Learn The Secret To Taking Control Of Your Health And Wellness

Learn The Secret To Taking Control Of Your Health Today

Do you ever wonder why, in spite of all your good intentions, you just cannot seem to take control over your whole health and wellness? The answer to that question can be found in the words of Albert Einstein, who reminds us "you cannot correct a problem with the same thinking that created it." In other words, you cannot change old behaviors and overcome old obstacles without new information.

The Institute of Medicine recently published a study indicating that ninety million Americans are "health illiterate," which means we do not know how to interpret or use health information to control or improve our health or prevent chronic disease. Data compiled previously identified "lack of information as the number one root cause of death." Understanding that there exists a cause and effect relationship between what we know and how we behave, we need a model of integrating this important information to change the behaviors that lead to chronic disease.

According to a seven-year, 1996 Harvard Medical School study, approximately 70% of all cancers are preventable through lifestyle changes. Furthermore, our diseases and conditions are primarily a result of stress, food, environment, attitude, emotions or beliefs that keep us in behaviors that lead to illness. Which invites the question, are we consciously choosing to be unhealthy, or do we just not understand sufficiently the relationship between what we think, how we behave, what we put into our bodies and how we keep ourselves well or make ourselves sick?

In a world exploding with health information, especially on the internet, we are caught in the dilemma of having abundant amounts of information, without a context through which we can understand and utilize this information in a way that is appropriate for our own unique personal health needs. There is, however, good news. Making its way into the mainstream of health care is an integrated model of health information and education that provides a "whole picture of health" perspective, allowing each of us to discern and create our own unique approach to taking charge of our health and well-being. Whole Health Education, developed over the past 28 years, in cooperation with Boston physicians, nurses and educators, is an approach to understanding the cause and effect our behaviors and choices have on our state of health. Demystifying the five major factors that influence how sick or well we become, Whole Health Education provides a perspective on human anatomy and physiology, bio-chemistry, psycho-social, environmental and spiritual aspects which allow for an authentic understanding of what we need to know to resolve chronic health problems or to stay healthy.

Integrating evidence-based information with the wisdom of various spiritual teachings and a whole-person overview of behavioral options, Whole Health Education offers each of us a tool for personal health management by providing personalized health information that explains the physical, emotional, nutritional, environmental and spiritual aspects of a health concern.

For example, Mature Onset Diabetes affects approximately 18.2 million Americans and is the leading health concern in our culture today. As all chronic conditions are, Mature Onset Diabetes is a multi-dimensional disease state; the unique Whole Health perspective can facilitate the restoration of health for those with chronic diseases such as diabetes.

Physical/Structural

What happens on a physical and structural level with Mature Onset Diabetes? The specialized beta cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin, become incapable of producing adequate amounts of the critically necessary secretion. This happens over a period of years and can begin in our bodies, over time, by eating large amounts of insulin-provoking foods. These insulin provocateurs, which are sugars and starches in the form of complex carbohydrates, require the pancreas to produce more insulin so that the sugars can be carried over the cell membranes to all parts of the body. Serious disturbances occur when we do not have enough insulin to carry the sugar over the cell membranes. Insulin hooks onto the sugar molecule and acts like a lock and key mechanism to bring that sugar into the cell, where it is then used in the energy cycle of cell metabolism. The nervous system, brain and the lungs cannot function without the proper metabolism of sugars.

Emotional/Social

Just as diabetes is a lack of nourishment on a chemical/nutritional level, so is it a lack of emotional nourishment on an emotional/mental level. It relates to the "feel good" nourishment component of your body. What do we know about carbohydrates and serotonin? Carbohydrates provoke the production of serotonin. Serotonin is a neuro-transmitter that produces a feeling of well-being. There is a direct relationship between what our body is doing chemically and how we feel emotionally. When we crave or build our diet around carbohydrates, this can be a way of "self-medicating" our emotional needs by eating carbohydrates to provoke insulin production.

Sugar problems can affect us emotionally. Let's say you have a pancreas that is not working properly. What can happen somatic-psychically from the pancreas to the brain? If we are feeling the ups and downs of hypoglycemia, and its biochemical/neurological symptoms, it may undermine our sense of security, self-esteem, and produce anxiety and fear.

What is the emotional component of diabetes and the pancreas? Often, it can be a poor sense of self-esteem and a fear of not being "good enough" or not belonging. These feelings, medicated by the serotonin foods, can lead us to not look deeply enough into what is causing our health concerns and allow the feeling/feeding cycle to continue.

Chemical/Nutritional

On the nutritional side, the treatment for people with Mature Onset Diabetes is to decrease the stress on the pancreas by making changes in their diet — decrease starches and sugars and decrease calories. Eat less, eat right. What kind of a diet would be best for preventing Mature Onset Diabetes? Vegetables, vegetables, and vegetables combined with lean proteins such as fish, chicken, water, a little fruit and a little fat. In a hypoglycemic situation, it is wise not to eat grain or sugar, but sprouted grain bread and other substitutes can be healthy and satisfying.

Because hormones are chemicals, diabetes and hypoglycemia are both hormonal-based problems. What we know about the hormone system is that it works as a balanced interdependent system. Diabetes is an endocrine-related, systemic problem. With a systemic problem like diabetes, you have a body system problem–you do not just have a condition by itself. It is known that the pancreas is related, through hormone interaction, to the adrenals, and the adrenals are in turn related to the reproductive system. It is known that these glands are related through hormone interactions to the pituitary and the pituitary is related to the thyroid gland, the thyroid is related to the thymus, and the thymus is related to the immune system.

Environmental/Internal & External

The environment that we work in, live in, walk through, and/or live near  can have an impact on the way that we feel and the way we feel about ourselves. How do we learn to trust in the order of the universe? By behaviors that come from trusting the order inside ourselves. We do this by setting boundaries — codes of conduct of how we are going to behave, eat, work exercise and live. If we don't violate our own boundaries, we are less likely to let anybody else violate our boundaries. We have to start with ourselves. Our experience of victimization can begin with our own self-victimizing behavior.

Spiritual/World View

A Hindu Vendata truth is that "the whole world is one family." It is said that there is only one disease, the disease of separateness, separating oneself from the awareness that we are one living organism. Competition creates isolation. The spiritual challenge presented by hypoglycemia and diabetes appears to be involved with over- or under-valuing the self: judgment of self and then others. Where are we in the process of getting to the truth that we are all equally important? The drama created by a one-up or one-down dynamic that we may allow to be part of our experience can lead to psychophysiology and the behavioral issues which can contribute to and create Mature Onset Diabetes.

Expanding your knowledge of whole health can transform your experience of taking care of yourself. It can provide an understanding of our health concerns and conditions from this multi-dimensional perspective that makes sense in a way we can utilize the information directly and in a meaningful way. In addition, having the information provided in a mindful, respectful way that invites each of us to discern what we know about our health and condition, how to choose to resolve the problem and what kind of care we choose to have, allows each of us to experience whole-person health care through whole health information. Then, WE become the center of our health and healing process, rather than the doctors or practitioners we go to for guidance.

 

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Weight Loss and the White Stuff

Take all the “white stuff” out of your diet. You’ve read it in popular magazines, heard it from your friends and even from the lips of the long reigning queen of day time television. Taking away all things white from your diet – bread, pasta, bakery items and sugar can be an excellent way of reducing empty calories from what you eat as well as losing weight.

There is little doubt that refined sugar and flour, for the most part, have been stripped of nutrients and fiber and are little more than a significant amount of complex carbohydrate starch. These complex starches are not only high in calories but can be quite troublesome for our bodies to metabolize.

However, the white stuff is by no means the only grain based complex carbohydrates that can be eliminated to enhance weight loss and also aid in reducing the current cause of many of the leading health conditions claiming the lives of Americans today. A serious health condition, Metabolic Syndrome, occurs in approximately 20-30% of all industrialized populations. It is a growing medical condition that can be directly linked to diets high in complex carbohydrates and lifestyle behaviors.

The symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome relate to elevated insulin levels and include high blood pressure, obesity, increased risk for type 2 diabetes, increased risk of dementia, fatty liver and potential kidney damage. In addition, many complex carbohydrates of grain derivitatives are linked with allergies, skin conditions, ear infections especially in children, fatigue, sleep problems and depression.

Given the risk for Metabolic Syndrome, taking out the white stuff should be a positive preventative way to avoid metabolic syndrome and its accompanying symptoms. But there’s more to addressing the issues of grain based complex carbohydrate consumption than just removing the “white stuff”. As humans we do not possess the enzymes required to digest cellulose, the protective fiber found on the outside of all grains, which is why we have to mill flour – to breakdown the cellulose that we cannot digest or gain nutritional benefit from.

Cellulose protected plant foods are edible only by rudiments – double bellied animals which possess the enzyme system and digestive engineering to utilize grain foods as their dietary staple. Thousands of years ago, when the continents divided and humans went from migrating, nomadic hunter -gathers to stationary agriculture based tribes, we needed to identify a dependable food supply and grains became just that.

We quickly learned however that we needed to do something to the grain to be able to ingest it. Trying to chew on wheat or even rice without altering its structure in some way was impossible and resulted in not only sore tongues and lips, but upset digestive systems. Milling of the cellulose rich wheat, rye and corn grains produced flour which could easily be chewed and ingested, unlike the raw grains.

Thus began our use of grains, which are sweet, versatile to cook and a dependable food source. Evolutionary problem solved. Or was it? Let’s look at the positive side of making the switch. Simply switching from white to whole wheat bread can lower heart disease risk by 35% according to the Harvard Nurses study of 75,000 nurses, who ate whole grains in place of white flour.

There two big differences between white bread and whole wheat bread is the processing and the amount of fiber the flour retains after processing. While there are three parts to a wheat berry which both are made from, white flour processing only uses the “endosperm”, the starchy part of the berry. Whole wheat flour uses the bran outer layer which is the cellulose we cannot digest and the germ part as well. We’ve all heard of wheat germ, which contains the plants nutrient stores.

White bread has almost zero nutrient value unless it is enriched, while whole wheat flour is much higher in fiber, does contain vitamin B6, E, magnesium, zinc, folic acid and chromium. The bad news here is that generally the baking or cooking process destroys much or all of the vitamin content. Some minerals and certainly the fiber can remain even after baking. The most important difference however is the fiber.

Harvard studies on fiber show that this indigestible portion of grains, can lead to fewer heart attacks, decreased diverticular disease, type 2 diabetes and constipation. It also provides fullness, hunger satiation, aids bowel integrity. So then why any concern about whole grains? Whole grains still require the secretion of insulin to utilize the complex carbohydrate in the whole grain products and it is the insulin that is the main culprit in metabolic syndrome.

If an individual replaces the same amount of white flour products with whole grain products they will enjoy increased nutrient benefits, however if they have already developed a high insulin secretion due to the white flour products they have consumed and probably over consumed, switching to whole grain products will not necessarily produce the positive outcomes they are hoping for.

In my more than 30 years of practicing nutrition, I have seen countless individuals with a wide span of conditions improve dramatically when all flour based products were eliminated from their diets. Many of us are not genetically or enzymatically built to ingest and handle the metabolism of grain foods.

While they may appear not to be as bothersome for some individuals, many of us gain weight, develop skin problems, sugar regulation issues, bowel problems, acne and other chronic concerns that can be either greatly improved or eliminated by simply removing all flour products from the diet.

The reasons can be twofold. First, the gluten contained in grains and secondly, the insulin secretion required for metabolizing the carbohydrate starch. When the Islets of Langerhans beta cells of our pancreas have enlarged over time to produce higher levels of insulin to accommodate the amount of complex carbohydrates we are eating, they will continue to do so if complex carbohydrates are ingested, even when a more nutrient rich alternative such as whole grains is consumed.

In my experience and practice based research, weight loss and improved overall health is the general outcome for individuals, both with and without hypertrophy of the insulin secreting cells, when all flour and sugar products are removed or dramatically reduced in their diet. There is, however, a satisfying and delicious alternative to not consuming any flour products that many are using with great success. There will be more to share on the subject in the upcoming Part II of this discussion.

(c) 2012 Georgianna Donadio

http://www.medicinenet.com/metabolic_syndrome/page2.htm
http://www.webmd.com/allergies/guide/wheat-allergy
http://www.channing.harvard.edu/nhs/
http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/what-should-you-eat/fiber-full-story/index.html