Eat Healthy Without Breaking The Bank

If you’re like millions of people, you resolved to eat healthier in the new year. We have all tried, at one point or another, to eat healthier. But what, exactly, does that mean? How is healthy defined?

Some people say to eat more fruits and vegetables and less meats and sweets. Unfortunately, fruits and veggies that are sprayed with pesticides and herbicides are not healthy. But aside from the debate about the importance of eating organic food, what would a healthy plate of food look like?

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently converted its pyramid to “My Plate.”

myplate_green

The U.K.’s National Health Service recommends “The Eatwell Plate.”

eatwell-plate

And now, Harvard has come up with its own guidelines for healthy eating. And by my estimation, Harvard has hit a two-run homer in developing the “Healthy Eating Plate” and calculating “the cost of healthy eating.”

HEPApr2013

Healthy Eating Plate

In response to the perceived shortcomings of the USDA’s My Plate, nutrition experts at the Harvard School of Public Health, in collaboration with editors at Harvard Health Publications, developed the Healthy Eating Plate. This plate is a visual representation of what they believe a typical healthy meal should look like on someone’s plate. Here’s the gist:

  • 50 percent of your plate (or meal): Consists of vegetables and fruits. When choosing which fruits and vegetables to include, the general advice is to “pick from the rainbow,” including a diverse assortments of foods in as many colors as possible. When eating apples or peppers, eat a variety of colors: green, red and yellow.
  • 25 percent of your plate (or meal): Consists of whole grains. These should be in as close to their natural form as possible. In other words, skip the simple carbs derived from grains, the white flour, the “enriched” breads and pastas. These spike blood sugar and contribute to diseases like diabetes and obesity. Instead, go for whole wheat, quinoa, oats, brown rice and the like.
  • 25 percent of your plate (or meal): Consists of proteins. This means healthy cuts of beef and chicken, wild-caught fish, beans and nuts. Avoid heavily processed proteins and those with preservatives, nitrates and added chemical colors. (Omit standard hot dogs and bacon. Many stores now sell uncured, organic and nitrate-free hotdogs and bacon.)
  • Extras: Choose oils wisely, opting for olive, canola and sunflower oils and staying very clear of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils. Drink plenty of water, and also drink tea and coffee. Limit sugary drinks and dairy products, including milk and milk products, to no more than two servings per day.

The Harvard experts say that staying active and adhering to the above guidelines will help you retain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of diseases like high blood pressure, high cholesterol and type 2 diabetes. I believe them.

The Cost Of Healthy Eating

While knowing what to eat and having the mind-set to do so are well and good, there are many people who simply think they can’t afford to do so. There is an urban myth that eating healthy costs so much more than eating crappy. A stroll through the aisles of Whole Foods can leave you wondering if you have enough funds to shop.

Well, fear not, friend in health. The great minds at Harvard have researched this, too. They conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of prices of healthier versus less healthy foods/diet patterns in 27 studies in countries across the globe. The results were published in the December issue of the British Medical Journal.

Basically, the researchers compared the global costs of healthy foods against their unhealthy counterparts. For instance, they contrasted lean cuts of meat with cheaper and fattier cuts of the same protein sources (e.g., beef, chicken). While the costs of grains, dairy and sweets showed little variance across nations, meats had the widest differences. Healthier meats cost an average of 29 cents more per serving. The way they calculated the costs is quite interesting; if you have time, click here to learn the details.

The results overall? According to Mayuree Rao, lead study author, “We found that the healthiest diets cost about $1.50 more per day, and that’s less than we might have expected.”

This comes to about $550 more per person per year. That is less than purchasing one cup of Starbucks coffee every day. In other words, healthy eating, according to Harvard, is only nominally more expensive than unhealthy eating.

Conclusion

Now that we know how to eat healthy and that healthy food is really not much more expensive than unhealthier options, where’s the hitch? Well, for me, the hitch in all this is not addressing the difference in cost between organic healthy foods and the so-called “regular” versions of the same foods that are sprayed with toxic chemicals, like pesticides.

My suggestion is to use Harvard’s new Healthy Eating Plate as a guideline. Know that this huge meta-analysis shows a small disparity between unhealthy foods and healthy foods, so let go of anxiety about that. Then turn to nutrient-dense, organic options of the healthier foods and see how you feel physically — and financially — in 90 days.

Reference: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/12/e004277

Four Ways To Reduce Pain Naturally

Each year there are more than 150 million Americans suffering from chronic pain. This pain is costing the country an estimated $100 billion a year, including $50 billion in lost work productivity and $3 billion in lost wages. I would like to share with you four ways that you can reduce your pain naturally. By incorporating some of these tips into your daily routine you can feel better physically, mentally and spiritually.

Exercise The Body
Exercise is one of the most important things you can do for pain prevention and reduction. It encourages vigorous blood circulation, removes toxins, burns calories, stabilizes blood fats and sugars, improves strength and muscle tone, releases those feel-good hormones and keeps the mind alert.

Brisk walking is the best exercise for many chronic pain sufferers because the impact on the whole body is low. Once a new baseline is set, more vigorous exercises and activities can be enjoyed. Here’s why walking is so amazing:

Brisk walking is an aerobic activity, but since it is low-impact there is little wear-and-tear on the joints and little (if any) triggering of pain from the jarring action of the body as experienced in high-impact aerobic exercise or jogging. Although it is a simple activity, walking actually utilizes most of the muscles of the body to propel you forward and keep you on balance while increasing respiration, heart and lung function, blood and oxygen flow and the “burning off” of blood sugars and fats. It also helps in the removal of toxins and other wastes through sweat and improved eliminative functions.

Eat Pain-Relieving Foods
Food is a critical piece of the puzzle when it comes to controlling inflammation and pain. The typical American diet consists of too much fat, tons of sugar, loads of red meat and a frightening amount of processed foods. By switching to an anti-inflammatory diet consisting of healthy whole foods, you can actually decrease inflammation and ease the pain and discomfort associated with it.

Here are eight categories of bad foods that should be avoided if you suffer pain or have inflammation: Animal milk products, hydrogenated oils, nitrates, processed sugars, night shade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, many species of hot and sweet peppers and eggplant are the most common), fast food, saturated fats and processed white flour foods.

A diet high in fiber and whole foods, low in preservatives and fat and infused with blood-invigorating aromatic spices can help reduce pain and inflammation. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Wild Salmon.
  • Fresh whole fruits.
  • Bright colored vegetables (except night shades).
  • Green or white tea.
  • Purified or distilled water.
  • Olive oil.
  • Lean poultry (skinless).
  • Lean beef (filets).
  • Nuts, legumes and seeds.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Organic oatmeal (regular, not instant).
  • Aromatic spices (turmeric, ginger, cloves, garlic, onion, coriander, ground mustard seed, cayenne pepper).

Get Adequate Sleep
Sleep is not only a fundamental human need, it is a necessity that no one who experiences aches or pains of any kind should ever take for granted. It is so important, in fact, that we naturally fall asleep when our body tells our brain that certain essential chemicals have been depleted and our muscles and ligaments are tired and in need of repair.

Here are some tips to get deeper sleep:

  • Do not consume ANY sugar or caffeine after 6 p.m.
  • Stop working at least two hours before bedtime.
  • Turn off the computer and television at least one hour before bedtime.
  • Make sure your sleeping quarters are as dark and silent as possible. Studies have shown that those in darker and quieter spaces tend to sleep through the night more deeply than others.
  • Establish a sleep/wake schedule and stick to it.
  • Make a set routine out of bedtime. Change into pajamas, brush your teeth, set out clothes for the morning, even jot down any last thoughts, but promise yourself to revisit them tomorrow, then turn off the light… breathe deeply, relax, sleep tight.
  • If a racing mind is nagging, slow your breath and focus on the sensation of air as it passes through your nose. This will derail those busy thoughts to help you drift off.

Reduce Your Stress
The negative and lasting side effects of stress are often manifested in the mind/body response. Since the mind controls and constructs perceptions and the emotions act and react toward threatening stimuli, the daily centering of mind and emotions is essential to prevention of psychosomatic illness.

Meditation is one way to do this. There are many benefits to the daily practice of meditation including improved concentration, enhanced focus, calmer emotions, inner fortitude, understanding of the self, objectivity, concentrated decision-making power and peace of mind.

Physiologically, you will experience a decrease in blood pressure, respiration and metabolism; the nervous systems calms; hormones and chemicals balance; and the body is allowed to return to its natural harmonious state of homeostasis. Talk about stress relief!

Here’s how to do it:

  • Sit or lie down in any comfortable position that allows your spine to be straight and your head aligned with it.
  • Close your eyes and take a few initial deep breaths to ease into the moment and begin to relax.
  • Focus your attention on your breath as it passes into and out of the tip of your nose.
  • As you inhale, merely OBSERVE, without mental comment, the sensation you feel as air passes the tip of your nose.
  • As you exhale, merely OBSERVE, without mental comment, the sensation you feel as air passes the tip of your nose.
  • When thoughts enter your mind, do not engage them, do not pass judgment on them. Merely ACKNOWLEDGE that they are there, and return to the task of observing the sensation of the breath on the tip of the nose.

Conclusion
Developing and maintaining a positive mental attitude will go far in helping you reach your pain-free-living goals. Think from the end and believe you are already halfway along your pain-free experience, and you will more easily accomplish the day-to-day things necessary to do just that. Have confidence in what you are doing because you know it will help.

Every time you walk a mile, refuse a milkshake, sleep for an entire eight hours and breathe your stress away, you will know that you are making positive steps in your wellness life.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

America’s Radioactive Risks From Japanese Nuclear Disaster

What a month it’s been. On March 11, 2011, Japan was hit with a series of severe life-changing natural disasters. An earthquake at Fukushima created a tsunami that caused vast destruction of lives, land, homes and businesses. And if that weren’t enough, it caused a nuclear plant disaster so severe it’s difficult for one to wrap his head around its scope.

As a former resident of Japan myself, with dozens of friends and some family members still living in the country, this disaster is especially close to me. Every day I receive multiple emails and Facebook messages from my friends there telling me what’s going on and offering insight into how what they see and hear on the news in Japan regarding the long-term health effects of the radiation differs from what they get from non-Japanese media sources.

According to Kyodo News, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano stated, "The possibility that the situation at the nuclear plant will deteriorate and lead to new leakage of massive radioactive materials is becoming significantly smaller."[1] Yet Japan just raised its nuclear crisis from a Level 5 to a Level 7. This is the highest severity on the international scale overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And this raise in number would be an indicator to many that the Fukushima Dai-ichi disaster is at the same level as Russia’s 1986 Chernobyl disaster.

One can easily see how confusing these statements can be. Yet The Associated Press reported that the Japanese plant was not worsening; the number increase “rather reflected concern about long-term health risks as it continues to spew into the air, soil and seawater. Most radiation exposures around the region haven’t been high enough yet to raise significant health concerns.”[2] In fact, Fukushima has “only” emitted about 10 percent of the amount of radiation as did Chernobyl—yet that 10 percent is a staggering 10-times the level needed to reach the 7 scale.

Generations of lives already killed during the disaster are but a shadow of the extended deaths that will directly be caused by its aftermath. And those deaths may not be limited to Japan alone. Leading radiation health expert Dr. Chris Busby estimates that close to half-a-million people in Japan alone may die from cancer caused by these events.[3]

It’s been more than a month since the nuclear power plant disaster and residents of the United States are fearful that their health and even their lives may also be at risk. They fear radiation will travel across the Pacific by wind and into the Atlantic by water. Updated information on the possible negative health affects in the United States is available on the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) website.[4] Here are four key points offered by UCS relating to the negative effects of radiation.

  1. Radioactive materials decay, releasing particles that can damage living tissue and lead to cancer. Some elements have different forms, called isotopes, which differ in the number of neutrons in the nucleus.
  2. The radioactive isotopes of greatest concern in a nuclear power accident are iodine-131 and cesium-137. Iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days, meaning half of it will have decayed after 8 days, and half of that in another 8 days, etc. Therefore, it is of greatest concern in the days and weeks following an accident. It is also volatile so it will spread easily.
  3. To guard against the absorption of iodione-131, people can proactively take potassium iodine pills so the thyroid becomes saturated with non-radioactive iodine and is not able to absorb any iodine-131.
  4. Cesium-137 has a half-life of about 30 years, so will take more than a century to decay by a significant amount. Living organisms treat cesium-137 as if it were potassium, and it becomes part of the fluid electrolytes and is eventually excreted. It can cause many different types of cancer.

But is there a real threat to Americans? Well, Russell Blaylock, M.D., seems to think there is. According to Blaylock, if a radiation plume from Japan hit the U.S. west coast it could pose a threat to the nation’s crops and the people that eat them. As we know, levels of radiation in milk in three states have been recorded at much higher levels than normal, causing some to believe that the radiation has indeed hit the U.S. food supply.[2]

That sounds reasonable, and frightening. Yet, controversy looms. According to the UCS scientific community, wind patterns are likely to carry the plume eastward from Japan and the radioactive material will diffuse before reaching Hawaii, Alaska or the West Coast. Therefore, UCS thinks the threat is unlikely. In any case, UCS is quick to point out that even minute exposure to radiation poses life-threatening risks over time. The ‘good news’ is that the negative effects of radiation directly inhaled via such a radiation plume can be prevented or greatly reduced by taking potassium iodide (KI) pills.

Conversely, radioactive iodine could affect Americans through our food. According to Erin N. Marcus, M.D., associate professor of Clinical Medicine, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine: “Radioactive iodine could be ingested by dairy cows, for example, and then would be concentrated in milk. Potassium iodide, however, would not be effective in that situation.”[5] Since Federal and State authorities are testing for contamination, such affected products should be pulled from shelves in time to prevent harm.

News has surfaced that radioactive iodine has been found in East Coast water supplies. While this certainly gives reason for worry, Dr. Lyman of the UCS asserts that at this time there is no need for concern. However, he is quick to interject, “no level of radiation is safe, because the scientific consensus is that there’s no threshold to the carcinogenic effect of radiation, but the risk is proportional to dose, and the dilution that’s experienced as a plume travels many thousands of miles is highly significant.”[5]

Like I said in the opening of this article, the scope of this event and it continuing destruction is difficult for me to wrap my head around. The best advice I can give is to keep your eyes and ears open to all news sources that are verifiable.

Some quarters looking to push an agenda will either play up safety or present doom and gloom. Like anything else, things do not happen in a vacuum and everything can change in a second. The lessons from Fukushima show this clearly. While we don’t have control of much of this, here are a few things you do have control over:

  1. Do your best to check the food you eat if you suspect it may be contaminated
  2. Take KI pills to protect yourself if you live in an at-risk area of the country
  3. Boost your immunity by reducing stress, sleeping well, eating whole fruits and vegetables, and supplementing with antioxidants.
  4. Keep abreast of the situation through news sources from all parts of the globe.

And if you know something as an insider, please post it here in our discussion forum to keep the conversation going.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

References:
[1] http://www.news.com.au/breaking-news/radiation-risk-much-smaller-says-japan/story-e6frfku0-1226037306363#ixzz1JUkju548

[2] http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110412/ap_on_bi_ge/as_japan_earthquake

[3] http://theintelhub.com/2011/04/13/real-experts-speak-japanese-radiation-risk-in-us-400000-to-develop-cancer-in-japan/

[4] http://www.ucsusa.org/

[5] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erin-n-marcus-md/japan-radiation-risks-_b_842128.html

The Three Causes Of Pain, Illness And Disease

Pain affects everyone, but in most cases it needn’t be a chronic health issue. Pain is not a disease; it is a symptom. Pain is not the problem; it is an indication that a problem exists.

The secret of alleviating pain and poor health is to understand where it begins. The basis of “The Wiley Method” (the self-directed wellness model I pioneered), is grounded in techniques of uncovering these “beginnings” and developing a protocol for relieving the acute health issue. You can then make changes in your lifestyle that make it better and create balance to prevent it from returning.

Regardless of your diagnosis, only three things cause pain, poor health and disease: Excesses, stagnations and deficiencies. To understand what is meant by these terms, let us first consider homeostasis—the body’s natural state of balance.

The Baseline of Health
Homeostasis is the body’s baseline of health and wellbeing. It is the state where we feel good, not too stressed, tired or excited. You are in a state where your digestion is working properly, your body is absorbing proper amounts of nutrients and oxygen and is expelling toxins through the skin, lungs and intestines. Our sleep and wake cycle is set, we work and exercise, we have a balanced social, work and family life. Life is good. But life often gets in the way and we don’t feel as good anymore.

Poor health, pain and disease are all felt in the body when it becomes off balance. It is no longer functioning at homeostasis. This happens when we experience excess (e.g., too much alcohol or sweets), a deficiency (e.g., not enough sleep or iron in the blood) or a stagnation (e.g., muscle spasm or constipation).

People suffer needlessly every day because they and their healthcare practitioners operate from a disease-based model of health. Mr. Smith, you have migraine headaches, so we will treat the pain of these headaches in this way. This approach does not work, obviously, because millions of people still suffer from migraines!

I propose that we view poor health, pain and disease as examples of being out of balance. We must seek to uncover what causes the imbalance, and this can only be the result of an excess, deficiency or stagnation. My wellness model of health corrects these imbalances and the ailment is eradicated by returning the body to homeostasis—its natural state of balance!

Here is a chart with some of this outlined for you.

esd-chartlg

Restoring Balance is the Key
One of the most common areas of poor health is rooted in how we deal with pain, illness and disease. When we don’t feel well or balanced, we tend to reach for various pills and liquids. The short-term use of such things is fine for quick relief, but long-term use allows the underlying cause or imbalance to continue, thus leading to chronic problems. Taking excessive quantities of painkillers, muscle relaxants and prescription medications of all kinds—even in low doses—causes problems.

It would be a mistake to assume that only one of these three causes is the root of any health condition. In fact, it is usually a combination of the three that makes a simple problem become chronic and seem incurable. The first “cause” of an issue could be singular (i.e., an excess), but when not approached with the wellness model of health (i.e., restoring balance), it becomes multi-faceted.

The way to rid oneself of a health problem is to consider it from my three-part perspective. If you can categorize where you are in excess you can then make changes toward decrease and balance. If you are able to list areas of deficiency you can then take steps to improve them. Where you find stagnations you can look for ways to “move them along.”

Returning the body to homeostasis can be difficult and challenging. You may have been polluting your body with toxins in foods, beverages and air and aggravating it with stress, tension, poor sleep and bad lifestyle choices for quite some time.

In order to re-establish homeostasis—natural wellness balance—the many toxins and stressors that tax the body must be removed or, in the case of psychosomatic triggers, dealt with in new ways. This includes reducing food triggers, correcting musculoskeletal triggers, regulating biological functions, reducing the effects of stress and anxiety, keeping the body in a perpetual state of proper hydration and engaging in regular exercise.

The Wiley Method entails lifestyle changes. But such changes are the only way to correct imbalances and remain in an optimal state of health.

I would like to help you along this journey and invite you to learn more about self-directed wellness. I wrote a 17-page report called, The 3 Secrets of Living Your Optimal Health that I would love for you to have. Simply visit my website www.DrMarkWiley.com, fill out the ‘sign-up’ box on the top right and then a PDF of this important wellness information will be delivered right to your inbox.

——Dr. Mark Wiley

How Your Daily Activities Aggravate Your Health

People generally describe the signs and symptoms of their pain, illness or health concerns in terms that they think the healthcare provider in front of them wants to hear.

For example, when facing their primary care physician they tell a story about issues related to the body like pain, itching, rashes and/or congestion. When meeting with their psychologist they may describe the same issue in terms of stress, anxiety, worries and how those things are connected. If meeting with a dietician they may try to relate a connection between what they are eating and drinking and the quality and level of their health concerns.

The one thing I always try to impress upon people is that wellness issues like pain, illness and disease cannot be divorced from every aspect of the person. Wellness must be addressed utilizing a systems view of health. In other words, it must be addressed with the understanding that the whole of one’s life is greater than the sum of its parts and that a change in one part affects every other part.

Therefore, limiting the description of a health concern to a small area that is of interest to a particular healthcare practitioner will derive a “management method” aimed at helping that one small area. Yet, when one considers that every aspect of their life affects their health—thoughts, sleep, diet, exercise, stress, habits, etc.—then in no way will addressing one piece change all the pieces responsible for causing the issue.

Everything is important when considering the triggers for ill health and for addressing a method of care, reversal and ultimately prevention.

When speaking to a specialist, many important things that can and do affect the patient’s health in the course of their activities in daily living (ADL) are omitted from the dialogue. The problem with this is that, in order to better understand and treat the patient, the doctor/therapist/chiropractor should know about all of the things one does and feels and thinks is related to their health concern.

We all want fast and effective relief from our body pains and illnesses. The way to go about finding the right approach toward relief—or even a cure—is to identify those things that do or may trigger, relieve or aggravate the pain and illnesses and then communicate these to every healthcare professional sought for treatment.

You may think there is no correlation between feelings of depression and the carpel tunnel you have from typing all day. Yet studies show that chronic body pain can lead to depression. In such a case, the best course of treatment for that depression may not be therapy or psycho-pharma drugs, but physical therapy or bodywork.

You may see a chiropractor or massage therapist and tell them of your excruciating low back pain. Their therapies may offer symptomatic relief. Yet, the problem persists because it may, in fact, be caused by dehydration.

Your work life may find you seated all day and drinking four or five cups of coffee to stay alert and keep working, then enjoying a few drinks at happy hour with co-workers to burn off steam. Both the coffee and alcohol are diuretics causing dehydration, and this may be the cause of the back pain. In such cases only reduction of diuretic beverages and increase in water consumption will relieve and prevent the back pain.

If you are suffering from acute or chronic conditions that affect your activities in daily living (ADL), then it just may be the ADL themselves that are causing the problem. There is no way to know this for sure, or to see how your ADL may play a role in your health and wellness, unless you speak of them to your healthcare provider when describing your symptoms. Some daily activities that are known to cause body pain and health concerns include:

  • Irregular sleeping patterns.
  • Skipping of meals.
  • Sitting for long periods of time.
  • Playing sports without warming up or cooling down.
  • Talking with the phone held between ear and shoulder
  • Repetitive motions of hands (typing, factory work, playing piano).
  • Cracking your own neck and knuckles.
  • Engaging in too much or too little sex.
  • Engaging in too much or too little exercise.
  • Sitting with one leg crossed over another.
  • Not washing fruits and vegetables before consuming them.
  • Having arguments with co-workers or loved ones.
  • Worrying night and day about things you have no control over.

While the above list is brief, it offers insight into some of the most basic things that one does during the course of their daily life that can, may or does in fact cause or aggravate their health conditions. It is therefore important to paint a complete picture of your life when speaking of your health issues.

With this information, your healthcare provider can better determine the best course of treatment… or refer you to another provider who can.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

Break Down Those Barriers To Health

Spring is here, and with it comes a time of growth and renewal. With this change of season comes blossoming of new life, new ideas and, hopefully, a spring-fresh dedication to health and wellness. So let’s remove the barriers to our health while embracing a renewed commitment to holistic well practices.

Whether you suffer stress or back pain, headaches or PMS, tendonitis or something else altogether, the prescription medications helped a bit, for a while. But when they wore off, you had to take more… and more still. And now you are seeing an acupuncturist, a chiropractor, a massage therapist or some other holistic therapist and are finding that the requirements to do what is asked of you (even attending the frequent appointments), is just not quite fitting into your busy daily schedule.

Taking personal responsibility for your own health is difficult. It requires dedication and patience. Life is tough. Personal suffering is worse. It seems we all, in our quest for health, wellbeing or simple pain relief, encounter the same set of barriers. These are things that seem either to be in our way or fall along our path as we traverse it toward a better quality of life. And while each person’s barriers are of different sizes and shapes, the following three are by far the most common.

Barrier 1: Time
Perhaps the most obvious barrier to achieving optimal health is time. There is only so much of it in a day, a week, a month and a year. We can’t add time, and when we finally do find a free moment it quickly gets eaten up by unanticipated sources, like work, housework, family obligations, events, projects, you name it.

Something always seems to get in the way of doing our exercises; driving out of the way to purchase organic whole foods; eating balanced meals; getting a healthy amount of sleep; taking those supplements as directed; or drinking enough water or exercising. After a while, people start to think that going the “alternative” route to relief may be a bit overbearing. You have to visit the practitioner, perhaps several days per week for several weeks or months. You have to take herbs or supplements—and handfuls of them several times per day. You have to do a series of stretches or exercises between office visits… and sometimes even on the same day! Who’s got time for all that?

The main difference between mainstream medicine and alternative therapies is that the practitioners and products of alternative “medicine” are working toward healing you, not patching you up. And healing takes time. And I’m here to tell you that time is no true barrier to health!

Look, I know you’re busy. You’ve got kids, a demanding job and a hectic family schedule. But if you need to exercise you can prioritize 20 minutes at a time, three days per week.

Forget Seinfeld reruns; do your stretches instead. Better yet, why not do the exercises while watching your favorite sitcom or the evening news? Why not skip reading the morning paper and go for a walk instead. Avoid the take-out lunch and go to the farmer’s market on the way home from work, then prepare a healthy lunch in advance.

There are always sets of minutes in a day that can be “constructed” into health minutes. You simply need to prioritize your day, your week, your life—and establish the time. If you don’t, and your ills become chronic or life threatening, what good is your time then?

Do yourself, your family and your loved-ones a favor and break down that Time Barrier. It doesn’t exist; it’s an illusion. Time is an abstract concept, but its utility can be physically modified on the fly. Only laziness and lack of creativity makes time short. And we both know you’re neither lazy nor uncreative!

Barrier 2: Money
The second most common barrier to achieving perfect health is money. That is, having the financial means available to buy the best organic or free-range foods, receiving the best holistic treatments and taking only the highest quality herbs and supplements available.

A personal trainer costs money. A weekly massage costs money. Acupuncture gets expensive. Herbs are cheap, but their protocols are long so their costs add up. The main thing is to prioritize your wellness dollars.

If you are spending X amount on health each month, how can it be maximized? And if you are spending money on extra cable TV channels, expensive dinners and unnecessary clothing, then why not cut back on these and allocate the money for your health instead?

Despite what you were told in the 80s, it’s not how you look, it’s how you feel that counts! One of the best things you can do is to learn methods of reducing stress and some stretches and exercises you can do by yourself at any time of day or night. This will allow you to reduce your massage frequency and you will derive greater benefit from the herbs and acupuncture you are receiving.

I recommend consulting your holistic practitioner to get a clear picture of how many visits over what length of time will be required of you. You also want to know what herbs or supplements you may need to take and over what period of time. With this information you will know ahead of time (no pun intended), how much money you will need to allocate for your natural therapy.

With this information, you can begin to budget your wellness dollars accordingly. I highly recommend you not begin a course of treatment until you have the means to attend every required visit and to purchase whatever additional things are needed along the way.

There’s no sense in wasting money on half a therapy. And while you’re pulling resources together, work on your sleep/wake cycle, stress relief and diet. With clarity of costs and allocation of money in place, money will no longer be a barrier to your health.

Barrier 3: Beliefs
The third most common barrier to health is you own level of belief in what it is you are doing (or receiving) and what the result of that will be.

Are you on a fast? If so, do you believe it will do you good and deliver on the expected results?

Are you receiving CranioSacral therapy or Rolfing? Do you think the sessions are helping, or will help if you follow them through their prescribed course of treatment?

My point is, many people who begin and then drop out of holistic therapies do so because they lose faith in the method of care they are receiving. This either happens because the practitioner has made unrealistic promises or the patient was expecting different results than the ones gained. And most Americans want fast and easy results. Managing goals and expectations is the key.

By their very nature, alternative therapies are not fast—but they are generally safe, holistic, non-invasive and, if followed through, their results can be long lasting and life changing. When working with alternative therapies of any kind, you must obtain a clear picture of what may and may not happen, and over what period of time.

Managing your goals (e.g., “I want to be pain free by July 4″) and your expectations (e.g., “At the very least, I expect to be gardening again in April”), you will be able to ‘hold the course’ as the treatment progresses.

The best way to overcome the belief barrier is to discuss the therapeutic method at length with the practitioner who is offering the service. Ask for reading material. Ask for case studies. Talk to other patients. Put Google to work for you, too.

By doing this you will empower yourself with enough information to know that the program is either not the right one for you, or that you can rightfully dedicate time, money and effort to it.

In closing, I want you to know that I understand that you may be at the end of your rope. You have already spent huge sums of money, time and effort trying to get better, to become pain free, to lead the life you desire. But your life isn’t over and there is plenty of time left to truly live. All you have to do is redouble your courage, dig your heels in and: 1) make the time, 2) allocate the money, and 3) believe in the outcome.

By breaking down the barriers to health, nothing can block your path to the healthy pain-free life you so rightly deserve!

— Dr. Mark Wiley

Tackling Disease Through Prevention

It was like music to my ears. It was the action statement I have been hoping to hear for decades. The recently created Federal program, the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council, released its new “disease prevention strategy.” Finally! Well… fingers crossed that it makes sense and does what it intends.

The problem many holistic wellness professionals, such as myself, have had with the current health care system is its focus on “after-the-fact” treatment of illness symptoms. That is, allopathic medicine (our mainstream medical model) is based on the treatment of disease, wherein people see a physician after they are already sick.

This is the proverbial dog chasing its tail. The dog will never get ahead of its tail and treating pain, illness and diseases and their symptoms after the health concern has taken hold in the body will never cure even one of the problems because the system is reactionary… not proactive. But then, this is what can be expected of a disease-based model of health.

Prevention is the only way to reduce the occurrences of pain, illness and disease and the only way to reduce the amount of money spent on health insurance, research and development, studies and work days lost. But prevention is not an easy road; it requires self-discipline and… knowledge.

Indeed, without the understanding of what the pillars of wellness are, and how to support them, how can people be expected to practice prevention? Moreover, we are all taught to take aspirin when we have a headache, to use a heating pad for a bad back, to use ice on inflammation, to rehab a torn muscle, to inject prescription medications to ease the effects of everything from diabetes and heart disease to premenstrual syndrome and sinusitis. For prevention to become our fundamental theme of wellness, the education program and sound bites need to change from “do this for that” to “do this to prevent that.”

Well, the good news is that there is an unprecedented shift in the Federal government’s view of health care. Focus has changed from its extant disease-based model of health to a wellness-based model steeped in prevention and wellness strategies.

The Federal wellness strategy promises to equip the public, private and nonprofit agencies, organizations and individuals with a disease-prevention program. It aims to put in place strategies for reducing America’s overwhelming occurrences of needless and preventable diseases and disabilities and needless preventable death.

Read President Barack Obama’s Executive Order on this here.

Now we have a government program to prevent disease. And the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council promises a lot with its new policies and programs. The aim is simply to help Americans of all ages live healthier, longer lives.

In the words of Georges Benjamin, M.D., executive director of the American Public Health Association (APHA), “With this national strategy we are, for the first time as a nation, saying that we want to be one of the healthiest nations on the planet. The National Prevention Strategy can be thought of as the blueprint for converting our approach to health from one which is sick care to one that is well care.”

In addition to creating the national strategy, the National Prevention, Health Promotion and Public Health Council provides coordination and leadership among all executive departments and agencies with respect to prevention, wellness and health promotion practices. And it’s not just the health department that is involved in this shift in health care consciousness.

“It’s not just the health department that is involved now,” Benjamin said. “This is really a look from the top at health in all policies—an attempt to get every part of our nation focused on health for all the places in which health intersects in our society.”

Has it been successful in its early days? Well, according to a report by Jenny Backus, former acting Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, “The Strategy’s impact will be significant because it will take a community health approach to prevention and well-being—identifying and prioritizing actions across government and between the public and private sectors. Both the forthcoming Strategy and the ongoing work of the new Council present a historic opportunity to bring prevention and wellness to the forefront of the nation’s efforts to improve the health status of all Americans.”

What I find interesting (and maybe a bit disturbing) is that the government is trying to do a good thing in lighting a path toward prevention. Yet, it is using the existing disease-based allopathic medical model to do it. The strength of this model, again, is addressing pain, illness and disease after it has occurred. Time will tell if medical schools and CEU education classes will change their focus to support a true prevention model. I look forward to that day.

For more information on the Federal prevention health care model and its policies, visit www.HealthCare.gov

–Dr. Mark Wiley

The “Skinny” On High-Fructose Corn Syrup

If you’re like me, you’ve heard a great deal of conflicting talk about the naturalness, goodness, badness, healthfulness and harmfulness of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).

The FDA says it can be labeled a “natural” product because it is made from corn. Yet, a percentage of the corn it is manufactured from is known as GMO or has been genetically modified. That doesn’t sound so natural to me.

The corn people tell us that HFCS is the same as sugar and is healthy in moderation. Yet, HFCS is much sweeter than regular table sugar or the sugars found in fruit. So the definition of what is “in moderation” for HFCS is different than that for white processed sugar. They neglected to tell us that.

There has been a good deal of noise about HFCS being responsible, in part, for the current rise in childhood obesity. After all, HFCS has replaced sugar in a large number of packaged foods and beverages kids (and adults) consume on a daily basis.

A study presented at the American Society of Nephrology’s 42nd Annual Meeting found that the rate of obesity has increased sharply since the development of HFCS and that the prevalence of HFCS in processed foods may have something to do with it. It’s been reported that Americans now consume 30 percent more fructose than they did 20 years ago.

Yet, the website sweetsurprise.com claims that high fructose corn syrup does not contribute to obesity any differently than sugar. In support of this assertion they quote from a 2007 study:

“An expert panel, led by Richard Forshee, Ph.D. of the University of Maryland Center for Food, Nutrition and Agriculture Policy, concluded that “the currently available evidence is insufficient to implicate high fructose corn syrup per se as a causal factor in the overweight and obesity problem in the United States.” The panel’s report was published in the August 2007 issue of Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.”

Hmmm. We all know that studies are designed in different ways and that their results can often be spoken of in a way that supports opposing claims. But a visual assessment of childhood obesity and even obesity among the college-age population shows weight is on the rise. A peek at the ingredient labels shows a definite move from sucrose and fructose to high fructose corn syrup. But correlation does always indicate causation.

The question is, is there science behind how the body breaks down and responds to HFCS versus sucrose or fructose? The answer is, yes.

In the March 2011 issue of Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism it was shown that cortical control areas in the brain responded differently to the infusion of fructose than they did to glucose.

“BOLD signal decreased in the cortical control areas during fructose infusion (p = 0.006), corresponding with increases of plasma fructose and lactate. Neither glucose nor fructose infusions significantly altered BOLD signal in the hypothalamus.”

The cortical control areas surround the hypothalamus which is a key player in appetite levels and control of metabolic hormone production.

In essence, glucose and fructose are both simple sugars. Yet the body does not process them in the same way. In 2002, the Department of Nutrition at the University of California­—Davis conducted a study on fructose, weight gain and the insulin resistance syndrome. Here is part of the abstract:

“Because fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic ß cells, the consumption of foods and beverages containing fructose produces smaller postprandial insulin excursions than does consumption of glucose-containing carbohydrate. Because leptin production is regulated by insulin responses to meals, fructose consumption also reduces circulating leptin concentrations. The combined effects of lowered circulating leptin and insulin in individuals who consume diets that are high in dietary fructose could therefore increase the likelihood of weight gain and its associated metabolic sequelae.”

What’s more, in a large 2009 study looking at the connection between HFCS and hypertension, Diana Jalal and colleagues from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center recruited nearly 4,600 adults over the age of 18. They found that individuals who consumed more than 72 grams of fructose each day were between 26 percent and 77 percent (depending upon the blood pressure threshold) more likely to be hypertensive than those who eat few foods containing added sugar.

These studies do not show HFCS in the same light as being “just the same as sugar.” In the wake of all this hoopla, Snapple beverages have discontinued their use of high fructose corn syrup and have returned to the use of sugar in their iced tea and other fruit flavored drinks.

It would be a safe bet for all of us to read the labels and choose healthier options. Where sugar is the ‘healthier’ option, of course it is just a distinction between the lesser of two evils.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

References:
Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism March 2011; 13(3): 229-234 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1463-1326.2010.01340.x/abstract

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/711790

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 76, No. 5, 911-922, November 2002
http://www.ajcn.org/content/76/5/911.full</

The Essential Piece Of The Wellness Puzzle

There are many elements that are required to achieve optimal health. We all know that ample sleep, exercise, water, stress reduction and diet are the basic components. Within each of those categories are found sub-categories and specific recommendations.

Within the realm of diet, weight loss alone is not the answer. One must eat the correct food to support health and avoid the carcinogenic, fattening and processed food to prevent illness. Fiber is a food that holds a special place among diet and wellness.

Fiber is interesting because although it is a food and we eat it, we don’t digest it. In other words, it doesn’t enter into our bloodstream and instead just passes through our digestive tract until it is excreted. Yet, fiber is special in that it both promotes wellness while also reducing the risk of chronic disease.

Dietary fiber is an essential piece of the wellness puzzle. It provides bulk, suppresses appetite, binds with cholesterol, lowers blood sugar and speeds removal of toxic wastes from the bowels, thereby reducing the risk of constipation, high blood sugar, hemorrhoids, diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease and some cancers.

Found in many natural and whole sources like fruits, grains, legumes and vegetables, dietary fiber is found in two types: soluble and insoluble. When taken together, mixed fiber intake is essential to good health and must not be passed over for processed simple carbohydrates that are so utterly bad for you. Let’s now take a look at the fiber types, their function and where to find them.

Soluble Fiber forms into a gel-like substance when combined with fluid. If you have ever stirred some Metamucil into a glass and left it alone for a minute you saw what this looks like. What’s good about this gel is that it creates bulk which not only binds fatty acids but also stabilizes blood sugar, slowing down the time it takes food to empty from the stomach and its sugars to break down. This is good news for diabetics, hypoglycemics and anyone looking to lose weight naturally. As such, soluble fiber reduces the risk of heart disease and diabetes while lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Insoluble fiber does not form into a gel but passes through your digestive tract largely intact. It works to provide bulk to move toxic waste through your intestines, thereby aiding in digestion, promoting regular bowel movements and preventing constipation. Its bulk controls and balances pH (acid/alkaline balance) in the intestines, which helps reduce the risk of colon cancer. Insoluble fiber also helps bind cholesterol in the digestive tract, thus lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, diabetes and colon and rectal cancers.

Where To Get Dietary Fiber
Now that we know how vital it is to eat more dietary fiber, we need to know the best places to get it. No, breakfast cereals and fiber bars are not the best place. When thinking of diet in terms of health promotion and disease prevention, going to the whole source is always best.

Sources of soluble dietary fiber include oatmeal and oat bran, nuts, flax seed, psyllium husk, barley, dried beans and peas, carrots, berries and grapes. It is also found in pectin in the skins of fruits like oranges, apples and pears.

Sources of insoluble dietary fiber include dark green leafy vegetables, green beans, whole grains (and their products), wheat and corn bran, celery, carrots, seeds, nuts and brown rice.

Clinical Trials Prove Fiber’s Essential Value
According to the results of a clinical trial, “People who eat more dietary fiber have a lower body weight than people who eat less fiber. Potential mechanisms include greater feelings of satiety, reductions in food intake, changes in blood glucose, insulin, or gut hormones.” [1]

According to a university study, “For every 10 grams of fiber consumed, the risk of heart attack or other coronary heart disease (CHD) decreased by 14%. The risk of dying from CHD dropped 27%. But they also found… that the relationship between fiber consumption and healthy hearts is strongest for fruit (a 30% drop in deaths for each 10 grams of fruit fiber) and grains (a 25% drop in deaths), but indiscernible for vegetables.” [2]

Most Americans eat a diet low in complex carbohydrates, and thus low in fiber. It’s no wonder we are among the least healthy countries despite spending more than any other country on health care. We keep chasing for cures to things that make us ill instead of changing our lifestyle and dietary choices to prevent them; pain, illness and disease from taking hold in the first place

Consuming 20 to 35 grams of mixed dietary fiber daily is recommended for optimal health. Currently, it is estimated the average American only consumes 15 grams per day.  Couple this with eight to 10 glasses of water each day to keep the fiber moving along and hydrating the body, and good health is on its well.

–Dr. Mark Wiley

 

References:
[1] http://www.clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00889993
[2] http://www1.umn.edu/news/features/2004/UR_17371_REGION1.html

Self-Fulfilling Defeat And Energetic Abundance

I see several hundred patients a month and the most frequent things I hear is: "Oh, poor me." This self-defeating mantra actually comes in two forms: Self-defeat and hopelessness.

Mantras Of Self-Defeat

  • "I’m so sick."
  • "My pain is so bad."
  • "No one suffers like me."
  • "I can’t do anything."

Mantras Of Hopelessness

  • "No one can help me."
  • "I’m not expecting this to work."
  • "The doctors don’t know what’s wrong with me."
  • "I try everything and nothing works."

I can’t express how sorry and frustrated I get when I hear statements like these. To be fair, I fully expect to hear them on the first visit or two. Most people, when seeing a new health care provider, tend to focus on their pain or illness… to spotlight it. They do this in an effort to express the degree to which it affects their quality of life.

But after a few visits, therapeutic intervention and motivation, when I again ask patients how they feel they tend to regurgitate what they said on the first visit. The self-defeating and hopeless statements have become their mantra, their self-fulfilling prophecy. They have come to define themselves as being in poor health, as one who suffers, as one whose condition is beyond repair. Yet, when I review their list of signs and symptoms, a strong percentage are either gone or no longer troubling them to the same degree.

What is happening is the person has been suffering for an extended period of time. And to date, nothing they have "tried" has worked wonders for them. And what I often find on further questioning is that while many patients give things like acupuncture, herbal medicine, meditation, diets and so forth "a try," they drop out of the program when results are not felt or seen quickly. Yet these health modalities are long-term methods to rebalance the body where change is manifested over time. So quitting too soon, when "soon" is not how they work, will only result in the method not working.

It can be said that the self-fulfilling prophecy of defeat is already set in motion before the wellness treatments began.

"I know this won’t work, but my friend says to try it." And when they don’t feel better right away, it’s proof that it "didn’t work," and that their health concern "can’t be fixed."

This doesn’t have to be the case.

Universal Abundance

The first thing that needs to be understood is that the universe is made up of vibrations — in other words, energy. And energy frequencies are either harming or healing, depending on the condition. There is an abundance of energy in the universe because every single thing has it and all cells and atoms are nothing but energy that is vibrating at specific frequencies.

As an analogy, a flower, knowing only flower things such as growing, absorbing water, absorbing the sun’s rays… is living in harmony with the abundant energy of the universe. The gardener, eating preserved food, drinking high caloric and caffeinated beverages and staying up late at night, is living in disharmony with abundant energy.  The flower blooms when nature calls it to bloom. The gardener tries to work too much to make things (money, jobs) happen faster than they should. The result is sickness.

If people can realize that the universe is full of abundance and all they have to do is to align themselves with nature and ask for that abundance, then what they ask for will manifest. A closed mouth doesn’t get fed, and so you will get nothing without asking. A closed door permits no entry so even if abundance comes, if you are not ready to accept it, it will pass on by.

What this means is, if you are ill and want to get better you must open your mind and heart to the healing process. And healing is a process.

First, you must set your mind not only to try a healing modality, but to see it through the prescribed duration. And by committing to the duration of the method you are allowing it take hold and make change in your body by keeping the door open. It takes time to realign energy to correct illness and to allow wellness to manifest.

Second, you must discard the self-defeating and hopeless mantras that have become your habit. You must accept the good and the bad and change the frame of your thoughts to positive ones that allow abundant healing energy to come to you. Here are some examples:

"I am certain this will work, if I allow it to work."

"While I am still sick, my back no longer bothers me as much."

"Yes my cholesterol is still high, but it is 5 points lower this week."

"I trust my healer, I trust myself, I seek wellness and I ask abundance to bring healing energy to my body."

With the right outlook, the right energy and trust focused on yourself and the process of healing, you will be at once open to receive abundant healing and able to ask for it with unyielding purpose. Focus on the small steps, keep asking for abundance in healing, and self-defeating words will no longer rule your life or keep you from your goal of achieving renewed health and vitality.

–Dr. Mark Wiley