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Eat, drink and be merry: a recipe for…health?

The enforced closeness of the holiday season can have an all-too-familiar downside. Some of the most wrenching fall-outs among nearest and dearest tend to occur over Christmas and the New Year.

But, before you think about escaping the mandatory get-togethers and making yourself permanently unavailable to family and friends, think about this – they may just be keeping you alive.

This is the opinion of the authors of a paradigm-shifting new book on the importance of closeness and communication to human health and wellbeing. According to Garner Thomson and Khalid Khan, authors of Magic in Practice – Introducing Medical NLP, the Art and Science of Language in Healing and Health, a strong connection with both family and friends is a better predictor of health and longevity than doing all the ‘right’ things, such as quitting smoking, eating your five a day, and getting plenty of sleep.

They point to a landmark study, started in the 1940s, and still the subject of intensive research.

Scientists were intrigued by strikingly low rates of myocardial infarction reported from the little Pennsylvanian town of Roseto, where they expected to find a fit, tobacco- and alcohol-free community enjoying all the benefits of clean-living. When they arrived, they found as many smokers, drinkers and couch potatoes as in the rest of the country, where heart disease was on the rise.

The difference between Roseto and other similar towns, the researchers discovered, was a particularly cohesive social structure.

“The inhabitants of the little town were unique in the experience of the scientists who were drawn there,” says Garner Thomson. “They could be described as ‘barn-raisers’ – which is to say if someone’s barn burned down, everybody in the town turned out to rebuild it. Somehow, the closeness Rosetans enjoyed inoculated them against cardiac and other problems

“Clearly this premise had to be tested – and time was the only true test. The scientists reasoned that if the society changed, became less cohesive and more like its neighbouring towns and cities, the effect would eventually disappear.

“Sadly, as the community became steadily more ‘Americanised’, this proved to be true.”

The 50-year longitudinal study, published in 1992, categorically established that social support and connectedness had provided a powerfully salutogenic (health-promoting) effect on the heart.[1]

Nor was this a random fluctuation affecting a small, isolated community, the authors say.

A number of studies have since confirmed that host resistance to a wide range of illnesses is affected by the social context in which you live and the support you feel you receive. A recent study of 2,264 women diagnosed with breast cancer concluded that those without strong social bonds were up to 61% more likely to die within three years of diagnosis.

According to Dr Candyce Kroenke, lead researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Research Centre, California, the risk of death equals well-established risk factors, including smoking and alcohol consumption, and exceeds the influence of other risk factors such as physical inactivity and obesity.[2]

At least two major studies have suggested that loneliness can double the risk of elderly people developing Alzheimer-like diseases.

“What is particularly interesting about these studies is the suggestion that it is feelings of loneliness, rather than social isolation itself, that may cause the corrosive effects of dementia and other problems,” Thomson says. [3],[4]

Key factors in social integration have been identified as having someone to confide in, help with financial issues and offer practical support, such as baby-sitting, when you need it, and with whom you can discuss problems and share solutions.[5] “These are what we call ‘3 am friends,” says Thomson, “people we can call for support at any hour, no matter how early, and know they will always have time for us.”

So, before you decide to celebrate the holiday season away from Aunty Elsie and Uncle Edward, think very carefully about the possible consequences. Some of the other established benefits of social support and connectedness include: extended lifespan (double that of people with low social ties)[6]; improved recovery from heart attack (three times better for those with high social ties)[7]; reduced progression from HIV to Aids [8] and, even protection from the common cold.[9]

Magic in Practice – Introducing Medical NLP, the Art and Science of Language in Healing and Health is available as paperback or eBook from £6.99. Enter coupon code Xmas15 at checkout for a 15% discount on your basket.

 

 

 

[1] Egolf B, Lasker J, Wolf S, Potvin L (1992) The Roseto effect: a 50-year comparison of mortality rates. American Journal of Public Health 82 (8): 1089–92.
[2] Kaiser Permanente, news release, Nov. 9, 2012.

[3] Wilson RS et.al. (2007) Loneliness and Risk of Alzheimer Disease. Arch Gen Psychiatry, 64(2): 234-240.

[4][4] Holwerda TJ et al. (2012) Feelings of loneliness, but not social isolation, predict dementia onset: results from the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL). J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23232034.

[5] Anderson NB, Anderson PE (2003) Emotional Longevity. New York: Viking Penguin.

[6] House JS, Robbins C, Metzner HL (1982) The association of social relationships and activities with mortality: prospective evidence from the Tecumseh Community Health Study. American Journal of Epidemiology 116: 123–40.

[7] Berkman LF, Leo-Summers L, Horwitz RI (1992) Emotional support and survival following myocardial infarction: a prospective, population-based study of the elderly. Annals of Internal Medicine 117: 1003–9.

[8] Leserman J et al (2000) Impact of stressful life events, depression, social support, coping and cortisol. American Journal of Psychiatry 157: 1221–28.

[9] Cohen S et al (1997) Social ties and susceptibility to the common cold. Journal of the American Medical Association 277: 1940–4.

 

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Healthy Christmas ideas from The Zone Diet

Dr Barry Sears’ latest book, The Mediterranean Zone, is packed full of recipes, meal ideas and healthy eating habits that combine the Mediterranean style diet with the principles of the Zone Diet. No matter what time of year, following the simple trick of balancing lean protein and colourful carbohydrates can help reduce inflammation in the body. This not only helps you achieve hormonal balance and maintain a healthy weight but improves immune function and helps ward off many common diseases, such as diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

zone-diet-plateBy staying in ‘the zone’ you needn’t worry so much about restricting food or counting calories – and if you do give in to starchy carbohydrates or sugary treats, you’re only a few hours away from getting back into the healthy, anti-inflammatory zone. Never is temptation more difficult to resist than over the Christmas period, so here are some tasty foods you can enjoy over the festive season and stay ‘in the zone’!

Buffet Table
Choose several items from each category. Garnish your dishes with pomegranate seeds, cranberries and sprigs of rosemary for a festive, holiday look. Holly and poinsettias are toxic plants. It’s best to keep them off the table, especially when children are around.

 

Meats, fish, eggs
Deli style turkey
Lean deli-style ham or prosciutto
Poached wild-caught salmon, served cold
Smoked salmon
Smoked trout
Sardines (packed in water)
Herring (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
Shrimp cocktail platter garnished with lemon wedges
Tuna salad: Canned water-packed tuna, drained and mixed with some olive oil and capers
Egg whites filed with hummus (discard yolks)

Vegetables and Salads
Crudites; colorful peppers, celery, broccoli, cauliflower and cherry tomatoes, served with a dip of plain yogurt with garlic powder, lemon juice, salt, pepper and herbs mixed in.
Fennel salad: Toss 2 heads raw fennel thinly sliced, 1 chopped green apple and two chopped stalks celery with a dressing of lemon juice, olive oil, 1 minced clove garlic and salt and pepper
Cherry tomatoes, halved and tossed with a little olive oil, torn basil and cracked pepper
Antipasto platter of roasted red and yellow peppers, a variety of olives, marinated mushrooms, pepperoncini, artichoke hearts, marinated asparagus spears, cherry peppers and bite-sized ovals of fresh mozzarella (avoid items packed in oil)
Caprese salad: Slices of fresh mozzarella and flavourful tomatoes layered overlapping on a platter and topped with torn basil and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil

Condiments
One bottle each of extra-virgin olive oil and white balsamic vinegar with spouts appropriate for drizzling
Peppercorns in a grinder
Crumbled reduced-fat feta
Hummus
Dijon mustard

Drinks
Still water
Sparkling water, plain or a variety with fruit-flavored essences added (avoid sweetened water)
Water with thinly sliced lemon served in a drink dispenser
Red wine
White wine
Lemon and lime wedges
Ice bucket filled with spring-water ice cubes

Dessert Table
Fresh pears cut in thick wedges, served with reduced-fat fresh goat cheese
Assorted varieties of grapes paired with several-reduced fat cheeses
Oversized strawberries served with the green tops on raw or roasted almonds, marcona almonds, spiced or curried almonds, macadamia nuts and cashews (avoid those with added fats and sweeteners)
An assortment of herbal teas — ginger, peppermint and chamomile are good choices, also the candy-cane green teas
Baked custard — If desired, serve raspberries or sliced strawberries alongside as a topping.

Baked Custard
Makes 8, 1-block servings of balanced protein, carbohydrate and fat. Serve warm or cold.

Ingredients

2 whole eggs
4 egg whites
2 tablespoons agave syrup
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
4 cups 2% milk
A few dashes of ground nutmeg

Optional, you can substitute 4 egg whites for the two whole eggs, giving a total of 8 egg whites in the whole recipe.

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 325F/160C.

2. In a large mixing bowl using a whisk vigorously beat together the eggs, agave syrup and vanilla.
3. Whisk the milk into the egg mixture.
4. Pour into a 2-quart casserole dish.
5. Sprinkle lightly with nutmeg.
6. Bake at 325 in a pan of hot water for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the custard comes out clean.

For more information on the Zone Diet and the health benefits of anti-inflammatory food buy The Mediterranean Zone, available now as paperback or ebook.

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Zone Diet goes Mediterranean

The Zone Diet: Eating for a longer, leaner, healthier life

The Mediterranean Zone represents the final part of Dr. Sears’ trilogy on anti-inflammation nutrition that started with his first book, The Zone, written in 1995. The Zone Diet is for anyone looking to take control of his or her life. It is germane to weight loss, managing chronic disease, or improving athletic performance. All three areas are ultimately controlled by the ability to reduce inflammation. The Mediterranean Zone provides the final part of his dietary roadmap to a longer and better life, as described by The Zone Diet.

The newest book on the Zone Diet: The Mediterranean Zone by Dr Barry SearsThe focus of The Mediterranean Zone is on the emerging role of polyphenols in both improving human health and slowing the aging process. Polyphenols are the chemicals that give fruits and vegetables their color. We now know that at higher levels they are critical for controlling gene expression, especially those genes involved in the synthesis of anti-oxidative enzymes, controlling inflammation, and activating anti-aging defense mechanisms as well as controlling the microbes in our gut.

Why is it more important to eat omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6?

Whereas omega-6 fatty acids are pro-inflammatory, omega-3 fatty acids are anti-inflammatory. However, you need a balance to maintain a stable inflammatory response. Ideally the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids in the diet should be about 2:1. Today in the developed world it is closer to 20:1. That’s why our diets have become more pro-inflammatory.

The reason that an individual stops any diet is because they are always hungry and tired. This is not the case following the dietary guidelines in The Mediterranean Zone, or in any Zone Diet. By stabilizing blood sugar, balancing hormonal levels, and reducing inflammation you are never tired or hungry between meals. The benefit of that freedom from hunger and fatigue is that you will also live a longer and better life.

Welcome to the Zone!

The Mediterranean Zone is available now or for more information on Dr Sears visit www.drsears.com.

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Sustainable Medicine: the path to a patient-centred future

I have worked with Sarah Myhill for over 15 years, both as a Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) patient and also academically. As such, I have witnessed the crystallisation of the ideas that led to the concept and writing of Sustainable Medicine from both sides of the fence. These ideas were applied to me personally and I also saw them develop in my role as editor of Sarah’s writings, and also of her website – http://www.drmyhill.co.uk/wiki/Main_Page

Sustainable Medicine: swinging the pendulum back in favour of the patient

Sustainable Medicine follows a logical path, with the ultimate goal of empowering readers to take charge of their own health. This empowerment will not only help to heal diseases already present in readers, but also, and equally crucially, will lay down a route map for the healthy to remain healthy. It is for everyone.

Sustainable Medicine by Dr Sarah Myhill
Sustainable Medicine by Dr Sarah Myhill

The starting point of this journey was the realisation that 21st Century Medicine is not working for the benefit of the patient. So much of modern medicine is driven by vested financial interests that the patient is almost completely forgotten in this process. The patient, the one who knows their body, and the one who is suffering from the symptoms and diseases, is often ignored or, at best, side-lined or even patronised, in the diagnosis and treatment of their disease. Worse than this, modern medicine is not “sustainable”, either for society or the patient, because the use of powerful symptom suppressing drugs often escalates the disease process, rather than reversing it.

Sustainable Medicine has the simply stated objective of swinging the pendulum back in favour of the patient and away from those vested interests.

Sarah Myhill is an inquisitive person. As a patient, you notice this the very first time you speak with her or meet her. She is not like other doctors; there is a genuine desire to know you, and your life, and where you have worked and lived, and so on. In short, Sarah wants to know the ‘whole’ you; she is not a “Symptom List” doctor, by which I mean a physician who asks for your symptoms and then “replies” with a prescription pad. Put crudely, by knowing you better, Sarah can treat you better, although this underplays her most endearing quality; she likes her patients and treats them as equals.

This innate inquisitiveness naturally led Sarah always to ask the question ‘why?’ and in the practice of medicine this question is translated into a quest to find the root causes of disease and symptoms.

This is where Sarah’s 30 years of clinical experience made its mark known and also where the “logical path” was laid down.

First, Sustainable Medicine discusses symptoms, not as something to be immediately squashed with powerful prescription drugs, but rather as signposts as to what may be going wrong. Symptoms are the early warning system of the body that all is not right.

The next step along this logical path is an exposition of what mechanisms may be causing these symptoms and how one can identify which particular mechanisms are at play in this patient. The identification of these mechanisms is achieved by tests and clinical signs and symptoms.

At this point along the logical path, the reader will have identified their symptoms and also isolated the mechanisms causing those symptoms. The next step is to lay out the “tools of the trade”, that is the interventions, that can be put in place to treat those mechanisms as identified. These interventions are “sustainable” in that they reverse, not escalate, disease processes.

The logical path is now complete:

Symptoms => Mechanisms of disease => Sustainable Treatments (“tools of the trade”) to treat and reverse these Mechanisms

By way of example, Sustainable Medicine then looks at very many individual diseases, identifies the underlying mechanisms of these diseases and then applies the “tools of the trade” required to reverse these disease processes. To further illustrate this logical path, Sarah concludes with some case studies of her own patients, ranging from diseases such as chronic lymphatic leukaemia to inflammatory arthritis to CFS.

Sustainable Medicine was launched at a Biocare Advanced Education Day on 13 July 2015, where Sarah detailed her views on the mechanisms and sustainable treatments as applied to CFS, as well as discussing the critical roles played by inflammation and immune system issues in many modern diseases.

Craig Robinson, Editor, Sustainable Medicine.

 

Read the first chapter of Sustainable Medicine for free here or order your copy. Want to tell us what you think of the book? Leave a review on Amazon, and if you have any questions you can contact Craig and other followers of Dr Myhill’s protocol for CFS in the Facebook group.