When it comes to leaders in functional nutrition, few are as distinguished and respected as Dr. Jonny Bowden. Bowden is known for his ability to turn complicated scientific research into information that can be easily understood by the general population. But his role of renowned nutritionist is actually Bowden’s second profession.
Bowden started out as a professional musician but eventually grew bored with the music industry and decided a career change was in order. His interest in health and exercise soon led to a career as a personal trainer; Bowden trained by day and performed shows by night. Eventually he was offered a job at the original Equinox in New York, where he quickly established himself as the Equinox media spokesman.
With this new role came the opportunity to meet some of the most respected professionals in the industry, such as biochemist Barry Sears. Dr. Sears is the creator of the Zone diet, which contains higher levels of protein and fat than those recommended by Sears’ contemporaries within the mainstream medical profession. As Bowden listened to Sears blow out the myths surrounding high-carbohydrate diets, he soon immersed himself in many other aspects of nutrition.
After completing his PhD in holistic nutrition, Bowden garnered his first book deal in 2000 for Jonny Bowden’s Shape Up!: The 8-Week Program to Transform Your Body, Your Health, and Your Life (Perseus Publishing, 2001). His second book was the must-read Living the Low Carb Life: Choosing the Diet That’s Right for You (Sterling Publishing, 2003), which earned the prestigious Consumer’s Choice award for “Best Nutrition Book” and sold over 100,000 copies. With this publishing breakthrough, offers for other books soon followed. Among Bowden’s works are these bestsellers: The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth, The Healthiest Meals on Earth and The Most Effective Natural Cures on Earth. He also produced several DVDs and gained recognition as a public speaker.
In addition to being a bestselling author, Bowden has been featured in numerous magazines, including GQ, Muscle and Fitness, Men’s Health, Cosmopolitan and Oxygen. He also has made numerous guest appearances as an industry expert on NBC, CBS, FOX and CNN and other television networks.
As a result of his success, athletes, fitness enthusiasts, law enforcement professionals and fitness enthusiasts began to recognize Bowden as one of the best sources of practical nutrition knowledge. And when asked to share his knowledge with the Poliquin readership and law enforcement community, Bowden was happy to provide the following expert insight.
Q: What are your thoughts on the current state of nutrition within the law enforcement community?
A: Due to the stress of shift work, these professionals need to be vigilant in their nutritional efforts. The most important nutritional factor for optimal health is to stop focusing on fat as the culprit and start focusing on sugar. Cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Sugar leads to inflammation, and inflammation can lead to heart disease. Heart disease can result from a number of factors. The top five are inflammation, oxidative damage, glycation, infection and stress.
Q: What is glycation?
A: Glycation is the binding of uncleared blood sugar to the proteins contained in red blood cells. This leads to issues in circulation and advanced aging. If the blood sugar levels are constantly elevated, as seen in highly processed carbohydrate diets, the risk of glycation increases exponentially.
Q: What are some of the challenges in healthy eating for patrol officers?
A: Limiting processed carbohydrates can be a major obstacle for many. These comfort foods are quick and easy, especially for those working midnight shifts or for those who are always on the run. It is important to understand the hormonal effects of food. Some foods stimulate the hormone insulin, which is responsible for storing fat. Keeping this fat storage hormone at bay with healthy, low-glycemic-load food choices can have a significant impact on weight control and overall health.
Q: Aside from avoiding processed foods, trans fats and high-glycemic-load foods, do you have any other constructive suggestions?
A: Creating support groups can be of significant benefit. That is the one thing many of those commercial weight loss programs do very well. They create group accountability. Support groups are a proven asset when trying to lose weight. Contests with monetary reward also can be quite effective.
Q: Many patrol officers work late night shifts. Do you have any recommendations for these professionals who oftentimes have convenience stores as their only source of food late at night?
A: This is a difficult one. Nuts and raisins are some of the best choices offered at small convenience stores. String cheese is another option. Some convenience stores have apples and peanut butter. Another option may be beef jerky; the problems with factory farmed beef jerky are unhealthy levels of antibiotics and pro-inflammatory omega 6 fatty acids. Officers with blood pressure issues may want to avoid factory farmed beef jerky, as it can be very high in sodium. Sugar-laden energy drinks should also be avoided.
Q: What are your thoughts on caffeine and coffee?
A: It is true that caffeinated coffee does raise blood pressure, but this normalizes after five minutes. Coffee contains polyphenols, which are potent antioxidants used by the body to fight infection, oxidative stress and other age-related symptoms.
Q: What is the healthiest way to drink coffee?
A: Stay away from sugar, low-fat dairy, and soy. For a more optimal insulin response, heavy cream and cinnamon are options. Another is half and half, with cinnamon and/or stevia.
Q: What are your top 10 food recommendations for law enforcement professionals?
A: Berries, wild-caught salmon, grass-fed beef, nuts (macadamia, Brazil and walnuts), leafy green vegetables, green tea, pomegranate, apples, 65 percent cocoa dark chocolate, and red wine.
Q: Do you have any anti-aging snack recommendations?
A: Every night before I go to bed I mix together a snack consisting of the following:
· Frozen blueberries and cherries
· Total-fat yogurt from a local farm. Total-fat Greek yogurt is a good substitute.
· Almond milk
· Barleans flax meal
· Coconut flakes
Mix these all together in a bowl for a treat. The berries provide a great source of antioxidants. Along with their many other benefits, the whole-fat yogurt, almond milk, coconut and flax meal provide high-quality anti-inflammatory fatty acids.
Q: Because stress is a major part of the daily life of any law enforcement professional, do you have any quick tips on stress reduction?
A: Deep breathing exercises. Just four minutes a day of breathing exercises can aid in decreasing elevated blood pressure levels. Green tea is another great option, as it contains the amino acid theanine. Theanine is known to prevent excitatory neurotransmitters from binding to their receptor sites, therefore keeping anxiety and nervous jitters at bay.
Q: Any tips for those with sleep problems?
A: Do not watch TV before going to bed. Make sure there is no light in the room. Supplement aids include inositol and melatonin. Inositol is a member of the B vitamin family that aids in restoring optimal neurotransmitter production, while melatonin is a hormone responsible for sleep patterns and circadian rhythm.
Q: How about hypertension?
A: Magnesium and a low-sodium diet.
Q: Elevated serum triglycerides?
A: The most effective way to decrease serum triglyceride levels is a low-carbohydrate diet.
Q: Joint aches and pains?
A: Fish oil. Cherries are another great option, as they contain compounds known as anthocyanins. Anthocyanins are especially effective in combating gout and inflammation, and they also have potential in lowering the risk of stroke and heart attack.
Q: Low energy?
A: Most people have low energy because they do not sleep enough or they have too much stress. Better-quality sleep and stress reduction are critical. Supplement recommendations include CoQ10, carnitine and optimal B vitamin levels.
Q: Mental focus?
A: Once again, fish oil. Higher-protein diets are effective here. High-quality chunk light tuna fish is another option. It contains high amounts of the amino acid tyrosine, which converts into dopamine, a neurotransmitter responsible for focus, drive and concentration.