The Praise of Lifestyle Medicine, The Popularity of Holistic Methods, and the Pitfalls of the Pill-Only Model
Summertime in the Northeast is in full swing. Yesterday was the celebration of America’s Independence. As a result, a three-day weekend of remembrance and celebrations ensued for many. As the festivities, fireworks, and wonderful gatherings with my family and friends dwindled down, with a contented sigh, I headed back to my office. It was time to catch up on some writing. First on my list was to review last month’s headlines for this week’s blog. After last week’s crazy critter explosion, regarding updates on the topic of the microbiome, my next focus was on what other helpful scientific and medical news to highlight to benefit my readers.
As I peered down my list, I happily noticed several interwoven themes. First, there was more evidence of the power of lifestyle and diet in supporting health. I was also elated to see more updates on the potency of holistic methods in healthcare. Finally, I read through several journal articles that all reported on the current downfalls of our allopathic medical system. What tied all these topics together? All of these subjects supported the implementation of integrative medicine, moving beyond the pill-only solution and reliance solely on evidence-based medicine.
Below is a little review of the recent studies on lifestyle and diet. I also provide some brief snippets on mind-body medicine and updates in the issues with our current health system.
Finishing up my blog, is my monthly picks for top integrative health, nutrition, and medicine news. I hope it is helpful in empowering yourself with information in your health journey.
Healthy Diet and Lifestyle for Health Outcomes
Food as Medicine
Dietary Fiber Associated with Better Aging
An association study reported on “fiber power” using data compiled from the Blue Mountains Eye Study. This is a large population-based cohort study of 1,600 adults, aged 50 years and older, who are being evaluated for sensory loss and systemic diseases. After ten years, the researchers followed up with the participants to determine the relationship between carbohydrate nutrition and healthy aging. According to Science Daily:
They found that out of all the factors they examined — which included a person’s total carbohydrate intake, total fiber intake, glycemic index, glycemic load, and sugar intake — it was the fiber that made the biggest difference to what the researchers termed “successful aging.” Successful aging was defined as including an absence of disability, depressive symptoms, cognitive impairment, respiratory symptoms, and chronic diseases including cancer, coronary artery disease, and stroke.
Now, interestingly, the study’s participants weren’t big sugar consumers, so this could have skewed results a bit. Still, the conclusion make sense. Previous research on fiber, specifically, digestion-resistant starches, shows benefits on chronic human diseases, including diabetes, colon cancer, and obesity. Not to mention, fiber feeds belly bugs and helps produce beneficial short-chain fatty acids, which have many different immune and metabolic health functions.
Want to learn more? A review I just posted on my Facebook page that is full of mechanisms and reviews of studies can be found here and some potential caveats, such as too much fiber in those with digestive issues can be found here.
Healthy Plant Diet Linked to Lower Diabetes Risk
Speaking of fiber, most experts agree that the phytonutrients found in plants, in the forms of fruits and veggies, are important for a healthy body. In a cross-association study, a positive association was found between an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant dietary pattern and decreased risk for diabetes. The study’s participants were 1531 survey members in which 52 had diabetes. The researchers measured specific inflammatory and antioxidant markers and found, “The derived anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant dietary pattern was inversely related to CRP and positively to carotenoids. It was associated with lower odds of diabetes (multivariate adjusted OR for highest compared with lowest quintile: 0.17; 95%CI: 0.04–0.73; p for linear trend=0.013). In conclusion, an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant dietary pattern is inversely related to diabetes.”
Lifestyle and Diet Adherence to WCRF/AICR Cancer Prevention Recommendations and Risk of Postmenopausal Breast Cancer
Below is the abstract to a powerful study that assessed the impact of following six lifestyle recommendations in a cohort of 30,797 post-menopausal women who were free of breast cancer at baseline.
Background: In 2007, the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) and the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) released eight recommendations related to body fatness, physical activity, and diet aimed at preventing the most common cancers worldwide. However, limited information exists on the association between meeting these recommendations and risks of specific cancers, including breast cancer.
Methods: We operationalized six recommendations (related to body fatness, physical activity, foods that promote weight gain, plant foods, red and processed meats, and alcohol) and examined their association with invasive breast cancer incidence over 6.7 years of follow-up in the Vitamins and Lifestyle (VITAL) study cohort. Participants included 30,797 postmenopausal women, ages 50–76 years at baseline in 2000–2002 with no history of breast cancer. Breast cancers (n = 899) were tracked through the Western Washington Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results database.
Results: Breast cancer risk was reduced by 60% in women who met at least five recommendations compared with those who met none [HR: 0.40; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.25–0.65; Ptrend < 0.001]. Further analyses that sequentially removed individual recommendations least associated with reduced risk suggested that this reduction is due to meeting recommendations related to body fatness, plant foods, and alcohol (HR for meeting vs. not meeting these three recommendations: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.25–0.58; Ptrend < 0.001).
Conclusions: Meeting the WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations, specifically those related to alcohol, body fatness, and plant foods, is associated with reduced postmenopausal breast cancer incidence.
Impact: Increased adherence to the WCRF/AICR cancer prevention recommendations could substantially reduce postmenopausal breast cancer risk in U.S. women.
(Note: Plant foods included 5 servings of fruits and/or non-starchy veggies a day and one serving of legumes and/or whole grain. Limiting red meat was defined as less than 18 oz a week. Finally, food that promotes weight gain was based on limiting sugary beverages and energy dense foods. You can read the full article here.)
Moving Booties for Better Health
Now, here’s some snippets on mind-body medicine.
Music May Help Heal the Heart as It Soothes the Soul
Science Daily reported the following results from a study of 120 participants exposed to either classical music, the band Abba, or a resting control, “The music of Mozart and Strauss is able to lower blood lipid concentrations and the heart rate. This is the result of a study of the effect of different musical genres on the cardiovascular system, …”
Bad news for Abba, only the subjects exposed to 25 minutes of Mozart or Strauss had changes in blood pressure and heart rate. Still, both music conditions reduced cortisol concentration measured verses the less calm control subjects.
Tai Chi Resembles Drugs, Aerobics in Blood Pressure Lowering
A new study demonstrated that Tai Chi has beneficial blood pressure lowering effects, similar to aerobics and drug-lowering agents. According to Medscape, the researchers, “found 28 studies of tai chi that measured blood pressure, and judged them to be of moderate quality. The studies consisted of 1296 people who did tai chi and 919 people who served in nonexercise control groups.”
The Stress-Diabetes Link
Researchers have found a link between blood sugar and stress by measuring an inflammatory signaling protein, IL-6 in 800 subjects. According to Science Daily, “The study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology establishes a metabolic chain reaction that starts with low inhibition, aka attention control, which leaves a person vulnerable to tempting or distracting information, objects, thoughts or activities. Previous studies have shown that such vulnerability can lead to more frequent anxiety, and anxiety is known to activate a metabolic pathway responsible for the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, signaling proteins that include interleukin-6 (IL-6).”
Mindfulness Meditation Seems to Soothe Breast Cancer Survivors
According to Health Day, “For the study, Lengacher and her colleagues randomly assigned 322 women who had been treated for breast cancer to the six-week mindfulness program or to a comparison group that did not learn the technique. At the study’s start, and again at six and 12 weeks, the researchers assessed the participants’ symptoms. In all, 299 women completed the study. The instruction helped reduce fear of recurrence and fatigue the most, the study found. The effect was small to moderate, Lengacher added.”
The Popularity of Integrative Medicine
A recent article by Dr. Mercola summarized why “Alternative health is booming”:
- Based on a new study, Americans’ out-of-pocket expenditures for alternative health in the U.S. average out at $30 billion a year
- “Alternative health care” costs included practitioners such as yoga instructors and chiropractors; natural supplements such as glucosamine and self-help materials such as books and CDs
- Studies reveal that 225,000 Americans die every year as a result of iatrogenic deaths, caused by a physician’s or hospital’s activity, manner or therapy, making the conventional health care system in the U.S. the third leading cause of death
- Alternative health is gaining ground not only because it’s more natural than conventional approaches, but because it focuses on prevention, as well as controlling and improving your own well-being
Here are some more links to studies reported in Dr. Mercola’s summary along with additional information:
- Research Conducted with Mayo Clinic Practitioners and Kalish Institute Confirms Efficacy of Functional Medicine
- Supplement Industry Contributes $122 Billion To U.S. Economy – Nutraceuticals World
- Alternative Medicine Taking Hold Among Americans: Report
- Use of Plant-Based Therapies and Menopausal Symptoms: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis Shows Benefit
Some New Reports in the Pitfalls of Conventional Medicine
Some experts believe that the popularity of alternative and integrative approaches are rising due to the discontent in conventional care. I’ve written about the issues in our current system as well as the problems with some reports of the “evidence.” It’s important to realize that the scientific methods of appraisal for any intervention, including natural methods, has its own issues. Therefore, it’s not necessary the tool we are using, but how we are using it and evaluating its efficacy. Below are some updates of some recent findings:
- Financial Relationships between Organizations That Produce Clinical Practice Guidelines and the Biomedical Industry: A Cross-Sectional Study
- Study Reports that EMRs Can Lead to Physician Burnout
- First Rise in U.S. Death Rate in Years Surprises Experts
- Can Drugmakers Really Buy Doctors’ Loyalty with Cheap Meals?
Ok, you can stop here or if you want, you can skim the headlines below on some of the news I thought you may be interested in this month. The links are provided if you want more information.
Happy summer reading and be sure to provide your feedback below!
For the Sake of the Little One’s
- Doctors’ Group Backs Later School Start Times
- Policy Statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics: Prevention of Lead Toxicity in Children
- Autism with Intellectual Disability Linked to Mother’s Immune Dysfunction During Pregnancy
Environmental and Exposure News
- Updated Guidelines for Tickborne Rickettsial Diseases: Patient Diagnosis and Management (Medscape Summary)
- Smog is Bad for Your Blood Pressure
- Computer Vision Syndrome Affects Millions
- St. Louis jury orders Monsanto to pay $46.5 million in latest PCB lawsuit
- From Uniformity to Diversity: A Paradigm Shift from Industrial Agriculture to Diversified Agroecological Systems
- Stroke Risks Mostly Modifiable, Lifestyle and Air Pollution Big Players
- No Amount of Lead is Safe for Kids
Technology and Applications
- A New Wearable to Predict Asthma Attacks
- Developing Brain Vital Signs: Initial Framework for Monitoring Brain Function Changes Over Time
- Turning Skin Cells to Blood Cells
- MS Breakthrough- Replacing the Whole Immune System?!
- Crowdsourcing Genetic Information
- Are Commercial Brain-Training Programs Worth It?
- A New Discovery on Why We Need Water (Proteins in Motion)
- MediHerb® Research Shows Limitations of DNA Barcoding in Authenticating Botanical Extracts
Societal Issues, Policies, and Health
- California Enacts Right to Die Law
- How the Primary Candidates Would Reform HealthCare
- More Research Needed on Gun Violence to Combat Issue, Pleads AMA
- Inhaling E-cigs Affects Hundreds of Genes Related to Respiratory Health
Boys, Girls, and Brains
- How Female Hormonal Cycles Effect Cigarette Use and Quitting Success
- Fundamental Concepts Regarding Testosterone Deficiency and Treatment
- Leaky Blood Brain Barrier and Alzheimer’s
Food & Government
2 Reasons to Eat Broccoli
- Sugar on the Brain and the Brain Effects on Sugar!
- Acetyl Carnitine Modulation of a Stressed-Out Rodent Brain
Supplements and Vitamins
- Using the Taste of Bitter to Modulate Appetite– A New Supplement
- A Controversial Review of Vitamin D
- Natural Molecule Could Improve Parkinson’s Disease– Clinical Study with NAC
- Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin E and Coronary Heart Disease
Food as Medicine
- Light Drinking Linked to Breast Cancer
- Healthy Fats in Mediterranean Diet Won’t Make You Fat
- Follow Up to the LEAP Study- Impact on Growth and Nutrition with Early Peanut Introduction
- Chrononutrition: When We Eat and What We Eat- How Important Are Both? (Remember This: Jet lag and bugs?)
The Science of Cravings
- Age, Obesity, Dopamine Appear to Influence Preference for Sweet Foods
- Food Cravings, Food Addiction, and a Dopamine-Resistant Genetic Variance in Asians
This is my top pick for Medication updates this month:
Through the Lifespan- Report of Risks
- Antidepressants in Pregnancy Linked to Brain Changes in Baby
- Cardiovascular Safety Risk for Methylphenidate in Children and Young Adults
- Later Use of ADHD Meds in Adolescences Linked to Greater Risk of Substance Abuse
- Study Questions Use of Antidepressants for Children, Teens
New Warnings & Efficacy Findings
- Certain Steroids Raise Risk for Serious Staph Infections
- Warn Patients About Risk from Antacids with Aspirin, FDA Says
- Opioid Use and Heart Risk Found in Study
- Antidepressants of Little Benefit for Complicated Grief
- Canada Spends Over $400 Million on Medicine That Harms Seniors
- Personalized Medicine Leads to Better Outcomes for Patients with Cancer
- Just a Little of Statins’ Effect Enough to Help Heart: Study
- Rates of Nonmedical Prescription Opioid Use, Opioid Use Disorder Double in 10 years
- Patients Often Prescribed Extra Painkillers, Many Share Them
Is your brain full! Whoo! Congrats if you read through. 🙂 Thanks to Pixabay for the pics!