Dr. Jonny Bowden is a popular expert on nutrition, longevity, and weight loss. He is the author of five books on health and nutrition and has contributed to newspapers and magazines like The New York Times and Time magazine, as well as many TV, radio and online programs. Of special interest to this Pilates website, Jonny Bowden is currently the nutrition editor for Pilates Style Magazine.
I have been using Dr. Bowden's book The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth as a reference for several years now, and I was just starting to hear about his new book The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer (January 2010) when I got the chance to interview him. I took the opportunity to ask Dr. Bowden questions about weight loss, getting more energy, nutrition, improving flexibility, and even about eating for Pilates and exercise. He is as energetic on the phone as you would expect a health and nutrition expert to be so we covered a lot of good information in a short time, so read on.
M.O.: As the author of the book 150 Most Effective Ways to Boost Your Energy, I wonder if you have few top tips about how to get more energy that you could share.
J.B.: My view on energy is this: Energy is like water in the palm of your hand. It's very hard to grasp. If you try to grab it, it squirts all over the place. But if you create a cup of the palm, energy will just come in. That's a metaphor for me for energy. Here's why: You can't really do anything to get energy, but what you can do is set the condition in which you can allow energy to come in.
Our energy levels when we are children are enormous, but conditions of life start to slow us down - we eat the wrong food, we don't get enough sleep, we multi-task even though all the research now shows that multi-tasking is a complete myth. We set the conditions under which it is almost impossible to experience energy.
My book is about ways to create conditions in the body where we can allow that natural flow of energy to be there. For example, eating whole foods, protein at every meal, getting off a low fat diet, taking the proper supplements, protecting our joints with things like omega 3s omega 3 fatty acids and shea nut oil, reducing stress and probably the most important, the removal of toxic relationships and having honest communications. One exercise in the book is to have a powerful conversation - where you state your truth and listen to that of another. This is very energizing. If you have a lot of different things taking up psychic space - worries, withholds, white lies, things that are unresolved it makes it hard to feel optimistic and energetic.
M.O.: Making positive health choices like getting fit and losing weight has a big psychological component. It's often not lack of information that is holding people back. Would you talk a little bit about what people can do to get themselves in the right place, mentally, for success?
J.B.: I recorded a CD set a while ago called 9 Essential Steps to Weight Loss, and step number one is scrupulous honesty. A lot of people jump into making these changes without doing the groundwork. You have to ask yourself, is this something I really want to do? We have been so brainwashed into thinking we have to lose weight and get fit that most of us see it as an obligation. I think you first have to give yourself permission to not choose it otherwise you won't be doing it for yourself, and your odds of success are very small. So be mentally prepared by doing an honest self-inventory and asking yourself, is this something I really want to do?
M.O.: A lot of people want more flexibility, and there is a lot of stretching going on, but I think there is a nutritional component. Would you talk about that?
J.B.: There is an enormous nutritional component to flexibility. Now that is not to discard the physical, the stretching, and activity. We tell everybody to get up and start moving around. Even if it's just walking. Protecting the joints and reducing inflammation are two sides of the same coin and one of the most important health strategies you can embark on. My go-to strategy is omega 3 fats from fish oil.
M.O.: A long-time vegetarian, I jump in here asking about flax oil as a source of Omega 3 fatty acids since many of us either don't eat fish or have some reservations about fish oil.
J.B.: Is flax bad? No. But all the research showing health benefits has been on the kind of omega 3s found in fish. Your body can make those from the kind found in flax, but it does a really bad job. So you have to take a lot of it. Get the good stuff in a bottle, and take more than you think you'll need.
The other thing I like for anti-inflammation, and it's new but there is very promising research on it, is high triterpene shea nut oil. The only product that sells it right now is a product called Flexnow. Then there are anti-inflammatory foods. One powerful one is quercetin, and it's found in apples and onions. So an anti-inflammatory diet and supplement program is really important for laying down the groundwork for things that give us energy and health
M.O.: Would anti-inflammatory supplements and foods be your main element in terms of flexibility or is there another component in terms of muscle responsiveness? In my latest book, The Most Effective Ways to Live Longer, I talk about what I call the 4 horsemen of aging. They are 4 processes that know no boundaries - they screw up the brain, the heart, the immune system. The 4 horsemen are stress, glycation, oxidative damage, and inflammation. The one that impacts the muscles and joints the most is inflammation, followed by oxidative damage. So number one for joints and muscles is anti-inflammation. Number 2 is antioxidants. There are tons of foods with antioxidants. My book, 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth is full of them.
Next, Jonny Bowden on Weight Loss