Live Longer Retreat: 1st Intensive Starts 8/19; Safdi On "Nutritional Pearls"

The Telluride Ski Resort and The Peaks Resort & Spa in Mountain Village are hosting week-long wellness intensives titled Live Longer Retreat. The Big Idea is to support your annual resolution to get really healthy and therefore live longer well. More than half the year is in the rear view mirror. What progress have you made? 

Using an evidence-based, scientific approach to health and longevity and featuring an experienced staff of medical professionals, personal trainers, Pilates and yoga instructors, dietitians, and chefs, all focused on your unique wellness profile, each Live Longer Retreat is one-of-kind in the U.S. 

The intensives, limited to only 10 – 15 participants, include personal consultations, hiking, spinning, yoga, Pilates, talks and demonstrations related to nutrition, cooking classes, and more. Dates this debut summer/fall season are August 19 – August 25 and September 27 – September 30.

The program is led by Dr. Alan Safdi, a world-renowned internist and gastroenterologist with encyclopedic knowledge of mind-body wellness and preventative medicine. Dr. Safdi also has a gift for delivering evidence-based medical findings for healthier living in easily digestible sound bytes.

In the run-up to the retreats, Dr. Safdi is posting regular updates on Telluride Inside… and Out based on the latest, closely vetted research about subjects in the field of health, wellness and longevity. 

This week, Dr. Safdi offers up some nutritional pearls.

Feel free to sign up now to participate in a Live Longer Retreat   or call 1-877-448-5416 for further information. 

Instead of soda or sugar laden juice drinks, drink water, coffee, or tea:

A recent study showed even after taking into account other health and risk factors, those who drank the most tea and maintained that consumption from the start to the end of the study were 47% less likely to experience neuro-cognitive decline than those who did not drink tea at all.

A gene that can predispose you to Alzheimer’s disease is called Apo E4. Those men and women who carried the Apo-E4 gene benefitted the most by far: carriers who drank tea reduced their risk by almost 85% compared to 44% for non-carriers.

There are significant benefits to drinking coffee too, that is if you do not experience side effects from the caffeine:

Recent studies show drinking a cup or two of coffee a day is really good for you. Coffee studies are somewhat difficult since 74% of heavy coffee drinkers were current or former smokers.But in one good study, those who drank one cup of coffee per day were 18% less likely to die of any cause than those who did not drink coffee. In this study one cup per day reduced the risk of death from heart disease by 16%, diabetes by 15%, and kidney disease by 40%.

A normal BMI does not mean you are healthy.

When I volunteered in India, I became very aware of visceral obesity. Many patients did not look obese, but they had a lot of fat around their internal organs and suffered significant consequences from that disease.

We need to take into serious consideration those who have clinically normal BMIs, but also had at least two abnormal scores on the following tests: blood pressure, HDL cholesterol, triglyceride scores, or glucose scores.

We know that biologically speaking, ethnicity does matter. Everyone, but especially those of non-white ethnicity, should be aware that being of clinically normal BMI does not mean you are healthy. Always evaluate the bigger picture with your metabolic scores along with the adjusted BMI for your ethnicity. One study showed that to experience the same health risks as whites with a BMI of 25, African Americans would have a BMI of 22.9, Hispanics would have a BMI of 21.5, and Chinese Americans would have a BMI of 20.9.

Consuming highly-processed foods could contribute to an increased risk of cancer.

Based on surveys done in the United States, Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, some estimates suggest “ultra-processed foods” can contribute up to half of people’s total calories.

One of the main problems with these foods is that they contribute to excess calories, but also processed foods tend to have higher total and saturated fat, more sugar and salt, and often contain additives that research suggests have cancer-causing properties.

The two largest food types contributing to the highly-processed foods were drinks and “sugary products” (20% and 26% of ultra-processed foods consumed, respectively).

Another recent study showed that a 10% increase in the proportion of highly-processed foods in the diet meant a 12% increase in the risk of any type of cancer; and for women, an 11% higher risk of breast cancer, specifically.

Not all plant-based diets Are healthy:

After adjustments were made for factors such as smoking, physical activity, calorie intake, and baseline health, a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology pointed out again that plant-based diets were not significantly associated with lower CAD (Coronary Artery Disease) risk than diets low in plant-derived foods. However, when you divide the plant-based diets into “healthy” (rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, nuts, beans, and vegetable oils) and “unhealthy” (high in refined grains, sweets, and sugary drinks), they found that consumers of the healthy plant-based diet were less likely to develop CAD, while those eating the unhealthy diet actually had an elevated risk.

Even if you are fully plant-based or vegetarian you still need to focus on avoiding ultra-processed foods, sweets, soft drinks, cookies, candy, highly processed fruit drinks, etc.

Go nuts about nuts:

Nut consumption is associated with significant nutrient profile improvement compared with other snacks.

As adults are hunger cues can be overridden by emotion, availability, and the expectations of others, to name just a few influences. A fascinating recent study about snacking was very enlightening. You might expect that participants who received snack foods would have gained about the same amount of weight. Yet none of the snacking groups did. A closer look at their diet records revealed that participants were compensating for the additional calories in the snack foods by consuming fewer calories at other meals.

You can improve the quality of the calories in your diet—by choosing nuts as snacks—without making big changes in your regular diet. Those who snack on nuts have a higher intake of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats—both of which have been linked to better heart health.

Please see one of my posts about the health benefits of nuts.

Could switching to whole grains could help to lower blood pressure levels?:

Whole grains are one of the nine principles of the Mediterranean Diet and they are powerful stuff.

Not only are they more satisfying due to their higher fiber content, but we have seen that diets rich in whole grains can help people lose more abdominal fat, help older folks reduce their overall risk of metabolic syndrome, improve people’s insulin response (without weight loss) and help them avoid heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes. You can help keep your blood pressures in the normal range by reducing your dietary sodium intake and switching to whole grains rather than refined grains.

What is a pro-inflammatory diet?

Chronic inflammation, which we know contributes to the risk of heart disease and cancers, is more common in those who consume a more Westernized diet, which includes more trans and saturated fats, omega-6 fats (as opposed to omega-3s), sugar, and alcohol.

A Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, is a more anti-inflammatory diet.

We have seen that a Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of inflammation-related illnesses. A provocative recent study showed a more pro-inflammatory diet was directly associated with the risk of developing overweight or obesity. We know that higher quality calories (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fatty fish, nuts, olive oil, legumes, etc.), which are very often less-inflammatory calories, are often of lower caloric density and of higher nutrient density than those foods that are pro-inflammatory.

Focusing on a Mediterranean diet predominately (without worrying about weight loss) could be very important for long term weight control.

Low fat vs low carbs: And the winner is…?:

There have been dozens of studies comparing versions of low-fat and low-carb diets, with inconsistent findings.
But Stanford University finally did an appropriate study which looked at a healthy low-carb diet vs. a healthy low-fat diet.

What makes this study so different is that both groups were told to eat lots of vegetables and minimize or eliminate added sugars, refined grain products, and trans fats.

As mentioned in a previous dietary pearl above, both groups were told to focus on minimally processed and nutrient -dense foods. They were also told to prepare their foods at home whenever possible. Both groups of overweight or obese subjects lost, on average 12 to 13 pounds, about six percent of body weight and had similar small reductions in body fat and waist circumference, on average, and similar improvements in blood pressure and blood sugar control.

Keys findings from the study support either diet as long as the focus is on high quality nutrient dense foods that are minimally processed.

Another study showed that Mediterranean vs. Lacto-Vegetarian Diet had similar results with regards to weight loss and both reduced cardiovascular risk. The type of foods we consume do matter for longevity and health and we need to continue to focus on “high-quality,” wholesome foods.

More about Dr. Alan Safdi:

Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi is a board-certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, Safdi has been featured on the national program “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. He has been an investigator in over 581 studies and is President of both the Consultants For Clinical Research and the Ohio Gastroenterology and Liver Institute.

Dr. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for about 35+ years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He lectures internationally on the subjects of wellness, nutrition, and gastroenterology.

“If you are interested in learning more about how to prevent as well as treat some diseases over an intensive six-day program, please check out the Telluride Longevity Institute website.

“We have assembled a fantastic team including chefs, personal trainers, physical therapists, athletic trainers, dietitians, physicians, yoga specialists, Pilates trainers, and more. Our programs are completely different than any other programs world-wide. We emphasize lifestyle and base our programs on only evidence based medicine. The groups are very small and activities take place in a fun and educational environment at The Peaks.”

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