#33 5 Steps to a Healthier Life [Podcast]

Not living a healthier life can be costly as you age. USA Today recently reported that the top retirement concern for people over age 50 is healthcare costs. In fact growing older and being unhealthy can be financially disastrous. It just makes sense, to take a proactive approach to investing in your health.

INVEST WISELY: 5 Steps to a Healthier Life with Corbin Links

Corbin Links not only talks the talk, he has walked the walk. His 12-year journey to living a healthy lifestyle included tons of research on nutrition slowly creating healthier habits that helped him lose over 80 lbs. Today, his is a walking encyclopedia of health and nutrition.

In this episode we explore (in detail)  his 5 steps to living a healthier life. We discuss:

  • How to approach your journey to living healthier
  • Why it's important to get out in front of your health issues
  • How to simply evaluate your current health condition (beyond physical fitness)
  • The value of making small incremental changes
  • His 5 steps to living healthier today (and the science behind it)
    • Mineralized water
    • Green juice
    • Sleep
    • Probiotics
    • Magnesium

How to learn more:

PLAN WELL:   How does working affect Social Security Survivor Benefits?

Last week a listener e-mailed me this question.

Here are the facts about Social Security Survivor Benefits that we discuss in this episode:

  • The Social Security Administration's resource on the topic.
  • If you are under Full Retirement Age (FRA) and receive a survivor benefit it can be reduced based on the income you earn. Here is the current table.
  • Once you reach FRA, your survivor benefit will not be reduced.
  • A spouse survivor can receive 100% of the worker's benefit at Full Retirement Age (FRA).
  • If you are 60 or over but under FRA, you'll receive between 77-99% of the benefit.
  • A surviving spouse of any age with children 16 or under can receive 75% of the worker's benefit.

Question: What steps are you taking to invest in your health?

Tweet to @roger_whitney

[spoiler]

The Retirement Answer Man Episode #33

Well, welcome! This is Roger Whitney. I am the Retirement Answer Man and this is the show dedicated to helping you live well today without sacrificing your tomorrow, and I think that’s a balance we’re all trying to achieve. Each week, I bring a Plan Well and Invest Wisely segment to help you make smarter financial decisions in your life.

Today, we’re going to talk about, well, in our Plan Well segment, we’re going to answer a listener question. I received a question about widow benefits, or widower benefits, on Social Security and what happens if you work. Are those benefits affected? So, I’m going to answer that question.

And then, in our Invest Wisely segment, I talk with Corbin Links at corbinlinks.com. Now, Corbin and I have gotten to know each other over the last six or seven months or so. Corbin is a really interesting guy. He’s an IT guy, a very deep thinker. He has a personal journey becoming healthy, losing over 80 pounds and really living a vibrant life now. He’s going to share some of his research on how to live healthier so you can invest in your health which is probably one of the best investments you can ever make. So, that’s what we’re going to talk about with Corbin on the Investing Wisely segment.

You can find me at rogerwhitney.com – that is the home of the Retirement Answer Man.

On Friday, I posted a video on how much – let me say this again – I posted a video and the topic was how much retirement income is enough, and this video was produced by Dimensional’s Vice President of Research Marlena Lee, Phd. So, she’s a very smart lady. She and her team at Dimensional did a lot of research on how much income you need to have during retirement in terms of replacement of your income and it’s a great three-minute video. It’s probably one of the most common questions I get as the Retirement Answer Man. They’ve also produced a pretty detailed research report detailing their findings which I posted to the Retirement Answer Library.

If you watched the video and it – whoa! I got some AC/DC starting here. Hold on. Let me turn that off. There we go. That’s the next queue in the iTunes, I guess. But, if you watched the video and you find it intriguing, you can register for the Retirement Answer Library at rogerwhitney.com and the full research report is available there.

All right. Well, before we get started today, we need to have the all-important disclosure and that is only you know your entire financial situation so consider this podcast and my blog helpful hints in education because I don’t know anything about you. All I know is the journey that I’ve been on over the last 23 years professionally and with countless individuals walking that same path that you may be walking right now. So, this is just educational material. Before you make any decisions on anything we talk about – or really anything you read on the internet – make sure you consult the people that are walking that journey with you – that could be your tax advisor, your legal advisor, or your financial advisor. That’s not just a great legal disclosure, that’s a fundamental principle of planning well and investing wisely.

Well, in our Plan Well segment today, I want to answer a question from a listener. I received an email and I will read it to you here:

“I am 60. Can I work full-time and collect survivor benefits from Social Security?”

Well, let’s talk about Social Security Survivor Benefits. Whether you’re a widow or a widower, at Full Retirement Age, you can get 100 percent of the worker’s benefit, assuming that your deceased spouse was the primary worker in the family. If you take retirement before or that retirement benefit before Full Retirement Age, say, 60 or older, you’re going to receive about 77 to 99 percent of that full retirement benefit. So, if you’re a widow or a widower, and you want to receive the survivor benefit and you’re 60 but still under Full Retirement Age, you’re going to get a reduced benefit based on a percentage which works off of your age.

Now, the exception to that is, if you have children under age 16, you would receive 75 percent of the survivor benefits. So, even if you’re 30 years old and you have young ones in the house and you have a deceased spouse who was the primary earner, you can receive 75 percent of the Social Security benefit starting right then.

Now, to your question, you’re 60 and you want to receive survivor benefits from Social Security and you’re wondering, if you work full-time, can you still do that? The answer is a “yes, but…” Yes, you can receive the survivor benefits, but your earnings are going to be reduced based on your income if you’re under Full Retirement Age and I’ll put a link to the Social Security site that will explain how that gets decreased based on your earnings.

So, yes, you can receive the survivor benefits but, if you’re working, you’re going to have some income limitations that can reduce that benefit based on your earnings.

Now, once you reach Full Retirement Age – in fact, the month you reach Full Retirement Age – there’s no earnings limit on your survivor benefit. But, prior to Full Retirement Age, there is. And, if you have children or anyone else that’s receiving that benefit, the only reduction in benefits are going to be on yours only. So, if you have survivor benefits for children or other family members, those won’t be reduced based on the earnings that you have.

A couple of other facts about receiving survivor benefits are that, generally, you cannot remarry before age 60 or you won’t get those survivor benefits. But, if you’re after age 60 and you get married, you can file for survivor benefits and then, ultimately, when you reach 62, you can get benefits based off of your current spouse so you get to choose whichever is higher.

Hopefully this answers your question on whether you can receive survivor benefits and the effects on income when you’re 60 years old can have on those benefits.

Now, we’re going to move to our Invest Wisely segment. In the Invest Wisely segment, I speak with Corbin Links. Now, Corbin is a long-term entrepreneur and IT consultant. He had a long journey from living a very unhealthy lifestyle and being very overweight to losing over 80 pounds and living very vibrantly right now. When I first met Corbin, I was struck by the energy that he had and just how healthy he looked. So, we started talking about it and Corbin’s one of those guys that goes real deep into a subject and he has a specific method that he uses to invest in his health over time and it’s a little bit outside of the simple “diet and exercise” vein that we hear most often. It goes to probiotics and minerals and things that are a little outside of traditional health care and health management, and he does his research and that’s what I like about him. He can go deep under points that he makes to show supporting research as to what he does and how he lives healthily.

It’s a little bit long because we have a really deep, in-depth conversation. But, if you’re looking to invest in your health which is one of the best investments you can make as you walk that journey towards retirement from a financial perspective and a lifestyle perspective, I think you’ll enjoy this conversation with Corbin.

ROGER: So, Corbin, one of the things I preach – I guess, for a lack of a better word – is two of the absolute best investments you can make are in your marriage – because, if you screw up your marriage, the financial costs are devastating – but also your health. Those are probably the two best investments, even beyond traditional investments. So, I want to talk about investing in your health today. How does that sound?

CORBIN: That sounds good. I’ve got some very definite thoughts on that matter as you probably know.

ROGER: You and I had a conversation about the flip side of this, talking about retirement planning when you are healthier, and I’ll put a link to where people can listen to that podcast which I thought was excellent or that interview. But I want to talk about it from a health perspective.

I’m 47 so I’m just entering that journey of “Oh, my goodness! My body is feeling a little bit different.” Well, let’s get to the heart of the matter first. How do I maintain my energy level as I’m getting older?

CORBIN: Okay, great question. So, the first thing to do whether you are older or younger is kind of like what you talk about in financial planning and we’ve mentioned before which is you want to get out in front of things as early as you can. Now, obviously, we can’t always get out in front of our past lives or things that we’ve done in the past. But, once we do know, or essentially, once we have the information, now we can move forward.

The answer to that is that you need to baseline. Whether you are 20 or 90, we can all re-baseline. We can all recalibrate at any particular point. And what I say is that you want to start with kind of what I call “zero assumption baselining.” We’re all different and I could throw in all the standard medical disclaimers. So, for anyone listening, my background is in certified nutrition and health. I am not a doctor so none of this is in any way medical advice. With that said, the zero assumption baseline kind of starts from the premise of, “Okay. Now let’s forget about what I’ve done even last week or the meal that I had this morning and let’s start with now.” When people ask about, “How can I see where I am now?” or “How can I test myself?” the easiest and most cost-effective way to test one’s self without going out for tests or anything is the good ol’ pH strip.

Now, for people who may or may not be familiar with pH strip, it is a way to test yourself and – without getting too into the details – you can use it either urine-based or just something you can put under your tongue or put a little saliva on. It literally takes less than a minute and you can do a time or two a day. I mean, getting into how that would work as an existing testing or a longer term strategy is a whole other topic.

But, to really simplify it, you can get these and they’re available pretty much in most health stores and even some drug stores – you know, depending on which chain or where you are in the world. Here in the States, we have Whole Foods and various other chains where they’re pretty widely available. You get them and then what happens is, on the back, there is a little chart which goes from kind of one color on the left side to a different color on the right side. Depending on the ones you get, they have kind of darker or different pink or orange colors on the left which means you’re more acidic and then they have greener colors which means you are more alkaline on the right-hand side.

If you want the real easy, simple test – and, I mean, you can literally get a packet of these for $7.00 to $8.00 and maybe even cheaper in some places – you do one in the morning and you do maybe one in the later afternoon, and you do this, if you’re just starting out, do it for two to three days. What that’s going to tell you – and the charts are very, very clear – it will tell you where on that spectrum you are.

Now, there’s a whole lot of general assumption that can be said about this. But, essentially, you want to be as far on the right-hand side of that scale – which is the positive pH – as you possibly can. Now, most of us starting out – and this is very, very true of me – when I started my journey a little over 12 years ago is that I was very much acidic and most people today on most diets around the world are going to be somewhere in that range which is typically less than 7.2 or 7.3 on the scale.

What you want to do, if you think of it like an RPM gauge on a car, is you want to kind of push the needle, if you will, over to the right-hand side. You can get a whole lot more complex but this is really the easiest way I found to resonate with people to start here. And then, you want to kind of push the needle over to the right. As a very general rule, the more alkaline you are, the more energetic you will be, and the least chance – and I want to be careful here in my wording – the least chance you’re going to have of certain kind of diseases and physical conditions because there are a lot of physical conditions that essentially cannot exist or will not live or survive in an extended state of alkalinity.

Essentially, what alkalinity means is a fancy way of saying your body has a lot of oxygen and the oxygen is flowing throughout your entire system and your entire cells.

ROGER: Now, this is way off what I expected the answer to be – which is not a bad thing – so I want to make sure I understand this here. So, doing these pH strips – which I’ve never heard before, which I think is interesting – that basically tell you how much oxygen you have in your body, that’s where you want to get to, if I heard correctly.

CORBIN: Yes.

ROGER: I’m assuming that encapsulates a lot of different things from nutrition and exercise level and everything else, and that’s why it’s a good down and dirty way of baselining. Is that a good way of saying it?

CORBIN: Exactly, it is. And, Roger, I’m glad you mentioned that because one of the reasons I started with this particular point in our interview is because of your audience. I know that you do a lot of people that are literally thinking about planning from Point A to Point B for the first time and I look at this health journey or – as you’re talking about – this health investment from the same way, a lot of people – and this is very much true of myself – they start off with, “Well, I’ve got a condition, I’ve got something happening, something is wrong so I need to go see a bunch of specialists or get a bunch of analysis to find out where I am, what everybody thinks it is, and then see if they can help me figure out what to do about it.”

And this whole pH thing is something that I discovered early on when I first started this and this, by the way, just so people know, it actually goes back a long, long time. I mean, this is something that’s been – I want to say – almost under the radar for a very long time. It’s something that a lot of people don’t talk about and it’s something that a lot of what I’ll call “classical medicine” doesn’t start with. But, just using one example, if you’ve got someone who, let’s say has a case of mid to advanced stage something like a cancer, for example, without getting medical, if you were to take a pH strip, say, for someone like that who’s just starting that journey, they might not have any alkalinity at all to the point where they might not even register any color which is, of course, an extreme example. Most of us are not going to be anywhere near that. We’re going to be somewhere in the 5s or the 6s is where a lot of people start. Then, we’re going to have to work that up. And, as you said, there are a lot of factors in it.

It’s not just diet; it’s physical conditions. Do I have some kind of medical thing I’m worrying about? Am I having a lot of acidic foods in my diet? Am I not circulating my lymphatic system to the point where I’m actually doing the cell flush or what I call the cell carwash? All of those kinds of things, over time can factor in to a point where we’re just going to do this thing and we’re going to start at this baseline and say, “Okay, now that I know; where can I make little changes and start moving that needle over?”

ROGER: And this is important because the knee-jerk reaction is, “Okay. I’m Roger. I’m 47. I feel like I don’t have a lot of energy. I need to go to the gym and go on the pretzel diet,” or whatever the diet fad is of the time which is the knee-jerk quick, “Let’s just take a pill and fix it.” This is a lot more of a journey and I think that’s a really important point of how do you invest long-term to affect all these different areas to get that alkaline level up?

CORBIN: Exactly. That’s a really good point and, kind of with the point that you just made, I want to caution your listeners too because I have a tendency to react to these things so I don’t want to project my reactions onto others but I’m not proposing this as something you say, “Oh, my needle is really low, start panicking.” It’s not about that at all. It’s really to say, “Okay, I understand where I’m at,” and, if you think about any kind of classic test you might get for anything, it’s the same thing. You’re going to go in, you’re going to see someone for some kind of test, they’re going to run some kind of process, and then you’re just going to sit there and, depending on what they’re testing for, I mean, some people might literally pull their hair out with nervousness waiting for the results. This is something here that you don’t have to do and no one else other than you ever needs to know the results. I mean, only you know kind of where you’re starting out and then you can start looking at dietary changes and physical changes to get you there.

Something else you mentioned, Roger, which I want to call out to the listeners – and it’s a controversial statement but I’m going to make it anyway – is that the true path to, say, long-term weight management and alkalinity is not the gym. I want to be careful and say I’m not saying, “Don’t stay in good physical condition and don’t exercise,” because that’s a different component, but it’s not the component. And I think, as you mentioned, that’s where a lot of us start – where we want that kind of quick drink – want the energy drink or we want the energy pill or we want kind of the quick three or four bullet-point checklist which is going to get there.

I’ve got a system that can get you there reasonably quickly if you follow it significantly but it’s like anything or it’s like your work, Roger, in financial planning. It’s not a panacea; you have to start somewhere. You have to map it out effectively and then you have to do it, and you have to do it consistently, and that’s the key to any of this thing – do it consistently once you know kind of where you’re trying to go. It can be intimidating to figure out where you want to go and that’s why I say, “Let the strips, so to speak, tell you.” The strips tell all. They tell about your physical condition. There’s a lot in that little color, including things such as cold and flu or even more advanced significant conditions or energy levels. The more oxygenated the body is, the more energy and buoyance you’re going to have, as one example, to get back to what you were asking about, Roger.

ROGER: Now, is this something that you should track over time and even put on an Excel spreadsheet for some of us geekier people?

CORBIN: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, there probably are even apps for that. I will admit, I haven’t really looked at them, but any kind of tracker is a really great tool. What I usually suggest is start simple. Do two a day and then maybe come back a week later, do a couple, and then, as you start putting yourself on either my steps or anyone else’s steps or whatever you decide to follow, then start ramping that up, then start maybe doing it twice a week, and then three times a week.

You probably don’t need to do more than that because it’s not like this thing is flipping and flopping constantly. It’s going to kind of start with an incremental change until you get maybe – and this is where it varies a lot for people – depending on where you’re coming from, it can be anywhere from usually 60 days on up to 120 days. In classical nutrition, if you will, it’s kind of considered 90 to 120 days to kind of take people from Point A to Point B. So, the body completely regenerates its entire cellular structure every 90 days. So, if you think about that in those terms and you cycle it here and just pick a day and say, “Okay, now I’m going to start tracking, now I’m going to start measuring and doing these particular steps, then within X amount of time, I’m going to see a one- to two- to three-bar improvement.”

I also want to emphasize that any improvement as you move that needle right is good and it can take a while. I mean, it’s not where you just radically change your pH overnight. It can take weeks and it can take months because many of us have started off and, quite frankly, at a negative health condition even if we don’t have physical sicknesses, and you can take people that look like they’re the picture of buff health but, internally, they aren’t. That’s why you get sports people dropping of aneurysms or other kinds of things. It’s not because they weren’t physically healthy, they weren’t alkaline and nutritionally sound. For your listeners to think about it in terms of longevity or “how I want to maximize all my years whether I’m ‘classically retired’ or just doing other things I love as I’m moving on through life,” that’s the condition you want to be. And then, once you’re there as your baseline, you can layer onto that however you want.

ROGER: Well, let’s talk about… now, this is hard and the reason this is hard is all of us are very busy, right? We’re very busy and we know a lot about whatever our subject matter is and it’s not that we don’t have the ability to learn all the individual steps but what I’ve found is I just need simple solutions that I can follow that don’t totally disrupt my life because we’re creatures of habits. Does that make sense?

CORBIN: Yes.

ROGER: So, how do we do this in a practical way and start to change that pH level to get more oxygenation? Did I say that right?

CORBIN: Yeah, say that five times fast, I know I struggle with it, too.

ROGER: One time slow is hard. So, what are some practical steps that somebody that isn’t a science geek or is time-crunched, what are some things they can do that are simple?

CORBIN: Sure, I’m glad you asked. In fact, I recently wrote a book on this very, very thing. What I did is I took five of those steps here for your listeners and it’s a little difficult to pick five out of the seven. It’s kind of a seven-step program but I’m picking the five most impactful ones, as you say, you can do right now today. So, here’s what I would say in probably the easiest-to-use terms because we are all busy. In fact, that’s how I came up with this stuff; I needed something that worked with a busy life.

So, first of all, I would say understand where you are. And then, this will kind of guide how much of these next five-plus things that you do, obviously you should do all of them, these are things that I would suggest everybody do every day, but start with one. Make it, as you mentioned, a habit. So, depending on the study, I’ve seen habit-forming requirements as low as 20 days and as high as 30 or 35 days. I tend to be a little more stubborn so I’m more on the 35 day end of the spectrum. But, hey, wherever you are in there, pick one, make it a habit, move on. That’s kind of the whole model in a nutshell.

So, starting with – and we can kind of just interrupt me here because there’s a list of these things so we can talk about any of these.

The first one on this particular list is mineralized water. This one here is deceptively simple but it’s very, very easy to do and it’s something that can easily be added to however busy our day is and here’s how it works. The idea is that – whether you’re talking tap water or bottled water or water that’s built with having “electrolytes” and all this other stuff – water is denatured and because the water is denatured and much of the food today is denatured, then we are all, to some degree, significantly short on minerals.

Now, there’s a whole other sidebar but we think about our grandparents, great grandparents, or “the old country” or wherever we happen to be from in the world, there was this idea that, you know, you had these kind of robust people that didn’t know some of the things that we know in food today.

One of the key differences was that, in “the older times,” food tended to be higher in minerals because there wasn’t any of this kind of chemicalized Frankenfood stuff that we have out there today, but it wasn’t always necessarily as high in vitamins. Today, even the commercial or the packaged foods, if you will, they add vitamins to them so you might have some foods today that are higher in vitamins than foods of the old days, but they are lower in minerals.

ROGER: That makes total sense to me. What are the types of ways to get mineralized water?

CORBIN: Well, you can do what the water geeks would do, and there’s a whole subculture of that, but, essentially, drinking from a spring which isn’t really practical for most of us. So, the next thing we do is we take a mineral source. Now, there are a couple that I recommend, but there’s a number of ways to do it. One is you can get Celtic sea salt or Himalayan pink salt and you take a pinch of that and you mix it in. So, the rough formula for people starting out is about a pinch for 32 ounces or a liter, depending on how you measure that where you are, and you put about a pinch of that and you start with filtered water – preferably home filtered but bottled is fine if that’s what you have. You put a pinch of that in, you swirl it around for a minute, and then you drink that. And you drink three of those per day without getting in at weight calculations and all. I just simply say, “Hey, three liters a day.” Go for roughly three liters or roughly 64 ounces and do this, kind of mix it throughout the day. I mean, you don’t have to get too crazy with it but just add this to your water.

For instance, a lot of people sip on plastic water bottles today anyway, right? So, if you’re going to do that, just put the pinch of the salt in there carried around with you. There’s another product called ConcenTrace – I have no affiliation. It’s just a mineral source and that’s actually liquid minerals from the Utah salt beds and that’s a higher concentration. What that does, and what this whole process is doing for you, is it is adding in trace minerals which (a) you probably aren’t getting or you’re not getting in significant quantities, (b) is it is ensuring that your cells hydrate and it is delivering the oxygen molecules to your cells, and the reason that it’s doing that over, say, plain old bottled water is because the minerals are opening up the channels, if you will.

So, if you think about a freeway, we’re sitting in front of a barrier. The minerals lift the barrier up so that the water’s actually get. I don’t know if you’ve had this but a lot of people you get where you drink and drink and drink, you could be sitting there drinking water and you’re just never quite satiated, right? You still have kind of that thirsty feeling?

ROGER: Satiated, that’s a cool word.

CORBIN: Thank you! Well, one of the ways you don’t get that is because the water that you’re having – whether it’s tap or bottled – I mean, in terms of minerals, it really doesn’t matter. I mean, obviously, filtered is better for this process, but either way, you’re not getting it. I mean, you’re not getting the full complement of minerals and the full complement, by the way, is 80. Many of us are lucky in our regular food if we’re getting 10 or 12 a day.

ROGER: Okay. So, that’s step one – to start to mineralize your water. You get some of these things that have been taken out over the period of time because of all the process in even our water.

CORBIN: Yes, and where this ties back to the strips and all of that is that, if you think of this as a building process or you’re kind of baselining a building up, what you’re doing is you are starting to reconnect all of your bodily systems because most sickness which I’ll talk about here in a later set but most sickness and everything is due to poor or blocked communication pathways in the body of some kind. There’s a lot of variation but what this is doing is this is essentially starting to open those pathways for you – getting everything communicating with so, if there’s a problem in one part of your body that your other body doesn’t necessarily know, it just becomes something isolated, this starts to make your body more of a wholistic whole because 99 point however many crazy number of nines you want to put after that of people in the world don’t have that today.

ROGER: Got it.

CORBIN: That’s why this is so important.

ROGER: Okay. So, now what’s step two?

CORBIN: Step two on the list is green juices. I’m sure many people have seen this. It’s very, very popular and a lot of stars and people like that talk about it. It’s really been the rage the past few years. But the thing with green juices – I’m specifically talking heavy green and cruciferous vegetable-centric juices with either no fruit or just maybe the slightest amount of apple for people just starting out. Now, green juices are really important on a number of levels. Not only do they build on the mineralized water, if you think the mineralized water is kind of the opening agent, you have the green juices which the green juices actually now are able to deliver massive concentrations of vitamins and minerals throughout your entire system. In addition to that, it is very alkalizing. Green juice is the most alkalizing mix that you can give to yourself.

If you’re kind of going back to what you were asking about moving that needle, you’re opening your pathways, you’re filling them with oxygen, then you’ve got your vitamins and your minerals that are traveling there, and among other things – I mean, I could do a whole… and I have done several episodes on green juice – but to really, really simplify it, the thing is with green juice as opposed to, say, blending or getting a smoothie or something like that is that it is instantly available. Green juice is the most instantly available source of nutrition outside of a, well, syringe – I hate to say – but outside of that that you can get into your bloodstream. I mean, literally, the nutrients become available to your system within five minutes. It’s really that fast. I mean, from the time you start drinking it, this stuff is like shooting all throughout your body. I mean, it’s hitting the bloodstream, it’s hitting your cellular pathways, it’s firing the neurons, it’s doing all of that kind of stuff.

Now, as a recommendation, I usually suggest that people start with 16 ounces and work their way up to 32 ounces. Now, this is the one part I find that people are the most resistant to because, if you’re doing it yourself, I will be honest, it can be time-consuming. If you live in certain areas of the country or in the world, it may not necessarily be readily available. The other things you can do is, you can get wheatgrass. Now, wheatgrass isn’t a full substitute but I’ll say it’s about 75 percent of a substitute and a lot of different smoothie and drink places – I know here in the States and actually in many parts of Europe and other parts of the world – you can get that and it’s something that’s fairly readily available. It’s very inexpensive for people to produce and do so you have a readily available source.

The other thing you can do is you can get a really good raw – and this is important when you’re looking at a product – something that is completely raw, unpasteurized, unheated of any kind, and it’s just raw, organic vegetables dried up.

ROGER: Okay, Okay, Corbin. I can hear all my listeners mouth-watering at your descriptions of wheatgrass and raw uncooked whatever. I know I’m just getting totally hungry right now. Actually, I’m eating a donut.

CORBIN: Oh, there you go. Well, you can have this with your donut.

Yeah. So, it’s a good point and this is the one part of the talk where I like to be straight up with people and say, “Look, you know, it’s green juice we’re talking about.” That’s why I suggest that, if you are just starting out and the whole concept is foreign to you as it was to me when I first started, I had to have probably about a third of apple in my mix. That’s where I started. And then, I gradually put that down to the point where I don’t have any fruit and vegetable at all. I mean, it’s just vegetable and that’s really kind of vegetable – by that I mean things like your traditional kales and spinach and celery and cucumber and…

ROGER: Now, let me ask you a question. When you’re starting out, can you make little changes just around the edges? So, if you don’t have to go full bore into this, and I’ve never analyzed it but, if I get the green drink at Jamba Juice, am I better with kale and other things that has some taste to it? Am I still better off with something like that if I’m just not willing to go the full distance?

CORBIN: Well, you might be, and the reason it depends is that it depends on the other things that are in there, and I don’t want to pick on individual names and places, but what I will say about Jamba in particular since you mentioned them is that is one of the chains – at least here in the States – that almost all do wheatgrass juice – almost all of them do. In your example, for instance, what you could do is you could get the two-ounce wheatgrass shot in addition to whatever else you’re drinking there. I don’t care how good or “nutritionally negative” it is, whatever else you decide to drink, even if you’re walking in there with your coffee from the Starbucks next-door, you can get this thing, slam it down, they’ll give you a slice of orange which you can eat. I mean, you’ll be in and out in five minutes unless they’re really busy, right?

ROGER: Right.

CORBIN: And then, boom! What you’ve done is you have significantly changed your nutritional and mineral profile in minutes.

ROGER: Got it.

CORBIN: That’s the one thing.

The other thing is, if you have to, or the powder that I’m talking about, put a scoop of that into any – well, I should say non-coffee – drink where it’s going to be noticeable or it’s not going to be neutralized. Whether it’s water or a smoothie or if you do go to the Jamba or something else, you can take some of this stuff around and just pour it in there and stir it up. If you have one of those twenty-plus ounce type drinks that a lot of people do, you won’t even notice it in there.

ROGER: A lot of this, I think, it’s not an either/or. It’s as you’re investing in your health, it can be just a progression of making smarter choices over time. It’s not like you need to jump right in and buy a $300 juicer and start mashing things right away.

CORBIN: No, and frankly, you bring up a good point. I don’t even recommend people do that because one of several things is going to happen, not the least of which is that it’s going to be time-consuming and frustrating. It’s hard to quantify – I think, for a lot of people – the significance of green juices and it’s one of those things that has a little bit more. Talking about investing in health, it’s a bigger time investment upfront whether you do it yourself, whether you buy something to put in, or whether you have someone make it for you, it is a little bit more investment but, of all the things on my list, it’s probably the biggest overall impactful.

If you consider, for example, clinics that treat things such as advanced cancers or diabetes or IBS or liver issues or any of those things, what do they do? They pound people with green juice because, what are they doing? The green juice is the most alkalizing agent you can get and what you want to be anything – whether it’s going to back to your original point of energy or whether you’ve got something maybe really serious going on inside you that you’re wanting to help along or do something about – this is the quickest way to that because this is literally all oxygen in massive amounts and massive nutrients hitting your system all at once.

ROGER: You know exactly what I’m going to do this afternoon, don’t you?

CORBIN: Yes, I hope you’re going to what I think you’re going to do.

What I tell people is, “Look, it’s like any investment that you talk about or you can make in yourself.” You can factor in – and, frankly, to do them yourself or to have them made – I mean, it’s not the cheapest drink in the world that you can have either. It’s probably cheaper to get a cup of coffee than it is to get a green juice in most places. However, that is going to save you other time and money down the road by having that needle up to where you’re not sitting underneath some uncomfortable diagnostic machine, for example, later on in your life which you’d rather be enjoying your retirement and the other things that you can help people do.

ROGER: It’s just like little spending decisions – what they accumulate to over time. It’s the same concept.

CORBIN: Yes. One of the subtle things that’s happening as you kind of go through this list and what I tell people is that the whole concept here is addition, not subtraction. Subtraction doesn’t work. It doesn’t do with me and it’s why the recidivism rate of all diets is well over 90 percent after 30 days of any program that you can choose out there. I mean, statistics are crazy lopsided and part of the reason for that is this whole idea that “I have to take something out” or “I have to restrict” or “I can’t go eat what I want to eat” or “I can’t go where I want to go” or “my friends are going here” and the social pressure of that and all the different other dynamics that come with that. That all goes away with this.

ROGER: Now, let’s move on to three, four, and five.

CORBIN: Sure. So, step number three – probably no surprise to people – I call it sleeping your way to better health. The concept here is that the body, when it goes into a full sleep state, is also repairing things. So, you kind of have the little workers inside your cells and your bloodstream start trying to repair the damage of the day, and I don’t mean this like physical or stress always necessarily. I mean, things like sun damage. If you get too much sun or if you get even the opposite extreme, too much cold exposure, and this is your body essentially trying to re-regulate.

I’m not talking rest here. I have a whole article on sleep versus rest. I’m talking about that sleep where you don’t remember anything until you wake up.

ROGER: I love that sleep!

CORBIN: That’s the state that you want. It is another thing and people talk about it up, inside, and down the other but it’s very difficult for those of us who are really busy living high-stress existences to keep consistently doing. Kind of going back to the old, old, you know, you see these old shows way back in “ancient times,” what did people do and what did they recommend? Bed rest! Juice, healthy stuff, and bed rest. The same applies as much, if not more so now, and there are a whole list of steps which are probably too extensive for this particular interview but, when people are looking about that investment, you know, the easiest, the quickest examples are, you know, turn stuff off.

I always say, “Just turn it off. Turn it off. Turn it off.” Computers, off. TVs in the bedroom, off. Bright lights, off. All of that stuff and you can start there and I have a list in one of my podcasts and in the book, I mean, it’s probably about 40 steps that people can do. I mean, it can get really, really detailed but, you know, masks and ear plugs, if you just start there – lights off, darkness, mask, ear plug – right there is going to make a 25 to 50 percent difference over time in your overall – what I’ll call – “aggregate sleep.” This is key to kind of building on the effectiveness of the other items on the list.

ROGER: Got it, and I like that one. That’s an easy one. Well, it’s not an easy one but I enjoy it when it happens.

CORBIN: I wish it was, Roger.

Now, the next one is really interesting and this is another one I’m sure people have heard mentioned on a number of different popular venues and I’m going to kind of give my own take on it but that’s probiotics.

Before we talk about probiotics, think about the statistic. This is what hit me in the head when I first began my journey. Over 85 percent of all disease starts in the gut.

ROGER: Really?

CORBIN: I always repeat that. Over 85 percent of ALL disease and sickness, including routine colds and flu, start in the gut. Now, with that said, then the natural think to think is, “Well, if I really want to kind of address wellness just generally, it’s a good point to start making the gut happy.” Now, today’s diet – and it’s not just food, it’s the combination of food and stress, and as we just talked about, lack of sleep – all of those things – and more – contribute to a very, very weak digestive system and the ability to break down all the different things that we’re throwing at our systems these days.

ROGER: Do me favor. Can you do two things? One is define briefly what probiotics is and then, secondly, tell me the most efficient way of getting it simply.

CORBIN: Sure. So, probiotics, quite simply, I tell people it’s the exact opposite of antibiotics. I think we’ve all had some prescription for antibiotics over the time and certainly in this country it’s pretty common practice. You have what? You have a cold, you have a flu, you go to your neighborhood practitioner and they give you an antibiotic. The antibiotic kills everything, including probiotics. It basically makes your system null and void. The probiotics, on the other hand, they build and they actually give the pro or the good bacteria which is in your system and what this stuff does is it eats proteins, sugars, carbs – it helps break all of that stuff down and, essentially, if you think about it like a bunch of little Pacman-type people for those of us who remember those old style video games and things like that. It actually goes down and it just starts working away on that.

For instance, if you’ve got a strong population of probiotics out there and let’s say you maybe eat or drink something that’s not on the list, as happens, then what this stuff does is it actually helps break it down and flush it out. There’s also a prebiotics as well but that’s a whole other topic.

ROGER: It’s a bacterial army that lives in your gut?

CORBIN: Yes, and an important point here is there is some misinformation out there that people think that what happens is that these go and they just kill all the bad stuff. Now, that’s antibiotics. What probiotics do is I look at them almost as colonists, really. What you’re doing, when you’re flushing your body with probiotics, you are recolonizing your gut, if you will. You’re putting all of these probiotics down there and what they do is, by nature of their numbers, they start pushing the other things. The bad guys no longer have a place to live and your oxygen and your minerals and your vitamins and your probiotics are all starting to work together here to push and flush that bad stuff out.

ROGER: Now, this is a very foreign concept for a lot of people and I have a gentleman I need to introduce you to who is a good friend of mine who is a researcher at University of Michigan and he wrote a book but he focuses on this whole probiotics and using these bacteria actually to fight disease which is interesting. So, I’ll need to introduce the two of you.

CORBIN: Yeah.

ROGER: There’s a lot of very serious research about this and the role that those play in our body.

CORBIN: Yes, and that’s a good point. It’s something that we have in our body naturally but there’s a real important point I want everybody to understand, if they don’t take away anything else from probiotics, is that is, if you have ever had any antibiotic at all from the time you were a baby to wherever you are currently in life – anybody – you are significantly weakened in your probiotic system. Your system, in fact, what happens with a lot of babies is they get some of the initial immunization shots they get and other things, and antibiotics, it kills it to a point where the body doesn’t recover from it and that’s why you have so many childhood issues today. The percentage is increasing because that pro, if you will, is not replaced in significant amounts enough to do anything, and it has to be added. It’s not one of things that the body makes enough of. This is also important. Unlike other things, the body isn’t real good at synthesizing out of nothing to make this. You have to ingest them somehow.

ROGER: So, what’s the most efficient way for a non-technical person to do that?

CORBIN: Well, I’m going to give you a couple. I’ll give you a food way and a non-food way.

The food way is your good old cultured vegetables – kim chi, sauerkraut, and I want to be careful and say not just any kim chi or not just any sauerkraut but raw. This is important because some processes actually cook the stuff and then ferment it and other processes don’t. I mean, they literally slice it up, ferment it, and eat it. Fermented vegetables and any kind of fermented root is a really, really good way to do this. It’s something that almost anybody anywhere can get without worrying about pills and capsules. You literally want to add when you’re starting out.

Now, if you’re following this kind of program where you’re trying to move that needle that we talked about, you’re obviously going to want to eat more. If you’re someone who’s just kind of trying to maintain or just kind of tepidly work their way in, then a real good way is a couple spoonfuls of sauerkraut or kim chi or other kinds of fermented vegetable.

Now, I don’t mean pickled. I want to be careful. I don’t mean pickled or canned or any of that kind of stuff although you can often get these in jars. But you want to get anything that is cultured, fermented, that’s basically just been put to hang out for a while because that’s where these probiotics start to form and that’s where they start to grow and then they start doing their things. And then, you’re kind of taking this living culture and then, from there actually – transitioning into the ingestible way or the pill way – you can of course take pills and liquids that are probiotic rich.

The other thing you can do from a food perspective is raw yogurt. I don’t mention that one typically so I’m going to throw it out and kind of move past it quickly because it’s not something available to many people today. Some areas you can and some areas you cannot. But what I would encourage, the one negative I would say is avoid pasteurized. I mean, a lot of people think they hear these pop docs talk about all these different kinds of yogurts and things – Greek yogurts is the rage and all that stuff that you can buy from a supermarket shelf – that is not the way because that stuff has other issues which are beyond the scope of the show.

As far as pills, you can take capsules, you can take liquids. The thing you want to do, there are a lot of good ones out there and since I’m not really affiliated with anyone, I hesitate to give specifics. I can if anybody’s interested and they want to contact me at my website, I’m happy to do that. But the thing that you want to look for is (1) it’s something that’s refrigerated typically – there are a couple that do well without refrigeration – and (2) you want to look for something that has a lot of cultures in it.

For example, in probiotics that come in strains or cultures, I don’t want to bore anybody with the details but think about it this way – more is better. If you have two jars side by side, let’s say your local whole foods store and you’re looking at probiotics and you’re looking at Probiotic A and it says it’s got three strains or ten strains and you look at the other one and it’s got fifty strains. Well, you want the one with fifty strains. More is better because there are a number of different strains that do different things. But, that said, if you can only start with one, there’s “bifidus” and “lacto” and various versions of that. In fact, they used to, years ago, even start kind of adding some of that to milk and said, “Hey, we’ve added some stuff to help break that milk down.” That’s better than nothing and you can layer up from there.

Best yet, do some of that and layer in the cultured vegetables and maintain a pretty aggressive program if you really want to move the needle for the 60 to 90 days. And then, after that, you can taper.

ROGER: I know I have some resources to link to you that I’m sure you have a lot of resources about all these topics.

CORBIN: Yes, and I’ve done several episodes. I mean, I talk about the book but there’s a lot of free information there in the podcast episodes because, almost every episode, I take one topic and I really break it down.

ROGER: Okay. Now, we are on number four. So, what is number five?

CORBIN: Number five is magnesium. Magnesium is another thing, like probiotics, that you need to supplement in some way.

Now, I want to be careful because I’m not an advocate of useless or unnecessary supplementation or pill popping. It’s good because I’m not actually selling these things. So, from a magnesium perspective, it’s like probiotics; it’s something that needs to be added to you whether you add it through food, whether you add it through capsules, whether you add it through a powder, what-have-you, you want to add some of this in.

Now, let me talk about why and then we can talk about some of the specifics. So, the reason why this is so important is because we have a high degree these days of things like osteoporosis and arthritis and inflammation and a lot of these things that affect a good number of people. Almost all of these are directly attributable to magnesium deficiencies and I think one of the most recent studies I saw, it’s something to the order of five or six nines worth of the world’s population is magnesium deficient. This also affects things like kidney stones and gall stones and anything that’s calcium-related – bone spurs, sickness.

Magnesium, if we take all of the other steps leading up to this, it is kind of an electrical system regulator, if you will. This is one of the signaling mechanisms that your body has to say, “Okay, more of this or less of that.” It’s really interesting when you consider magnesium and calcium because what are we all told? Well, you have to take calcium.

Well, the other thing I would like people to take away from this is – keeping my medical disclaimer in mind – you want to take some very serious research about magnesium and calcium because the fact of the matter is people are not really deficient in calcium. If they were, we wouldn’t have gall stones, kidney stones, osteoporosis and all these things. Those are not actually a problem of too little calcium; they’re the problem of too little magnesium and it’s something that, unfortunately, too few people understand these days. It’s something that exists in low enough quantities that we start flushing our body with calcium and other minerals because we’re trying to overcompensate. But the problem is that we don’t have that signaling mechanism to say what to do with it.

For example, if you’ve got enough magnesium in your system, it’s going to know how much calcium to send to your bones or send to your circulatory system or not send. For instance, if you’re facing things like stone issues which a lot of people do – certainly in this country – then you don’t want to pour more calcium in yourself. You want to actually pour magnesium and the magnesium is going to say, “Wait a minute! We’ve got too much calcium going on. We need to flush that,” as in flush the calcium out of your body.

There’s all kinds of studies on how this affects a myriad of things – everything from heart and heart disease and heart conditions to diabetes to glucose regulation to, of course, the management of calcium and all the other elements and it’s the one thing that we are all almost universally short of. It also helps us – getting back to the sleep – it’s a serious component of sleep. If you’re someone who has muscle aches, muscle spasm, muscle ticks, you know, Parkinson’s –any of those kinds of things that affect the body, I mean, that’s a magnesium issue as well.

ROGER: Man, these five basic steps, I mean, it’s obvious that you’re a wealth of knowledge on how each one of these affect that alkaline level and can help you take – I’m almost at a loss of words because it’s so detailed. I guess, a high level, if you could start to take any one of these five steps and think of it as a start of a journey, you’re going to be well on your way to being proactive and intentional in your investment in your health without even talking about the concept of diet or exercise or anything else. This is about building the internals to serve you as you age.

CORBIN: Yes, that’s a really, really good way to put it.

ROGER: It took me a while to actually get it out.

CORBIN: No, you put it really well because the thing is that, if you look at these, with all the detail we’ve gone, if you really simplify it down, say, “Salt in your water. Go get your green juice. Follow a few steps for better sleep. If you don’t want to deal with vegetables or this or that or worry about fermentation, go get some probiotics. And then, go get yourself some magnesium powder.”

One I recommend is Natural Calm – again, no affiliation. It’s just recommended because it’s one of the few things out there. I don’t care what kind of supplement it is, and supplementation is a whole other topic, but the reason I recommend it is quite simple; it literally is only magnesium and it’s easy to deliver. You can put it in anything. I like to put it in just some warm water with a little bit of liquid lemon at night. But however you do it, I mean, it’s something that mixes in – whether you’re talking green juice like we were discussing earlier or water or tea – very, very easy to add. You can get a tub of it for I want to say, $18 or $19. It will last you probably a good month to two months.

So, none of these things, by the way, I mean, these are significant investments to your health in terms of the dividends they pay. But, cost-wise, they’re nothing. I mean, you could do a whole month’s worth of this stuff for your family and not even rack up the cost of a doctor visit.

ROGER: That’s a very important point.

Now, Corbin, what are you doing right now and where can people learn a lot more about this? Because, although we got into a lot of detail, I’m guessing we just touched the surface on how serious you could get into investing in your health. So, where can people find you and where can they find resources that you’ve developed for this?

CORBIN: Oh, thanks for asking.

To your first point, yes; to the second point, if people just want to start learning about this and do a deeper dive on these topics, go over to my website – corbinlinks.com – and there is a podcast tab there which you can go find all of the previous episodes to The Corbin Links Show. I cover one of these types of topics. It’s not always one of these steps but it’s something related to these. I cover at least one of these per episode. So, that’s one way. I’ve got some other articles over on corbinlinks.com and that’s the best way.

If you want to get a systemized approach that anybody can follow – I mean, literally, it’s a one- to two-hour read that you can start doing right now – it talks about sources, dosages, it kind of breaks into all these topics that I talked about and more, then, you know, for $7 you can go and get a copy of the entire system. It’s called How to Up Your Health Game in 30 Days or Less and that is available, oddly enough, over at upyourhealthgame.com.

ROGER: Great, and I’ll have links to those in the show notes.

Thank you so much for joining me today, Corbin.

CORBIN: Thank you, Roger! Great to be on here!

Thank you so much for joining me today on the Retirement Answer Man Show. If you found value, please share this show with a friend or leave a review on iTunes – that would really mean a lot to me. It would help increase the visibility of the show so we can build the Plan Well community.

Until next week, this is Roger Whitney, hoping that you plan well and invest wisely.

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