There is so much research out there and so many claims of what cures and causes so many diseases that most of us just switch off. As I have written previously it has actually been shown that for most foods there are a roughly equal number of studies showing an increase and a decrease in rates of cancer.
So what filters can be used to start to determine what might be useful information? One is the common sense test. Knowledge which just makes sense has a better than even chance of doing just that. The other is a repeated theme in different areas.
In this New York Times article, A-list actress Angelina Jolie bravely announced that she made the tough decision to undergo elective bilateral mastectomy after her doctors warned her that she has an 87% risk of developing breast cancer and a 50% risk of getting ovarian cancer because her mother died of breast cancer and she carries the BRCA1 gene. While I fully support Angelina’s right to write The Prescription for herself, and while I admire her courage to go public with what some might hide, as an OB/GYN physician with a passion for mind-body medicine, this breaking news concerns me for a variety of reasons.
A couple of weeks ago it was reported that a study had found that pregnant women often feel stressed and judged. There was pressure to conform to some “ideal” behaviour in pregnancy and that any deviation from this made you a “bad mother (to be)”.
In the 1950’s a large percentage of the population smoked. This was not a good thing but somehow we are all here today. Alcohol consumption per capita is decreasing, notwithstanding that some in society drink too much. The paranoia about what foods are “safe” has reached ridiculous levels. It is seriously a wonder that the human race has gotten to the 21st century through the mortal hazards of salami or brie.
There’s no denying it – our society is fat. Big-boned, chunky, overweight, chubby, heavy… whatever we want to call it. People are desperate to lose those excess kilos and the media is stuffed to the brim with incredible exercise machines, miracle fat-blasting pills, quick-and-easy diet fads, 30 second workouts – all targeting our ever-growing-girth population. Yet nothing seems to be working.
I used to be a fan of trying out fat-loss fads.
For the last 40 years or so we have been told that the best diet for reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and stroke) is a low fat diet. This idea is so strongly ingrained in health thinking that even questioning it is met with derision and abuse.
Yet when it is questioned, the answer is surprising.
I have written an article for Australian news websites on this topic
Where do you find happiness? Is it in planning your holiday, taking a day off work, getting together with friends and family; is it shopping, a night out with friends, having a drink on a Friday night or making money? If so, then the chances are your happiness may be short lived. Because, if lasting happiness was contained in any of the above activities, why is it that our society is plagued with increasing problems of isolation, anxiety, stress, depression and mental health issues?
For many people exercise is something extra to do in a busy schedule. This was not always so. In previous years we had to be active to stay alive. Our more ancient ancestors could only eat what they caught or gathered. Through the ages most work has been physical right up to the advent of the technological age. This included work on farms or factories. Until the 1950s most people had to walk or cycle to get to places, as cars were not commonplace.
Cast your minds back even one generation. To change the television set you had to get up out of your chair. To open the garage door meant getting out of the car and opening the door, walking back to the car and then driving in. Clothes were mainly hung out on lines rather than bundled into driers and dishes were mainly washed by hand
Media images are both a reflection of and a frame of reference for our views of ourselves. For women especially, images of “perfect” bodies are impossible to attain and hence create stress and anxiety about body image. Young girls are also impressionable. This infographic shows the contrast between a Barbie doll and the average American woman. The take home message is that you can aspire to look and feel better but do not compare yourself to unrealistic models.
I am sure that many of you reading this have heard this before, “Thoughts Become Things.” Have you ever woken up and thought to yourself, “This is not going to be a good day?” Now looking back, if you didn’t change your thinking pattern at that time, I am guessing you had a very bad day. Now on the other hand, had you woke up thinking that way, and then said to yourself, “I am going to make this a great day, who says it has to be a not so good day” I am sure you would have had an Amazing day!
When we can learn that we are in control of our thoughts, and what we think about most is what we become…life starts to become Amazing! You might be thinking, “How can I control every thought that I have?” Well, you can’t but you can listen to what your body is telling you.
For the last 50 years it has been known that smoking is bad for your health. Whilst smoking rates have plummeted from over 70% of the adult population to under 20% today (and less than 10% in teenagers), some people continue to smoke.
This can variably be seen as odd strange or puzzling. Yet rightly or wrongly it is legal to smoke and people are allowed to do things, which are “bad for their health”. It is likely the case that most of those who smoke do so because they actually enjoy it. Again whether they should or should not is a moot point.
How many of us have been taught that our genes are predetermined or fixed? That we can’t change our genes? That certain diseases run in families, like heart disease or cancer, may be your eventual reality?
I’m here to tell you that this is not true. Most of us think of genes in what they give us: blonde hair, blue eyes or height, for example. While these genes are fixed, these genes are very few. We are given a set of genes that we cannot change but we can change how they are expressed.
The science of Epigenetics is showing that our genes and our environment are inseparable. What is Epigenetics?
The problems with over diagnosis and excessive use of medication in children with “attention” problems have become so commonplace that they no longer have the capacity to shock.
This is a problem in itself as these recent figures are shocking. In normal circumstances these latest figures would be grounds for a fundamental reassessment of diagnosis and treatment. They would be a clarion call for a reassessment of what we expect of children. They would be a sign, that parts of the medical and education system, as well as parts of government have lost the plot.
Instead they have been treated with a shrug of the collective shoulders.