S&S 0917

Cardiologist Dr. Dale Cannon shared insights into maintaining a healthier life. PHOTO BY

Big Canoe living can be good for your health

By Wayne Tidwell, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Living in a place like Big Canoe has significant health benefits for those who take advantage of it, according to Dr. Dale Cannon, cardiologist with the Piedmont Heart Institute, who spoke at the September Squires & Stags breakfast at The club house at Lake Sconti.

After a moment of silence for the victims of hurricane Harvey, Dr. Cannon focused on “guarding your heart,” combining body, mind and spiritual exercises for a healthier, less stressful life.

In the mid 1980s, a gentleman by the name of Jim Anthony, a Southern Bell lineman, created the first private luxury Cliffs community called Glassy near Greenville, S.C. and went on to form seven Cliffs communities, Cannon told the crowd.

“Gary Player said there is something about these Blue Ridge Mountains that remind me of the foothills in Switzerland,” Cannon said. “He calls this part of the country Little Switzerland.”

A community physician at Glassy told Cannon that he would like to prove scientifically that if you live in the community and walk the walk and talk the talk, “you will live longer, feel better and your body, mind and spirit will be in one.”

“I thought that seems a little out there but I agreed to talk to him,” Cannon said. “I looked around the area and said there is something special about those mountains.”

The physician explained to Cannon that his love was wellness and he wanted to make a difference in his community.

“We designed a program called Preserve Heart,” Cannon said. “They (Glassy owners) were advanced in their day in using some electronic tracking so that when you went into the dining facility they knew what you were eating, when you went into the wellness center they knew which machines you were using, etc. and they had wellness coaching.”

Cannon said they began monitoring several hundred participants in the program.

“All it took was one year that showed that if you walked the walk and talked the talk of the Cliffs community and followed your wellness coach, and utilized the wellness facility, every (health) parameter we looked at statistically improved.

“Roll the clock to 2017 in Big Canoe in Georgia,” Cannon said. “It’s exactly the same thing. You have the same beauty, the same amenities.”

He encouraged those listening to think of their community from a wellness perspective.

“I encourage every one of you, if you are doing something (exercises) here, do one more thing that you are not doing, and if you are not doing something, use this as a launching pad into something,” Cannon said. “You have a world class wellness center here and I covet it every time I see it.”

He pointed out that there is something for the active and the sedentary at Big Canoe that can make people healthier.

“You have water, you have classes,” Cannon said. “You have exercise 101 and 102 that are designed to introduce the sedentary to get out and move a little bit. Just by increasing your capacity just a bit and working on your balance and core strength, the risk of falling is drastically reduced.”

He encouraged those who are active to “stretch it out a little bit.”

“You’ve got boating and lake activities. You have walking some on the golf course. You have racquet sports. You have a wellness center that can take you to the next level.”

He encouraged everyone to do more than purely physical activity.

“In respect to our minds, think of your community in how it enhances the ability to wind down, relax, enjoy, and appreciate creation. It can be as simple as designing a time for yourself like quiet time on your back porch, a little music, listening to the wind, saying a prayer, giving thanks.”

He suggested thinking about some of the services that are offered that people might not think they are interested in or are a little “out there” or not in one’s comfort zone. Things like yoga, massage therapy, water aerobics, Tai Chi can lower blood pressure and heart rate, according to Cannon. He said stress from events like hurricane Harvey can be harmful.

He said relaxation techniques lower the adrenalin levels in the body and “spending 60 seconds with the Lord upon rising in the morning is healthy.

“I promise you will start the day guarding your heart without question. Second, spend at least 20 minutes during the day in some mode of relaxation. It could be prayer; it could be enjoying the scenery. Let that adrenalin come down. Reset yourself.

“Third, find something physical to do within your community every day. It could be the gym or taking a walk. But please do one more step than what you would have done before.”

Change in eating habits

Cannon said he had a mindset change about eating habits.

“It takes hundred and hundreds of generations for genetic modifications to occur to adapt to changes in environment and believe it or not, we are internally operating on genes that go back 300 generations to forefathers who were of the hunter/gatherer society.

“They ate lean meat, plenty of it, lots of fruits and non-starchy vegetables and they generally enjoyed good health. We got away from that in the agricultural era where we got away from what we are designed to do. We weren’t getting vitamins the way our forefathers did.”

In the 50s, Cannon told the breakfast group, the USDA decided that saturated fat was a bad player in cardiovascular disease so they came out with a new food pyramid that reduced protein intake from 35 percent to 15 percent and ramped up carbohydrates to over 65 percent of our diet.

“Our bodies were thrown into complete turmoil,” he said. “Suddenly our waistlines started enlarging. Processing to make food more available, high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids and artificial sweeteners all were totally foreign to our bodies and our bodies acted negatively to it, resulting in extra body weight and a ramp-up of insulin levels and vascular inflammation.

“We should adopt a diet that is closer to our forefathers’:

  1. Lean meat should be 35 percent of our diet and we need to pay attention to where it comes from.
  2. We need to have a large majority of the remainder of our meal be fresh fruits and vegetables.

“With orchards, grass fed beef farms, farm eggs, good chicken, people in North Georgia have access to the right foods,” Cannon said. “What an awesome place to live.”

He also recommended plenty of seafood and the generous use of good oils such as flax seed oil, olive oil, walnut oil and avocado oil but not the processed vegetable oils. He recommended that people know their vitamin D levels and suggested asking your doctor to check the level when getting a physical examination.

He said he saw no problem incorporating 3-6 ounces of wine (preferably red) per day into diets for added health benefits.

Cannon suggested two books, “The Paleo Diet” and the “Gene Smart Diet” to read and suggested researching Omega 3-to-Omega 6 ratios.

“If all you do is read these two books and Google this topic you are going to walk away with an understanding that will make a change for you and your family for the duration.”

Squires & Stags meets on the first Friday of the month. New members and guests are welcome to attend. Coffee is ready at 7:45 a.m., followed by a buffet breakfast served at 8:00 a.m. Big Canoe residents are invited to attend the meeting. The price of breakfast is $13 payable on your POA account or cash at the door. To register, use the online registration or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Reservations are required and must be received by Noon on Thursday before the Friday morning meeting.


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