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Investing in long-term health
March 06, 2024

Investing in long-term health

Investing in long-term health means developing new little but often difficult habits like taking walks after starchy meals.

And making up your own salad dressings, willing to give the decanters a shake before drizzling them onto your salads.

All the commercial salad dressings are loaded with emulsifiers and stabilizers to cater for our sloth. There is strong research on how these chemicals undermine our health; serious malignant disease.


Cyan Zones

Welcome to the world of Cyan Zones; creating little havens intent on protecting both ourselves and Mother Earth in this world hostile to wellness and careless of preserving the planet in its once pristine state.

Walking after starchy meals

Nearly 50% of folk enjoying typical grocery store food are insulin resistant; they are all facing the stark possibility of full-blown diabetes. I myself am one of them. Refined grains like cake flour, white rice and sugar are at the heart of this pandemic.

Can anything be done about it? Yes, certainly and the first step is to take a short, brisk walk after every starchy meal.

Change does not come easily to most of us; making ten minutes after dinner at night to take a short walk in the dark was my challenge. Discovering quite by accident that my blood glucose was soaring into orbit after a healthy but starchy lunch scared me into action.

A bowl of homemade butternut soup with a slice of our 100% wholemeal bread was my undoing. Good food but putting me at great risk of a heart attack, stroke and losing a foot.

During the day it's not difficult for the retired person to grab a pair of secateurs and take a brisk walk around the garden. But after dark was for me most difficult. Dividing the task up into twelfths was how I determinedly went about it.

A relative has recently lost his lower limb; I'd rather find ways, even difficult ones to bring my blood glucose down after the starchy meals we enjoy.

And let it be said these were healthy starchy meals; not pasta, white rice or potatoes from cold storage. I was staggered to find that I was prediabetic. We eat only wholesome carbs.


Walking after dinner

I’m sure that you like me have certain chores, both big and small, that simply have to be done; but you are more inclined to procrastinate and think of ten other things that have to be completed first. Divide those tasks up into twelfths; or fifths, whatever.

One such for me was the day I learned that I absolutely must take walks after starchy meals. It came as quite a shock. Freshly-squeezed orange juice with the pulp, one of my first loves, turned out actually to be quite dangerous. I was becoming “insulin resistant.”

The next surprise was that after even a short ten-minute brisk walk, OJ did not give the slightest uptick on the glucometer. I could have my cake and eat it, so to speak, provided I stirred myself. Let it be said I’m not one of those who loves gymming for exercise sake; there has to be some purpose behind it. Well, I had a good reason to get moving; but after dinner was not easy.

Hobson's Choice

So I was faced with the impending onset of diabetes; the choice was between the prospect of losing a leg, pills and injections or start walking after those starchy treats.

I once saw a delightful play called “Hobson’s Choice.” The phrase originates from a man who rented out horses; you could hire any mare in his stable that you fancied, provided you took the next one available at the front of the race.

In effect you have no choice at all; take it or leave it. Faced with all the unpleasant alternatives I simply had to start taking a short walk after dinner, much as it was really the last thing I wanted to do at the end of a long day at Our Green Home. The complications of diabetes do not just happen to other people; enter twelve laps.

The first lap around the pool, about 35 metres is never pleasant; you grit your teeth and get on with it. After the second twelfth, wow, you are one sixth of the way; that was not so bad. Another and you have completed a quarter of your task.

It is at this stage that I begin to experience a new freedom. I am in the rhythm and the mind starts to roam. That could be thoughts about the day past or plans for tomorrow. And gee, I am now one third of the way; what's more it took less than five minutes.

The spirit starts to wing it

After the fourth twelfth I do an about turn and start walking the other direction and the spirit starts to wing it. So busy are my thoughts that I forget whether I am on the fifth or sixth lap; and of course it matters not a jot. What is important is that blood glucose is being turned into glycogen for the muscles; my pancreas is not getting frantic messages to shoot more insulin fruitlessly into the blood stream as that pasta is digested.

I had been totally unaware that I was becoming insulin resistant, my cells simply unable to take up that excess glucose in the serum; threatening every aspect of my health. Arteries start to stiffen and blood pressure begins to rise. Muscles and joints become inflamed and begin to complain; and ten thousand other complex things in the body.

And then it’s eight-twelfths; hey, I am two thirds of the way. I turn about again and begin to step it out a little; the next four laps are done in a flash and I am feeling pretty good about myself. But as I get up from the dinner table tomorrow night, I know it will be with a groan. Must I really do this?

The twelve laps of the pool took only 8 minutes.

Exercise in the evening

Researchers publishing in Diabetes Care found that the greatest benefit of exercise was in the evening; when we are least likely to feel inclined.(2)

And that even 3 minutes of brisk walking after dinner had benefits for mortality, especially for those with vascular disease; cardio, kidney and eye health.

The real benefit kicks in after 3 minutes when skeletal muscle switches over to aerobic energy pathways.


The good news is that after just a couple months I went with some trepidation for the much feared HbA1c test. Wow, 5.4, and I am in the clear. But I still do my twelve laps most evenings after supper. Even better I haven’t had to cut back on the whole carbs that I love; new potatoes, corn on the cob and our sourdough bread.

But what about that cake? High and holy days only. At seventy-five neither the good wife or I take any medication. We are pretty proud of ourselves, let’s hope there is not a fall in the offing!

In short investing in long-term health pays huge dividends. It’s been said repeatedly by those in the know; drink more water, eat an apple and take a walk. Add to that choosing habits that enable you to sleep better and lead a less stressful lifestyle. When did you last take a continuous three week holiday? Apply the twelve laps principle and you can achieve anything.

Continuous glucose monitors

One of these days I’m going to get one of those new-fangled gadgets called a Continuous Glucose Monitor for just a month; they are quite expensive. First I will have to upgrade my cellphone. It will receive blue-tooth readings of my blood glucose every two minutes telling me exactly which foods are threatening my health in real time; and exactly how much exercise I must do to keep the readings down where they belong. That pasta may have to go for ever; or at least find wholegrain.

The point behind this little anecdote is that those irritating chores can get done; divide them up into twelfths. It swings the statistics in your favour; added vigorous healthy years become more likely.
The ultimate guide to continuous glucose monitoring

Investing in long-term health

Far more difficult was the decision to give up refined carbs for ever. That too I divided up into segments, fifths not twelfths.

The first was easy; white rice at dinner gives me a bellyache so the decision to drop it for ever was not difficult.

In fact is was the grain easiest to forsake but I do enjoy making this green mealie risotto occasionally; fresh corn from the garden with unpolished rice. Using herbs like lemon grass gives the dish wonderful nuances of the East.



The second fifth

The second fifth, the next easiest because I am a beekeeper was to dump sugar for ever. The American Heart Association recommends no more than six teaspoons a day; that's about right but very difficult for most people.

The average American is consuming 17 teaspoons of sugar per day, many far more because of those trying to follow the AHA guidelines.

Perhaps it's easier for doctors; faced recently with a patient going blind from a diabetic retinopathy, deciding to invest in long-term health made it more urgent for me. But it meant that chocolate cake and ice cream were reserved for high and holy days; perhaps once a month.

Despite being a beekeeper I decided, faced with insulin resistance and diabetes that I could enjoy natural honey which astonishingly has a low glycemic index; but to limit it to no more than half a dozen teaspoons a day.

Find local small beekeepers who can assure you they do not heat their honey in any way; once processed it has a GI higher than sugar.

The third fifth

The third fifth proved a lot more difficult but luckily a memory from the distant past helped. In college I was befriended by Steve Forte and his wonderful wife Marilyn. I wonder where they are; in Ohio most likely.

Hi Steve, I doubt you realised it but watching you mill your own wholemeal flour and baking bread bore great fruit many years later in my life.

Giving up cake and bread flour, both highly refined meant investing in a mill; and finding a farmer who grows wheat.

Keeping focused on investing in long-term health makes it easier but still there are challenges. Folk keep pressing you to have a cookie or a slice of cake, particularly at church functions ironically.

Even Christians knowing that their bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit find it difficult to care for their mortal frames; with grave consequences. That's where I was until I discovered that my life could be cut short at any moment by raised blood glucose.

One in four adults will have a stroke; most of them are insulin-resistant.

This bread baked using only 100% wholemeal is truly the best slice in the world; the flavour is outstanding and all the bran, natural wheat fats and sourdough acids slow stomach emptying. There is no profound jump in blood glucose as happens with the commercial loaf.



The fourth fifth

Once you get to your fourth fifth you are more than half way and discover a new freedom; you start to fly and your enthusiasm begins to bloom. It's working; that blood glucose is starting to behave.

Potatoes from cold storage have a very high glycemic index, particular if baked or turned into french fries. Could I give up spuds? Sure I could; and it was made a lot easier when a diabetic patient told me he could enjoy new tatties without having to shoot himself up with extra insulin.

That came as a surprise and I decided to do a literature search. Sure enough new potatoes have a large amount of resistant starch that evades digestion in the small intestine; instead of turning into glucose it goes to feed the microbiome in the colon producing important short-chain fatty acids.

Another patient brought me a bag of seed potatoes; what an astonishing harvest. But for long months when we have none from the garden it means getting my healthy starches from other sources.


The fifth step

By now you sense you are not far from the finishing post and investing in long-term health will be getting easier. We decided to grow our own corn. It is so delicious fresh from the garden; and purchase a stone mill.

Corn starch and refined commercial grits are highly glycemic.

Less inflammation and pain

As every doctor knows raised blood glucose is highly inflammatory. Those who suffer from insulin-resistance are forever having pain in their muscles, slipped discs and neuropathies.

I can truly say that investing in long-term health has meant we have very few of these aches and pains.

It's true that I had an attack of gout recently after an indulgence in too many acidic fruits, and needed three NSAID pills; and the good wife required a sacro-iliac adjustment this week after stumbling. But generally we have very few of these afflictions.

"A committee is a cul de sac down which ideas are lured and then quietly strangled."

- Sir Barnett Cocks


The take home from this essay is that the idea that we can by long-term investment enjoy better health is not a pipe dream; Millions of Blue Zone people have proved it to be true.

I hope I have not lured you down an alleyway that is a cul de sac; and the price to be paid for better health, giving up refined carbs for ever does not strangle the hope that this has created.


Create your own Cyan Zone

Care for the planet in whatever way you can. Look after yourself and the family in every possible manner; not only other people get these preventable diseases.

It will mean a total overhaul of every aspect of your lifestyle; it has in fact been the most rewarding facet of my whole being.

We look upon caring for our bodies as a spiritual duty, on a par with reading of the scriptures and prayer. This human frame is the dwelling place of Almighty God; it behooves us to look after it.

Till next month,


1. Investing in Long-Term Health

2. Best time to exercise for those with obesity and diabetes

Create a cyan zone at your home

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1. Bernard Preston Homepage.

2. Back Issues for Create a Cyan Zone at your home.

x Investing in long-term health

x Diseases from plastic exposure

x A world largely devoid of Parkinson's Disease

x The impact of friendly bacteria in the tum on the prevention of cancer

x There's a hole in the bucket

x Everyone is talking about weight loss drugs

x Pull the sweet tooth

x If you suffer from heartburn plant a susu

x Refined maize meal and stunting

x Should agriculture and industry get priority for electricity and water?

x Nature is calling

x Mill your own flour

x Bake your own sourdough bread

x Alternative types of water storage

x Wear your clothes out

x Comfort foods

x Create a bee-friendly environment

x Go to bed slightly hungry

x Keep bees

x Blue zone folk are religious

x Reduce plastic waste

x Family is important

x What can go in compost?

x Grow broad beans for longevity

x Harvest and store sunshine

x Blue zone exercise

x Harvest and store your rainwater

x Create a cyan zone at your home

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