In Part I, I recapped this month’s blogs on healthism and the dangers of preoccupation with health perfectionism. I also reviewed a recent study that assessed dietary quality measurements relating to an outcome, rather than focusing on weight loss or laboratory measurements. The authors found that those with higher dietary quality did have an advantage over those who had lower quality food choices. They were at less risk of dying.
However, there were still some limitations to the study. I reviewed two of them in part 1. These include interfering lifestyle factors and biases in the measurement tools of dietary quality. There are other aspects of this study, along with many other lifestyle intervention studies, that is often not accounted for.
These include the attention participants get from the researchers and the sense of “community” that partaking in a trial could provide. Furthermore, moralizing foods as “good” and “bad” by “quality” can also influence a placebo and nocebo effect. These expectations can create changes in one’s metabolism based on the belief they are doing something “right” or “wrong.” (1, 2, 3, 4)
One small study measured the placebo effect on influencing psychological measures in an exercise intervention. It demonstrated that the power of suggestion did effect results, regardless of the behavioral method prescribed. The abstract states:
An experiment was conducted with 48 healthy young adults engaged in a supervised 10-week exercise program to determine whether a placebo effect is involved within the exercise-psychological enhancement connection. Based on an expectancy modification procedure, one-half of the subjects were led to believe that their program was specifically designed to improve psychological well-being (experimental condition) whereas no such intervention was made with the second half (control condition). Expectations for psychological benefits and aerobic capacity (VO2max) were measured before and after completion of the program. Self-esteem, as the indicator of psychological well-being, was measured on four specific occasions: at the beginning, after the fourth and seventh weeks, and upon completion of the training program. The results showed similar significant increases in fitness levels in both conditions. Moreover, self-esteem was significantly improved over time in the experimental but not in the control condition. These findings provide evidence to support the notion that exercise may enhance psychological well-being via a strong placebo effect. Implications of the results with regard to exercise prescription are discussed. (Psychosom Med. 1993 Mar-Apr;55(2):149-54.)
A more recent study compared a control to an open-label placebo vs. a deceptive placebo. The researchers found that a placebo effect with a plausible rationale (deceptive placebo) was more effective than without one (open-label placebo). As reported by Science Daily:
The successful treatment of certain physical and psychological complaints can be explained to a significant extent by the placebo effect. The crucial question in this matter is how this effect can be harnessed without deceiving the patients. Recent empirical studies have shown that placebos administered openly have clinically significant effects on physical complaints such as chronic back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, episodic migraine and rhinitis…
When detailed explanations of the placebo effect were absent — as in the third group — the subjects reported significantly more intense and unpleasant pain. This suggests the crucial role of the accompanying rationale and communication when administering a placebo; the researchers speak of a narrative. The ethically problematic aspect of placebos, the deception, thus does not appear all that different from a transparent and convincing narrative. “Openly administering a placebo offers new possibilities for using the placebo effect in an ethically justifiable way,” says co-author Professor Jens Gaab, Head of the Division of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy at the University of Basel.
I talked about both of these factors here.
There is no doubt in my mind that foods that fuel our bodies with healthy phytonutrients can support our bodies’ systems. Overall, I do believe quality counts. Whole foods provide more healing components and help us avoid chemicals, GMOs, and other substances that have evidence of potential or proven harm. This true in animal studies as well as in associative human studies.
Fear of food choices, shame for not living up to healthy lifestyle patterns, and obsession with an ideal body size are not the answer to lasting health. This narrow focus is creating the opposite effect, the nocebo effect (belief in harm).
The more we can choose foods from a place of integrity, education, authority, and lifestyle behaviors that will sustain us, the more success we will have in transforming our society. The result will be a society where health is one factor that helps in the achievement of a well-lived life, rather than the sole measurement and obsession of life.
Essential Oils and Emotional Freedom
Before I was aware of the HAES (Health At Every Size) movement and released of my own dietary dogmas, I regrettably have written on weight loss and controlling cravings. The science of essential oils effecting this is there, but the outcomes are still inconclusive. Now I know why. The focus is on the wrong thing.
I do feel that it’s important to get to the root cause of continuing harmful behaviors when they know differently. This could be the result of a brain imbalance. Essential oils can help to release old emotional traumas, assist with harmonizing physiology, and create lasting helpful behavioral changes through modulating neural pathways.
I now believe that trying to restrict forbidden foods can lead some to destructive eating patterns, and a binge-restrictive see-saw. Understanding the underlying emotions and using an essential oil to assist with its release, can be helpful. You can find the research on essential oils for mood and brain balance on my database here.
To begin, you may want to find your favorite oil and start sniffing it regularly during times of emotional triggers. Journaling and being mindful without judgment are also helpful. See where that leads. Find someone you trust to help you on your journey if you get stuck…someone who will respect both your health AND your life goals.
As a naturopathic doctor, I vowed to uphold the Naturopathic Principles, in which the doctor is teacher and the patient is ultimately responsible for his/her own healing. The doctor strives to encourage, motivate, and catalyze responsibility for one’s health. They also embrace treating the whole person, including the patient’s connection to their mind, community, society at large, and spirituality.
I find our medicine today sorely lacking in their acknowledgment of the significance all of these factors have on the body’s overall wellness. Perhaps this is why no matter how much we strive for the perfect health with body focus and weight loss as the sole measurement, we will never be really healthy or win the “dietary war.”
Happy Naturopathic Medicine Week!
You Can Celebrate By Sharing Your Story on the AANP Patient Gallery
Would you like to share your story about how naturopathic medicine helped you?
Naturopathic medicine has a new patient gallery.
You are welcome to post on it. Here is more information.
It will help others learn more and discover the power of integrative medicine.
September 2017 Top Holistic and Integrative Health Reads
Here is the link to some of my most noteworthy health, medicine, and nutrition headlines for the month of September 2017. You can choose to skim these wellness headlines for an overview or click on the links that most interest you for a deeper dive into the subject.
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)