Dr. Bojana Jankovic Weatherly on Tips for Optimal Health
As a physician who is board certified in both internal and integrative medicine, I practice evidence-based medicine that is personalized to each individual I work with. I partner with my patients to discover and address the root causes of their conditions and develop individualized plans to support and empower them to achieve their health goals.
We all have the ability to take simple steps toward a healthier life, but sometimes, the available health information may leave us feeling confused or overwhelmed. For instance, there are a number of seemingly contradictory conclusions about the optimal diet for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and other chronic diseases, so which diet is best? Faced with contradictory information, we sometimes opt for the less healthy choices. For example, rather than focusing on plant-rich foods, one may opt for processed versions of “Paleo”, “vegan” or “gluten-free” foods. Other times, diets are overly restrictive, putting individuals at risk for nutrient deficiencies. And finally, some people may just give up and say, “I’ve been ‘good’ all day. Does it really matter that much if I have processed foods and added sugar after dinner while watching TV?” The short answer is: It absolutely does!
Here are lifestyle and nutrition practices that should be on all of our priority lists:
Aim to get as close to 8 hours of sleep per night (or more, if your body desires this) as possible. Adequate sleep helps us balance our hunger and satiety hormones, it helps support our immunity, it supports a healthy mood, and it helps us function more efficiently during the day.
Eat whole foods
There is overwhelming evidence that whole, plant-based foods have cancer preventative properties, and that they can play a role in the prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors. A plant-rich diet also supports a healthy weight, a healthy gut microbiome and a healthy immune system. When eating plants, aim for eating foods that are all colors of the rainbow in order to get a diverse mix of phytonutrients.
Avoid processed foods
Any food that’s processed is usually frozen, canned, dried, baked, or pasteurized. While some foods can go through processing that involves only cleaning, cutting, and packaging, too many others contain added ingredients like saturated fats, sugar, and salt. These can all be harmful, especially if consumed regularly or in excess. These foods also contain less dietary fiber and fewer vitamins and minerals than whole foods.
Avoid sugary beverages
Avoid empty calories. Period. Drink plenty of water and add in tea for variety instead.
Doing regular aerobic exercise as well as strength training is key to maintaining good health. A recent research paper that reviewed 300 studies found that while those who are physically active can halve their risk of a heart attack and sudden cardiac death, intense exercise training can be risky for some individuals.
Adopt a lifestyle program
For those with cardiovascular disease, a lifestyle modification program including nutrition, stress management, fitness, love and a support group, can significantly reduce body mass, blood pressure, “bad” cholesterol, and other risk factors for heart disease. According to the American Heart Association, 1 in 4 heart attack and clot-related stroke survivors will have another event. It’s never too late to change your habits and get healthier—the earlier, the better. Working with a dedicated team including a qualified healthcare provider, a dietitian and a health coach, will help you implement and maintain the habits that are most supportive to your health and longevity.
To your health!
Dr. Bojana Jankovic Weatherly
Dr. Bojana Jankovic Weatherly is a Diplomate of the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM), a Member Board of the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS).