Did you know that perception, mindfulness, and aroma can mitigate the negative effect of stress?
As many of you know, this week was the official launch of my book, BreakFree Medicine: A Systematic and Integrated Guide to Balancing Your Body! What an emotional and exciting time, and I am so grateful to all of you who fuel my passion to continue to learn and share on all health topics for others’ empowerment.
As any author knows, and as most people have heard, getting a book out there to the public is not a small, smooth, free-flowing feat. It can be a little bit stressful at times. Okay, actually, it can be a lot stressful! It all depends on how balanced one’s perception is. In other words, I was definitely practicing what health psychologist, Kelly McGonigal calls, “How to Make Stress Your Friend.”
It seems like there is a lot of science to support the negative associations on how stress impacts our health from our head to our toes. This includes causing havoc on our musculoskeletal system (muscle tension), cardiovascular risk, hormonal balance, and more. It has even been linked to aging (telomere length) and dysfunctional coping patterns such as overeating and binge eating. (Of course, there is also the “Dorito Effect,” in regard to food cravings, which you can read about here.)
Now, it’s important to note that stress can be adaptive. However, when the total allostatic load exceeds our body’s ability to cope, it can contribute to the issues noted above. Furthermore, our brain and the experiences that shaped it when were young also determines our stress response patterns. A 2007 review in Psychological Reviews reports:
The importance of acknowledging the protective, as well as the potentially damaging effects of the mediators of stress and adaptation, has led to the introduction of two terms: “allostasis,” meaning the process of maintaining stability (homeostasis) by active means, namely, by putting out stress hormones and other mediators; and “allostatic load or overload,” meaning the wear and tear on the body and brain caused by use of allostasis, particularly when the mediators are dysregulated, i.e., not turned off when stress is over or not turned on adequately when they are needed.
This review does an exquisite job explaining all the different factors that mediate the brain’s response to stress, how stress modulates physiological responses, and the interconnections between them both. A lot of people are not aware that the stress hormones and life events they were exposed to early on, their microbiome imprint, and their genetic ability to excrete stress hormones (such as a methylation or COMT SNP) also influence they respond to stress.
Another important factor in regard to how stress impacts one’s health relates not just to the stress itself, but a person’s belief in its effect on overall wellness. A 2012 study in Health Psychology reported on this association between the perception of stress and how it effects mortality, not just the result of stress itself. The authors wrote:
This study is unique in that it not only identifies individuals who report experiencing stress, but also those individuals who perceive that stress affects their health. Understanding this perception is critical for advancing knowledge of the health effects of stress and could have far reaching implications for future research and for designing interventions aimed at reducing the negative health consequences of stress.
Interestingly, the above 2007 review also states the interconnectedness between the brain perception and how it mediates stress effects:
The brain is the organ of the body that interprets experiences as threatening or nonthreatening and which determines the behavioral and physiological responses to each situation. Besides the hypothalamus and brain stem, which are essential for autonomic and neuroendocrine responses to stressors, higher cognitive areas of the brain play a key role in memory, anxiety, and decision making. These brain areas are targets of stress and stress hormones, and the acute and chronic effects of stressful experiences influence how they respond. This is particularly evident over the life course, where early life experiences, combined with genetic factors, exert an important influence on adult stress responsiveness and the aging process.
So, this brings us back to how I handled my stress during my book release and getting out these February 2016 Holistic Health Top Reads to you. Several articles discussed two of my favorite techniques- mindfulness and yoga!
Specifically, this month there were several articles that demonstrated that by calming our mind, our body responded:
- Meditation and Music May Help Breast Biopsy Pain
- Mindfulness May Help Elder’s Back Pain
- Meditation Goes Mainstream
- Yoga and Trauma in Women
Read more about them here.
What’s another one of my favorite ways to modulate stress? Well, it’s right through my nose! I already spoke about how essential oils modulate emotions, hormones, and stress here. Furthermore, I dove deep into the way lavender can be calming and how essential oils impact our brain last week. Sometimes, when I can’t calm my geeky brain to sit still, the inhalation of orange, bergamot, or rose (found in one of my favorite blends Joy), can calm my prefrontal cortex a bit and dial in my “chill” brain for a better perspective. You can read more about that here too.
Below, for more of your reading pleasure are the Top Reads of February 2016. This month I’m doing something a little different, I’m only including one or two sentences and the link. This is due to being mindful of the impact of information overload. Also, some of you have requested that I keep it “shorter and sweeter.” If you’re a geek like me, you can still get the gist and dive more into the topic if you click on the source link.
February 2016 Top Holistic Reads
- BPA Free Isn’t Harm Free
- The Growing Use of Glyphosate
- AHA Releases First Statement on Women and Heart Attack Risk
- This is Your Brain- On Summer Vacation
- Dirty Air and Death
- Dirty Air and Asthma
- Dirty Air and Preterm Birth Linked in Moms with Asthma
- Dirty Air Cleanup & Health Savings
- Gene Variant Effects Food Choices in Girls Based on Environment
- Why We Sigh
- The Mindlessly Slim
- Mamma’s Mood Effects Baby’s Stress Response
- Is the Zika Scare Science-Based?
- More Good News for Epigenetics- RNA Was Holding Out
- Time Lag in Research Results for Medical Research Outcomes
- First Uterine Transplant
- The Oral- Heart Connection
- Why Are Physicists Freaked out?
- Something Fishy on the Brain
- Fish Consumption in Mom and Child’s Weight
- Bacteria Molecules May Hold Key to Healthier Diet and Why Processed Food Is Bad
- Leafy Greens and Buggy Health (in the Gut)
- Microbes Modulate How Fiber Effects Blood Sugar
- Gut Microbiota in Babies Related to Food Intro
- The Microbes in Your Belly May Fuel Growth or Stunt it
- The Egg- Cholesterol Wars
- There is a Difference Between Organic and Conventional Meat
- More Bad News for Glyphosate- Scientific Consensus of Concern
- FDA Reassessing Opioid Medication
- Antidepressants in Pregnant Rats Hold Clues for Absorption
- More Links to Asthma and Pregnant Use of Acetaminophen
- Statins and Interaction with an Inflammation Protein
- Effexor and Postpartum Bleeding
- Heartburn Drugs Linked to Dementia Risk
- Antibiotics Linked to Delirium, Study
- Black Box Warning on Essure
BPA Free Isn’t Harm Free
Yet a new study demonstrates that BPS, a common replacement for BPA, speeds up embryonic development and disrupts the reproductive system. The research is the first to examine the effects of BPA and BPS on key brain cells and genes that control organs involved in reproduction. (Science Daily, Feb 1, 2016)
The Growth of Glyphosate
Since 1974 in the U.S., over 1.6 billion kilograms of glyphosate active ingredient have been applied, or 19 % of estimated global use of glyphosate (8.6 billion kilograms). Globally, glyphosate use has risen almost 15-fold since so-called “Roundup Ready,” genetically engineered glyphosate-tolerant crops were introduced in 1996. (Environmental Sciences Europe 2016, 28:3 doi:10.1186/s12302-016-0070-0)
AHA Releases First Scientific Statement on Heart Attack in Women
WASHINGTON, DC — “A woman’s heart is a deep ocean of secrets,” states a famous movie quote, but the American Heart Association (AHA) wants to remedy that—at least in the case of acute MI. In its first scientific statement on MIs in women, the AHA notes that underlying causes and symptoms of these events often differ greatly between the sexes, leading to missed diagnosis and significant undertreatment. (Medscape, January 29, 2016)
This is Your Brain- On Summer Vacation
These findings reveal previously unappreciated process-specific seasonality in human cognitive brain function that could contribute to intraindividual cognitive changes at specific times of year and changes in affective control in vulnerable populations. (PNAS, February 2016)
Dirty Air and Death
This large national study suggests that air pollution exposure has long-term effects on mortality that persist decades after exposure, and that historic air pollution exposures influence current estimates of associations between air pollution and mortality. (BMJ, February 2016)
Dirty Air and Asthma
Babies born to mothers exposed to air pollution from traffic during pregnancy have an increased risk of developing asthma before the age of six, according to new UBC research. (Science Daily, February 9, 2016)
Dirty Air and Preterm Birth in Moms with Asthma Linked
TUESDAY, March 1, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to high levels of certain traffic air pollutants may increase the risk of preterm birth in pregnant women with asthma, a new study suggests.
Both short- and long-term exposure to pollution from vehicles was linked to a higher
Dirty Air Clean Up and Health Savings
MONDAY, Feb. 22, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Hundreds of thousands of premature deaths could be prevented if the United States takes tough action on climate change in line with the Paris Agreement signed last December, a new study contends.
Gene Variant Effects Food Choices in Girls Based on Environment
Scientists have recently discovered that for girls who are carriers of a particular gene variant (DRD4 VNTR with 7 repeats), the crucial element that influences a child’s fat intake is not the gene variant itself. Instead, it is the interplay between the gene and girls’ early socioeconomic environment that may determine whether they have increased fat intake or healthier than average eating compared to their peers from the same class background. (Science Daily, February 10, 2016)
Why We Sigh
Sighing is not just a human emotional response, but a reflex essential to the workings of the lungs. Researchers say the findings may lead to new treatments to help people who sigh too much or not enough. (Seattle Times, February 8, 2016)
The Mindlessly Slim
You know that one friend that never worries about weight and seems to stay effortlessly slim? That friend, and others like them might unknowingly possess secrets to helping those who struggle with their weight. (Science Daily, February 11, 2016)
Mamma’s Mood Effects Baby’s Stress Response Via Genes
The combination of exposure to maternal depressive symptoms and maternal sensitivity was related to the highest prestress cortisol levels, whereas exposure to maternal depressive symptoms and maternal insensitivity was related to the lowest prestress cortisol levels. (Child Development, 87: 73–85. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12483)
For the geeks, here’s the gene/methylation interaction: This study tested whether maternal responsiveness may buffer the child to the effects of maternal depressive symptoms on DNA methylation of NR3C1, 11?-HSD2, and neuroendocrine functioning.
Is the Zika Scare Science-Based?
Zika virus is being blamed for increasing rates of microcephaly in Brazil, a condition in which babies are born with unusually small heads. Of the more than 4780 reported cases, only 404 infants have been confirmed as having microcephaly, and only 17 tested positive for Zika virus
Far more likely culprits contributing to microcephaly increases among infants born in Brazil are lack of sanitation, widespread vitamin A and zinc deficiency, environmental pollution, toxic pesticide exposures, and Tdap vaccination now mandated for all pregnant women (Mercola, February 16, 2016)
More Good News for Epigentics- RNA Was Holding Out
A new study finds that RNA, considered the DNA template for protein translation, often appears with an extra letter — and this letter is the regulatory key for control of gene expression. The discovery offers insight into different RNA functions in cellular processes and contributions to the development of disease. (Science Daily, February 16, 2016)
Lag Time in Medical Research Outcomes
THURSDAY, Feb. 18, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Medical researchers conducting the majority of clinical trials in the United States fail to report their results in a timely manner, new research reveals. Less than one-third of clinical studies performed at major academic medical institutions are published within two years of completion — a lapse that deprives the scientific community of time-sensitive, valuable information, investigators said. (Study: http://www.bmj.com/content/352/bmj.i637)
First Uterine Transplant Performed
FRIDAY, Feb. 26, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Cleveland Clinic surgeons this week performed the nation’s first uterus transplant, an experimental procedure offering women without a womb the possibility of pregnancy.
The Mouth-Heart Connection
In a recent study published this month in Scientific Reports, researchers at the University of Louisville School of Medicine have gained new insight into the association between different types of stroke and the presence of the oral bacteria, Streptococcus mutans. S. mutans is a major pathogen of dental caries and causes bacteremia by dental procedures. (DFH Blog, February 26, 2016)
Why are Physicists Freaking Out?
After five months of keeping their stupendous discovery under wraps, physicists at the Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatory (LIGO) are finally allowed to freak out publicly about gravitational waves. And they’re enjoying the hell out of it. (Gizmodo, February 12, 2016)
Something Fishy in the Brain
The results of the autopsies linked higher seafood consumption to lower risk for Alzheimer’s disease … despite increased mercury levels. The autopsies also linked higher seafood intakes to lower risk for two signs associated with Alzheimer’s disease: amyloid “plaque” and brain-cell “tangles”. (Vital Choice, February 8, 2016)
Note: This does not prove mercury is not related to Alzheimer’s disease…the study suggests selenium and fatty acids may be protective.
Study: JAMA. 2016 Feb 2;315(5):489-97. doi: 10.1001/jama.2015.19451
Fish Consumption in Moms & Child’s Weight
In a study published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers looked at an impressive number of new mothers—more than 26,000—and found that among them, those who ate more fish while they were pregnant tended to have children with higher BMIs.
While at first glance the findings might implicate fish as yet another food choice that adds on pounds, it’s worth taking a closer look at the study before avoiding the fish section. (Time, February 15, 2016)
Bacteria Molecules Found in Food Could Hold Key to Health and Disease in Processed Food
The study identifies a particular kind of contaminating molecule known as ‘pathogen-associated molecular patterns’ (PAMPs), which are released by certain types of bacteria as they grow during some food processing and refrigeration processes, and may increase our risk of developing conditions such as coronary artery disease and Type 2 diabetes. (Science Daily, February 9, 2016)
Leafy Greens for Gut Health
The finding suggests that leafy greens are essential for feeding good gut bacteria, limiting the ability of bad bacteria to colonize the gut by shutting them out of the prime ‘real estate.’ (Science Daily, February 15, 2016)
The Gut Microbiota Balance Plays a Role in Glucose Response to Fiber
The gut microbiota plays an important role in human health by interacting with host diet, but there is substantial inter-individual variation in the response to diet. Here we compared the gut microbiota composition of healthy subjects who exhibited improved glucose metabolism following 3-day consumption of barley kernel-based bread (BKB) with those who responded least to this dietary intervention… Our findings indicate that Prevotella plays a role in the BKB-induced improvement in glucose metabolism observed in certain individuals, potentially by promoting increased glycogen storage. (Cell Metabolism, February 2016)
Increased gut hormones and insulin sensitivity index following a 3-d intervention with a barley kernel-based product: a randomised cross-over study in healthy middle-aged subjects. British Journal of Nutrition, 2015; 114 (06): 899 DOI: 10.1017/S0007114515002524
Babies Diet Effects Microbiome After Birth
After the age of nine months, the development of the infant gut microbiota is driven by the transition to family foods, not maternal obesity, according to results from a new study. (Science Daily, February 11, 2016)
The Microbes in Your Belly May Help Growth
The intestinal microbiota is necessary to ensure optimum postnatal growth and contributes to determining the size of adult individuals, notably in the event of undernutrition. (Science Daily, February 19, 2016)
Bad Bugs Linked to Poor Growth
Recent studies suggest small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) is common among developing world children. SIBO’s pathogenesis and effect in the developing world are unclear.(mBio, January 2016)
The Egg-Cholesterol Wars
Conclusion: Egg or cholesterol intakes were not associated with increased CAD risk, even in ApoE4 carriers (i.e., in highly susceptible individuals). (Am J of Nut, February 10, 2016)
There is a Difference in Organic Milk and Meat, Study
Both organic milk and meat contain around 50 percent more beneficial omega-3 fatty acids than conventionally produced products, report researchers who conducted systematic literature reviews and analyzed data from around the world. (Science Daily, February 15, 2016)
Glyphosphate Concerns Consensus
The newly released consensus statement published in the journal Environmental Health and titled, “Concerns over use of glyphosate-based herbicides and risks associated with exposures: a consensus statement,” identified the broad spectrum herbicide glyphosate (common trade name “Roundup”) as major threat to human and environmental health. Identified as having increased in usage 100-fold since the late 1970’s, the study predicted glyphosate usage will increase to even greater amounts due to,”widespread emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds and new, pre-harvest, dessicant use patterns.” (Green Med Info, February 18, 2016)
FDA Reassessing Opioid Meds
In response to the ongoing opioid abuse epidemic, top officials at the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) today announced plans to reassess the agency’s approach to opioid medications…. The multicomponent plan will focus on policies aimed at reversing the epidemic, while still providing pain patients access to effective medication. (Medscape, February 4, 2016)
Mamma Rodents, Babies, and Antidepressants
In this study, we examined the effects of gestational stage on the maternal pharmacokinetics and fetal disposition of the SSRI (±)-citalopram (CIT) in a mouse model…Fetal exposure to the SSRI CIT in murine pregnancy is therefore influenced by both maternal gestational stage and embryonic development, suggesting potential time-dependent effects on fetal brain development. (ACS Neuroscience, February 2016)
More Links to Asthma and Pregnant Use of Acetaminophen
Researchers have provided new evidence that developing asthma can be linked to pregnant women and infants being exposed to paracetamol; by testing that the association was not simply due to the medical complaint for which the person is taking paracetamol. (Science Daily, February 9, 2016)
Statin Drugs Interact with a Molecule for Inflammation
Statin drugs interact with a gap junction protein called GJC3 that releases ATP, a major signaling molecule for inflammation in the body, new research shows. This discovery provides a significant new target in the search for why statin drugs can sometimes cause harmful effects such as muscle toxicity in some patients. (Science Daily, February 10, 2016)
Effexor and Postpartum Bleeding Risk
FRIDAY, Feb. 12, 2016 (HealthDay News) — The antidepressant Effexor (venlafaxine) appears to increase a pregnant woman’s risk of excess bleeding following labor, researchers say.
Heartburn Drugs Linked to Dementia Risk in Study
MONDAY, Feb. 15, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A popular class of heartburn medications might raise a senior’s risk of dementia, a new study suggests. Called proton pump inhibitors (PPIs), this group of drugs includes Prilosec, Nexium and Prevacid.
Antibiotics Linked to Delirium
The researchers identified three types of delirium and other brain problems related to antibiotics. (Medical News Daily, February 17, 2016)
New Black Box Warning for Essure (Birth Control Device)
MONDAY, Feb. 29, 2016 (HealthDay News) — A special “black box” warning should be added to packaging for the Essure implantable birth control device, based on concerns over serious complications, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Monday.