Soon, I will be heading off to sunny Arizona for more training in
functional medicine. The focus will be on modulating immune health. What a
perfect topic for this cold weather season. This is why it was the subject of my
homepage blog this week.
The conventional approach to deal with an infection or inflammatory
process is to suppress symptoms, but it doesn’t seem to be paying off in the
long-term. This is evidenced by more and more drugs being marketed to stop the
sniffles at the same time there is a rise in autoimmune and chronic
inflammatory diseases. Medications, though helpful acutely if someone has an
overwhelming infection or inflammatory process, has aided in the rise in
antibiotic resistance is proving that this approach is lacking in efficacy as a
solution to our weakened immune systems.
The good news is that there is evidence that lifestyle factors have as
much or more of a profound impact than genetics whether someone develops a
condition. True your genes will give you the probability of contracting a
disease, but it’s the environment the genes live in, aka your cellular
environment that turns them on or off to provide proper defense against bugs,
toxins, and other stressors. This means that what we eat, think, and how we
move impacts our blood with chemicals that either nourish our cells or makes our
cells go wonky and create out of control signals in an attempt to compensate.
Long-term miscommunication, either cellular or with people, can create
long-term issues if not cleared up. Therefore, the goal is to prevent a
misunderstanding to begin with. One way to support this goal is by feeding the
body healthy foods.
For example, an extensive study of 66, 000 postmenopausal women (aged 50
to 79) demonstrated that those who follow cancer prevention guidelines are less
likely to develop cancer or to die of the disease, according to a study started
by the U.S. National Institutes of Health. This means, these women avoided
smoking, had a healthy diet, and exercised (1).
Other studies have shown how our thoughts positively affect our lifespan;
specifically, the researchers report that happy people live 35% longer (2-4).
This makes sense from what we discussed, as positive thoughts create chemicals
that calm the brain and body, balance hormones, regulate blood sugar, and help
assimilate nutrients. Furthermore, a more relaxed brain could make you smarter.
A recent two-year
study from the Association for Psychological Science
demonstrated how positive affirmations could boost IQ points. The study
was done with 150 subjects from a New Jersey soup kitchen. Those who were asked
to privately record a personal story with a tape recorder before doing a variety
of problem-solving tests performed dramatically better on the tests than the
control subjects who didn’t recall stories of high self-worth. This was
equivalent to a ten-point increase in IQ. Furthermore, the positive thinking
people were also more likely to seek out support from the local government,
demonstrating they were taking action to better their condition (5).
research at UCLA demonstrated that people who had greater happiness and well-being
had lower levels of inflammatory gene expression and stronger immune function
(2). In fact, some believe it could be the key to longevity, even over genes
I say, why
not be happy and do all the positive lifestyle things you can? That way you’ll
have more fun and increase your stamina when you do live longer.
(1) Health Day. Cancer Prevention Guidelines Seem to Pay Off for Older
Women.healthday.com. January 8, 2013.
(2) Mercola, J. How
Centenarians Explain Their Longevity. mercola.com. January 09, 2014.
(3) Steptoe, A and Wardle, J. Positive affect measured using ecological
momentary assessment and survival in older men and women (abstract). PNAS.
September 2011. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1110892108
(4) Diener, E. and Chan, M. Y. Happy People Live Longer: Subjective
Well-Being Contributes to Health and Longevity (abstract). Applied Psychology:
Health and Well-Being, 2011; 3: 1-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1758-0854.2010.01045.x
(5) Mikulak, A. Boosting Self-Worth Can Counteract Cognitive Effects of
Poverty. Association for Psychological Science: Press Release. www.psychologicalscience.org.
December 17, 2014.
1. To join me on my BREAKFREE
MEDICINE Facebook Page
2. To get updated on my soon-to-be released book!
3. Learn more about empowering your health at my upcoming workshops and
4. My training coming up in January. Yeah!