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March 2011 Archives
If at first you don't succeed, push more, try harder, and go faster, right? Manic movement with caloric deprivation seems to be the belief most people hold for losing weight, and for good reason. The media is filled with experts telling us to, "whip our bodies into shape, cut out "bad" foods, weigh our proteins and starches, workout more (or workout harder at a peak), sweat more, go harder, and faster to achieve "optimal results". Phew, I think my stress hormones rose just writing that sentence!
Every day, I hear stories from various patients about how they are working out harder, cutting out more calories, avoiding allergens, and actually gaining more weight! Depressed from the lack of results after "doing everything right", they invariably enter into a cycle of restrictive-binge eating patterns. These cycles cause their brain's thermostat for weight maintenance and brain chemistry to become deregulated and mis-signal. The result is a vicious self-perpetuating cycle into what I call the "grumpy, dieter's deprivation blues."
The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think a lot of us can relate to this concept in regards to exercise and the pursuit of an ideal body shape. It seems like insanity to continue this deprivation and fast paced rat race, yet it's what we are programmed to believe we need to do. Most believe that this perfect body will help them attain a sense of a happiness or self-approval, but let me ask you this, have you ever seen a skinny, happy, dieter?
I've found that most dieters are obsessively preoccupied with their image, overweight, angry, and self-deprecating. A dieter's life becomes a bookmark in a novel, in between the time space of fat and weight loss. Not a fun space to be in. Maybe most believe that this negative self talk will "motivate them to change", however; it seems to be those with a more positive self-image to start are thinner to begin with. They tend to be more self-compassionate with less dysfunctional eating behavioral patterns.
Recently, I came across an article in the Vital Choice Newsletter which discussed the findings from a study linking self-compassion with healthy behaviors, including eating. Various other studies have reported on the brain effects and the paradox of binge eating after restriction with resultant weight gain. According to the article, researchers found that that those with a more self-accepting attitude had less restrictive eating patterns and better overall health. In fact, the non-restrictors ended up eating less than the restrictors in the long run!
Intrigued, I found the original study posted from the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology. The abstract is as follows:
This study investigated the possibility that inducing a state of self-compassion would attenuate the tendency for restrained eaters to overeat after eating an unhealthy food preload (the disinhibition effect). College women completed measures of two components of rigid restrained eating: restrictive eating (desire and effort to avoid eating unhealthy foods) and eating guilt (tendency to feel guilty after eating unhealthily). Then, participants were asked either to eat an unhealthy food preload or not and were induced to think self-compassionately about their eating or given no intervening treatment. Results showed that the self-compassion induction reduced distress and attenuated eating following the preload among highly restrictive eaters. The findings highlight the importance of specific individual differences in restrained eating and suggest benefits of self-compassionate eating attitudes.
Another study in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology provided an explanation on why self-compassion has been shown to have a positive effect on eating behavior and overall health. This study was done on 177 graduate students and found that those with more self-compassion also had higher personal initiative. Therefore, the characteristic of being kind to oneself can be a drive to want to choose healthy lifestyle and eating behaviors. After all, if you like yourself, why would you hurt yourself? Furthermore, self-compassion was linked to more happiness, optimism, brain function, and coping strategies.
According to the Journal article:
...feelings of compassion for self and others have been linked to higher levels of brain activation in the left prefrontal cortex, a region associated with joy and optimism (Lutz, Greischar, Rawlings, Ricard, & Davidson, 2004). Results indicated that self-compassionate individuals experienced significantly more positive and less negative mood generally. However, we do not interpret this to mean that self-compassion is merely a "Pollyanish" form of positive thinking. Although self-compassion is associated with positive affect, it stems from the ability to hold difficult negative emotions in non-judgmental awareness without denial or suppression (NeV et al., in press).
What these studies provided was observational data that the feelings of positive affect could biochemically trump stress producing hormones that create inflammation and resultant weight gain.
I want to take a minute to address another key factor for the 1/3rd of Americans who are overweight. For most, these tactics fall short in one big way; they don't address not only the behavior and mind effects of weight loss but they ignore the physical aspects of metabolism and healthy weight management. The truth is that diet and exercise are only one factor to maintaining an overall healthy weight and body. Most overweight people are nutrient deprived, due to running on low quality fuel and inefficient adrenaline, and if resultant imbalances in their biochemistry aren't also addressed, weight loss will be minimal at best.
Key areas for addressing weight loss resistance include balancing:
• Digestive imbalances and dysbiosis
• Neurotransmitters (remember my article on food addiction and the change in dopamine receptors?)
• The stress response with resultant adrenal dysfunction
• And this blogs focus....Healthy behavior and eating styles
Recently, I had a patient explain how they achieved a healthier weight by focusing on health and happiness and not worrying about calories and exercising like crazy. As she tuned into nourishing her body with a specific diet and movement program tailored to her own biochemical needs and wants, and we addressed her underlying inflammation and hormonal imbalances, the result was not just weight loss, but a happier, healthier brain and body! I see this all the time. The more we reconnect to our own natural state of well-being and allow guidance to re-balance our biochemistry, we are returned to health with less effort and more joy. Go figure.
Craig Weatherby. Lighten Up to Lose Health Woes and Weight? Rather than self-esteem, "self-compassion" may enhance health and ability to limit food intake. Vital Choice Newsletter. 3/3/2011. http://newsletter.vitalchoice.com/e_article002036430.cfm?x=bjb3ghN,b1h0JlRD
Parker Pope, Tara. Go Easy on Yourself, A New Wave of Research Urges. New York Times online. 2/28/2011. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/02/28/go-easy-on-yourself-a-new-wave-of-research-urges/
K.D. NeV et al. An examination of self-compassion in relation to positive psychological functioning and personality traits. Journal of Research in Personality 41 (2007) 908-916. https://webspace.utexas.edu/neffk/pubs/JRPbrief.pdf
Adams, C. & Leary, M. PROMOTING SELF-COMPASSIONATE ATTITUDES TOWARD EATING AMONG RESTRICTIVE AND GUILTY EATERS. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 26, No. 10, 2007, pp. 1120-1144. https://webspace.utexas.edu/neffk/pubs/AdamsLearyeating%20attitudes.pdf
Hyman, M. Tips: Calm Your Mind, Heal Your Body. Ultrawellness. http://drhyman.com/stress-tips-calm-your-mind-heal-your-body 478/?utm_source=Publicaster&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drhyman%20newsletter%20issue%20#17&utm_term=Read+more
The horrible tragedy that hit Japan on Saturday is a topic with repercussions far beyond the discussion of this week's health blog. My heart and prayers go out to all of Japan's people during this time of loss. Still, I am touched with pride as I watch our country exhibit a strong empathy, followed with positive action, in response to this natural disaster. It tugs my heart strings to be informed of all the scientists, doctors, industries, and celebrities uniting to gather resources for Japan's citizens through prayer, man power, medical attention, and financial support.
Today, many people are still trying to process the intense emotions of shock and fear that have erupted from this unfortunate incident. This event has served as an intense reminder that no one is immune to natural disaster, tragedy, and death and has caused many to question their own safety. I have received numerous emails from concerned patients, friends, colleagues, and companies regarding suggestions on how to protect ourselves should radiation hit our shores.
After reviewing the data, and becoming overwhelmed in separating the science from the hysteria, I was relieved to find a scientific, compassionate, and proactive summary from Moss Nutrition. Today, a podcast was released, specifically designed for patients and laypeople. In it, Dr. Moss reviews all the major questions that are formulated from this event. Most importantly, he discusses the importance of acting from intelligence and facts over fear and panic.
Along with reading published journals, I also listened to a few discussions intended specifically for practitioners on this subject. These presentations thoroughly reviewed the science beyond nuclear exposure and the clinical recommendations from its effects. I am very grateful to Dr. Moss and Dr. Brady for making these non-hyped, research-based presentations available. I highly recommend you listen to the 40 minute podcast to educate yourself on this topic. Facts relieve fear and provide proactive solutions.
Here is a summary of some of the most important key points I learned from my research and the presentations. From my understanding:
1. At this point, it appears that the United States is not in danger of severe radiation effects. Distance is a major factor in disintegrating the radiation.
2. The amount of radiation that the people in Japan are being exposed to is accumulating daily; it is not at a rate near Chernobyl, though the cumulative effects are reaching detrimental levels.
3. The units of measurement of radiation are confusing!
It appears that we are minimally exposed to radiation every day. (Remember the concept of hormesis?)
Here are some interesting facts:
• The earth emits its own radiation every day.
• The radiation received from airport security is a lot less than most other forms of radiation; this is an example of misinformation creating fear.
• Smoking causes radiation effects that are cumulative and higher than chest x-rays and CT scans.
4. We don't appear to be near the levels needed to cause massive deaths or cancer.
It takes approximately 25 Rd to kill about ½ the population exposed. Japan is at a mSV level right now. (100 Rem= 1000mSV, 1rad=10mGy, 0.01 Gy = 0.01 Sv, 0.1 rad = 100 mrad = 1 mGy = 0.001 Gy )
5. Potassium iodide only helps the effect of one isotope, 131-I, released with radiation exposure. It does seem to protect those who are deficient in iodine and children. Those who are already well nourished may not benefit. The thyroid cancer outbreak of Chernobyl may have been more of a result of passing the isotope through the food supply, particularly milk, and air.
6. Potassium iodide should not be taken at large doses unsupervised and is not without toxic effects. Children and those with thyroid issues may want to consider taking it. Proactive small doses may be wise.
7. We should continue to take good care of bodies and supply them with a healthy diet full of antioxidants. Antioxidants seem to protect the body from the radioactive isotopes that cause DNA damage to the cells, creating all the damaging effects to the body.
8. I do recommend talking with a practitioner about protective measures and individualized support.
Dr. Jeffrey Moss. Moss Nutrition. Gaining a healthy perspective on radiation physiology
and the use of supplementation. & Practitioner Video. Podcast. March 18, 2011
Dr. Brady & Dr. Moss. DFH Nutrient Roundtable. 3/17/2011.
Units of Radiation. Accessed 3/17/2011. http://www.jplabs.com/html/units_of_radiation.HTM
Becker, D. Professor of Radiology and Medicine. PHYSIOLOGICAL BASIS FOR THE USEOF POTASSIUM IODIDE AS A THYROID BLOCKING AGENT LOGISTIC ISSUES IN ITS DISTRIBUTION. Vol. 59, No. 10, December 1983
Cardis, E. et al. Risk of Thyroid Cancer After Exposure to 131 I in Childhood. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Vol. 97, No. 10, May 18, 2005
Yong, L. High dietary antioxidant intakes are associated with decreased chromosome translocation frequency in airline pilots Am J Clin Nutr 2009;90:1402-10.
(If you are new to this scene, visiting the resource section on my newly re-vamped home page may be helpful. On the right hand side, you can follow the links to "find a local CSA", gain information on "Greenfield NY's farmer's market", search the "NRDC "site for tips to eating locally, and access other sites to learn more about retrieving these earth friendly and healthy foods).
It is no doubt a case of synchronicity that this concept of food as medicine prevailed as I was reading through my daily newsletters, journals, and blogs. In my March Top Reads posts, the old Hippocratic quote, "let food be thy medicine, thy medicine shall be thy food," echoed in my head. This led me to thinking of the misperception of the use of natural medicine as unscientific.
Although it may seem too simple to use diet and lifestyle as a form of medicine, it is the oldest prescription around, dating back to the father of medicine. Now, science is catching up with sage wisdom. In July, research was released in a 24 page summary from the Agricultural Research Department of the USDA. This report provided scientific documentation of how isolated active constituents from foods and phytonutrients positively affect health outcomes.
In previous blogs, I discussed the power of nutrigenomics. Specifically, in one blog I explored the connection between how foods affected breast cancer outcomes. The Vitalchoice newsletter recently clarified this science of using food to change genetic expression with the example of magnesium intake on blood sugar:
One of the hottest fields in biomedical research is "nutrigenomics" - the science of how nutrients and other food factors influence our genes in their roles as active, second-to-second directors of key bodily processes. For example, while the polyphenols in fruits, vegetables, cocoa, tea, coffee, whole grains, nuts, and other plant foods act as antioxidants in the test tube, they exert only very minor direct antioxidant effects in the body.
Instead, polyphenols seem to bring us health benefits by influencing the "expression" (activation) of genes in our cells. Gene expression is a process in which a gene is "switched on" at a certain time and commands a cell to take certain actions, such as assembly of proteins or RNA that initiates or influences bodily processes.
Thus, gene expression is the most fundamental level at which a person's genetic profile or "genotype" gives rise to their unique set of physical and mental characteristics, or "phenotype". (In contrast, "nutrigenetics" is the study of how a person's genetic makeup influences their body's responses to specific nutrients and food factors.)
Now a new study from the University of California at Los Angeles suggests that magnesium brings many of its benefits through its nutrigenomic effects.
Another highlight from TOP READS includes the use of fish oil as a protector in retinopathy. Specifically, fish oil effects the expression of anti-vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), inhibiting the formation of detrimental blood vessels in vascular diseases.
Also, be sure to check out the article on the use of Seasame oil with diabetic medication. It provides an example of the integration of food with pharmaceuticals. If you are interested in more biochemistry of how foods affect genotype, Dr. Redmond from Metametrix provides more examples in the "Health" portion of TOP READS.
So, here's to a healthy, happy, Spring! In my next blog I'll discuss how self-compassion and health are connected to your appetite.
Physorg. New hybrid drug, derived from common spice, may protect, rebuild brain cells after stroke. February 10, 2011.
Weatherby, C. Magnesium's Anti-Diabetic Gene Effects. Vitalchoice Newsletter. March 7, 2011. http://newsletter.vitalchoice.com/e_article002040431.cfm?x=bjbKN7l,b1h0JlRD.
Przemyslaw Sapieha, ect al. 5-Lipoxygenase Metabolite 4-HDHA Is a Mediator of the Antiangiogenic Effect of ω-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (abstract) . Sci Transl Med 9 February 2011: Vol. 3, Issue 69, p. 69ra12 .DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.3001571
Sesasame Oil Works Synergestically with Anti-Diabetic Medicine to Improve Glucose and Lipid Profile (Clin Nutr. 2010 Dec 15. Abstract)
Eat More Veggies - It's National Nutrition Month!. 1 March 2011 10:07 by Elizabeth Redmond. Metametrix Institute Blog. www.metametrix.org
USDA. Agricultural Research Department. July 2010. http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/AR/archive/jul10/July2010.pdf
In last week's blog, I discussed how our high speed society has become overly consumed with its pursuit for a "medical panacea". It's as though our fast-paced lifestyles do not allow any room to slow down, pause, or reflect, even if our bodies are signaling they need to. This may be a major contributor to why so many people become fearful of any sign of dysfunction in their body or to any twinge of discomfort.
We have become a society seeking entertainment and anesthesia, with no time to allow nature to heal or to look within for our own means to cure. People and scientists have become more comfortable with a perceived control over nature and an ability to manipulate the body rather than heal and integrate with it.
Regardless of the fact that they have been around thousands of years prior to the advent of penicillin, we have been told that "natural medicine" and lifestyle modalities are a form of "quackery." Furthermore, these messages of using control to remove physical symptoms are creating a predominant disconnect and distrust of one to their own body's innate healing mechanisms.
Many are hesitant to embrace a natural, "non-scientific" route, due to "lack of evidence." Thankfully, this is turning around. More and more research is validating that foods, herbs, and nutrients contain phytochemicals which affect our health in positive ways.
The problem behind "proving diet works," is that the model doesn't fit. Evidence based medicine has been researching natural medicine and nutrients in a similar fashion as drugs, through biochemical pathways and controlled trials. As stated in one of my previous blogs, this is not an effective method to assess healing or clinical efficacy. This is for a variety of reasons:
Most clinical trials for nutrition don't take into account if a person is deficient in the nutrient or phytochemicals when they are testing a particular constituent in their study. Therefore, mixed results will occur. If the intervention was applied to people who were deficient and needed the nutrient, the results will likely be positive. If those tested were already above the threshold for the nutrient or compound, the results would be skewed to negative effects.
With drugs you have two very controllable factors; the impact of the actual intervention vs. no intervention. With nutritional interventions, it is not that easy. Why? There are two phases of extreme nutritional intervention factors-complete deficiency and resultant death vs. toxicity from over dosage and resultant death.
Nutrients work in synergism. Meaning, if you take too much of one nutrient, a deficiency in another can ensue. For example, too much zinc depletes copper. Therefore, you take another drug or another supplement to deal with the side effect of the previous drug or previous supplement when basing treatment on symptoms and isolates verses on a therapeutic protocol and synergism.
Therefore, based on these current research modalities, "science" has set up foods to be panaceas or poisons. This causes various nutrients and vitamins to be the cure-all for a generation and the kill-all for another. As promised last week, I'll use soy as an example of this.
In pubmed, the online source for peer-reviewed scientific articles, "soy and health" gets a whopping 1578 hits. It's definitely a hot topic with mixed media hype of villain vs. hero status. Even various experts disagree on it. Mark Hyman is more for it, Dr. Mercola won't go near it. Both are brilliant. What do we do and who do we believe? Such confusion created over one food to either put to our lips or flush into the drain.
In a recent a recent article from Dr. Mercola, soy's history from superhero to villain is discussed. As you read through this summary, I'd like to propose the following question to be looked at the end of the article: what if we replace soy and soy products in paragraph one with vitamin D? (Uh-oh?)
In the early 1990's, soy and soy products exploded onto the supermarket scene with promises of bountiful health benefits. This "new miracle food," soy, was supposed to lower cholesterol, take the heat out of hot flashes, protect against breast and prostate cancer and offer a filling alternative to earth-loving vegetarians.
The problem with these claims?
Sadly, most of what you have been led to believe by the media about soy is simply untrue. The sudden upsurge in the recommendation of soy as a health food has been nothing more than a clever marketing gimmick to further reduce the cost and nutritional content of your food.
For you vegetarians out there staring at the screen in open-mouthed shock, fear not. There are plenty of other healthy vegetarian alternatives, which I will discuss later in this article. What was once considered a minor industrial crop back in 1913 now covers over 72 million acres of farmland. But first, let's examine the dangers and side effects of soy protein isolate and GMO foods.
So, are you convinced now that Soy should completely be avoided? Not so fast. Let's take another look. The Agency for HealthCare Research and Quality (AHRQ) wrote an unbiased, scientific, 245 page "summary" entitled, The Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes. Let me save you some time reading. The main summary is that both the benefits and the harms of soy are probably overstated.
The effect of soy on women has been debated heavily. It seems that there exists a complex interaction between soy and estrogen, which may account for its harm or healing effects in different women with different hormonal levels:
Twelve studies reported estradiol levels at the follicular phase in 434 pre-menopausal women. The overall effect of soy on estradiol levels was not consistent. Most of the studies showed a trend for soy to reduce estradiol, although they failed to demonstrate a statistically significant effect. Six randomized trials reported the effect of soy on TSH. No overall effect of soy on TSH and thyroid function is clear.
In its synergism, soy can act as an estrogen mimicker or an antagonist. For women low in estrogen, soy phytoestrogens may be helpful. For women with estrogen dominant patterns, high isoflavones may cause worsening of symptoms. Furthermore, the health of a women's gastrointestinal tract will affect if they are capable of producing "equol" from soy constituents, complicating soy's biochemical effects and confusing brilliant doctor's recommendations even more.
For children, soy is a definite no-no.
Back to Mercola:
What does this mean? Feeding your infant soy-based formula can cause a host of health problems including:
- Behavioral problems
- Food allergies and digestive distress
- Early puberty and fertility problems (including the inability to menstruate)
- Precocious puberty for girls and gynecomastia (man boobs) for boys
- Thyroid disease
Here's my take on Soy:
I do concur that fermented and non-GMO soy products are the way to go if one consumes soy. Non-organic soy does contain aluminum, GMO, pesticides, and many imbalanced phytohormones from processing. This puts it back into the very educated consumers or practitioners hand of knowing the biochemistry of the individual and how that will match with the constituents of the supplement. Also, one should consider hormesis, or the dose response curve.
Back to the vitamin D-Soy comparison:
By no means, am I suggesting that the geniuses in the vitamin D council don't have sound, valid research or that Vitamin D isn't linked to all these health claims that were touted and disputed for by soy in the Mercola excerpt. I am sure many of us are deficient in Vitamin D, and as with any vitamin, if we take it when we need it, health will ensue.
I am saying unless the underlying deficiency of why someone is low in vitamin D is addressed, we could be adding it in a boat and floating it away with vitamin E and Mr. Soy. This is because across the board recommendations without looking at causes of deficiencies or personal biochemistry can be dangerous. Everyone is different.
What happens 10 years down the road when this fat soluble vitamin accumulates in the blood stream of those with less efficient livers and kidneys? Also, what if we began testing for the other 43 monomers not tested in the typical 25-OH test and realize we've been missing something?
Another villain on our hands? It seems that nutrients are considered "bad" when they don't exert one easy, biochemical effect on every single person who consumes it. And, there's the issue. Nutrients aren't drugs.
Leo Galland, MD. Drug-Supplement Interactions: the Good, the Bad and the Uncertain. IFM Symposium: Spotlight on Gut-Brain-Skin Theory. Institute for Functional Medicine. www.functionalmedicine.org
Pubmed. Search terms "soy and health" http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=soy%20and%20health
Mercola, J. Doctor Warns: Eat This and You'll Look 5 Years Older. Posted February 19 2011. Accessed February 19 2011. http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/02/19/the-dirty-little-secret-hidden-in-much-of-your-health-food.aspx
Hyman, M. Why Treating Your Symptoms is a Recipe for Disaster. February 19 2011. http://drhyman.com/why-treating-your-symptoms-is-a-recipe-for-disaster-3520/?utm_source=Publicaster&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=drhyman%20newsletter%20issue%20#13&utm_term=Read+more
Balk E, Chung M, Chew P, et al. Effects of Soy on Health Outcomes. Summary, Evidence Report/Technology Assessment: Number 126. AHRQ Publication Number 05-E024-1, August 2005. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/soysum.htm
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As a New York State Licensed Aesthetician, New York State Licensed Nail Specialist, and the Director of Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa, Reisa combines her love of spa services and healing arts to achieve optimum skin and nail health, create greater overall wellness and bring forth our optimal, individual beauty.
"I believe that the day spa should be an instant getaway; a place that is quiet without being stuffy, relaxed, elegant and yet entirely comfy. You should feel warm and welcome, surrounded by people who care about you and what they are doing. This is the environment we strive to create at Living Well Healing Arts Center & Spa. Here, you are never just the "next" number; we allow ample time for your services, offer a flexible schedule and can be reached after hours. After all, to me, spa craft is not really a business, it's a lifestyle." Read more...