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The Da Vinci Health Code

Did Leonardo da Vinci know as much about health as he did about art?

The Diet Code? continued...

"This is really what happened back in the old days," says Rumberger, the author of The Way Diet.

"Today, we have a lot of choices and eat lot of processed foods, and we tend to not necessarily pick the leanest meats to eat," he says. "As a result, we have a diet relatively poor in antioxidants." Antioxidants are found naturally in many foods and beverages and are thought to help prevent diseases, such as heart diseaseheart disease and cancercancer, by fighting cellular damage caused by damaging free radicals in the body.

Antioxidants "are extremely important in terms of reducing internal stressstress and helping to maintain our health so today, we end upon in situations where people need to take supplements to replace things they would have had benefited from with a Mediterranean-style diet," Rumberger explains.

"On top of that," he adds, "[Da Vinci and others who lived in the 15th century] were busy, worked hard, and exercise is an important part of [a healthy lifestyle]."

In Vino Veritas

"When you go way back in old days, the water was not safe, so when someone said 'how about some water from the pond,' you'd say 'no thank you, I'll have wine,'" he says.

Fermentation kills bacteria, and wine is rich in antioxidants called flavonoids, which raise good cholesterol levels, he says.

But as with anything, moderation is key, he says. "One glass of wine may lower your blood pressure, but three glasses may raise it."

The best way to eat like da Vinci and the other masters is to "make wise choices in food or take appropriate supplements," he says. "All diets will fail if you don't do some form of physical activity."

And choose organic if you can, he suggests. "In the Renaissance, there was a ready availability of fresh produce and it didn't have preservatives." Today, "the problem [with organic fruits and vegetables] is the cost can be higher, but choosing organic is a much wiser choice," he tells WebMD.

Sticks and Stones May Build Your Bones

While Nautilus machines and other high-tech gym equipment may seem so modern, their roots can actually be found in the Renaissance period -- and even earlier, says Joe Mullen, a Winter Springs, Fla.-based author of several books including The Da Vinci Fitness Code.

During the Renaissance and the Stone Age, "people used stones and rocks to do anything from cover up the front of their cave to building architecture, and what was probably noticed was that these people became stronger and that their body responded to higher levels of strength with flexibility and more muscle mass and endurance," he says. As a result, strength training was born.

"It's the same principle as today, but it was modified by the invention of high-tech equipment," he says. And the golden ratio also applies to modern-day fitness, he says. "Do sets of strength exercises in numbers that adhere to the golden ratio as opposed to picking numbers at random."

"Your body will respond better because it is attuned to the same natural rhythm found in nature," he says. Do sets based around the Fibonacci numbers (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13 ...), in which each term is the sum of the two previous terms (for example, 2+3=5, 3+5=8 ...). As you go farther and farther to the right in this sequence, the ratio of a term to the one before it will get closer and closer to the golden ratio, he explains. "Do 13 sets of reps instead of 15," he advises. "Your body will respond better."

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