SEE - sleep, eat and exercise - your way healthy, doctor says
Dr. Don Mertens is thanked by Leo DelZotto, President of Tridel & Cardiac Health Foundation Of Canada for his informative talk on his soon to be published book “SEE you way to better Health” as part of the lecture series.
Leo DelZotto - President, Dr. Don Mertens - lecturer and Barbara Kennedy -
Executive Director, at the recent TRIDEL Sponsored cross promotional Lunch & Learn Lecture for the Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada at Delmanor Northtown.
* Photos courtesy of Jason Farrugia
- GM SNAP North York
You can SEE yourself to good health.
SEE, which stands for proper sleeping, eating and exercising, are the three pillars of healthy living advocated by Dr. Don Mertens, a medical lecturer at the University of Toronto for the past 37 years.
"This is by no means a new idea," Mertens acknowledged during a Wednesday lecture at Delmanor Northtown, a retirement residence on Yonge street south of Finch Avenue.
While the father of medicine, Hippocrates, pointed to the need for adequate sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise about 400 B.C., Mertens argued the message is more relevant than ever today because almost half of modern illnesses can be blamed on people's poor lifestyles.
Mertens, who among his other credentials is a consultant to Rouge Valley Health System's cardiac rehabilitation program, walked the audience through the dynamics of his SEE program.
The need for sleep depends on a person's age, with babies needing 18 hours a day, teenagers requiring nine to 10 hours and adults needing seven to nine hours.
But in today's society, a good night's sleep is often a luxury.
While many people find themselves victims of disorders, such as sleep apnea, an increasing number can blame lifestyle demands for depriving them of much-needed sleep, Mertens said.
“That is a huge mistake,” he said, adding chronic lack of sleep contributes to a number illnesses such as depression, coronary artery disease, strokes, fibromyalgia, obesity and immune deficiencies.
What’s more, the quality of sleep declines over time.
“sleep is much more fragmented as we age,” Mertens said.
His hints for a better night's sleep to include establishing a regular bedtime routine, avoiding napping during the day, avoiding alcohol two hours before bedtime and coffee and tobacco four hours before tuning in, establishing a regular exercise routine but avoiding strenuous physical activity right before bedtime and using the bedroom for only sleeping and sex.
His tips for healthy eating include food choices such as cherries, blueberries, grapes, pomegranates, dark leafy vegetables, tomatoes, whole grains - especially oats and flax - and foods rich in omegas 3 and 6 such as flax, nuts and ground salba seeds.
While protein is important, he advised opting for a four-ounce steak with three side dishes of vegetables, rather than the excessive meat portions now offered by many restaurants.
“A plant-based diet is the way we should be going,” Mertens said.
As for exercise, he pointed out humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, activities which required constant physical exertion.
But three “revolutions” over thousands of years have resulted in many people becoming little more tan couch potatoes today.
The agricultural revolution meant people could live in one place for the first time an the emergence of a noble class created a portion of population who were sedentary.
The Industrial Revolution saw machines take over tasks traditionally performed by people.
“Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult to find any job that relies only on human labour.” Mertens said.
Finally, there is the computer revolution where the world is only a mouse click away.
“We now have to think of exercise. Something that all of us had to do every day for survival has become something we have to think about,” Mertens said.
He recommends exercising an hour every day.
But for people who live a sedentary life, Mertens suggests making small changes, even as simple as getting up and moving during television commercials.
“If you engage in small changes they will add up to big changes and it will rewire your brain,” he said.
The lecture was held in support of North York's Cardiac Health Foundation of Canada, on Lawrence Avenue west of Dufferin Street, a charitable organization dedicated to supporting cardiac rehabilitation and providing education about heart health.
The articles, on the Canadian Cardiac Rehabilitation Foundation website, are presented with the understanding that the Foundation is providing information only and not rendering medical advise. Please check with your family physician, specialist or health care professional before implementing any of the ideas expressed in these articles.