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The 6 Pillars of Health that Boost Weight Loss and Longevity

Doctors explain the combination of key lifestyle habits that make a difference—and diet and exercise are only part of the solution

Many of us are looking for a magic bullet when it comes to shedding excess pounds or dramatically improving our health. We might reach for one diet, one pill or one exercise routine. But Dave Asprey, considered the father of biohacking (or improving your health), says, “It’s not going to be one thing, it’s going to be combination of the things” layered together that work for you. He should know. He lost more than 100 pounds and lowered his biological age 19 years by taking a multifaceted approach to his health. One way many people are doing the same thing is by focusing on the pillars of health — a collection of interconnected lifestyle fundamentals that help contribute to overall wellness. Keep reading to learn 6 pillars of health that can boost your weight loss results, strengthen your health and improve your longevity.

How can the pillars of health help you?

Many experts have narrowed in on at least 6 powerful and study-backed pillars of health. And a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition from the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs found that veterans who followed a version of these habits lived up to 25 years longer than their peers! Retired physician Mary Bergman, MD, explains, “There are all these different pillars. There’s socialization, there is your healthy eating, there is exercise, there is sleep… It becomes a way of life.” Dr. Bergman lost 160 pounds (and has kept them off for 3 years) by making multiple positive changes to her lifestyle, including eating a whole foods plant-based diet, walking for exercise, socializing and de-stressing.

The 6 pillars of health

Anthony Puopolo II, MD, who specializes in family medicine and psychiatry, teaches his telehealth patients at LifeMD about these 6 pillars all the time. He calls them the “6 S’s” that can improve any weight-loss intervention, while boosting overall health and longevity. If you’re ready to experience the feel-great benefits, keep reading…

Pillar of health #1: Stillness

It’s easy in our busy, modern world to feel distracted and pulled in multiple directions. But that chaos can harm our health goals. Instead, strive to calm your body and tap into the power of positive self-talk.

Using a car analogy, Dr. Puopolo says, “Think of your thoughts like a GPS in your car. They keep you on track for your goals.” So during your get-healthy journey, focus on the here and now rather than ruminate over yesterday and overthink tomorrow. Dr. Puopolo finds, “There’s an unlimited wealth of energy, peace, joy, ease and lightness that only comes when there’s silence outside and stillness within.” Click to learn how mindfulness can fight food noise naturally.

Pillar of health #2: Sleep

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Rest is crucial for optimal digestion and healing. Think of it like recharging the battery on an electric vehicle. Strive for 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night, even if it is broken up. Dr. Puopolo encourages women, especially those struggling with menopausal sleep disturbances, to “focus more on overall sleep patterns and not worry about one or two nights of lost sleep.”

Lighting and temperature can play crucial roles in sleep quality, especially as women age. Click to learn how one woman used a cooling mattress pad to overcome her chronic fatigue.

“We talk a lot about the pillars of health in our society: diet, exercise, sleep being one of them. I argue that sleep is the bedrock for health,” shared sleep expert Shelby Harris, PsyD, on a recent episode of the We Can Do Hard Things podcast. As the Clinical Associate Professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the departments of Neurology and Psychiatry explained, “when it comes to all the areas of functioning, really, sleep is the thing that keeps things going.” She cites sleep’s effect on our memory, mood, cardiovascular risk, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and stress. If you’re not focused on sleep, she adds, “then you’re missing out on a big component.”

Pillar of health #3: Sustenance

We’re talking about quality whole foods. It’s important to put the right fuel in your body, just like in a car. When it comes to nutrition, Dr. Puopolo has simple rules: Limit processed food and reach for protein to protect muscle mass, especially when cravings disappear. Eat around 1.5 grams of protein daily per every 2.2 pounds of your ideal body weight.

And weight-loss expert Melina Jampolis, MD, author of Spice Up, Slim Down, adds that eating a type of prebiotic fiber called resistant starch, found in green bananas, nuts and oats, can naturally support our weight and health goals. She says, “I recently found a protein bar called Supergut that seems to help. I’ve personally noticed a difference in appetite. It’s crazy!”

Read more: Top Doc Calls Resistant Starch a ‘Game Changer’ — Here’s How It Boosts Weight Loss

Pillar of health #4: Sweat

Think of exercise — even walking — as the lubricant you put in your car that makes it move more efficiently. “You can’t leave a car in the garage for six years and expect it to run well. It needs to be driven.” And if you’re taking popular weight loss medications like GLP-1s like Ozempic while exercising, be sure to eat carbs within 12 hours of working out, for energy.

Sweat is also a great way to flush trapped toxins from the body that might be stalling your weight loss progress. One way to do it is by visiting a sauna at a local gym or spa.

Pillar of health #5: Stress management

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Chronic stress can be extremely damaging to our health and metabolism. So make efficient use of your energy — like knowing when to use “eco mode” in a car. Tune in to when to rev your engine (to get through a big task) and when to relax and coast.

Also look for ways to set boundaries and practice self-care. That care might come in the form of meditation, journaling, prayer or yoga. Also consider snacking on foods known to help lower the stress hormone cortisol in the body.

Pillar of health #6: Social interactions

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Think of the other people on the journey with you. Let social interactions build you up, and spend time with people who support your health goals. Just ask Dr. Bergman, who continues to stay healthy and trim by participating in a social walking club in her community.

In fact, socializing has been highlighted as one of the characteristics of “Blue Zones,” regions around the globe known for fostering healthy, long-living populations. Dan Buettner, researcher and best-selling author of The Blue Zones Solution, says, “As I have found through all my journeys to the Blue Zones of the world, one of the most dependable, universal means to greater health and happiness is to simply socialize more.”

These 6 pillars of health really work

These 6 pillars of health seem to work synergistically with one another. So highlighting more than one of these areas can lead to even greater results. The multi-pronged approach worked for Dr. Puopolo. At age 52, he thought he was doing everything right for his health and weight by just exercising. But he kept gaining unwanted pounds. “The Buddha belly was there and just not going away,” he says. So he decided to utilize a combination of lifestyle approaches and finally found success. He lost 40 pounds in a little over a year and has kept them off. Now he’s using that experience to better help his patients.

Dr. Puopolo says, “It’s about giving people an action plan and the tools and confidence to work toward success.” By doing so, he says, “we’re going to really help a lot of people not just lose weight and keep it off, but also optimize their overall health.”

This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.

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