The Third Leg Under The Health Stool

meditation and healthIf you’ve followed this blog for even a short period of time, you know that I am committed to sharing health information that will help prevent, arrest and even cure some of our most insidious chronic diseases.  The emerging science and clinical trials focused on the profound impact diet, exercise and your mental state can have on the manifestation of these diseases is too long in coming, but is finally having a major impact.  Probably the most overlooked and misunderstood contributors to compromising our immune systems are stress and anxiety.  New studies have now shown that, much like diet (Nutrigenomics: A Life-Saving Science), our gene expression is influenced greatly by our emotional states.  Both good and bad genes can be turned off and on, depending on whether we exist in a state of appreciation and peace or one of stress and anxiety.

Whereas exercise and diet have been widely touted, written about and generally accepted as a means to improving health, the practice of meditation has historically been relegated to mystical status practiced primarily by outliers.  The medical community has recently been more supportive of the role meditation can play as evidenced by researchers out of the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine in Massachusetts illuminating the mechanisms of meditation’s effects, specifically the relaxation response.  According to Dr. Benson, the relaxation response is, “a physical state of deep rest that changes the physical and emotional responses to stress (e.g., decreases in heart rate, blood pressure, rate of breathing, and muscle tension)” and is characterized by:

  • Metabolism decreases
  • Heart beats slow and muscles relax
  • Breathing slows
  • Blood pressure decreases
  • Levels of nitric oxide increase (this is very good, see “Boost Performance“)

stress1As Dr. Kelly Brogan points out, “Only recently have the tools to assess gene-based changes been available.  Genetic study of eight-week and long-term meditators demonstrated evidence of changes to gene expression – specifically antioxidant production, telomerase activity, and oxidative stress – as a result of the relaxation response.”  She goes on to say “It appears that the relationship between gene expression optimization and relaxation response is dose-related, so that increasing amounts confer increasing benefit.”  Roughly translated, even a little meditation will have positive effects, but the more you induce the relaxation response, the more likely you will be up-regulating the good, chronic disease fighting genes and down-regulating those genes that promote disease.

 Obviously, this message is huge and has ramifications that require your daily attention, just as diet and exercise do.  The techniques for meditation are extensive and diverse.  A quick Google search will produce seemingly limitless options, with varying degrees of effort and time commitment on your part.  For those of you who want an easy, effective and passive method, I have a recorded session that I often use that you can put on your smartphone and listen to when you go to bed at night or when you first wake up in the morning.  If you would like a copy, just shoot me an email at rbmilligan@aol.com and I will send you the audio file free.

Here’s a quick video from Dr. Brogan I believe you’ll find interesting:

(If the video doesn’t load, go here)

God bless

2,400 Year-Old Health Advice: New?

food as medicine

I have often used this quote by Hippocrates to underscore how this sage advice has withstood the test of time.  Despite the fact that, as a society, we seem to have disconnected from his message and chronic diseases and obesity are running rampant, it is perhaps the most important principle in managing our own health.  I was amused by the title of a recent article written by T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry (Cornell) and author of The China Study, Startling Implications for Diet, and Weight Loss and Long Term Health.  Keeping in mind what Hippocrates said more than 2,400 years ago, Dr. Campbell is still beating the drum, but now with significant clinical evidence to back it up:

“Why Ordinary Food Will Be the New Medicine of the Future”

People who live by Hippocrates’ tenet will get the joke, unfortunately for a lot of others who have been brainwashed by the food and pharmaceutical industries, the message Dr. Campbell shares below will be, in fact, “new“:

“An impressive body of evidence now shows that a whole food, plant-based (WFPB) diet produces profound effects like reversing and treating heart disease, diabetes and many other ailments and chronic pains. Other evidence suggests similar effects on cancers. These outcomes are much more than I once thought, especially concerning my having come from a family farm and milking cows then doing graduate work to “prove” that the high-protein, high-fat animal-based foods diet was best for our health. I succeeded only in proving myself wrong.

foodmedicineUnfortunately, this WFPB strategy has long been a secret, perhaps the best-kept secret in medical history. Remarkably, it can treat and reverse existing ailments (quickly) as well as to prevent future ailments. No other diet plan comes close, especially those of the low carb ilk.

It is time to reject frivolous arguments to the contrary. If there is merit to alternative hypotheses, it is time to use them to prove wrong those of us in the profession who have studied and used this approach to solve illness. It’s time for the naysayers to show that they can do better if they wish to be heard.

food as medicineThe stakes are now too high to allow for self-serving interests paving our way to health. We have imposing problems, many tracing their origins to food choice. Health care costs, environmental degradation and unnecessary ethical behavior head a list of impending crises that must be resolved for the sake of our humanity and our planet.”

God bless

Metabolic Syndrome: Got it? Beat it!

metabolic syndromeI came across an article the other day written by a doctor who was using himself as a guinea pig in the quest for knowledge about how our bodies burn different fuel, primarily fat and glucose.  He was fascinated by our ability to switch back and forth between these fuel sources, depending upon our state of activity, and by the body’s ability to actually manufacture certain fuels required to run our brains.  The triggering event for this interest was his shocking diagnosis of Metabolic Syndrome, despite being relatively young and a long-distance swimmer.  I had never heard of Metabolic Syndrome and decided to dig deeper.

Basically, you are diagnosed with Metabolic Syndrome if you have any three of the following:

  • A waistline of 40 inches or more for men and 35 inches or more for women (measured across the belly)
  • A blood pressure of 130/85 mm Hg or higher or are taking blood pressure medications
  • A triglyceride level above 150 mg/dl
  • A fasting blood glucose (sugar) level greater than 100 mg/dl or are taking glucose-lowering medications
  • A high density lipoprotein level (HDL) less than 40 mg/dl (men) or under 50 mg/dl (women)

blood testThe doctor I mentioned above was okay with the first two, but his blood chemistry told a different story and had him trip-up on the last three.  How do you prevent, arrest or reverse Metabolic Syndrome while avoiding prescription drugs?  Here are the most effective answers and, in the case of our doctor friend, the dietary adjustment had the most profound effect:

  • Lose weight – Moderate weight loss, in the range of 5 percent to 10 percent of body weight, can help restore your body’s ability to recognize insulin and greatly reduce the chance that the syndrome will evolve into a more serious illness.
  • Exercise – Increased activity alone can improve your insulin levels. Aerobic exercise such as a brisk 30-minute daily walk can result in a weight loss, improved blood pressure, improved cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of developing diabetes. Most health care providers recommend 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week. Exercise may reduce the risk for heart disease even without accompanying weight loss.
  • Consider dietary changes – Maintain a diet that keeps carbohydrates to no more than 50 percent of total calories. Eat foods defined as complex carbohydrates, such as whole grain bread (instead of white), brown rice (instead of white), and sugars that are unrefined (instead of refined; for example cookies, crackers). Increase your fiber consumption by eating legumes (for example, beans), whole grains, fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of red meats and poultry. Thirty percent of your daily calories should come from fat. Consume healthy fats such as those in canola oil, olive oil, flaxseed oil and nuts.
  • Limit alcohol intake – Consume no more than one drink a day for women, or two drinks a day for men.

Here’s a quick video that provides a comprehensive solution:

(If the video doesn’t load, click here)

God bless

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