The most cost-effective way to reduce medical expenses, is to demand less. This is not a commentary on what the government or private health insurers to cover or not. What I propose is that we, to a large extent, the number of medical interventions to control that we need in a lifetime. This is mainly the domain of preventive medicine, but I think beyond that. The lifestyle decisions you make affect more lives than your own. Like it or not, all of us an example or constructive or destructive for those around us. There is no escaping that reality. The good news is that we are all capable of changing the way we live and becoming better role models. It is that notion which may empower us to participate in reforming the current medical system.
This is the first segment of a new series of columns that will focus on five natural steps you life and welfare of the people around you can improve. My hope is that you will personally some of these alternative and complementary options to incorporate into your daily routine. But you will undoubtedly encounter information not directly related to your health. In those cases, please pass those tips along to everyone you know who might benefit. Share information with colleagues, family, friends and especially your doctors. I think we have a significant impact if we all committed to the implementation and / or sharing at least one tip of each of the 5 steps blogs.
Tip # 1 – Achieve Your Goals – Researchers from Duke University and the University of Georgia recently announced the completion of a series of studies that prove that self-control can be contagious. Five different experiments were performed to determine whether exposure to good examples or just thinking about them might be harmful behaviors in people with poor self-control to change.
- In experiment # 1, 36 volunteers were asked to think about a friend with a bad or a good temper. They were then asked to participate in a “handle task often used to measure self-control.” Whoever thought of friends who set good examples performed better on the grip test.
- Experiment # 2 of 71 participants who were split into groups. One group watched people selected at a root of a record that both the carrot and a cookie included. The second group of participants viewed people choose the cookie instead of the root. Later observers were tested to see which group demonstrated that the greater degree of discipline in the presence of food. Those who were exposed to the root eating exhibited more restraint than the cookie-group.
- Experiment # 3 requires that 42 study volunteers two lists of friends that they considered good or bad self-creation. Then, volunteers sat at a computer terminal and were exposed to subliminal (10 ms) flashes with the names of friends of both lists. At the same time they received an “automated test that measured self-control.” The researchers noted that flashing the names of friends who are classified as a good self-positive test results and vice versa affected.
- The fourth experiment was a bit more involved. 112 participants were asked to write about a friend who owned one of the following qualities: a) poor self- b) a good self-control or- c) an outgoing personality. Later writers themselves were given a self-test. The men and women who wrote about friends who had bad examples scored the poorest on the test. Those who described friends who were extroverted tested better than the “bad example group”, but not as good as the “good example subjects”.
- The fifth and final experiment found that writing about friends with good self-control group of 117 volunteers helped a study to identify words related to positive self-control (to achieve, discipline, commitment, etc.) faster than that focuses on missing friends self-control.
One of the co-authors of the summary, Dr. Michelle vand up, concluded that: “The message of this study is that picking social influences that can positively improve your self-control.” She added that “by exhibiting self-control, you’re helping others around you to do the same.” (1,2)
Tip # 2 – Protect Yourself from Chemical, Dietary and environmental - A Spanish study published in the January issue of Clinical Nutrition examined the effects of eating 30 grams of mixed nuts in a group of 50 adults with metabolic syndrome (MetS). In the course of 12 weeks, half of the participants were asked for the notes to add to their typical diet, while the rest were eating normal. The Mets patients consuming the mixed nuts were found lower rates of DNA damage as measured by urinary 8-oxo-dG have. DNA damage and DNA repair is linked to an insufficient range of chronic diseases such as Alzheimer’s, cancer, macular degeneration and premature aging. (3,4,5,6,7)
Tip # 3 – Balance is the key to a longer life - Avoiding falling is one of the main strategies for remaining active and healthy well into your senior year. A newly published study from the University of South Carolina supports the use of Feldenkrais exercises for this specific purpose. The Feldenkrais Method is a program that attentive, gentle movements designed to bring body and mind functions like balance, coordination, flexibility and improve range of motion combines. In the current study, 47 seniors enrolled in a 5 weeks Feldenkrais exercises program or asked for a “waiting list”, which was used as a comparison group. Those in the Feldenkrais group classes visited 60 minutes three times per week. The results of the study found several benefits to the participants of the Feldenkrais intervention: a better balance, mobility and reduced ‘fear of falling. ” In addition, the participants have also been reported larger “balance trust” and mobility of movement, and at the same time the execution of a mental function. (8)
How Orlistat promotes weight lossSource: Arq Bras Endocrinol Metab vol.53 no.2 (a)
Tip # 4 – Walk Away from nicotine addiction - Dr. Harry Prapavessis the investigator of the month at the Canadian Cancer Society. This honor was bestowed upon him because of his ongoing investigation into the role that exercise can play in improving smoking cessation outcomes. Dr. Prapavessis and his team at the University of Western Ontario have shown that physical activity not only helps with nicotine withdrawal, but it can also reduce risk of relapse and to minimize the weight gain that often accompanies it. (9,10,11,12)
Tip # 5 – Reduce Carbohydrates to lower blood pressure - The most recent issue of the journal Archives of Internal Medicine has a study showing the effects of very low carbohydrate diet (less than 20 carbs per day) versus a common weight loss drug (orlistat / ALLI) compares. Scientists from Duke University assigned 146 overweight or obese patients carb diet or a low fat diet, orlistat treatment (120 mg for the 3 main meals) are included. Orlistat is a drug that partially inhibits the digestion of fat in the diet (see above). This can lead to weight loss, because essentially reduces the amount of fat calories available to the body. Weight loss was similar in both groups at the end of the 48 week study. The low carb diet resulted in -9.5% weight loss and reduced weight low-fat/orlistat plans to -8.5%. However, there were a number of specific benefits found only in the carb-restricted group: lower blood pressure, glucose, insulin and hemoglobin A1c
(a measure of long-term blood sugar control). 47% of the low carb-group was able to make use of anti-hypertensive medication to stop with respect to 21% in the low-fat/orlistat participants. The principal author of the study, Dr. William S. Yancy, noted that “It is important to know you on a diet instead of medication to try and get the same weight loss results with less cost and less possible side effects”. (13,14)
I hope that at least one of the above tips are applicable to each of you. If nothing else, the first tip about self should be relevant to us all. But please try to at least one of these tips to choose and share it with someone you care about. Send links to this column or report a tip or two on the dining table or perhaps during your next round of golf. Every day we have a chance to make a difference in relatively simple ways to make. This new 5-step approach will be my way of contributing to the cause.This is me invites you to join me.