Oscar Winner Alan Arkin on Living a Healthy Lifestyle

Oscar-winning actor Alan Arkin joined Naturally Savvy Radio hosts Andrea Donsky and Lisa Davis to discuss health, well-being and the steps it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Arkin begins with an anecdote about his own personal health journey and the quest to fully understand his own personal well-being. During a routine physical with an unfamiliar doctor, the doctor perused Arkin’s chart and remarked: “You had a rough time about 16 years ago, emotionally, didn’t you?” Arkin was shocked by this doctor’s insight, his jaw dropping to the floor; indeed this period of time was absolutely the hardest period of his life. The question was, how did the doctor decipher Arkin’s emotional state? Apparently, the doctor had recognized that all of Arkin’s worst sicknesses were clustered during this time - and that stress and emotions are intimately connected to physical health.

Read more about stress and emotions

Arkin has been interested in health and well-being for many years and was thoroughly intrigued by this very personal connection between emotional state and physical health. As a result, he began digging for deeper understanding. “Recently, I’ve been doing some research, talking to people and reading up about this new equation that seems to be running across all of not only Western medicine, but Eastern medicine. No matter how orthodox or ‘far-out’ the doctor is, they all seem to be making this same equation which fascinates me: stress causes inflammation which is the root of most of our sickness.” His own life experience, dramatically revealed in the peaks and valleys on his health chart, bore the truth of this. As a result, Arkin emphasizes that despite eating well and exercising, “it seems to me that the major part of the equation for hanging on to our sanity and our well-being is to try to find ways of keeping ourselves as stress-free as possible - which in this civilization right now is very, very hard to do.” 

When asked about his own techniques for maintaining a healthy lifestyle, he jokes about how proximity to a well-known organic grocery store was a priority when choosing a new home. He eats organic foods, avoids dessert (except berries on occasion), and watches his carb intake very carefully. “I hate giving up carbs,” he bemoans, however a connection between sugar and inflammation is enough for him to monitor his intake very carefully. Not only does stress cause harmful inflammation at the root of so many illnesses, but sugar, which is so prevalent in modern Western diets, feeds this inflammation and ultimately exacerbates illness. Breads and other flour-based products are particularly culpable, and for Arkin, especially hard to abstain from. 

Though Arkin enjoys his time in a kitchen (he is particularly fond of making chills and soups), there are many occasions when the food he eats is prepared for him, be it on set or during business dining. Nonetheless, he jokes, “interestingly enough, most people in movies are such narcissists they take care of themselves very, very well.” As a result, eating well is on the minds of many in the industry and therefore healthy food is often accessible. When opting to eat-out, he looks for restaurants that advertise healthy options, or Japanese restaurants which he finds tend to offer healthier, cleaner meal choices. But as he has noted, eating healthy is not the only part of the equation to a healthy lifestyle. In order to manage stress and quell resultant inflammation, he practices mediation and actively manages his daily life to avoid stress by living simply and effectively managing his time.

Read more about meditation

Seeing very clearly the connection between stress, diet and health presented in the peaks and valleys on his own health record, Arkin is convinced of the need to eat well, stay fit, and actively explore stress management. Experts across the medical spectrum agree that there is a profound connection between emotional states and physical health, and even celebrities - with improved access to healthy food, personal trainers and medical experts - recognize that despite following the healthiest diet and staying physically fit, when stress and extreme emotional states are part of the equation, health is vulnerable. Using his influence as a well-known public figure, Alan Arkin is attempting to help the public understand that health is quite complex and prevention and mediation work together to help make healthy living a success.

Listen to Andrea and Lisa's interview with Alan Arkin here

Photo credit: monmimoun

By Laura Holloway| January 23, 2014
Categories:  Live

About the Author

Laura Holloway

Laura Holloway

Laura Holloway is a contributing writer for Naturally Savvy.

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