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Dr. Mao Shing Ni
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Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Health, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica

Four Reasons To Add Diversity To Your Health Plan

Posted Jun. 22, 2014, 8:58 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

Sometimes more is more – especially when it comes to your health! Mixing up your diet and lifestyle with plenty of diversity can defend you better against top killers like cancer, heart disease, and inflammation.

You may be hearing the term “resilient” more lately, particularly as it applies to our planet. Resiliency is the ability to bounce back after an assault from dramatic weather, like hurricanes pummeling the East coast or the wild fires ravaging the West coast, or droughts shriveling soil in the Midwest.

Your body is a world unto itself. Through a diversity of nutrients, beneficial floras, and other health-supportive elements in your body, you become more resilient and can recover more effectively from the storms that attack your body on a daily basis, such as environmental toxins and food-borne bacteria from improper care of livestock and produce.

1. Eat a rainbow of colors.

A diversity of colors on your plate equals resilience in your body! Each of those colors indicates a different antioxidant or nutrient that is present. For example, the orange hue of squash and carrots brings antioxidant carotenoids, which bolster immunity and eyesight, as well as beta-carotene, which helps reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. The dark green kale and broccoli are rich in antioxidants and a treasure trove of potassium, dietary fiber, folate, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin C. The antioxidant phytonutrients found in blue and purple foods keep blood vessels healthy, benefiting your cardiovascular system, helping reverse short-term memory loss, and defending against cancer. So eat every color in every meal! An easy way to get it all in one shot is to make your own soup, stews, juice blends, and smoothies.

2. Don’t forget about herbs.

Just as a variety of foods in your diet maximize your health, daily doses of different herbs can protect you from disease. Everyone has slightly different herbal needs; for your best results, you should meet with a licensed herbalist to tailor a blend to your needs. But the general idea is to spice up your herbal intake! Perhaps you could pop some antioxidant-rich parsley in your morning smoothie, add ginger and garlic to your sautéed veggies, and drink a cup of valerian tea at night.

Bonus Tip: Many herbs work synergistically together to boost your health. We create a powerful overall longevity formula, called 5 Elements, which combines 44 herbs that keep you healthy and full of vitality.

3. Mix up exercise.

If you only lift weights, you are building bones, but not increasing flexibility. If you only stretch, you are increasing flexibility and range of motion, but what about keeping your muscles strong? And don’t forget cardio, which keeps your heart pumping! Some exercises include these benefits all in one, such as tai chi, qigong, and certain forms of yoga. But everything counts! Bicycling, dancing, and swimming are all excellent workouts. Even gardening includes weigh bearing and cardio when digging, raking, or doing another consistent sweeping activity.

4. Cultivate emotional resilience in many ways.

This is a biggie in our modern culture, a hugely important piece that most of us don’t make time for. So it is somewhat bold of me to suggest you should have many daily practices that nurture your state of mind. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be elaborate. It could be as simple as meditating for 10 minutes in the morning, reading an inspiring passage right before lunch, and spending five minutes petting a furry animal or walking in the woods. The point is to bring 5 to 10 minutes of mindfulness and joy at different intervals in your day. This will help you weather any storm!

Are you seeing a pattern here? In every aspect of your life, you want to bring in greater variety. That way, if one practice or nutrient fails, another can keep everything running smoothly. Just for example: maybe you missed your evening yoga class, but your morning meditation practice keeps you at ease in spite of this. Or maybe you aren’t able to absorb the antioxidants in your kale for some reason, but you are eating plenty of other colorful antioxidants to fill the gap. In the end, what diversity is all about is covering all the gaps so your optimal health prevails.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine, and board certified anti-aging expert. He has recently appeared on “The Ricki Lake Show,” “Dr. Oz,” and contributes to Yahoo Health and The Huffington Post. Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition, and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica, Newport Beach, and Pasadena. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni, founded the Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter, visit

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