When Less is Better
Updated: Jan 29
Blog Post by Oran Aviv
It is not perfection that we need for our health, but moderation. We need to learn to compromise for our physical heath, our mental health and for our social health. Extreme behavior in any area can be harmful and lead to negative consequences.
Overall, finding balance and moderation in all aspects of our lives is key to maintaining good health and well-being.
Too Much of a Good Thing
If you have been following me, you know how much importance I give to eating leafy greens as I wrote in Prevent Dementia – Eat Greens. Leafy greens may also help reduce inflammation that may cause pain as I explained in Age and Aches as well as be one of the reasons for dementia.
I believe we should all be eating leafy greens every day, yet even the healthiest food needs to be eaten in moderation.
Spinach and chard contain high levels of anti-nutrients called oxalates. Anti-nutrients, although naturally found in plants, can block the absorption of nutrients in our body. Oxalate rich foods, like spinach and chard, can prevent the absorption of calcium.
If someone has low bone density, (osteoporosis or osteopenia) they should try to avoid oxalate rich foods that may prevent the absorption of calcium into the bones.
Also, if you have a history of kidney stones, or are at risk for developing them, it is generally recommended to limit your intake of oxalate-rich foods. Oxalates in extreme amounts can cause kidney damage.
It's important to remember that it's not necessary to eliminate spinach and chard from your diet, but there are many other leafy greens that you can include in your diet as alternatives. Some options to consider include:
Last Friday I was fortunate to go on a foraging workshop with the amazing and knowledgeable Kate Breslaw. She was familiar with so many edible leafy greens that are just growing wild. If you have an expert like Kate, you can probably find many more healthy leafy greens near you!
Just a final note about spinach. Although many of us were brought up to believe that the cartoon Popeye was created to encourage children to eat more spinach, no one knows why the creator, E.C. Segar chose to portray Popeye as having a love of spinach and gaining strength after consuming it. Popeye was not created to help children eat more spinach!
Eat a variety of leafy greens to stay well and keep your brain healthy.
The 50% – 70% Rule
It's normal to want to do your best and to strive for success in our personal and professional life, however, it's important to remember that it's not always healthy to perform at 100%, all the time.
I used to dance and even taught dance for several years. It's common for dance classes to require a high level of physical and mental effort and I always felt that I needed to do my absolute best to keep up.
When you enter a new dance studio or dance rehearsal, you can feel all the eyes checking you out. Before the class even begins, you start to do stretches to let the other dancers know you are in good shape and have experience. I love dance and it is one of the most wonderful ways to stay in shape both mentally and physically, but it is also very competitive, especially if you perform.
It was with this dance mentality of having to compete that I began taking a yoga class.
I tried to stretch the most that I could.
I tried to lift my leg as high as I could.
I kept looking at others to see if I was better than them.
I would get upset if someone could do a pose that I wasn’t able to do.
I think you get the picture – I was certainly not in a very meditative yoga state. Instead of allowing my muscles to relax I was tightening them due to the stress of trying to be the best!
It was only after a year of learning yoga, that my yoga teacher Inbal. from Studio BeNoam; explained to us at a workshop, the 50% - 70% rule of yoga. She explained that in Yoga, we don’t work at 100%. We work less, between 50% and 70% to allow our body to relax into the yoga pose rather than force it into a pose.
Wow! That was an awakening call for me. I had to learn to leave my dance ways and connect to my own body rather than look at what everyone else was doing. I had to stop being a perfectionist.
It took time, but the change was phenomenal. I began to relax and was able to stretch more. I no longer had tight muscles and my state of mind changed. I sometimes didn’t even know who was in the room that day. I was in my own non-competitive world; I started connecting with the state my body was in at that moment and I learned to release my thoughts.
I sometimes fall back into the perfectionist mode in yoga and in other areas of my life, but I now try to remind myself of the 50% - 70% rule and slow down when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed.
We don’t have to perform at 100% and most probably we will even feel better when we turn down the knob to 70% or less. It's important to find a balance.
Being Clean in a Dirty World
When I was a student, I took a course on air pollution. Although many years have passed, I clearly remember a lesson from this course that remains vivid in my memory because it shocked me so.
We learned that people who smoked, fared much better when there was poor air quality where they lived, while those who didn’t smoke had more difficult reactions to air pollution.
Wow - that was a difficult revelation for someone who prided herself on staying away from toxins. That meant that I would be sicker than a smoker if our area suddenly became polluted, because a smoker's lungs were already used to filth!
This revelation, and others, made me wonder if perhaps, being toxin free is not always good if we live in toxic environments. For our health and the health of our family we should avoid toxins as much as possible, but perhaps we should not go to extremes.
We all know of children who are kept inside, not allowed to get dirty on the floor or in the soil and then get more sick than other children who were exposed to germs.
I once met a person who kept himself completely safe from any possible toxins. He only ate organic food that he grew and cooked himself. He would not eat anything processed. He didn’t use a mobile phone because of the radiation. He was so clean of toxins, that if someone forgot to turn off their mobile phone when they were near him, he would be sick for days! This is the problem of being too clean when the world isn’t.
I explained in my blog about sun safety Stay Safe in the Sun, that I think it’s important to get some exposure to the sun during the safe hours to protect our skin. When I used to totally cover myself from the sun at all times of the day, I would burn so easily if I was exposed even for a few minutes to the sun. Now I slowly let my skin get used to the sun in the early morning hours when I can't burn. Of course I stay out of the sun as much as I can, but if I’m caught in the sun without protection, I don’t burn like I used to.
Again – the key word is moderation and not extremism.
My husband and I are eating much more fruits and vegetables than we did when I was buying only organic. The reason is that organic is much more expensive, so I bought less. There are still some specific items that I only buy organic, as I explained in Should We Eat Organic.
Most research shows that adding more fruits and vegetables to our diet, even non-organic, prevents illnesses and increase lifespan. I learned to compromise.
This is also true of other products. If you buy a very expensive sun protection, perhaps one that is also a face moisturizer, you are not going to be generous in applying it because you don’t want to waste something that is expensive. It may be better to find a cheaper, yet high quality product that you will use more freely to protect yourself.
Finally we may all need to learn to compromise on our political, religious, and even medical views. Social media can amplify differences and create a place where people only encounter viewpoints that align with their own. This can make it difficult for people to see the perspectives of others and can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts.
We have all noticed the increased extremism of views around the world. It seems like every issue can only be seen as black or white. It’s time to go back and find the gray area between us, where we can meet and try to understand each other again.
It's important to recognize that other people may have different beliefs, values, and opinions, and that it's possible to have respectful and constructive dialogue despite these differences. It's also important to be open to the possibility that other people may have valid points and to be willing to consider them.
Compromise is an important skill in any relationship, whether it is with friends, family, or colleagues. It involves finding a way to meet each other halfway and finding common ground, even if you don't completely agree on everything.
Wishing everyone a very happy 2023 that will be filled not only with good health, but also with moderation, compromise and kindness.
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