Getting better at getting better is what Rise With Drew is all about.

Monday through Thursday, we explore ideas from authors, thought leaders, and exemplary organizations. On Friday, I share something about myself or what we are doing at PCI in our quest to earn a spot on Fortune magazine’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.

Here’s a scary statistic: The total cost of chronic disease in the United States is $3.7 trillion each year. That’s approximately 20 percent of our gross domestic product.  

What? Wow. Yes, as a country, one out of every five dollars spent goes toward chronic disease.

Here’s another mind-blowing statistic: 80% of chronic diseases are preventable.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that eliminating three risk factors – poor diet, inactivity, and smoking – would prevent: 80% of heart disease and stroke; 80% of type 2 diabetes; and 40% of cancer.

Another wow. And that’s not all. Having more than four servings daily of “ultra-processed foods” is associated with a 62% increase in morbidity.  

That’s a dangerous metric because about 60% of our calories in the US come from ultra-processed foods.

I first learned about these metrics while taking philosopher Brian Johnson’s fantastic Heroic Coach Program two years ago. The year-long program culminates with a deep dive into what Brian calls the eight “Fundamentals.” I plan to explore each of the fundamentals in the upcoming Fridays. Last week, we looked at the importance of sleep. Today, we turn to food.   

Brian suggests we adopt three rules for food:  

First, don’t drink our sugar. “Sugar is candy for cancer cells,” Brian says. Soda is a toxin, Brian tells us. And fruit juice is the same as a Coke.  

The fastest way to change our lives? Stop doing toxic things.  

Second, throw away what Brian calls “factory food.” A simple rule? If we can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t eat it.  

Brian encourages us to purge all ultra-processed foods from our pantries. What types of foods are we talking about? The Harvard Medical School tells us ultra-processed foods “most likely have many added ingredients such as sugar, salt, fat, and artificial colors or preservatives. Ultra-processed foods are made mostly from substances extracted from foods, such as fats, starches, added sugars, and hydrogenated fats.”  

What has to go? Frozen meals, soft drinks, hot dogs, cold cuts, fast food, packaged cookies, cakes, and salty snacks.

Our goal? Eat real food.

Third, “give ourselves the night off,” Brian tells us. Which means stop eating after sunset. Digestion causes our resting heart rate to increase, which impacts the quality of our sleep. Eating also prompts insulin release, which can shift our circadian rhythm, our body’s sleep-wake cycle. Nighttime heartburn and reflux may also interfere with our sleep.

The answer? Stop eating three to four hours before bedtime.

More next week!


Reflection: What opportunities do I see with Brian’s three food rules to improve my health and well-being?

Action: Commit to doing one thing.

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