In the last twenty years, osteoporosis has morphed from a relatively rare (albeit serious) condition affecting elderly women into an epidemic threatening close to half of all post-menopausal women and almost one-third of men in the United States. What’s changed? Frankly, not much except the hype. Unfortunately, I believe this is yet another case of the medical establishment and drug companies creating disease diagnoses by manipulating diagnostic criteria. The more medications prescribed for osteoporosis and osteopenia, the more profits for the corporations. And not a lot of doctors are offering healthy, natural solutions prior to doling out prescriptions, either.
As October comes to a close, the enormous amount of publicity given to Breast Cancer Month wanes a bit. I’m a strong proponent of education, and of preventive health care. But unfortunately, for many women, the fear of breast cancer has now reached epidemic proportions. Fear is a stressor that, left unchecked, can actually contribute to cancer. Stress heightens endocrine and nervous system activity, contributing to allostatic overload and exceeding our ability to adapt, restore energy, and maintain health and balance. This interferes with our body’s natural cancer-protective abilities. It’s important to realize that much of the fear propagated by the media is fueled by misinformation and misunderstanding. For example, studies show that most women believe that their risk of breast cancer is far greater than it really is.
I strongly believe that we have the right to know that the food we are consuming is safe. It seems like this should be a basic right, and in this day and age, I believe we MUST pay attention and be educated about any potential risks to our health. It’s hard to understand why people choose to eat fried foods laden with dangerous fats, or drink beverages filled with sweeteners and artificial ingredients. But at least we can read the ingredient labels, educate ourselves about the possible health risks, and choose NOT to consume these processed foods. Unfortunately, in the case of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s), there are big corporations that are spending millions of dollars in the attempt to keep us in the dark about what’s in our food.
“Feel better! Have more energy! Live longer!” Sounds like a late night infomercial, or the claims made for patent medicines in the late 1800’s, doesn’t it?
But in truth, there is a class of herbs that will increase your energy, help to prevent disease, and even likely extend your lifespan. These herbs are called “adaptogens”, and I recommend them to everyone for increasing vitality and well-being.
Adaptogens got their name from their unique ability to buffer the effects of stress—they actually help the body adapt more readily to the demands of life. Everyone experiences stress, whether it’s everyday worries about work, money, and relationships; the physical demands of athletic competition; or the emotional and physical stressors of chronic illness.
Over the past few years, soy seems to have gone from the best food one can eat to the worst. According to soy opponents, tofu causes everything from birth defects to pancreatic cancer. It’s no wonder that people are concerned and confused.
In my opinion, there is a great deal of fear-mongering as well as inaccurate (and one-sided) interpretation of studies. Hundreds of reports in leading peer-reviewed journals worldwide provide compelling research that soy helps to protect against cancer, most notably breast cancer. For example, researchers at Japan’s National Cancer Center followed the eating habits of more than 20,000 women for a decade, and found that those who consumed at least three bowls of miso soup daily reduced their risk of breast cancer by about 40 percent. Miso (a concentrated fermented soybean paste) and all soy foods (as well as many other legumes) are rich in isoflavones, natural compounds that appear to impede the growth of some tumors.
I’m intrigued by research on the Blue Zones, which are essentially hot spots of longevity. In these areas of the world, it’s not uncommon for people to still be living active, healthy lives beyond the age of one hundred. So far, researchers have identified five Blue Zones:
- Sardinia, Italy
- Okinawa, Japan
- Loma Linda, California
- Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica
- Ikaria, Greece
These areas are diverse geographically, culturally, and spiritually. But what they have in common is a lifestyle that naturally supports all of the facets of good health: physical, emotional, and spiritual. People fortunate enough to be born in Blue Zones eat healthfully (a plant based diet, accented with small amounts of animal protein). Continue reading “Secrets of the Blue Zones: The World’s Hot Spots of Longevity”