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Know Yourself – Experience Life

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A few pages back in this issue, you may have seen the story of one of the most transformative experiences of my life. In 2011, at 50 years old, I decided to do the Leadman race series — a decision that nearly killed me. If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to do so on page 74 of the November 2020 issue of Experience Life magazine.

Until recently, I had shared the details of this experience with only a small circle of confidants. Here’s why I’ve now chosen to write about it.

As I lay in that hospital bed with rhabdomyolysis and failing kidneys nine years ago, my thoughts turned to my children. My daughter Meghan, who had so quickly grown into a strong and intelligent woman; my son, Akiliez, who was still so small. For each of them, I felt the same unbelievable explosion of love, the same sense of possibility, the same responsibility for their futures.

Yet there were so many differences. With Meghan, I felt like I had all the time in the world to offer wisdom, to guide her, to be her father. With Akiliez, I realized there was a chance I might not be around to give him what I so casually had given his sister.

I also remembered my own father, who had remarkable insight about the world, as well as a true gift for understanding the people in it. He taught me so much, but he never wrote anything down. Everything I learned from my father is in my memory.

As I realized that none of us really knows how much time we have, I wanted the chance to impart what my father taught me — and to pass on what I’d discovered since coming to the United States as a 17-year-old boy. I wanted to share what I’ve learned about life and business, from working the night shift at a gym to starting and growing Life Time.

I wanted my children to know what had challenged and changed me. To look at things from different perspectives, to move with confidence, and most important, to do all things with love.

This near-death experience was the catalyst for what I hoped would become a book, Letters to Akiliez, a series of essays and perspectives dedicated to my son. It started and stopped, like passion projects often do. My focus on it came and went.

Meanwhile, my family grew with the arrival of two more daughters. Life Time grew, too.

Nearly a decade has now passed, and while life has changed, particularly over these last several months, most of the thoughts and ideas I had intended for the book haven’t.

For now, rather than publishing a book, I’m letting the chapters so dear to my heart come to life on my website, bahramakradi.com. It’s a place for the stories to unfold. For the themes — many of them timeless and universal — to play out in today’s relevant conversations.

These are the concepts that I’ve learned through experiences and that have helped me in my unique approach over the years. Through self-exploration and self-reflection, these are the insights I like to share: about how they formed, what I value and love, and, importantly, why.

My hope today is not only for my children and others I love, but for colleagues and Life Time members — for every individual — to take time to do the work of knowing who you are and making the most of your time in this life.

My hope is that it doesn’t take an experience like mine for you to appreciate the full story of your existence.


Bahram Akradi
is the founder, chairman, and CEO of Life Time. Hear more from him at BahramAkradi.com.

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Health & Fitness

7 Immune-Boosting Foods – Experience Life

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Looking to build your immune system? Start by eating immunity-boosting foods like turmeric, sauerkraut, and medicinal mushrooms.

Healthy, balanced immune function is your best defense against any illness. One of the keys to bolstering your immune system? Nutrition.

“Diet is all-important,” says preventive-medicine specialist David Katz, MD. “You’re building white blood cells, enzymes, and antibodies every day, and the food you eat is literally the source of your construction materials.”

A single meal can alter how immune cells respond to provocation, and the effects accumulate over hours, days, and weeks, he explains. “You can do a complete 180 and optimize a badly broken immune system in as little as weeks by improving your diet, so it’s a very immediate return on investment.”

Foods that dampen the immune system include highly processed or fried foods, those high in added sugar, and nonorganic foods grown with glyphosate, the chief ingredient in Roundup, a common herbicide that has been linked to cancer.

On the flip side, foods rich in polyphenols — beneficial plant compounds found in many vegetables, fruits, and legumes — support immune function. Integrative practitioner Robert Rountree, MD notes that the Mediterranean diet (plenty of colorful vegetables, nuts, and olive oil; moderate amounts of protein; and a little red wine with dinner) provides a good general template for immune-supportive eating.

Some immune system–balancing superstars to focus on:

  1. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, including potent antioxidants called catechins that have antimicrobial properties and may help protect against influenza. It also contains quercetin, a flavonoid that Rountree calls a “time-honored immune-supportive agent.”
  2. Berries are a potent source of immune-supporting flavonoids. “When you eat berries, most of these pigment molecules go to the colon, where bacteria break them down into smaller molecules that escape and circulate in the body, exerting antiviral effects,” says David Nieman, DrPH, FACSM, an exercise immunologist at North Carolina’s Appalachian State University.
  3. Turmeric gets its deep orange-yellow from curcumin, a compound that helps balance the immune system. It has a modulating effect on T cells, B cells, macrophages, and other immune cells, and can also enhance antibody response.
  4. Garlic contains sulfuric compounds with a range of antimicrobial effects, such as inhibiting the biofilm formation of bacteria. It also has natural antiviral properties and can help reduce hypertension, one of the leading risk factors for COVID-19. (For more on garlic, see “Garlic”.)
  5. Citrus fruits such as grapefruit, kiwi, and lemon deliver abundant ­vitamin C — one of the most important nutrients for the immune system, aiding in the formation of white blood cells. (For more on this essential ­nutrient, visit “What You Need to Know About Vitamin C”.)
  6. Sauerkraut and other fermented foods contain lactic-acid bacteria, which produce compounds in the gut that spur the immune system into action. And cabbage itself is another excellent source of vitamin C.
  7. Medicinal mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans, an immunomodulator that activates macrophages, natural killer cells, dendritic cells, and neutrophils. “Mushrooms like shiitake, oyster, and maitake have been shown to prime immune cells in published studies,” says Rountree. He recommends both eating shiitake mushrooms and taking a mushroom extract to support the immune system.

This originally appeared as “Eat Well” in “6 Ways to Boost Your Immune System” in the January/February 2021 issue of Experience Life.


Mo Perry
is an Experience Life contributing editor.

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