Richard Purvis’s newly published book, “Recalibrate: Six Secrets to Resetting Your Age” offers some age-old wisdom on which there is almost universal agreement, exercise and get enough sleep (Secrets 2 and 6). But the subjects of nutritional intake and supplements (Secrets 1 and 3) are just the opposite—we all hear a wide range of conflicting views. Purvis, after years of research (much of which is listed in 25 pages at the back of the book), offers his conclusions on those much-debated subjects. Rounding out his six secrets are intermittent fasting (Secret 4) and healthy gut (Secret 5).
Healthy diet became a big topic of discussion in our own extended family after a young pediatrician in our midst, concerned about all the overweight children he was seeing, took a suitcase full of research books on weight and diet on a vacation in Mexico. After a week of heavy reading, he concluded the typical American high-in-carbohydrates diet, and in particular sugar, was the primary suspect. Mexican officials, however, didn’t believe a tourist would bring a suitcase full of obesity research and flagged him—they went through every book, searching for hidden contraband. But our pediatrician made it home and decided on one simple piece of advice for his patients. Recognizing he couldn’t dramatically alter their eating habits, he thought their health could be improved if they could just follow one simple suggestion—cut out soda and sweetened drinks.
Purvis, a Stapleton resident, came to a similar conclusion. His first suggestion in the nutritional intake chapter is that it is necessary to significantly reduce or eliminate sugar and other sweeteners from our diets in order to maximize our health. He suggests checking the sugar content of packaged products; many are very high.
For carbohydrates, Purvis says eat lots of vegetables, smaller portions for higher carb ones like yams and squash. Limit fruit due to its sugar content. And he has chosen to eliminate grains from his diet, though he says those made with sprouted or sourdough grains are more digestible and better able to release nutrients.
For protein, Purvis recommends a fist-sized portion of pasture-raised meats or fish. He also recommends grass-fed dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt).
And he emphasizes that the right fats, particularly those high in omega-3, are healthy and needed by our bodies. “Our hunter-gatherer ancestors consumed omega-6 and omega-3 fats in a ratio of approximately 1:1. Today we consume almost 20 times more omega-6 fats.” Many of the commonly used cooking oils are high in omega-6. He points out that research has shown that inflammation leads to numerous health issues—and that a higher intake of omega-3 (and a lower intake of omega-6) can be beneficial in reducing inflammation. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed animals have more omega-3 than those from grain-fed animals.
The nutritional intake chapter includes meal and snack suggestions and an acknowledgment that it’s ok to have an occasional dessert. A small amount of dark chocolate and red wine are indulgences Purvis enjoys in moderation.
On the subject of supplements (Secret 3), Purvis acknowledges his many years of working in the supplements industry, but says, “I now realize the use (or overuse) of dietary supplements is overall an absolute waste of money”—though he lists four exceptions, the first two being omega-3 and vitamin D.
Research on intermittent fasting (Secret 4) has shown benefits in brain function, loss of body fat, lowered blood pressure, improved heart health and improved insulin sensitivity, says Purvis. And it may help prevent degenerative brain diseases and cancer and may extend your lifespan. He cites a variety of fasting methods and encourages people to choose the one that works best for them. Purvis’s personal choice is a method, called “Peak Fasting,” with a fasting period of 14–16 hours each day.
On the subject of having a healthy gut (Secret 5), Purvis says, “There are scientific indications the Western population’s microbiome has changed in the last century and not for the better.” What may be the cause of this change? The book cites processed foods, chlorinated/chemically treated water, sugar, overuse of antibiotics, artificial sweeteners, increased C-section deliveries, formula-fed babies and gluten.
Lifestyle choices hinge on many factors, not the least of which are time and money. But for those with an interest in reassessing how they might live a more healthy life, Purvis offers readable explanations of his secrets and, at the end of this 203-page book, lots of references for those who may want to do further reading.