Our CEO describes his framework for personal health

One-on-one with Shaun Francis | The three levers to living a long and healthy life

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A few years back, the World Congress of Cardiology staged a remarkable debate that illustrates the extent that expert recommendations can differ at the foremost edge of scientific research. On one side of the stage was McMaster University’s Dr. Salim Yusuf, who had co-authored a study on sodium consumption that found that too little salt can be almost as dangerous as too much. Opposing Dr. Yusuf was the University of Sydney’s Dr. Bruce Neal, a salt outlier who argued that we should all eat less than 2,300 mg of sodium per day—far below average.

What was striking to me was the extent of the disagreement. These were smart doctors armed with the latest research. And yet, the sides disagreed so stridently that the debate became mired in personal insults.

The thing is, medicine and the other disciplines that impact human performance—psychology, physiology, nutrition, you name it—are full of disagreements like this.

Researchers suggest seniors should engage in only moderate exercise roughly three times a week—unless you’re one of the MDs who believe that seniors need to sweat it out in vigorous activity like tennis or jumping rope. Our hearts benefit from cutting consumption of saturated fats—unless you listen to the author of a controversial study that questioned the link between saturated fats and heart disease. And most everyone over 70 would benefit from taking a cholesterol-lowering statin pill—unless you believe statins’ benefits for low-risk patients don’t outweigh the chance of side effects.

Break through the noise to the best approach for you

If you’ve chosen Medcan as your partner in health, you’re likely aware of some of these debates. You recognize that the best approach to maintaining optimum health and performance is a proactive, preventive one. So you work hard to discover new ways to get the most from yourself, and your life. You educate yourself on the latest research in maintaining health and performance.

I do, too. Unlike many, I’m able to speak to many of the MDs and scientists who conduct that research. Some of them work for Medcan. Some of them use Medcan to help them lengthen a healthy life. Because I lead an organization that partners with high performers to achieve optimum wellness, I’ve met Nobel laureates and Navy SEALs; Tour de France cyclists and particle physicists. I ask many of these people how they maintain their edge. Their answers reflect the way the disparate areas of life tie together:health, job performance, physical fitness and mental acuity. The world’s high performers take an active role in maintaining excellence in all such areas.

A framework for personal health that I follow

One approach I came across provided a neat framework for thinking about the maintenance of health and performance. It came from Dr. Michael Parkinson, an MD, a retired colonel in the United States Air Force and the former president of the American College of Preventive Medicine.

“Eat, move and think,” Dr. Parkinson told me. “Those are the three areas of life that will make the most difference to your wellness. Eat, move and think.”

I liked Dr. Parkinson’s approach because of its simplicity. As a high performer, you have lots of demands on your time. You need to focus on the areas of your life where your effort will make the most difference to your wellness.

How “Eat, Move, Think” works

Which is where Dr. Parkinson’s eat, move and think comes in. To me, he nailed the three most important factors in maintaining a healthy lifestyle—diet and nutrition (eat), physical activity (move) and mental health (think).

At Medcan, you come to us for guidance. Recently, we set out on a research effort to ensure that our advice conforms to the best and most robust studies that science has to offer. We spoke to the world’s experts. Sometimes they contradicted one another, and when that happened we gathered together teams within Medcan and synthesized the research into a cohesive set of easy-to-understand guidelines. Here’s the broadest result of that effort:

Eat Well

Nutrition fuels the mind and body to support your health, productivity and performance. The best diet involves eating wholesome and minimally-processed foods, mostly plant-based, in reasonable portions. We don’t buy into fads or diets. Rather, we believe that arming you with knowledge about your genetics, allergies, microbiome and biochemistry will assist you to refine your food choices.

Move Well

The decision to engage in regular physical activity is the most important lifestyle change you can make to increase the likelihood of living a long and active life. We believe the best training plan involves a personalized mix of strength training, cardio and flexibility training—with specific fitness goals, and actionable plans to achieve them.

Think Well

Your brain is the most powerful tool you have. It dictates your mood and can help or hinder your ability to navigate the mental, physical and emotional challenges of everyday life. It’s crucial in the pursuit of a happy, healthy, and purposeful life. Achieving this life means overcoming mental hurdles and obstacles. A fit mind is exercised regularly using tactics such as positive self-talk, focus, visualization, proper sleep hygiene, energy management and mindfulness.

‘Eat, Move, Think’ builds upon world-class medicine

The knowledge collected by regular and thorough health assessments sets the foundation for and guides the ‘Eat, Move, Think’ approach.  Our physician-led screenings identify risk or presence of disease, often before symptoms are felt. Our commitment to the most advanced technology and post-assessment support ensures you get the best treatment when you need it.  Our physicians are committed to developing long-term relationships with you to help manage your wellbeing through lifestyle and medical approaches. Evidenced-based medicine underpins the three principles to the Medcan approach to health.

I look forward to sharing with you more insight from my conversations and interactions with the global experts and innovators I meet in my exploration of this ever-evolving field. Stay tuned—the best is yet to come.

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