SuperFoods doc makes house calls | AspenTimes.com

SuperFoods doc makes house calls

Steve Alldredge
Snowmass Village correspondent

Last year, Dr. Steven Pratt spoke before a sold-out audience at the Given Institute in Aspen and introduced us to 14 “super foods” as part of an anti-aging diet that also helps prevent disease.

His ideas have proven very popular. The book became a national best seller, and Dr. Pratt has appeared on “Today,” “Oprah” and “The View.”

This year, Dr. Pratt returns to Roaring Fork Valley celebrating his new book “SuperFoods HealthStyle: Proven Strategies for Lifelong Health.” Once again he will speak at the Given Institute, appearing in a public lecture at 5:30 on Aug. 28. A “meet the author” cocktail party in a private home will take place Aug. 26.

“SuperFoods Rx looked at the way certain foods have significant health-promoting abilities,” said Dr. Pratt, between patients in his doctor’s office in La Jolla, Calif. “SuperFoods HealthStyle takes the ‘best foods’ concept one step further and creates a blueprint for optimal health.”

You’ve got to love any healthy diet that includes chocolate.

“Dark chocolate provides some of the biggest bang in health benefits for a small amount of money and calories,” said Dr. Pratt. “I enjoy two squares of dark chocolate just before bed, knowing that its beneficial antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are helping my system.”

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After writing about foods that are beneficial to us in his first book, Dr. Pratt expands his views on health in his new book.

Said Dr. Pratt, “I found that food is only one part of the equation. After looking at my research I found that four other areas form the basis for good health and a long life: exercise, stress reduction, adequate sleep and portion control.”

Sleep may be a surprising key to good health, since most of us manage with whatever sleep we get. Dr. Pratt’s research has offered a different point a view. In his new book he details how important sleep is to health, obesity, diabetes and mental functioning. In one study, sleep-lacking interns made 36 percent more mistakes than interns with a proper amount of sleep.

“A sleep-deprived adult has the mental functioning ability of someone who is legally drunk,” said Dr. Pratt. According to his research, a person with insufficient sleep will show signs of pre-diabetes. “The easiest way to lower healthcare costs is to increase our hours of sleep.”

Dr. Pratt’s latest research has also shown how the four seasons are connected to our health. “We are hard wired to be seasonal creatures,” said Dr. Pratt. “Foods appeal to us differently from one season to the next. A hearty food like a casserole may not be as appealing in the heat of summer than it would in winter. I think you find the freshest and most delicious foods when you eat according to the season.”

Weight control is a key pillar to Dr. Pratt’s healthy lifestyle. He notes that prehistoric humans had to burn calories to get food. Now, we don’t have that built-in exercise so we don’t burn enough calories naturally. According to Dr. Pratt the key to weight control is watching the amount of food we eat.

“Two-thirds of Americans are either overweight or obese. Portion control is the easiest way to control calorie intake,” said Dr. Pratt. “It is the most commonly ignored element of weight control, even with people who know about nutrition.”

Another important habit to Dr. Pratt is getting enough movement in our lives. Said Dr. Pratt, “For our ancestors, the equation was simple: move or die. Exercise is the single critical change you can make in your life to begin moving immediately toward better health. Use the stairs, carry packages instead of putting them in a shopping cart, do your own yard work or park the car a little bit further from the store and walk a bit more.”

To Dr. Steven Pratt, a healthy life comes down to eating goods foods like the ones he outlines in SuperFoods, and then adding exercise, portion control, stress reduction and sleep. In his opinion, if we do these things we’ll live longer and better.

“It really comes down to common sense,” said Dr. Pratt. “In reality, Grandma was right. Most of those things she was trying to get us to do have proven to help us over the years.”

His next local house call begins this weekend. For more information on Dr. Pratt’s local appearances, call the Aspen Given Foundation at 925-3730.