all five of these action benefit us but don’t know exactly why. In the book Dr Chopra has really laid out the science behind these five prescriptions for a better life and I think he hits the mark on all of them.
Whether you are interested in meditation, or thinking of starting a walking routine I really recommend you to get The Big Five: Five Simple Things You Can Do to Live a Longer, Healthier Life.