By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

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Last week, I continued on with my unintentional September blog theme on how certain environmental exposures could create detrimental effects on our health. The purpose of these blogs has been to empower all my wonderful BREAKFREE medicine followers with knowledge, as well as to provide safe wellness options to mitigate these harmful bug-a-boos.

Unfortunately, all these bleak blogs could create fear of food and the dangers of the environment prior to sorting out our Halloween candy!  This is not good. After all, stress can perpetuate the very  response we may be trying to heal.

I think I can speak for many of my colleagues that we did not go into medicine to scare people or cite statistics in indistinct, languid, scientific, jargon. In fact, as serendipity would have it, right now as I blog, I am listening to the recording of Dr. Saxena discussing the therapeutic partnership between patient and practitioner. In this replay from the Institute for Functional Medicine’s Cardiometabolic module, two things that she says don’t work for creating lasting change are:

1. Fear

2. Making someone feel like a number by generalizing solutions

So, we are we so bombarded with scary stressful “health” facts?

For example, last year, everywhere the integrative practitioner looked there was an article on the negative effects of inflammation and its detrimental impact on health. Now, everywhere we glance there’s new research on the connection of how stress is linked to disease!! I believe the point is to not create more fear and stress, but to search for answers on how to support our body through these reactions to what we are up against in our toxic world.

In fact, all this news has made many integrative and functional doctors examine the power of the mind-body connection and how the beliefs our clients hold affects their ability to heal. After all, we realize now that epigenetics is not just about using food to optimize how our cells respond to threats. It also entails everything else we surround our bodies with, including people, which if we like them, increase our feel good hormones.

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(Hey girls, is that organic, non-GMO popcorn?!)

In fact, it is now proven that resilience and health outcomes is not so much related to stress, but how we deal with it. For example, Dr. Kelly McGongial, a psychologist from Stanford University whose research has been published in The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Motivation and Emotion, The International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, and The Journal of Happiness Studies, found that those who make stress their friend actually have better health outcomes than those who have negative responses to the same overstress or little stress at all!

Her research mimics Dean Ornish’s social isolation work and heart survival.

I encourage you all to take the 14 minutes to listen to Dr. McGongial. She provides powerful evidence on why Yogis look so young and why Yoda, though short and green, lived so long! 😉

Follow up with more readings on stress effects and perception on my blog.



SHILPA SAXENA, MD. Clinical Solutions: Functional Medicine to the Metabolic Disease Rescue. June 2, 2012.  IFM  Phoenix, AZ. A New Era in Preventing, Managing, and Reversing Cardiovascular and Metabolic Dysfunction.

Dean Ornish , MD. Love and Survival: The Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy. Harper Collins. New York:NY. 1998.

Erica C. Leifheit-Limson, et al. The Role of Social Support in Health Status and Depressive Symptoms After Acute Myocardial Infarction: Evidence for a Stronger Relationship Among Women. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2010; 3: 143-150 Accessed August 15, 2011.

Bert N. Uchino. Understanding the Links Between Social Support and Physical Health: A Life-Span Perspective With Emphasis on the Separability of Perceived and Received Support (Abstract). Perspectives on Psychological Science May 2009 vol. 4 no. 3 236-255. Accessed August 15, 2011.

Brooks, M. Social Isolation Rivals Hypertension as Mortality Risk Factor. Medscape Medical News. 9/17/13.

Am J Public Health. Published online September 12, 2013. Abstract

Kelly McGonigal. How to Make Stress Your Friend. Ted Talks. September 2013.

Pittman, G. Positive outlook in heart disease tied to fewer deaths. Reuters. September 20, 2013.

Hoogwegt, M, et al. Exercise Mediates the Association Between Positive Affect and 5-Year Mortality in Patients With Ischemic Heart Disease. Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes. 2013; 6: 559-566 Published online before print September 10, 2013. doi: 10.1161/?CIRCOUTCOMES.113.000158