Article: The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right

Article: The Last Conversation You’ll Ever Need to Have About Eating Right

Mark Bittman and doctor David L. Katz patiently answer pretty much every question we could think of about healthy food.

This a fantastic article by Mark Bittman and David L Katz from www.grubstreet.com, that attempts to cut through all of the confusion about nutrition created by marketing, advertising and sensationalist media looking for headlines.

Their approach reflects an evolutionary approach to eating and is simple, and down to earth. I can comfortably say that it closely echoes my approach to, and beliefs about nutrition. Rather than taking the considerable time to write something similar myself, I though I’d share this article, as they have done it perfectly. No doubt, better than I could. As such, I have linked it here and copied and pasted it below so that thee is no excuse not to read it. It is lengthy, but it answers so many questions about nutrition, and dis-spells many myths, so it is definitely worth a read.

So, do yourself a favour and have a read.

The only area I digress a little from this article is that I have seen clinically significant benefits from intermittent fasting, and especially extended fasting – but only when done properly, which in most cases requires supervision rather than pulling some cool, glossy program off the internet.

Other than that, I think it is spot on.

http://www.grubstreet.com/2018/03/ultimate-conversation-on-healthy-eating-and-nutrition.html

 “It’s beyond strange that so many humans are clueless about how they should feed themselves. Every wild species on the planet knows how to do it; presumably ours did, too, before our oversized brains found new ways to complicate things. Now, we’re the only species that can be baffled about the “right” way to eat.

Really, we know how we should eat, but that understanding is continually undermined by hyperbolic headlines, internet echo chambers, and predatory profiteers all too happy to peddle purposefully addictive junk food and nutrition-limiting fad diets. Eating well remains difficult not because it’s complicated but because the choices are hard even when they’re clear.

With that in mind, we offered friends, readers, and anyone else we encountered one simple request: Ask us anything at all about diet and nutrition and we will give you an answer that is grounded in real scientific consensus, with no “healthy-ish” chit-chat, nary a mention of “wellness,” and no goal other than to cut through all the noise and help everyone see how simple it is to eat well.

Here, then, are the exhaustively assembled, thoroughly researched, meticulously detailed answers to any and all of your dietary questions.

Just tell me. Ethical concerns aside, which diet is the best: vegan, vegetarian, or omnivorous?
We don’t know, because the study to prove that any one diet is “best” for human health hasn’t been done, and probably can’t be. So, for our health, the “best” diet is a theme: an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and plain water for thirst. That can be with or without seafood; with or without dairy; with or without eggs; with or without some meat; high or low in total fat.

Okay, well what about the “diets” I keep trying? I just started the paleo diet. Will it change my life?
A genuine paleo diet is almost certainly good for human health, since it’s a diet to which we are adapted. But what is a true paleo diet?

It is certainly not a blanket license to eat bacon. And it’s not a good reason to give up whole grains, either. Nor do you need to eat eggs, or even meat.

What about burgers or pepperoni? They’re paleo, right?
There were no Paleolithic burgers, or pepperoni. There was also no paleolithic bacon.

So what can I eat?
This is a good place to start because the real experts in Stone Age nutrition think our ancestors — who, by the way, were foragers — consumed a wide variety of ever-changing plant foods that gave them up to 100 grams of fiber daily. We, on the other hand, eat an average of 15 grams of daily fiber. Our forebears are thought to have eaten lots of insects, too. (Few people espousing the virtues of “Paleo” seem inclined to try that out.) They probably ate grains, with some evidence they did so 100,000 years or more ago. And, of course, they ate the meat of only wild animals, since there were no domesticated animals in the Stone Age, with the possible exception of the wolf-to-dog transition.

In any event, the diet to which we are adapted is almost certainly much better for health, and reversing illness, than the prevailing modern diet. There is abundant evidence of disease-reversal with diets of whole, minimally processed food; plant-predominant diets; and even plant-exclusive diets.

So plants are good. Maybe I’ll just do a juice cleanse instead. Wait — are juice cleanses dangerous?
Generally not, depending on your health at the start, but neither are they useful.

Don’t they cleanse your body?
The general claim is that they actually do “cleanse” you — but of what?

Um, toxins?
The body detoxifies itself daily; that’s a primary job of the liver and the kidneys, and they are really good at it. (The intestines, spleen, and immune system are in on it, too.) So, you want to take good care of your liver and kidneys, gut, and immune system. That’s a far better “cleanse” than any juice. How do you take good care of all your detoxifying organ systems? By taking good care of yourself, of course. That means eating well, not smoking, exercising, sleeping enough, managing your stress, and so on.

A ketogenic diet is one diet that starves the body of glucose sources so that it’s forced to burn ketone bodies — products of fat metabolism — as fuel.

Is that … healthy?
There is no evidence that such diets are conducive to good health in the long run, and no evidence they are better than other, more sustainable diets at health transformation or weight loss in the short run.

But he’s losing weight.
Not everything that causes weight loss or apparent metabolic improvement in the short term is a good idea. Cholera, for instance, causes weight, blood sugar, and blood lipids to come down — that doesn’t mean you want it! The only use of a ketogenic diet that is clearly medically justified is to treat refractory seizures in select cases, mostly in children.

Which is better: a plant-based diet with carbs, or a low-carb diet with meat?
The evidence of every variety overwhelmingly highlights the benefits of plant-predominant diets for the health outcomes that matter most: years in life, and life in years; longevity, and vitality. Forget about “carbs,” and think instead in terms of the foods that are best for you.

If there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that carbs are evil.
This is probably the silliest of all the silly, pop-culture propaganda about diet and health. All plant foods are carbohydrate sources.

Yeah, but: Carbs are evil.
Everything from lentils to lollipops, pinto beans to jelly beans, tree nuts to doughnuts, is a carbohydrate source. Most plant foods are mostly carbohydrate. So if “all carbs” are evil, then so are vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, and seeds.

Sure, but, I should still avoid carbs, right?
Exactly the opposite is true. You cannot have a complete or healthful diet without carbohydrate sources.

Why have I been led to believe that carbs are evil?
Highly processed grains and added sugar are bad, not because they are carbohydrate, but because they’ve been robbed of nutrients, they raise insulin levels, and they’re often high in added fats, sodium, and weird ingredients. Carbs are not evil; junk food is evil.

What about gluten? It seems like everyone is kind of gluten-intolerant now.
On the contrary: Statistically, a small percentage of the population is gluten intolerant. About one percent of people have celiac disease, and perhaps 10 percent have lesser forms of sensitivity, which may be related to other factors, like a disrupted microbiome. But still, 90 percent of people have no problem digesting gluten.

So if you’re not gluten intolerant, and if you don’t have celiac disease, is bread really that bad for you?
No.

Should I eat whole-grain bread?
There’s a big difference between white bread and whole-grain bread, and you certainly don’t need to eat bread to have an optimal diet. But an optimal diet leaves room for good bread — whole grain especially — and we think good bread is one of life’s great pleasures. Eat it for that reason.

Yes. It is much easier to outeat running than to outrun all of the tempting calories that modern marketing encourages us to cram in. Both diet and exercise are important to health, and exercise is important in weight maintenance. But to loseweight, the preferential focus needs to be on controlling calories in, more than calories out.

I keep hearing that lectins are toxic and make weight loss harder. What’s the deal?
The deal with lectins is that making them into a bogeyman was a great way to sell yet another fad diet book. Lectins are distributed across almost the entire expanse of foods consumed by humans, and concentrated in some of the foods most decisively linked to health benefits, such as beans and lentils, along with many fruits and vegetables.

Oh yeah, and what’s up with beans? I’ve heard they’re low in fat, high in protein, and high in fiber. However, I also read that they are digestive irritants and slightly toxic due to the lectin content.
The single most salient commonality among all the Blue Zone diets — the diets around the world associated with longevity and vitality — is beans. Beans are really, really, really good for us. Identifying compounds in beans that are potentially “toxic” is like noting that air contains oxygen, which can be toxic.

But also: Beans make me fart. 
Some people have a hard time digesting beans, and might benefit from enzyme support, such as Beano. All beans should be cooked; they are nearly impossible for any of us to digest when raw. Despite all the nonsense, the bottom line is that beans are among the most beneficial foods for human health, and offer enormous environmental benefits as well.

Given the prevalence of heart disease associated with poor diets in the U.S., we say bring on the beans! (And, as far as farting is concerned, anecdotally at least, the more frequently you eat beans the better your gut tolerates them.)

This could be a food allergy or sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, or a problem with your microbiome. All of these can be addressed, but you need a clear diagnosis first. So this is an issue you should take to a doctor who can evaluate you, specifically. You should be able to have a healthful diet, and alleviate these symptoms, too.

Do I have to eat grains if I want to be healthy?
No, but optimizing your diet, and thus your health, is harder if you exclude whole grains, which are highly nutritious. Among their virtues: they are rich in fiber, which tends to be very deficient in the typical American diet — that 15 grams we all tend to eat is half the daily recommended intake. So, if cutting out whole grains lowers your already-low fiber intake further, that’s no good!

My friend never eats fruits and vegetables and is quite proud of that. Is it possible to be healthy without eating fruits and vegetables?
A qualified “no.” Although nuts and seeds are really fruits, and beans and legumes and grains are really vegetables of a sort, we will go the other way and say they are separate. So, you could, in principle, have a diet rich in beans, lentils, chickpeas, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and perhaps fish and seafood, and it would almost certainly be better than the prevailing modern diets of fast food, processed meat, and junk. But as good as the same diet with vegetables and fruits? No way.

If I want to lose weight, should I eat less? And if I eat less, will my metabolism really slow down?
If you starve yourself, yes. And if you lose weight, yes, because a smaller body burns fewer calories than a larger one. The effects tend to be modest, however, unless the weight loss is extreme. You can compensate with exercise, and building some muscle, both of which increase your metabolic rate.

What kinds of foods do you think will help support weight loss?
Wholesome, whole, unprocessed plant foods in particular. And, any food you eat while riding in the Tour de France.

The best foods don’t even have labels, because they are just one ingredient: avocado, lentils, blueberries, broccoli, almonds, etc.

Okay, sure. But what about the ones with labels?
When foods do have labels, look for a short ingredient list of things you recognize as actual food. If the ingredients are wholesome, the nutrient profile will be fine. If the ingredient list is dubious — chemicals, various kinds of added sugar, questionable oils, sodium, and so on — the nutrient profile will be, too. It is really the overall nutritional quality of the food, rather than any one nutrient, that matters. For help getting it right, that even an 8-year-old can use, see here.

What about intermittent fasting? Is that actually effective for better gut health and energy levels? 

It’s “effective” relative to doing nothing.

I can eat how I want and then just occasionally fast to “reset” my diet?
No. Fasting is not more effective than limiting calorie intake every day. Fasting is away to control average, daily food intake — but not the only way. If it works for you, it’s a reasonable option, but it does not involve any magic.

Can I just eat the same thing every day?
Yes, that’s quite reasonable. Variety over time is important to the quality of a diet, but that can be concentrated at dinner if you prefer. So, for instance, how about whole grains (hot or cold), mixed fruits, and nuts for breakfast — every day? Then, how about a salad, soup, or stew of mixed vegetables and beans or lentils for lunch? And then for dinner, a wholesome variety of choices.

Is there really such a thing as a superfood?
If the idea is that a superfood will do super things, then no.

Yeah, except for quinoa, right? Which is magical or something.
No single food, separate from the overall quality and pattern of diet, exerts a major health effect. If your diet is excellent, no single food will be responsible for the benefits. If your diet is terrible, no single food will compensate.

If “super” means the nutrient profile rather than the effects of a food, then … okay: A food that has an especially high ratio of many valuable nutrients relative to calories, and a very low amount of any detrimental nutrients like sugar or saturated fat could be called “super.” But this would not just pertain to exotic berries from neighboring solar systems. This would apply to foods like spinach, broccoli, blueberries, chickpeas, pinto beans, lentils, kale, peaches, or walnuts.

What about avocados? Are they bad for you or good for you? Everyone says they’re full of fat, but that it’s “good” fat.
Think of avocados as you do nuts: They’re “good for you” but with limits. One a day is certainly fine. Their nutrient profile is great, with fat that’s a lot like the fat in olives.

Which is good fat?
Yes.

Which is different from “bad” fat.
Yes.

So what’s the difference between good fat and bad fat? I’ve heard I need to avoid saturated fat.
In the diet, what really matters most is balance. Saturated fat, for instance, is bad not because it is “bad” — there is some in even highly nutritious foods — but because we get too much of it. And too much is bad.

How do I get that fat balance?
To get the right balance of fats in our diet, with an emphasis on a mix of polyunsaturated fats, omega-6, omega-3, and monounsaturated fats, we need a balance of foods. Get the “right” fats from nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, and seafood, and use the best cooking oils: extra virgin olive oil tops that list. To avoid an excess, limit the intake of foods high in saturated fat. That includes most meats, and full-fat dairy. And all junk food is suspect for all sorts of reasons.

What about animal fats like lard or tallow? They’re natural so they must be good, right?
All fat sources are a mix of different fatty acids; almost all fats and oils contain a mix of fat varieties: saturated, polyunsaturated, and monounsaturated. Lard is almost 40 percent saturated fat; and tallow is more than 50 percent saturated. That’s a lot.

Since the world’s best diets consistently derive 10 percent or less of their calories from saturated fat, raising the average amount of saturated fat in your diet makes no sense. And there are other factors: Unlike oils that are predominantly unsaturated, such as olive oil, there is no evidence of a health benefit from lard or tallow.

Olive oil. Got it. That one I knew. What about coconut oil? First I heard it’s good for me. Then I heard it’s bad for me.
There’s certainly no evidence it’s “good” for you, but organic, cold-pressed varieties are probably not “bad” for you, either. But olive oil and cold-pressed canola oil are better choices.

Organic, obviously. Even I know that organic is better. Right? It’s certainly more expensive. Tell me it’s better.
Yes. Unquestionably. For many reasons, including that organic farming protects farmworkers from harmful pesticides. There are also clear environmental and ethical benefits.

But … is it healthier?
Proving specific health benefits for organic food is nearly impossible: Imagine a randomized trial comparing only organic food to no organic food, but exactly matched in every other way.

Okay, I’ll stick with organic. Should I take probiotics?
We know pretty reliably that bad microbiomes are common, and that the “right” gut microbes foster good digestion, robust immunity, better sleep, and even weight control —

Okay, sounds good, but — what about probiotics?
In order to foster a healthy microbiome —

Yes, okay, but — what is the microbiome?
Your microbiome is the ecosystem of diverse bacteria that flourishes, quite naturally, in your digestive system. It’s a part of you; as you get healthier, so does it — and quickly. Whole foods, minimally processed, mostly plants, and plain water are good places to start.

One of the current gimmicks — which helps to sell books — is the idea that you have to eat to feed your microbiome. But let’s face it: every wild species on the planet knows what to eat, and none of them know anything about their microbiota. They eat the foods to which they are adapted, and the bugs adapted to live inside them thrive as they do. There’s a lesson for us there: fixing what’s broken is good, and probiotics may be one way of doing it. A balanced diet is a near-certain way.

Okay — so what are probiotics again?
Probiotics are supplements that encourage the repopulation of a healthy microbiome. Think of it like putting high-quality grass seed on a distressed lawn.

Can you “overdose” on probiotics?
In theory, an overdose could result in something called a “dysbiosis,” where the gut is overgrown with an imbalance of organisms. But it must be very hard to do, since we’re not aware of any cases.

What happens if I eat too much yogurt?
We have no idea. Probably you get full.

What about vegetables? I’ve heard frozen can be healthier than fresh — is that possibly true?

There are instances of frozen vegetables being of higher quality and higher nutritional content than “fresh” vegetables. This is particularly true when produce is “flash frozen,” meaning frozen quickly at very low temperature right after harvesting. Age is everything, and freezing retards aging. So, “fresh” produce that comes from far away is likely to lose some of its nutrient value during the transit time, whereas frozen produce is more likely to preserve the nutrients it had at the start of its journey. The best vegetables are likely to be fresh and locally sourced, but flash frozen is nearly as good, and those “fresh” vegetables that spend a long time in storage or transit are probably the least nutritious.

Does cooking food make it less healthy?
Yes and no: Heat can damage some antioxidants, so raw berries are more nutritious than cooked. But cooking can make some food more nutritious: We can’t even eat (let alone digest) dried beans and lentils without cooking them; but cooked, they’re among the most nutritious and health-promoting of all foods. The antioxidant that makes tomatoes red, lycopene, is more “bioavailable” (our metabolism can access it more easily) when cooked than when tomatoes are eaten raw. Cabbage and other brassicas — including broccoli and most dark, leafy greens — are more readily digested with gentle cooking as well.

What about soy? Is soy good or bad for me?
Soy foods come in many varieties, and many are highly processed, so suffer the same liabilities of all highly processed foods; they’re high in refined starches, heated oils, added sugar and salt, and low in nutrients and fiber.

So what kind of soy should I eat?
Traditional soy foods such as tofu and tempeh are good for you, largely because they provide sound nutrition and because they usually displace meat. Soy as a supplement is less clearly a good idea.

I heard that processed soy products are linked to cancer.
The estrogen-like compounds in soy can promote cancer growth in animals in labs, but the net effect of eating foods like tofu and tempeh is less cancer, not more.

Here’s a stumper. I always hear I should eat more fish for lean protein. But then I also always hear that too much fish exposes me to toxins like mercury. Which is it?
Fish is unquestionably the healthiest animal protein to eat. However: There are huge sustainability issues, and some fish — especially large, predatory fish, like big species of tuna and mackerel, and swordfish and shark — concentrate mercury by eating smaller fish.

That doesn’t really answer my question.
Like anything else, fish shouldn’t be eaten three times a day. Should it be eaten once a day? If it’s your only animal product, and it’s sustainable and not otherwise tainted, yeah. Smaller fish are far less likely to contain mercury than big ones.

How can I find out if it’s otherwise tainted?
There are good online sources about such matters: Here’s one, and here’s another.

Maybe I should just skip the fish and take fish oil supplements instead.
Many high-quality fish oil supplements are tested to be contaminant free. However, sustainability of fish or even krill to produce fish oil is a concern, so if you want a supplement, think about getting omega-3s from those produced using algae.

Algae supplements?
Yes.

Speaking of supplements, how am I supposed to get my vitamin D when it’s winter and the sun has disappeared and I’m sad?
Stand-alone supplements of vitamin D3 are safe, effective, and inexpensive. Many foods, and most milk, are vitamin D–fortified as well.

What if I hate lettuce? Do I really needs to eat my greens?

Greens are all good, and one of the few foods you can eat pretty much without limit. These plants are all very low in calories and highly concentrated in diverse nutrients: antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

What are the best antioxidants to take and what are easy ways to get them in our diet?
Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits and you’ll get all the antioxidants you need. There is no good evidence that antioxidant supplements confer the benefits of a diet rich in antioxidants. Other good sources include coffee, tea (especially white and green), dark chocolate and cocoa, whole grains, legumes, nuts and red wine.

Wine! I’ve heard moderate alcohol consumption is good.
Alcohol is the quintessential double-edged sword: There’s a chance for some benefit, but there are risks as well. There’s the relaxation factor, which is immeasurable, and the consensus, which is pretty clear, is that “moderate” consumption may be beneficial and, even more likely, isn’t harmful. “Moderate” means two glasses per day for men; one for women. (Men have higher levels of alcohol dehydrogenase than women, and thus metabolize alcohol more efficiently than women.) There is an association of almost any level of alcohol intake with increased cancer risk, including breast cancer in women and of course liver cancer.

So what is the healthiest alcohol? Is tequila as clean as the hype? Should I aim for low carbs or low calories?
If you think you are drinking alcohol for health, stop now. If you’re drinking it for pleasure, keep your intake moderate and don’t worry about the form, as long as it’s not — for example — paint thinner. If your question is about calories, spirits are the most efficient alcohol in terms of bang for buck; beer is the least. Of course if you take your spirits with ginger ale, it’s a different story.

What about the theory that red wine is good for you?
The antioxidants from the skins of grapes may confer unique health benefits, which would suggest red wine is the best form of alcohol. Again, don’t drink because you think it’s the healthy thing to do.

What about coffee? Please don’t take away my coffee! Caffeine has positive effects, right?
Positive and negative.

What are the positive effects?
Positive: alertness, slightly enhanced cognition.

I’m going to regret asking this but — what are the negative effects?
Negative: potential increases in heart rate, blood pressure, jitteriness, and insomnia.

Not cancer?
No.

I love lattes, but which milk should I use? Are nut milks just flavored water?
No. But nut milks aren’t nutritional powerhouses, either. (Of course, like dairy milk, many such products are nutrient fortified.)

What about oat milk? How do you milk an oat?
Oat milk is made by soaking oats in water, then grinding and straining.

So that is basically oat-flavored water?
Well, with some of the nutrients featured in oats.

Do I need to drink milk at all?
Only if you were born yesterday. Literally.

I thought I needed the calcium. How much calcium does an adult need?
How much calcium we need to eat daily varies with factors such as our activity level, dietary pattern, protein intake, acid load (from foods and medications), life stage (e.g., pregnancy, lactation, senescence), and so on. The closest thing to a one-size-fits-all amount is: roughly 1,000 mg per day.

What are non-dairy sources of calcium?
Kale and other dark leafy greens, beans, soy. Calcium is actually quite widely distributed in the food supply.

But really, in 2018, I’m all about inflammation, which is bad and causes diseases. I’m sure I read that somewhere.
Inflammation is not bad; we need “inflammatory” responses to defend ourselves against germs, and the rogue cells that can cause cancer.

Okay, but it’s sometimes bad. Right?
What is bad is imbalance, and we tend to have an excess of inflammatory exposures and a deficiency of anti-inflammatory exposures. So, for instance, refined carbohydrate and added sugar tend to be inflammatory because they drive up insulin levels and insulin triggers inflammatory responses. We tend to get more saturated and omega-6 fat than we should (from processed foods and many of the oils used in them), and these are inflammatory. Omega-3 fat (from fish, seafood, walnuts, certain seeds) and monounsaturated fat (from olive oil, avocado, nuts and seeds) are anti-inflammatory.

Water instead of soda: good.

Whole grains instead of refined grains: good.

Nuts, seeds, olive oil, avocado: good.

Fish and seafood in the place of meat: good.

In other words, an “anti-inflammatory” diet is a good diet, one that avoids highly processed foods, lots of meat, lots of full-fat dairy, refined carbs and added sugar, and is instead made up mostly of vegetables, fruits, beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and plain water.

But not seltzer water.
Plain seltzer is fine for generally healthy people, and a far better choice than any of the popular sugary drinks.

Doesn’t seltzer water decalcify your bones?
No.

I’m pretty sure I heard that it does.
It does not.

That’s good, because I like seltzer with a snack. Is snacking okay, or should I stick to three square meals?
There is some evidence suggesting a benefit from smaller meals spaced close together, in terms of total insulin requirements. There is also some evidence that eating earlier in the day is beneficial relative to packing in calories close to bedtime. But these matters are much less important than total daily diet quality, and quantity. Get those right, and almost any timing will be okay, although timing might make a good diet even better. Get quantity and/or quality wrong, and no time is a good time. What you eat matters more than when you eat it.

Listen, I am a very busy New Yorker and sometimes I eat the occasional PowerBar for lunch. Is that bad?

Many power bars have nutritional profiles similar to Snickers. Generally, power bars are closer to junk than to real food.

But they’re made of protein!
One of the great myths of modern diet is we all need more protein, but in this country almost all of us get more than we need. The satiety that comes from a concentrated protein source could come from a protein bar, or an egg, or a can of tuna, or yogurt, or nuts.

Okay, sure, but again: busy New Yorker. If I don’t have a can of tuna on hand, which protein bar should I eat?
If the bar, it should have a short list of recognizable ingredients; in other words, it should be made of real food. But try hard-boiling some eggs and keeping them handy; or a can of sardines. And stop obsessing about protein: We guarantee you’re getting more than enough.

What is the final verdict on eggs? Are high-cholesterol foods cleared to eat?
Yes. Most levels of high blood cholesterol are not from dietary cholesterol but from saturated and trans fats. Moderation is key. The average person gets most of her or his daily recommended cholesterol by eating just one egg a day.

We got this a bit wrong 30 years ago or so, because saturated fat and cholesterol go together in most foods. But we didn’t get it entirely wrong: The new thinking is that cholesterol is not a nutrient of concern for the typical American. That doesn’t mean it has been entirely exonerated, just that we are already eating it within the recommended range for the most part, and have more pressing concerns, like saturated fat, added sugars, high sodium, and all the rest.

How much protein do I actually need? 
We need less than most of us get. A dose of about 1 gram of protein daily per kilogram (2.2 lbs) body weight is already generous in terms of the formal DRIs (Dietary Reference Intakes). So that would mean a man of almost 200 pounds would get more than enough protein from 90 grams daily. Just 3.5 ounces of salmon has nearly 30 grams, and a cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams. That 200-pound man could easily eat twice that much, or more, in a single meal. So, getting enough protein is easy, which is why there is virtually no such thing as protein deficiency in the USA outside of hospital wards (where it is an effect, not a cause, of serious illness).

Do you have to take protein supplements to build muscle? They are gross, and I’d rather eat real food. But I also want to look like Wonder Woman.
(a) No. (b) Get a fancy bracelet. (c) Good luck! (Have you seen Gal Gadot?)

If your diet is wholesome and balanced overall, it almost certainly doesn’t matter. That said, for extremely long or intense workouts, there may be advantages to carbohydrate and protein prior, concentrated antioxidants after to help with muscle recovery. But none of this is relevant for a trip to the gym; this is for the Tour de France or a marathon. Otherwise, eat well over the course of each day, and distribute that eating around your workouts any way you like.

Which is a healthier diet: protein-rich, fat-rich, or fat-free?
They’re not mutually exclusive. You want moderate amounts of protein and fat in your diet. You want carbohydrates, too, which are in most foods but especially fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes. What you don’t want is hyperprocessed food or a lot of animal products.

What about GMOs? I’ve heard foods with GMOs are really bad.
The foods themselves, no.

Really?
Genetic modification is just a method of producing something new, like an assembly line. The answer to whether assembly lines cause health problems is: “It depends what they’re making.” So, too, with GMO foods. It’s the foods that matter, not the process that produced them.

So I can just eat GMO food and not worry?
No. The chemicals used in growing them are a real concern. Glyphosate, the herbicide in Roundup, is likely carcinogenic and harmful in other ways. Furthermore, almost all of the foods currently produced using genetic engineering are useless at best and harmful at worst: “GMOs” are mostly present in junk food, which you want to avoid anyway.

So I should worry.
Since 1996, use of glyphosate has increased 15 times over; there’s a high probability of it showing up in our food.

Now the big question: Which foods will give me cancer?
Processed and cured meats are classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a Group 1 carcinogenic. This doesn’t mean they’re as bad as tobacco, but it means the evidence about a link is comparably clear. Red meat is classified as Group 2A, which means it is “probably” carcinogenic. Needless to say this is a work in progress, but in general almost everyone in the United States would be better off eating less meat.

Charring food, meat especially, produces carcinogens; so does cooking carbohydrate at high temperature, which happens in the making of chips and some cereals.

This seems like bad news. 
These are carcinogenic exposures, but then again, so is sunlight.

So it will kill me? Won’t kill me? Might kill me?
In general, the carcinogens in a reasonable diet make a very modest contribution to overall cancer risk, and don’t compare to something like smoking. A 2017 study by American Cancer Society researchers estimated that 40 percent of all cancer cases could be preventable, and nearly 20 percent of all cases are related to diet and physical inactivity.

Other studies put those figures even higher, but no matter what, if an optimal diet can prevent as many as one of every five cancer cases, and a crummy diet displaces the optimal diet, then the case could be made that a crummy diet of highly processed foods is highly carcinogenic. Our recommendation is: Don’t focus on specific carcinogens. Get your overall dietary pattern right, and your cancer risk will fall.

It sounds like cold cuts and hot dogs are really bad.
As is always the case with food being “bad” for you, it’s partly because of what you are eating, and partly because of what you aren’t eating. People who eat more processed meat are, presumably, eating fewer beans, fewer veggies. It is the overall dietary pattern that matters. But when you add in effects on the environment, and what it means to the animals involved, yeah, you don’t want to eat that too often.

How often is often?
We would go with … once or twice a month, not more. That said, if hot dogs are occasional; and pepperoni pizza is occasional; and cheeseburgers are occasional; and bacon is occasional … well, you get the idea. When all of the “occasionals” add up to more than occasional, then it no longer qualifies as occasional.

What about the “no-nitrate” meats? Are those healthier?
Nitrates have been identified as carcinogenic, and no-nitrate products should be nitrate free. Furthermore: Any product that comes with health claims should not be trusted. What’s not in a product matters, but what is in a product also matters. Sugar is “cholesterol free”! Trans fat is “sugar free”! So what?

Will we ever get lab-grown meat that’s good for us, and also won’t suck to cook and eat?
There are obvious ethical and environmental benefits of raising meat in a lab rather than the body of a living animal. It’s still early to know if there will be any nutritional benefits (or liabilities), and it’s also too early to know about resource use. Suppose lab-raised meat uses more water or food than “regular” meat? And, of course, it’s too early to say much about taste. What is true, is that we can be eating less meat, and better-raised meat, right now.

Is it really that horrible to have too much sodium? We need salt, right?
Too much salt is certainly bad for us, and most Americans eat too much salt. But here’s the thing: 70 percent of our salt comes to us in processed foods and restaurant meals that tend to be bad for us for many reasons. They are high in refined carbohydrate; added sugars; saturated fats; omega-6 oils; food chemicals, as well as sodium. By reducing intake of highly processed foods, and eating more whole, minimally processed foods, mostly plants, your sodium intake will go way down without focusing on sodium at all.

What about sugar? Is it bad for me if I eat it in moderation?
Sugar provides calories with no other nutrients — “empty” calories. It also goes quickly into the blood as blood sugar, where it triggers an insulin release. High levels of insulin help foster weight gain, and particularly fat around the middle, where it does the most harm. Perhaps more important, sugar and sweetness trigger appetite, so we simply tend to eat more when sugar is added to an ingredient list. The food industry knows this very well and routinely puts sugar into formulations to stimulate our appetites, and make us all eat more than we should. So, for many reasons, limiting intake of added sugar is very important to weight control.

How would you define sugar “moderation”?
Limit processed foods; and don’t eat foods with added sugar unless they are a dessert. Look out for sugar added to pasta sauce, salad dressings, even salty snacks. Calories from added sugar should be less than 10 percent of your daily total, and ideally, less than 5 percent.

What about sugar substitutes and artificial sweeteners?
Probably better than sugar, but almost certainly worse than a wholesome diet of foods naturally low in sugar, which then leaves room for a bit of sugar when something sweet is a treat.

Can I keep drinking diet soda? Is it terrible for me?
There’s no real evidence that it’s terrible, but no evidence it’s of any benefit either; it’s not even clear that it helps with weight control. Some recent evidence that artificial sweeteners may disrupt the microbiome and contribute to insulin resistance is reason for concern, and another argument to drink mostly water.

I feel smarter, but what happens when new information comes out, like, tomorrow? How can I stay up to date? It seems like the conventional wisdom on healthy diets changes all the time.
It doesn’t, and the definition of a healthy diet has been clear for some time. In fact, the basic theme of optimal eating — a diet made up mostly of whole, wholesome plant foods — has been clear to nutrition experts for generations. What doeschange all the time is the fads, fashions, marketing gimmicks, and hucksterism. How do you avoid the pitfalls of all that? Focus on foods, not nutrients. A diet may be higher or lower in total fat, or total carbohydrate, or total protein, and still be optimal. But a diet cannot be optimal if it is not made up mostly of some balanced combination of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and water. If you get the foods right, the nutrients sort themselves out. But if you focus on nutrients rather than foods, you quickly learn that there is more than one way to eat badly, and we Americans seem all too eager to try them all.

Bear in mind that humans evolved to eat a wide variety of diets, all over the world, from the Arctic to the tropics, desert, plains, mountains, all of which offer wildly different kinds of foods. But none of them “naturally” offer junk food or industrially produced animal products. If you bear that in mind, and eat a balanced diet of real food, you don’t have to worry about much else. It’s really quite simple.”

 

Mark Bittman is the author of How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM is the founding director of Yale University’s Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center, Immediate Past-President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and founder/president of the True Health Initiative. He is the author of the forthcoming book The Truth About Food.

12 Steps To Self Care

12 Steps To Self Care

Self Care is a huge part of what we teach clients through Mickel Therapy, as prolonged periods of putting everyone else first can lead to ill health.

We constantly see clients with illnesses such as chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety, depression, and auto-immune illnesses make huge improvements in the severity of their symptoms, very often complete resolution, by learning to make their needs as, or more significant as those of others.

If you would like some help to start treating yourself as you deserve, and repair your health, contact me at  tim@timaltman.com.au.

12 Steps To Self Care

Posted by Power of Positivity on Sunday, 4 June 2017

mickel therapy

Building Strong Social Networks Could Cure Your Illness

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness – community.

A great article (linked at the bottom) by George Monbiot of The Guardian in the UK, about a town in Somerset, Frome, which has seen a dramatic fall in emergency hospital admissions since it began a collective project to combat isolation.

Here (in italics) are a couple of extracts from the article, that highlight the importance of social relationships and a sense of community for our physical and mental health – previous research indicating that the magnitude of the effect being comparable with quitting smoking.

What this provisional data appears to show is that when isolated people who have health problems are supported by community groups and volunteers, the number of emergency admissions to hospital falls spectacularly. While across the whole of Somerset emergency hospital admissions rose by 29% during the three years of the study, in Frome they fell by 17%. Julian Abel, a consultant physician in palliative care and lead author of the draft paper, remarks: “No other interventions on record have reduced emergency admissions across a population.”

Remarkable as Frome’s initial results appear to be, they shouldn’t be surprising. A famous paper published in PLOS Medicine in 2010 reviewed 148 studies, involving 300,000 people, and discovered that those with strong social relationships had a 50% lower chance of death across the average study period (7.5 years) than those with weak connections. “The magnitude of this effect,” the paper reports, “is comparable with quitting smoking.” A celebrated study in 1945showed that children in orphanages died through lack of human contact. Now we know that the same thing can apply to all of us.

The contents of this interesting article come as no surprise to us at Mickel Therapy because joy / lack of joy are important Mickel concepts and areas of focus. In short, joy helps to lead us in the direction of health and well-being whilst lack of joy sends us in the opposite direction. And there isn’t a huge amount of joy to be found in social isolation.

Very often, when treating clients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety/depression and many more, using Mickel techniques, we see that clients have become socially isolated because of their illness, and rectifying this plays a huge role in the resolution of their health condition. Here are some links outlining more information on the Mickel approach, and a couple of cases of the Mickel technique in action.

If you would like to make an appointment, or find out whether Mickel Therapy can help you, email me at tim@timaltman.com.au or phone 0425 739 918.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/feb/21/town-cure-illness-community-frome-somerset-isolation?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

More Evidence Linking Fibromyalgia to Childhood Stress and Unprocessed Negative Emotions Supports the Mickel Therapy Approach to Fibromyalgia

Article: Fibromyalgia is Linked to Childhood Stress and Unprocessed Negative Emotions

Linked below is a great article by Wyatt Redd from Medical Health News, outlining studies linking unprocessed negative emotions from childhood to fibromyalgia.

This is extremely similar to the way we approach fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), adrenal fatigue, IBS, anxiey/depression, and many other chronic ailments using Mickel Therapy – http://timaltman.com.au/services/mickel-therapy/.

This approach sees chronic symptoms as a result of long term suppressed or unprocessed stress or negative emotions, which send the hypothalamus in the brain stem into continuous overdrive, which then dysregulates, or sends into overdrive all of the automatic functions in our body (including digestion, immune system, liver, adrenals, breathing, the endocrine system, sleep cycles, many brain functions, neurotransmitters etc.) , ultimately resulting in chronic symptoms – almost like the body is running a permanent, internal biological marathon.

The process uses a unique technique that charts our responses to stress, our day to day negative emotions and symptoms in order to determine the nature, or theme, of the original unprocessed negative emotions – which are seen as the ‘root cause’ of the ultimate physical ailment.

Targeting specific ‘ideal’ actions to reverse this emotional suppression will then take the person’s hypothalamus out of overdrive and the body will correct, or heal itself. It often sounds too simple, or too good to be true (as I found in my first case – http://timaltman.com.au/mickel-therapy-case-study-fibomyalgia/  OR  http://timaltman.com.au/testimonial-post-viral-chronic-fatigue-and-fibromyalgia/ ), however the results are the most frequent, and complete results I have seen, or heard of for these ailments. I understand now that this is because the Mickel approach gets to, and rectifies the ‘root cause’ of the ailments.

It is very humbling to watch this process of recovery in clients – especially the joy they feel once they are free of ailments they had felt so helplessly trapped in.

I’ve included some quotes from the article that particularly resonated.

“When compared to healthy women, those who avoid strong negative emotions like anger and let it fester unprocessed are more likely to suffer fibromyalgia. In addition focusing on positive emotions does not appear to be a sufficient buffer. According to a report in the 2008 Journal of Psychosomatic Research, it is the lack of processing of negative emotions that precipitates the cycle of pain in fibromyalgic sufferers irrespective of the amount or duration of positive thoughts.”

“Conflict with parents and later with partners adds to the stress and contributes to the more negative perceptions of life by women with fibromyalgia  as indicated by the journal European Psychiatry in 2000.”

“Long term stress that is continuous and chronic affects the neuroendocrine system making it less effective over time.”

“The early chronic experience of stress appears to exert a much larger influence in contributing to the pain of fibromyalgia than any current stressful life event, as a 2006 study reported in the journalPsychoneuroendocrinolgy.”

If you would like to resolve your fibromyalgia, or know someone who suffers from fibomyagia, CFS, IBS, anxiety/depression etc, then email me on tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

http://medicalhealthnews.info/fibromyalgia-linked-childhood-stress-unprocessed-negative-emotions-2/

Research: Intermittent Fasting Slows Down The Ageing Process

Harvard Study Shows The Surprising Impact of Intermittent Fasting On The Ageing Process

More evidence (linked at the bottom) showing the outstanding benefits of fasting and intermittent fasting.

If not for weight loss, detoxification, reducing inflammation, treating chronic illness, CFS, fibromyalgia, IBS, depression, anxiety or boosting your immune system, why not try it so that you live longer…

I offer intermittent and extended fasting progams one on one with individuals or with groups. I use bio-impedance testing along the way to monitor energy levels, inflammation, body composition, biological age. See these link for more details:

http://timaltman.com.au/case-study-weight-loss-intermittent-fasting/

Contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or phone 0425 739 918 to make an appointment.

 

https://ideapod.com/harvard-study-shows-impact-intermittent-fasting-aging-process/?utm_content=buffer8ddc4&utm_medium=share&utm_source=facebook&utm_campaign=mam

MEDITATION OFFERS THE IDEAL COUNTER-BALANCE TO THE MAN-MADE STRESSORS OF THE MODERN WORLD

Article: Meditation as a Voluntary Hypometabolic State of Biological Estivation.

I first came across the linked article by John Ding-E Young and Eugene Taylor (News Physiol. Sci. • Volume 13 • June 1998) in 1999 via a university physiology lecturer whilst completing second degree, a Bachelor of Health Science, majoring in naturopathy. It really made a huge impact on me.

I had been meditating on and off for many years, since being introduced to it and yoga in my teens, and had always found it to be a deeply profound and potent practice for not only achieving fantastic health and performance outcomes, but also sense of calm, focus and flow in my day to day life. It felt so good.

However, as most meditators will attest from their experiences, my practice had always been sporadic, which frustrated me a lot. It was the first thing I recommenced when I felt down or not well, or life had got on top of me, and was always the best cure for all of these. Yet, as soon as I stated to feel well again, or in control, it was the first thing I dropped from my routine. Yet I knew how good it was for me and how much better I felt internally (both physically and psychologically) whenever I practiced it; and especially when I had a consistent regular practice.

When I saw in this article from ‘creditable’ western scientists in a ‘credible’ western publication on what was being observed and measured in many ‘advanced’ meditators, I was really shocked. I had read about these so-called physically and physiologically impossible phenomenon in books about holy men in India and Tibet, but to read about it so clearly, and validly measured in a western scientific publication really brought it to my attention. I felt a sense of guilt and disappointment that I had not meditated more often and more consistently. It had felt like I had a golden opportunity for, or the keys to the door to freedom and limitlessness, yet I had turned my back on it.

Using a swimming analogy, if this is what the Ian Thorpe or Michael Phelps of the meditating world can achieve, then there is still scope for there to be so much benefit for the average ‘lap swimmer’ of the meditation world.

I will say that this article shocked me into action, and I began a consistent practice of meditation for several years, including spending time living in an ashram in Melbourne whilst I was completing my studies. It began a profound period of internal growth that changed my body physically and helped me release many out-dated, negative self-limiting patterns. Whilst it did involve hard work, discipline, and often sitting through some very unpleasant times (as the old emotional layers and patterns peeled away), the reward was a physical robustness that I had never before felt, and a deep sense of mental and emotional sweetness that I have been deeply grateful for ever since.

The process is an ongoing evolution, and I was by no means living in permanent peace and bliss as a result, but I did feel very well physically most of the time, and know I only had to turn inwards to experience the sweetness again and again. And to come from having been very ill for a long time with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), and very frustrated and miserable internally,  a couple of years earlier, I felt very, very grateful – like I had escaped a very dire future.

Below, in italics, is an excerpt from the article that I hope shocks you enough for you to pay more attention to the potent and profound benefits of meditation on health, well-being and performance. Especially, given many of the people who find my website, read my blogs and come to me for treatment, have similar experiences to my past, where they suffer from chronic illnesses such as Chronic Fatigue Sydrome (CFS), Fibromyalgia, IBS, Anxiety/Depression and feel helpless, misunderstood and miserable.

“In a different study done in a more naturalistic setting on a different adept, Yogi Satyamurti (70 yr of age) remained confined in a small underground pit, sealed from the top, for 8 days. He was physically restricted by recording wires, during which time electrocardiogram (ECG) results showed his heart rate to be below the measurable sensitivity of the recording instruments (see Fig. 1). News Physiol. Sci. • Volume 13 • June 1998 151 “Hypometabolism is markedly increased in the advanced meditator. . . .” by 10.220.32.246 on November 6, 2017 http://physiologyonline.physiology.org/ Downloaded from

The point is that deep relaxation appears to be the entryway into meditation, but in advanced stages refined control over involuntary processes becomes possible, in which systems can be either activated or inactivated. From the practitioner’s standpoint, in a purely naturalistic setting, this is achieved through mastery of a particular technique that is understood in the context of a specific philosophical school of thought, usually communicated under the supervision of a meditation teacher……………. During his 8-day stay in an underground pit, Yogi Satyamurti exhibited a marked tachycardia of 250 beats/min for the first 29 h of his stay. Thereafter, for the next 6.5 days, the ECG complexes were replaced by an isoelectric line, showing no heartbeat whatsoever (see Fig. 1). The experimenters at first thought he had died. Then, 0.5 h before the experiment was due to end on the 8th day, the ECG resumed, recording normal heart rate activity. Satyamurti also exhibited other behaviors similar to hibernating organisms. One of the most economical methods of preserving energy during hibernation requires animals to bring their body temperature down to that of the surrounding environment. Satyamurti, brought out of the pit on the 8th day, cold and shivering, showed a body temperature approximately equal to that maintained in the pit, namely, 34.8°C.”

Finally, the authors of the article have postulated that the evolutionary significance of meditation, the authors have associated meditation physiologically with processes such as hibernation and estivation, and have suggested it to be the re-acquisition of a very old adaptive mechanism.

When we consider the evolutionary significance of the hibernating and estivating response, the most obvious benefits include conservation of energy and adaptive survival in harsh environments where the weather is bad and the food and water supplies are not always available year round.

Similarly, now, instead of being merely reactive to environmental variables, such as temperature change or lack of food, human beings must be trained to re-enter this conservative and restorative state, but as a voluntary act of will in response to the increasing and unpredictable stresses of man-made environments.

Based on the research, breathing and meditation clearly appears to offer a brilliant adaptive advantage to mismatch we have created between the body we have inherited (from our hunter-gatherer ancestors) and the largely artificial, highly stressful world we have created. Without it, our bodies are poorly adapted to cope.

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/67ec/32b0d49be7fe6b4137c064dbe43d81b65cc9.pdf

 

 

MEDITATION IS MEDICINE

Research Review: The Physiological and Psychological Benefits of Meditation

Below is a research review on meditation I wrote back in 2001. It’s old, however it’s still very compelling. It is long, and I apologise that I lost most of the references (my word processing skills were/are not my forte). Definitely worth a read however.

Possibly the greatest bit of health advice I could give any client would be to stat a daily medicine practice. It truly is medicine. And, eventually, it will set you free.

MEDITATION

WHAT IS MEDITATION?

Meditation is commonly defined to be a state of single-minded concentration. Concentration being focused restfully on a particular thing or focal point; hence the term ‘restful alertness.’ It is often used loosely to describe activities such as relaxation techniques, concentration exercises, contemplation, reflection and guided imagery. Meditation however, is more than just physical relaxation for it engages the mind as well as relaxing the body. It is often regarded as a heightened state of conscious awareness – a state of mind such as a state of inner peace, of stillness or silence, of union, of oneness. What differentiates meditation from the state of being awake or asleep is the conscious awareness of being profoundly still, and involves ‘waking up’ or ‘tuning in’ the mind – it is a state where we let go of the ‘doing’ of the normal waking state, and settle into a state of simply ‘being.’

The researcher John Kabat-Zinn describes meditation as a ‘way of being’ by helping a person go more deeply into themselves, beyond all the surface physical sensations and mental activity1. The hallmark of meditation being this state of inner stillness or silence. In this state of stillness we learn to detach from our endless stream of mental activity, reducing the emotive force of it, and eventually ‘transcending’ it by becoming the observer. In this way meditation can also be seen as an exercise in enhancing autonomy, self control or effective action. Similarly it can also be seen as an exercise in self knowledge or even spiritualism.

It was for this purpose that meditation was derived in Asian cultures many thousands of years ago. They directed the use of meditation and yoga towards the attainment of a ‘unique state of spontaneous, psychological integration.’2 Modern psychologists have described this state as ‘individuation’or ‘self-actualisation’ and it has traditionally been termed ‘self-realisation.’

 

HOW DOES MEDITATION WORK?

 

The ‘Sahaja Yoga Hypothesis’ is that meditation triggers a rebalancing process within the autonomic system (a complex system of nerves that governs the function of all the organs of our body) thereby allowing our natural healing process to revitalise and rejuvenate diseased organs.3 According to this hypothesis, imbalance in this system is the cause of both physiological and psychological illness.

The balancing of the autonomic nervous system occurs via the seven chakras, or subtle energy centres within our body; each of which govern specific sets of organs, and aspects of our psychology and spirituality. Imbalanced function of these chakras results in abnormal function of any aspect of our being (physical, mental or spiritual) that relates to the imbalanced centre.

Meditation is a specific process that awakens the ‘kundalini’(an innate, nurturing energy), causing it to rise from its base at the sacrum bone piercing each of the seven chakras, thereby nourishing and rejuvenating them, and bringing each of them into balance and alignment. As the kundalini reaches the brain and the chakras within it, mental tensions are neutralised. An inner state of mental calm is established. This inner silence becomes a source of inner peace that neutralises the stresses of everyday life, enhancing creativity, productivity, and self-satisfaction.

 

PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL CHANGES IN MEDITATION

 

Recently scientific research has been establishing how meditation works. A new area of medicine known as psychoneuroimmunology (or mind/body medicine) is demonstrating how our state of mind powerfully affects our state of being. Science is now beginning to unravel some of the mystery surrounding meditation, and we are now beginning to be able to observe and understand the physiological changes taking place in the minds and bodies of meditators.

Meditation is characterised physiologically as a wakeful hypometabolic state of parasympathetic dominance analogous to other hypometabolic conditions such as sleep, hypnosis and the torpor of hibernation.4 Meditation, however, represents a special case of the hypometabolic state. The body appears to move into a state analogous to many, but not all, aspects of deep sleep, while consciousness remains responsive and alert.5

Physiological evidence, shows that, indeed, sleep and meditation are not the same. Electroencephalographic (EEG) recordings are quite different in the waking state, in sleep and in meditation. Studies suggest that alpha (8-12 Hz) and theta (4-8 Hz) activity is predominant in meditation, whereas delta (1-4 Hz) activity predominates in deep sleep, and beta (13-26 Hz) predominates in the waking state. There is also greater coherence of alpha waves across the cortex in the meditative state. Theta wave activity is indicative of dreaming (or rapid eye movement or REM sleep), however alpha wave activity is the predominant of these two in meditation. Alpha wave activity is associated with relaxation. It is also more closely associated with a state of wakeful alertness, where one’s state of consciousness is characterised as empty of any particular content but nevertheless active and alert above the threshold of awareness.4

Slightly contrary to this suggestion that the alpha state more closely resembles the state of wakeful alertness, were the results from one study, which had meditators signal when they had definitely entered into this state of wakeful or thoughtless awareness.3 Widespread alpha wave activity occurred initially, however, as the meditators signalled they had entered into the state of mental silence or ‘thoughtless awareness’ theta wave activity became focused specifically in the front and top of the brain in the midline. Precisely at the time that the theta wave activity became prominent, the meditators reported that they experienced a state of complete mental silence and ‘oneness’ with the present moment.

Of further note with this study was the focus of the theta activity at the front and top of the head, both in the midline. This suggests that structures deep within the brain, possibly the limbic system, are being activated. The limbic system is responsible for many aspects of our subjective experiences, such as emotion and mood, so it is no surprise that meditation, which is traditionally associated with blissful states, might involve this part of the brain.

Of final note with this study, is that the subject group investigated was only very small, so the reported results need further investigation before they can be considered to be extremely valid.

In the hypometabolic state induced by meditation the following changes occur6:

* catecholamine (adrenaline, noradrenaline) levels drop

* reduction in cortisol levels

* galvanic skin resistance increases markedly (low skin resistance is an accurate marker of the stress response).

* cerebral blood profusion increases

* respiration rate and minute volume decrease significantly without significant change in pO2 & pCO2.

* decreased vascular resistance

* lowered O2 and CO2 consumption and metabolic rate (well below that achieved in sleep)

* marked decline in blood lactate (which is a metabolite of anaerobic respiration and is high in stressful situations.

* reduced blood pressure and pulse rate7

The above pattern of changes is so consistent it is now called the ‘relaxation response.’ Meditation is a very potent way of eliciting this relaxation response. It is also often evident in many forms of prayer and contemplation across cultures.

Although it is generally conceded that a wakeful hypometabolic state of increased parasympathetic dominance characterises almost all forms of meditation in their initial stages, advanced meditators who have been meditating for years or even decades show marked differences in both their physiological response and their ability to control their own physiology compared with meditators who have only been practising a short time.4

The prominent feature found in advanced meditators as the voluntary control of internal states was that they displayed sympathetic nervous system control in the presence of parasympathetic dominance. This was discovered by the finding of increased plasma adrenaline in advanced meditators, in the presence of decreased heart rate and acute and marked decline of adrenocortical activity.

Other differences between advanced and novice meditators include markedly increased hypometabolism in advanced meditators; significantly decreased sensitivity to ambient CO2, and increased episodes of respiratory suspension which are highly correlated with subjective reports of what is called in yoga the experience of pure consciousness.

Dramatic increases of phenylanaline (an amino acid used in depression as it is a precursor to tyrosine which is an excitatory neurotransmitter) and urinary metabolites of serotonin (which influences moods and sleep and is antidepressant, helps induce sleep and relieves pain) are also noted in advanced meditators. Also thyroid simulating hormone has also been noted to decrease chronically and acutely

in advanced meditators.

Several studies have corroborated this phenomenon in advanced meditators of sympathetic control in the prescence of parasympathetic dominance. In these studies the advanced meditation practitioners have gained phenomenal control over normally involuntary bodily processes.

In one such study Tibetan monks were able to generate such body heat during meditation that they could dry wet sheets on their backs in freezing weather. In another study in the laboratory, an Indian yogi lowered his metabolism so much that he was able to remain in an airtight box for 10 hours with no ill-effects or signs of tachycardia or hyperpnoea

In another intriguing study4 a Yogi Satyamurti (70 y.o.) remained in a small underground pit, sealed from the top, for 8 days. He was physically restricted by recording wires. For the first 29 hours of his 8-day stay Satyamurti exhibited a marked tachycardia of 250 beats/min. For the next 6.5 days the electrocardiogram (ECG) results showed no heartbeat whatsoever. ‘The experimenters at first thought he had died.’ Half an hour before he was due to leave the pit his heart rate returned to normal. In addition Satyamurti was able to maintain his body temperature at a level approximately level to the temperature in the pit (34.8 deg Celsius). This is a behaviour displayed by many hibernating animals.

In a final study8 Tibetan Buddhist monks were found to be able to raise their resting metabolism (VO2) up as much as 61%, and lower it down as much as 64%. This reduction from rest was the largest ever recorded.

The point of illustrating these cases is that ‘deep relaxation appears to be the entryway into meditation, but in advanced stages refined control over involuntary processes becomes possible, in which systems can be either activated or inactivated.’

 

MEDITATION AND STRESS

 

A great deal of attention has been paid in recent years to the role of stress in health and particularly in disease. The amount of research being conducted in this area is on the increase. Stress has been recognised as a contributor to, or direct cause of many illnesses. In acute situations, stress can be a natural and appropriate physiological response to an exceptional circumstance. This is often recognised as the ‘fight or flight’ response. However, as soon as the stressful stimulus disappears or dissipates, the physiology of the person should return to normal, with the event being left mentally in the past. This is not always the case.

Hans Seyle first identified the stress response as the ‘general adaptation syndrome’ as a means of explaining the way in which psychological stress translates into physical disease. Stress is postulated to induce psycho-hormonal changes. In acute situations, as mentioned above, the response is functional; but in the chronic situation the organism continues to adapt successfully to ever-increasing levels of stress in the environment until the point of exhaustion, resulting in debilitation of bodily systems and, ultimately, death.

In the chronic situation above, the stress is inappropriate as the nature of the stressor is invariably a by-product of thought; we must actually think about the events for them to produce stress. These thoughts being either of past experiences or of events we anticipate will occur in the future. One common denominator is that neither stressor is actually real – the past no longer exists and the future hasn’t occurred yet. As far as the body is concerned, it does not distinguish between what is a real stressor and what is a perceived or imagined one.

The effects of prolonged and excessive psychological stress on the body involves every system. Psychoneuroimmunology has told us that stress can negatively affect our immune system and susceptibility to infection. In one study9 394 people had their levels of stress measured and were then inoculated directly to five different cold viruses. The results demonstrated that the likelihood of actually getting a cold seemed to be directly proportional to the level of stress, which the host was experiencing at the time.

In another study, it was found that profound immune suppression in medical students over the exam period. In particular there was lowered natural killer (NK) cell activity, a 90% reduction in gamma interferon and lowered response of T cell lymphocytes.10 Also the immune-suppression in those going through marital separation is proportional to the amount of negative emotion or difficulty the person experiences in letting go.1

It is also well known that stress can increase blood pressure. Other less well-known effects of chronic stress include:

* slowing wound healing11

* increasing genetic mutations12 and decreasing repair.133

* effects on genetic expression which can predispose to problems as diverse as addictive behaviours,14 cardiovascular reactivity,15 depression16 and schizophrenia17.

One study recently demonstrated that a woman placed under considerable stress, particularly during the first trimester of pregnancy, will have a 2.8 times increased risk of her offspring developing schizophrenia18.

 

THE EFFECTS OF STRESS REDUCTION AND MEDITATION

 

The relaxation response or the state of restful or wakeful awareness that occurs in meditation helps to reverse many of the physiological and psychological effects of stress by undoing many of the harmful affects of inappropriate stress. The hypometabolic state of parasympathetic dominance resets the internal metabolic functioning to a state of rest, rather than a constant readiness and perceptual over-reaction, and helps to counter the excessive demands placed on the mind and body by chronic stress. Also the inner silence created in the ‘wakeful or thoughtless awareness’ state of meditation helps to bring about (over time via constant practise) a naturally stress-free environment.

Prior to listing many of the physiological and psychological benefits of meditation and stress reduction (following), some interesting studies on the role and efficacy of meditation in stress reduction (one in a working population and one in laboratory conditions) will be discussed.

The first study looked at the efficacy of meditation and stress reduction techniques for the management of stress in an organisational setting. Employees selected for stress learned either one of two meditation techniques, a progressive relaxation technique, or were put in a waiting list control group. After 5.5 months, both the meditation and progressive relaxation groups showed clinical improvement in self reported symptoms of stress, but only the meditation groups showed significantly more symptom reduction than the control group (no relaxation/meditation training). Also the meditation groups had a 78% compliance rate at 5.5 months with treatment effect seen whether subjects practiced their techniques frequently or occasionally56

Another study looked at stress in a laboratory setting57. Whilst the mechanisms by which stress leads to poor health are largely unknown, high basal cortisol levels produced by chronic stress and low cortisol response to acute stressors has been suggested as a result of studies in animals. This study compared changes in baseline levels and acute responses to laboratory stressors for cortisol (and three other hormones – TSH, GH and testosterone) in a group trained in meditation with a control group that received stress education. After a 4 month intervention, the meditation group displayed decreased basal cortisol and average cortisol levels, which was not seen in the control group. The meditation group also showed increased cortisol responsiveness to acute stressors compared to the control group. The above results supported previous data suggesting that repeated practice of meditation reverses the effects of chronic stress significant for health.

 

PHYSIOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF STRESS REDUCTION

 

In addition to the physiological changes that occur as a result of the hypometabolic state produced by the relaxation response seen in meditation, following are further physiological benefits that have been made evident by research into meditation and stress reduction:

 

  • reduction in serum cholesterol, more than would be accounted for by diet alone19

 

  • lowered serum levels of lipid peroxides, which are associated with free radical damage to cell membranes20

 

  • changes in EEG patterns associated with the state of restful alertness including an increase in alpha and theta waves and EEG coherence (co-ordination of EEG waves).

 

  • a reduction in epileptic seizure frequency21

 

  • changes in neurotransmitter profile including high serotonin production as seen in recovery from depression22

 

  • increased night-time plasma melatonin levels (useful in insomnia and resetting biological rythyms, and has anti-tumour effects)26

 

  • reduced TSH and T3 levels23

 

  • significant decreases in reaction time7 and improved reflex response24

 

  • improvement in perceptiveness of hearing and other senses25

 

  • reduced calcium loss and risk of osteoporosis (probably related to a reduction in cortisol)

 

  • improved immune function. Of note is that stress reduction stimulates an under active immune system due to chronic stress, whilst it reduces an over-active immune system as may be seen in auto-immune and inflammatory conditions. For example, in a study of patients with early stage malignant melanoma27, following a six month stress management intervention (in addition to the usual surgical management) patients displayed significantly better immune function than the control group and, as a consequence, showed a halving of the recurrence and much lower death rates. Alternatively, in a chronic inflammatory disease such as asthma which involves an over-active immune system, patients who received a two week yoga training program demonstrated significantly less attacks per week, improved scores for drug treatment and improved respiratory function tests28.

 

  • excellent benefits as an adjunct to therapy for a variety of illnesses including the following:

* cardiovascular disease. In one study29, patients with cerebrovascular disease (CVD) were divided into either a group which took up 20 minutes of transcendental meditation twice each day, or a group that had a CVD health education program aimed at lowering risk factors and were also encouraged to spend 20 minutes per day in relaxing activities other than meditation. Over a 6-9 month follow up the meditation group showed reductions in arterial wall thickness that would translate to reductions of risk of acute myocardial infarction of 11% and of stroke of 15%. The improvements were not attributable to changes in other cardiovascular risk factors. Alternatively the other (control) group showed a slight advance in their disease (based on arterial wall thickness).

In the Ornish study30 a significant improvement in both coronary heart disease (CHD) and quality of life was shown by an intervention group who were given a comprehensive lifestyle program (including group support, meditation, yoga, a low fat vegetarian diet and moderate exercise) in addition to their medical treatment, when compared to a control group who received conventional medical treatment only (most of whose CHD deteriorated). Ironically the costs of the lifestyle program were vastly less than for bypass surgery despite the results being much superior.

* irritable bowel syndrome31

* cancer – see study on malignant melanoma above27. Another study showed in women with metastatic breast cancer a doubling of survival time from the time of entry into the study if the women were given group support and taught simple relaxation and self-hypnosis techniques as a part of their management32.

* chronic pain33&34

* diabetes35

* fibromyalgia36

* asthma – see study above28. A study performed at the Royal Hospital for Women in Sydney3 compared the Sahaja yoga meditation technique to a simple relaxation technique as an adjunct to treatment for patients whose asthma was so severe it did not properly respond even to maximum levels of medication. The results showed that while both groups did appear to bring about improvements in the way patients felt, the meditation also showed improvements in the severity of the disease process itself.

 

  • Reduced frequency of menopausal hot flushes. A study found 9 out of 10 women who enrolled in an eight week meditation program reported at least 50% reduction in the frequency of their hot flushes. Six of these women had a 65-70% improvement in their hot flushes, which after eight weeks of meditation treatment, is comparable to that seen in conventional HRT treatment. In addition, standard measures of quality of life and symptom profiles showed similar degrees of improvement3. It should be noted however, that the authors did emphasize that larger, randomised, controlled trials need to be carried out to more conclusively validate the above results.

 

  • Reduced medical care utilization and health care costs. A field study compared 5 years of medical insurance utilization statistics of 2000 regular meditators with 600,000 non-meditators37. The findings suggested that in every disease category (17 in total) there were significant reductions in illness, for example an 87% reduction in heart disease and in diseases for the nervous system, 55% reduction in tumours, and 30% reduction in both mental disorders and all infectious diseases. On the weight of such evidence, insurance companies in the USA and Europe are beginning to offer up to 30% reductions on life insurance premiums for people who practice an approved form of meditation regularly.

 

  • Effects on ageing – increased longevity. One study investigated the effects of meditation process on ageing using a standard test of biological aging (utilising auditory threshold, near point vision, and systolic blood pressure as variables). Results found that the mean biological age for a control group was 2.2 years younger than that for the general population, whilst it was 5.0 and 12.0 years younger for intervention groups of short and long term meditators respectively (mean age of the study population = 53 years). The difference between groups was still significant after covarying for a diet factor. Also, there was a significant correlation between length of time practicing meditation and biological age38.

Another study found higher improvements on variables relating to age related decline for meditation treatment groups than for relaxation treatment or no treatment groups (mean study population age = 81). Also, after 3 years survival rate was much higher for these meditation groups than the other groups39.

 

PSYCHOLOGICAL BENEFITS OF MEDITATION AND STRESS REDUCTION

 

A study worthy of note in this area attempted to rigorously map the psychological effects of Zen meditation among experienced practitioners. Analyses revealed that in comparison to a control group, experienced meditators are less likely to believe in God, more likely to believe in Inner Wisdom, and more likely to display the relaxation dispositions Mental Quiet, Mental Relaxation, and Timeless/Boundless/Infinite. Pre- and post-session analyses revealed that meditators showed greater increments in the relaxation states Mental Quiet, Love and Thankfulness, as well as reduced Worry55

 

  • decreased anxiety40. One study using a group mindfulness meditation training program on patients diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder or panic disorder, found in 20 of 22 subjects, significant reductions in anxiety and depression scores after a 3 month follow up period; and reduced number of subjects experiencing panic symptoms41. A 3 year follow up analysis of this study also showed maintenance of the gains made in the original study; and ongoing compliance with the meditation practice was also demonstrated in the majority of subjects at 3 years42

 

  • decreased depression and hopelessness41,42,43 – also as indicated by elevation of serotonin.

 

  • as an adjunct to a happiness enhancement program43

 

  • happiness tends to be less conditional1b

 

  • more optimism1b

 

  • greater self awareness and self-actualisation44

 

  • improved coping capabilities45 and better sense of control54

 

  • reduced reliance on drugs, prescribed and non-prescribed, or alcohol46. This study reviewed 24 studies on the benefits of meditation in treating and preventing misuse of chemical substances. Taken together, the studies indicate that meditation ‘simultaneously addresses several factors underlying chemical dependence, providing not only immediate relief from distress but also long-range improvements in well-being, self-esteem, personal empowerment, and other areas of psychophysiological health.’

 

  • improved sleep; more restful, less insomnia, and in time less sleep needed1b – aided by increased night time plasma melatonin levels.

 

  • reduced aggression and criminal tendency47

 

  • improved I.Q. and learning capabilities, including the aged and intellectually impaired1b. One study found that when other factors were held constant (i.e. age, sex, education, and duration of practice of meditation) a few months practice of meditation significantly predicted higher performance on perceptual-motor speed tests and tests on non-verbal intelligence48.

 

  • greater efficiency and output at work1b

 

  • better time management1b

 

  • improved concentration and memory49,50

 

  • reduction in personality disorders and ability to change undesired personality traits51

 

  • reduction in coronary prone behaviour – reduced time urgency and impatience and hostility resulting from enforced waiting52

 

  • reduced anger53

 

  • increased occurrence of spiritual experiences54

 

5 DIFFERENT TYPES OF MEDITATION

 

  1. progressive muscle relaxation.
  2. concentrating on the breath
  3. mantra meditation
  4. mindfulness meditation
  5. visualisation

NB: the first four techniques are aimed at achieving stillness and silence ‘beneath the mental activity’ whereas the fifth is more directly aimed at ‘reconditioning’ the mind.

 

Most meditation techniques will rely on the attention being focused or rested on something and in the process learning to not struggle with, but let go of, unnecessary and distracting mental activity. The quality of your meditation can only be judged based on your own previous experience, and there will be some days where you have very deep meditations where your mind is very still, yet on other days your mind will be cluttered with activity. It is important not to get uptight or try to hard on these days. Simply knowing that the quality of the meditations will fluctuate over time will help you to relax and just observe your thoughts during the busier sessions. Combining different types of meditation in each meditation session can be very effective. For example, on a day where the mind is very calm mindfulness meditation is excellent and often effortless. Yet, if the mind is very busy during a particular session, then it may be easier to focus on the breath or use a mantra on the in breath and out-breath to settle the mind. You can then either try going back to mindfulness meditation, or simply spend the rest of the session focusing on the breath or repeating a mantra.

It is also very useful to lead into a meditation session using a relaxation process such as deep muscle relaxation. This allows you to go to a very deep place before you start practicing mindfulness or mantra repetition.

The different forms of meditation suit different people. Dr Craig Hassed sums it up beautifully by saying that the best form of meditation is the one you practice! As with most skills, the quality of your meditation will increase the more regularly you practice and the longer you have been practicing. As mentioned above, the only reference you need in order to judge the quality of your practice is your own experience. It is important not to get too goal or success oriented with your meditation. Just practice it. If you keep it simple it will improve.

Likewise it is important not to compare your meditation with that of others. As meditation experiences can only be reported by the individual experiencing them, there will be great variation in what is reported. Some people naturally have a lot of visual experiences in their mind during meditation, other will not. That doesn’t matter. Meditation is not about how many ‘experiences’ you may or may not have. The whole point of meditation is in achieving stillness. The more you practice, the more you will achieve this. Profound visions, or insights etc. may occur, but they are not the goal of meditation and it is important not to try to elicit ‘experiences’ every time you meditate, as you will often end up very frustrated. If they occur, good. If they don’t, that’s good also. Just keep practicing and trying to achieve silence and stillness.

When you first learn how to meditate, just sit for whatever time you feel comfortable. 15 minutes twice a day is excellent. You will be able to meditate comfortably for longer periods of time the more you practice. As will all other aspects of meditation let this develop at your own pace.

Regular short pauses at other times during the day can help to reinforce the meditation practice. Even if it is only a couple of deep breaths at your desk, this is often enough to help punctuate the day and help to break the build up of tension and mental activity.

It is also often very useful to meditate with a group occasionally, for example once or twice a week (or whatever you can achieve). Not only is it a very powerful experience, it also gives you exposure to feedback and to hear of different techniques etc. It is important however, as mentioned previously, to only use feedback etc. for your own learning, not as a means of comparison of yourself against others.

 

1 Hassed Dr. C ‘New Frontiers In Medicine. The Body as a Shadow of the Soul’. Hill of Content. Melbourne.2000

2 Neki, J.S., ‘Sahaja: an Indian ideal of mental health.’ Psychiatry 1975; 38(1): 1-10.

3 Manocha R. ‘Researching meditation. Clinical applications in healthcare.’ Diversity 2001; 2(5): 3-10.

4 Ding-E Young J, Taylor E. ‘Meditation as a voluntary hypometabolic state of biological estivation.’ News Physiol Sci 1998; 13: 149-153.

5 Wallace RK, Benson H. ‘A wakeful hypometabolic physiological state.’ Am J Physiol 1971; 221: 795-799.

6  Jevning R, Wallace RK and Biedebach M. ‘The physiology of meditation: a review. A wakeful hypometabolic integrated response.’ Neurosci Biobehav Rev. 1992; 16: 415-424.

7 Sudsuang R, Chentanez V, Veluvan K. ‘Effect of Buddhist Meditation on serum cortisol and total protein levels, blood pressure, pulse rate, lung volume and reaction time.’ Physiol Behav 1991; 50(3): 543-8.

4 See page 2

4 See page 2

8 Benson H et al. ‘Three case reports of the metabolic and electroencephalographic changes during advanced Buddhist meditation techniques.’ Behav Med. 1990; 16: 90-95.

9 Cohen S et al. ‘Psychological stress and the common cold.’ New England J Med 1991; 325: 606-612

10 Kiecolt-Glaser J and Glaser R. Cited in Ch. 3, ‘Mind-body Medicine’ from Choice Books.

1 See page 1

11 Kiecolt-Glaser J et al. ‘Slowing of wound healing by psychological stress.’ Lancet 1995; 346: 1194-1196.

12 Fischman H, Pero R, Kelly D. ‘Psychogenic stress induces chromosomal and DNA damage.’ Int J Neurosci. 1996; 84(1-4): 219-227.

13 Kiecolt-Glaser J, Glaser R. ‘Psychoneuro-immunology and immunotoxicology: implications for carcinogenesis.’ Psychosom Med 1999; 61(3): 271-272.

14 Self D, Nestler E. ‘Relapse to drug seeking neural and molecular mechanisms.’ Drug Alcohol Depend 1998; 51(1-2): 49-60

15 Gui, Gutstein W, Jabr S et al. ‘Control of human vascular smooth muscle cell proliferation by sera derived from experimentally stressed individuals.’ Oncol Reports 1998; 5(6): 1471-1474.

16 Lopez J, Chalmers D, Little K et al. ‘Regulation of serotonin 1A, glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid in rat and human hippocampus. Implications for the neurobiology of depression.’ Biol Psychiatry 1998; 43: 547-573.

Evolutionary Biology and Mismatch Diseases

The Story of the Human Body – Evolution, Health and Disease.

Evolutionary biologist, Daniel Lieberman in his book ‘The Story of the Human Body’ suggested that medicine could benefit from a dose of evolution. Whilst evolution may appear irrelevant to medicine at first glance, our body is not engineered like a car; rather it evolved over time with modification. It therefore follows that knowing your body’s evolutionary history helps us understand why your body looks and works as it does, hence why you get sick.

Although scientific fields such as physiology and biochemistry can help us understand the proximate mechanisms that underlie a disease, evolutionary medicine helps us make sense of why the disease occurs in the first place.

Over time, natural selection adapts (matches) organisms to particular environmental conditions and this process occurs over tens of thousands of years. Research suggested that it takes 40,000 to 100,000 years for an environmental change to assimilated (genetically) by the body.

However, as innovation has accelerated, initially since farming began (approximately 2,000 to 10,000 years ago), and especially over the last few hundred years as a result of the industrial and technological revolutions, we have devised or adopted a growing list of novel cultural practices that have conflicting effects on our bodies. Many of these cultural changes have altered interactions between our genes and our environments in ways that contribute to a wide range of health problems known as mismatch diseases – which are defined as diseases that result from our Paleolithic bodies being poorly or inadequately adapted to certain modern behaviours and conditions.

Most mismatch diseases occur when a common stimulus either increases or decreases beyond levels for which the body is adapted, or when the body is not adapted for it at all. Moreover a common characteristic of these diseases, is that they occur from interactions whose cause and effect are not immediate or otherwise obvious. And most of these mismatch diseases are ailments that, as far as we can tell, were rare in our Paleolithic ancestors.

In other words, we get sick because we do what we evolved to do in an environment to which we have not adapted, and then pass these habits and illnesses onto future generations, who also get sick..

Hypothesised mismatch diseases account for a vast majority of deaths in the modern Western World. These are the chronic, insidious onset ailments that include heart disease, cancers (some), stroke, diabetes (Type II), obesity, chronic  respiratory conditions, cavities, apnoea, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, ADHD, depression, anxiety, insomnia, IBS/Crohn’s disease, OCD, hypertension Alzheimer’s disease to name a few.

Following this understanding, it makes sense that in preventing and treating these mismatch diseases, we apply what is understood of how we lived and therefore, how our bodies are structured to function ideally.

The aspects of living that most impact our health include:

  • Nutrition
  • How we move and stabilise
  • Breathing
  • Sleep
  • How we think and emote – which influences how we process stress (which subsequently affects all other aspects of living).

This is the primary influence or core philosophy in my approach to treatment and prevention of disease, performance and optimal living. Using what understanding we have of how we performed these aspects of living as we were evolving and applying this in an approach to treatment or living can yield outstanding and life changing results. And, over time, it reduces or eliminates the need or reliance on synthetic or artificial medicines.

Further, the use of accurate and reliable biofeedback to provide information on the efficiency that one is achieving in performing these aspects of living, makes learning much easier and more rapid.

Finally, the use of pure extracts as medicines and supplements, where necessary, provide the perfect balance. As opposed to manufactures and synthetic, or new to nature, pharmaceuticals and supplements, pure extract herbs and nutritional medicines exist in the form that our bodies were exposed to them over millions of years and are therefore far more easily assimilated, or are more bio-available than artificial chemicals and lead to no side effects as a result.

Modalities used to bring about recoveries from these chronic illnesses include:

  1. Mickel Therapy – which addresses imbalance at higher levels – specifically, the hypothalamus which regulates all automatic functions, endocrine function, immune, cognitive function, sleep cycles, neurotransmitters etc.
  2. Nutritional medicine
  3. Breathing retraining
  4. Therapeutic fasting
  5. Herbal medicine

The more we begin to understand how nature has adapted us to live and living our lives in accord with this, and using foods and medicines provided to us by nature throughout our evolutionary history, the more we will shift the focus of medicine from treatment to prevention and optimal living.

Research Now Starting To Support Cure For Fibromyalgia Pain

 New pain study offers hope for Lady Gaga, others with fibromyalgia.

I love the article linked below as it outlines that research and evidence is starting to support the approach of sourcing the cure to chronic pain and fatigue, and ailments such as fibromyalgia, CFS, ME, IBS, anxiety/depression etc. at higher levels in the body (specifically the brain) rather than at the site of symptoms. or other areas of the body.

A couple of excerpts from the article outline this approach, which appears strikingly similar to the approach used in Mickel Therapy.

“We know there are two things that trigger pain neuropathways. One is tissue damage and the other is emotions that activate the exact same pain processes in the brain as physical injury,” he told PhillyVoice.

Schubiner says that pain is always caused by one of these two things or a combination of both. But, since there is usually no tissue damage involved in fibromyalgia, dealing with emotions that trigger what he calls the brain’s “danger-alarm mechanism” is often the only effective way to relieve the pain, especially when other physical, pharmaceutical, and even psychological interventions have failed, as they often do. The ineffectiveness of these treatments is on full display in “Five Foot Two.” Lady Gaga, a celebrity millionaire with infinite conventional and alternative treatment modalities at her disposal, is still in constant pain.

A new wave of pain researchers like Schubiner believe many people’s physical pain is due to the way we’re conditioned to think about our emotions.

“To be good people, we suppress our emotions. We’re taught to think that anger is bad, but it’s actually a very healthy protective mechanism,” Schubiner said. “It’s only bad to act out of anger in real life. But it’s actually therapeutic to allow those feelings to be experienced and processed.”

It goes beyond how we acknowledge, process and express emotions such as anger, fear, sadness, guilt, frustration, disappointment etc. Emotions such as lack of fulfillment, boredom, overwhelm, loneliness etc. actually look at how we live on a day to day level and create balance.

As a result of conditioning from our society (as to our roles, expectations etc.), or in the name of some mental objective or pursuit, many people ignore emotional and physical signals from the body about meeting their needs, asking for help, creating day to day balance, experiencing joy in their life, and suppress these vital messages. The result being that they suppress stress and go into internal overdrive permanently – it is like the body is running a permanent, internal, physiological, neurological and biochemical marathon. No wonder we end up exhausted and in pain.

So, the Mickel approach, and it seems Dr Schubiner’s, sees pain and fatigue etc. as stuck or suppressed energy (emotions), rather than lack of it. Taking the paradigm to shift this stuck energy yields surprising and extremely potent results.

I especially love Dr Schubiner’s quote at the end of the article. It pretty much sums up what Dr Mickel has experienced with his technique, and my experience of people asking about Mickel Therapy, and of client’s responses when they are first introduced to it.

“When people first hear these ideas, they usually react with disbelief and rejection. It requires a certain open-mindedness, courage – and desperation, clearly – because it is really hard for some people to question authority,” he says. “They have been told by so many doctors that their pain is either caused by injury or else it isn’t real, and the more they hear this, the worse the pain becomes.”

Schubiner says it’s only a matter of time before this new pain paradigm is accepted totally by mainstream medicine. He emphasized the history of once “radical” ideas that are now common practice.

I look forward to that day as I have seen so many fantastic and complete recoveries from fibromyalgia, CFS, ME, IBS, anxiety and depression, auto-immune conditions and many other chronic conditions using the similar approach to this via Mickel Therapy, yet it remains a fringe treatment. I guess because it involves such a paradigm shift for both the medical and scientific community and the public. I must admit, whilst the theory of Mickel made so much sense when I read it, as does Dr Schubiner’s approach, however I still had doubts about the effectiveness.

If it wasn’t for a couple of profound and complete recoveries in case studies I had read prior (I had rarely ever seen or heard from such results prior to this), I may have dismissed it as a good idea that doesn’t work. I am so grateful that I chose to take a leap of faith, as I have experienced many such results with clients since. It is very humbling.

If you have tried everything unsuccessfully (or partially) to alleviate your fibromyalgia, and feel there is nothing to lose by taking a paradigm shift, I’d love to surprise you by helping you feel vibrant and healthy again.

http://www.phillyvoice.com/new-pain-study-offers-hope-lady-gaga-other-victims-fibromyalgia/

The Nasty Side-Effects of Too Much Sugar

What Sugar Does To Your Body and Brain

I’ll let this image do the talking for itself, other than to say that all of the nutritional programs I run focus on moderating sugar intake and regulating blood sugar levels – be they programs for energy and vitality; optimal wellness; weight loss; weight gain; fasting; intermittent fasting; detox; performance; boosting the immune system; ketogenic programs; paleo; elimination diets; FODMAP etc. etc.

I have found after close to 20 years of doing clinic and askingmost clients their average daily diet, that very few people actually regulate their blood sugar levels well, or at all. This includes many apparently ‘healthy’ people who eat organic foods etc.

Regulating blood sugar levels does the following:

  • Allows the cells to produce energy more efficiently.
  • Eliminates insulin resistance.
  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Regulates other hormones.
  • Detoxes your system.
  • Improves your immune system.
  • Mobilises the body to burn fat for energy – so you can lose weight more easily.
  • Prevents and treats many chronic illnesses – diabetes Types I & II, fatigue, hormonal issues, heart disease, stroke, gastro-intestinal problems, headaches and migraines, sleep disturbance etc.

If you’d like to learn how to regulate you blood sugar levels and function so much better,contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918 for an appointment.

 

Sugar Side-Effects

Book Review: The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Mark Manson

A Counterintuitive Approach To Living A Good Life That Resonates Very Strongly With The Principles of Mickel Therapy in Treating Chronic Illnesses Such as CFS, IBS, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety etc.

I love this book – ‘The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck’, by Mark Manson.

It is so real and authentic, and cut’s to the chase about living a ‘good life’ or being happy so quickly. As the description on the cover says, it is counter-intuitive, but it is a breath of fresh air that is worth a read.

I have recommended it to many clients I am working with – especially those with CFS, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Anxiety and Depression with whom I am using the techniques involved in Mickel Therapy. Like this book, this approach is counterintuitive, or involves a paradigm shift which, I believe, speaks so strongly for the extraordinary results it has yielded with so many clients worldwide suffering with the above, and other chronic illnesses, as well as those looking to explore greater levels of performance or discovering optimal health.

Both address without saying this directly, what the the evolutionary biology/medicine approach to health and performance describes as a ‘mismatch between the body we have inherited (from our hunter gatherer ancestors) and the culture we have created today.’

The principles are so similar – being authentic, accepting how you feel now without judgement, focusing on true/core values etc. The Mickel work takes it further by targeting behavioural patterns cause people to get stuck in their head and miss the vital, instinctive emotional messages our emotional brain sends us in order to warn us of any threat and keep us alive (or happy, safe ad comfortable). The result is that we internalise or suppress these emotions (or, another way or describing it is we internalise stress) causing us to be hyper-vigilant, or permanently in fight or flight, which subsequently leads to our hypothalamus going into overdrive, and the homoeostasis in our body becoming severely disrupted. We then wind up with less than optimal health and performance, and very often chronic illness – which so often fails to respond to many other treatments as they fail to target the root cause higher in the brain.

In short, the Mickel approach involves identifying the behavioural factors that create this lead to this emotional suppression and internalised stress, and then uses an action based approach to reverse them. The persistence or removal of symptoms being the indicator of whether the action takes is the correct one or not.

I will quote a few passages from chapter one that I love – and, if you will allow me to indulge, I may end up doing a blog or two more with some other passages soon…

“Our culture today is obsessively focused on unrealistically positive expectations: Be happier. Be healthier. Be the best, better than the rest. Be smarter, faster, richer, sexier, more popular, more productive, more envied, and more admired. Be perfect and amazing and crap out crap out twelve-karat-gold nuggets before breakfast each morning while kissing your selfie-ready spouse and two and half  kids goodbye. Then fly your helicopter to your wonderfully fulfilling job, where you spend your days doing incredibly meaningful work that is likely to save the planet one day.”

Ironically, this fixation on the positive – on what’s better, what’s superior – only serves to remind us over and over gain of what we are not, of what we lack, of what we should have been but failed to be.”

“Now here’s the problem: Our society today, through the wonders of consumer culture and hey-look-my-life-is-cooler-than-yours social media, has bred a whole generation of people who believe that having these negative experiences – anxiety, fear, guilt etc.- is totally not okay.”

“The desire for more positive experience is itself a negative experience. And, paradoxically, the acceptance of one’s negative experience is itself a positive experience.”

The author has fun with his writing style, however what it downplays is a wealth of knowledge and understanding from a numbers of areas. So very profound and real.

Enjoy. And go get a copy of the book.

If you’ve read this book, or suffer from a chronic illness or lack of performance, and would like a realistic, action based approach that deals with this mismatch between how we’re built to live (including how we process stress and emotions), and how we live in the modern culture we have created, then email or call me on tim@timaltman.com.au or 0425 739 918

 

 

Article: The Unmistakable Link Between Unhealed Trauma and Physical Illness

The Root Cause of Chronic Illness Lies in The Brain and May Relate to Unresolved or Internalised Stress or Trauma.

A great article by Lisa Ranking, MD, a guest writer for Wake Up World (linked below).

This link between unresolved stress or trauma and chronic illnesses has definitely been my experience is many, many cases of chronic illness that I’ve treated; including:

  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS); M.E.; post-viral fatigue; adrenal fatigue.
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Anxiety & Depression
  • IBS and chronic gastro-intestinal issues
  • Auto-immune conditions.

And, as suggested by the author, it doesn’t have to be severe trauma that can ultimately create the chronic illness. A quote from the article summarises this:

“Most of us experience trauma at some level, not just war veterans who witness and experience horrific terror, but simply by growing up as vulnerable children in a world where many parents are themselves traumatized and can’t always hold that vulnerability safe for a child. You might mistakenly think that you must experience incest, child abuse, parental abandonment, or living in a war zone in order to be traumatized, but trauma can be much more subtle. Psychologist Dawson Church, PhD defines a traumatizing event as something that is:

  • Perceived as a threat to the person’s physical survival,
  • Overwhelms their coping capacity, producing a sense of powerlessness,
  • Produces a feeling of isolation and aloneness,
  • Violates their expectations”

This very much resonates with the Mickel Therapy approach to treating and curing chronic illness, which suggests that the behavioural patterns set up from childhood (or adult trauma) that then become automatic, habitual, or sub-conscious, when we become adolescents and adults, then cause us to stay in permanent ‘fight or flight’ functioning to some degree (the amount depending on the individual), or hyper-vigilance as some refer to it, as a protective mechanism that served us as kids. But not necessarily as an adult.

The result of such ‘self-limiting’ behavioural patterns is that the hypothalamus gland in the brain responsible for homeostasis (or balance/smooth running) in the body runs in permanent ‘overdrive’ and our bodies function like they are ‘running a permanent internal, biochemical marathon’. Hence we end up exhausted, in pain, sick, miserable and we cannot sleep. (The hypothalamus is responsible for regulating the function of all automatic bodily functions, our endocrine glands, the immune system, sleep cycles, neurotransmitters among other functions).

In addition, we often then pick up a viral or bacterial illness that we never recover from and we develop the chronic syndrome or disease. So often it is stated that these illnesses are the cause of the chronic disease, but we would argue that they are the result of  a body that has a compromised immune system because the body is running in over-drive (or permanent fight or flight) caused by unresolved, or internalised emotions and stress at a higher level. In other words, the ‘root cause’ exists at a higher level.

With the Mickel Therapy approach we identify and target these behavioural patterns that send the hypothalamus into overdrive. Reversing them using a specific action based approach takes the hypothalamus out of overdrive and restores balance in the body, resulting in the removal of symptoms. 

And this process works surprisingly well to most who first venture upon it – including a skeptical me. It is very common to see complete removal of symptoms, even in cases so chronic that the person has suffered from the ailment for years to decades and have tried many, many other options. This is no longer a surprise to me as this approach addresses what many, including myself and the author of this article linked, believe to be the ‘root’ cause of chronic illness. 

If you, or someone you know of suffer from a chronic illness such as CFS, M.E., fibromyalgia, adrenal or post-viral fatigue, IBS, anxiety or depression etc. and would like to investigate a cure that has yielded many, many complete recoveries, then  contact me at tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

https://wakeup-world.com/2017/07/25/the-unmistakable-link-between-unhealed-trauma-and-physical-illness/

How You Deal With Stress is the Number One Contributor to Your Mortality

Our Cortisol Slope, via Our Relationship to Stress, is The Greatest Predictor of Total Mortality

A fascinating video (linked at the bottom) from Food Matters TV during their recent Sleep and Stress Online Event chatting with Dr Alan Chritianson discussing the relationship with stress and mortality and highlighted some findings from the Whitehall II study in the UK, which revealed that for cardiovascular mortality, cigarette smoking was the number one predictor of mortality, with cortisol slope (via our relationship to stress) following closely behind. They also compares these with the usual health metrics such as exercise levels, blood pressure, cholesterol levels etc. etc.

Yet, for overall mortality, cortisol slope was the highest predictor of mortality.

The implications for this on how to prioritise your health incentives are huge – Dr Christianson, said these results hit him like a tonne of bricks. You could be a non smoker, non-alcohol drinking, clean food eating, exercise loving health nut, yet if your relationship with stress, or how you deal with stress is dysfunctional, it could make you ill or kill you quicker than a smoking, drinking, junk food eating couch potato who doesn’t get overly stressed too much. That sucks!!

These results basically suggest that, whilst it is important to focus on our nutrition, exercise, alcohol consumption, eliminating cigarette smoking etc. for our health, we should make how we deal with stress our number one priority.

Fortunately, two of the modalities I use with clients focus one exactly that.

  1. Diaphragmatic breathing – of all of the automatic functions that our body performs, breathing is the only one that we can consciously control, with ease. And the same nervous system that regulates our automatic functions (including breathing), the autonomic nervous system (ANS), is also the same nervous system that regulates stress. Moreover, most of us breathe in emergency mode, far too quickly, with an exhale to inhale ratio that is out of whack, so we end up in permanent emergency mode, or ‘fight or flight’ functioning. By learning how to diaphragm breathe in certain rhythms, we can get out of emergency, or ‘fight or flight’ mode, and restore a nervous system that is more restful and relaxed, than it is on the go.
  2. Mickel Therapy – this technique, which is far from therapy as you might think of it, is an ‘action based’ technique that focuses on restoring harmony and optimal function to the ‘hypothalamus’ gland in our brain stem, which is the gland responsible for regulating the function or our autonomic nervous system, and therefore our stress response, all automatic and endocrine gland functions of our body, our immune system, our sleep cycles, neurotransmitter levels and many other bodily functions. It is like the ‘general’ of our bodily functions and it’s job is to maintain homeostasis, or efficient, healthy functioning of our body. It is also like a link between our brain and our body. A healthy relationship with stress requires, at the highest levels of our functioning (in our brain) a healthy relationship between our instinctive, emotional brain (which registers threats to our system and, therefore, stress) and our thinking, or rational brain (which, ideally, interprets the signals of stress sent by the emotional brain, negative emotions, and creates actions to deal with them). This allows us to functionally deal with stress as it arises. However, we ‘modern’ humans have created a huge mismatch between the bodies we have inherited (from our hunter gatherer ancestors) and the culture we have created, and this mismatch leads this healthy relationship in our brain between our instinctive emotions and our thinking, to break down. The result being that rather than dealing with stress functionally, most of us, most of the time, suppress it; and the hypothalamus is the gland in the body that first deals with this suppressed stress, causing it to go into overdrive. The follow on effect of this is that homeostasis within our body is upset and our automatic functions start to go into emergency mode, resulting often in symptoms of acute and/or chronic illness.

Hopefully these explanations may shed some light on why our relationship to stress is the number one predictor of overall mortality.

If you would like to explore using these modalities to improve your relationship with stress, overcome any chronic illness that you believe stress may play a role in (CFS, Fibromylagia, IBS, Anxiety/Depression, Auto-Immune etc), or you would like to explore increasing your quality of life, or the duration between now and your inevitable mortality :-), then contact me via tim@timaltman.com.au or call 0425 739 918.

https://www.facebook.com/foodmatters/videos/10154761999126570/

 

Scientists Suggest A Possible Blood Test Diagnosis for CFS

Article: ‘Yuppie flu’ an inflammatory disease which blood test could easily diagnose, say scientists.’

The article above (and linked below) by science editor of the Telegraph newspaper in the UK, Sarah Knapton suggests that:

“Chronic fatigue syndrome is an inflammatory disease which could soon be diagnosed through a simple blood test, scientists have said.

Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine discovered that people suffering the symptoms of CFS show spikes in 17 proteins produced by the immune system. The bigger the rises, the more severe the condition.”

Given that diagnosis of CFS, Fibomyalgia, ME, Post Viral Syndrome, Adrenal Fatigue (or whatever name you choose to label it) has always been so difficult to diagnose (in fact, it is a diagnosed by exclusion, meaning that everything else yielding similar symptoms that can be diagnosed via a number of tests is ruled out), this is great news.

The failure, or difficulty in diagnosis of CFS, and therefore the failure to recognise this condition as an actual, or legitimate illness by much of the medical community, and the general public, has led to untold suffering and frustration over extended periods of time for those unfortunate enough to live with this illness.

Knapton says: “But for decades the illness was largely dismissed by skeptics as ‘yuppie flu’ because no cause could be found.”

So often clients present to doctors and health practitioners feeling extremely helpless, frustrated and depressed, and to have the medical professional offer them anti-depressants as the only, or main solution, is extremely offensive, and frequently exacerbates their feeling of helplessness, frustration and depression.

So, the news that this condition may be diagnosed via a blood test in the future is very positive.

However, I remain very wary about being overly optimistic as, whilst a faster and simple diagnosis may lead to more universal acceptance of this illness, which is extremely positive, it is highly unlikely to remove the sense of helplessness and depression sufferers feel as the diagnosis as an inflammatory illness will not make conventional medicine and science any more capable of providing a cure or treatment solution.

The mainstream medical approach, by and large, merely palliates inflammatory ailments (also including heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity etc.) rather than eliminating or curing them. And, the anti-inflammatory drugs used invariably result in a myriad of side effects that can be as uncomfortable as the original, condition itself.

To create an effective treatment, or a cure, we need to take a step back from biochemistry and pharmacology, and look at what causes these conditions in the first place. And the answer lies more in genetics and anthropology.

Evolution takes a long, long time. In fact, research suggests it takes 40-100,000 years for a change in our environment to be fully assimilated by our bodies. What this means is that the body we have inherited is that of our hunter gatherer ancestors some 40,000 years ago, or more. In short, our body still thinks we are wandering the bush.

We were built to eat food directly from the source, exercise a lot in order to survive, live in social, supportive tribal settings where our only biological needs were to stay safe, comfortable, fed and happy. We did not live in isolated family homes, watching screens for entertainment, sit a lot, eat highly processed foods with as many chemicals as nutrients, have expectations to succeed, earn large incomes, have mortgages, or spend most of our day working. In fact, research has suggested the average hunter gatherer culture worked only 15-25 hours per week (hunting and gathering). The rest spent in leisure, or family/tribe time.

We have developed our culture so quickly, that we have created a mismatch between the body we have inherited and the culture we have created. Address and rectify the mismatch, and the biochemistry and physiology of the body will be optimised, and the body will return to ideal health. It’s that simple, yet it requires a thorough approach.

My favourite quote, that beautifully summarises this dilemma is as follows:

“We didn’t evolve to be healthy, but instead we were selected to have as many offspring as possible under diverse, challenging conditions. As a consequence, we never evolved to make rational choices about what to eat or how to exercise in conditions of abundance or comfort. What’s more, interactions between the bodies we inherited, the environment we create, and the decisions we sometimes make have set in motion an insidious feedback loop. We get sick from chronic diseases by doing what we evolved to do but under conditions for which our bodies are poorly adapted, and we then pass on those same conditions to our children, who also then get sick. If we wish to halt this vicious circle then we need to figure out how to respectfully and sensibly nudge, push and sometimes oblige ourselves to eat foods that promote health and to be more physically active. That too, is what we evolved to do.” Daniel Lieberman, ‘The Story of the Human Body. Evolution, Health & Disease.’

My complete recovery from CFS over 20 years was achieved by this approach. That is, addressing the factors of living that influence our health and performance, and comparing how we we’re built to perform these, with how we actually do it nowadays. This process oriented approach was extremely thorough, and yielded a permanent outcome, that far better than I believed could have been possible (prior to treatment). In fact, I became far healthier than I ever was prior; and continue to be so. Exploration of the upper limits of health and performance have been a focus for myself and many clients ever since.

Subsequently, my approach to clinic work, specialising in CFS has also focused on this methodology. In treating a client, I aim to correct any imbalance in the following aspects of living, that then restore the person back to full health. I have found this approach far more effective than a reactive approach aimed out eliminating individual symptoms, or an approach using product to attend to theoretical deficiencies. The modalities I use include:

  1. How we process stress via the hypothalamus addressing the relationship between our rational, thinking brain and our instinctive, emotional brain via Mickel Therapy. This technique has been incredibly potent in yielding complete resolutions as it addresses the highest or root cause of chronic illness.

    mickel therapy

  2. How we eat and drink based on our understanding of how our hunter gatherer ancestors ate and drank.

  3. How we breathe – via Breathing Dynamics. Most people do not realise that we invariably over breathe (too often and too much volume) compared to how we should (or what we are built for). And this affects not only our energy production, but a number of other functions throughout the body.

  4. How we rest and rejuvenate – via relaxation, meditation, sauna therapy, detox/fasting etc.

  5. How we sleep.

  6. Also using herbs as medicines.

If you suffer from CFS, fibromyalgia, post viral syndrome, ME, adrenal fatigue, IBS, anxiety, depression or any other chronic ailment and would like to be free of it, feel free to book in the calendar on this website, or email tim@timaltman.com.au.

Or, if you have any further questions, please call +61 425 739 918.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2017/07/31/yuppie-flu-inflammatory-disease-blood-test-could-easily-diagnose/

 

 

Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

Article: Resilience Is About How You Recharge, Not How You Endure

A great article (linked below) in the Harvard Business Review by Shawn Achor and Michelle Gielan discussing resilience and where it actually comes from.

Too often resilience is misunderstood by a conditioning we are subject to from a young age that if we endure, or push through, that will make us mentally tough and resilient. The following quote from the author’s beautifully sums up this misconception, and the impact it is has on our health and lives:

“We often take a militaristic, “tough” approach to resilience and grit. We imagine a Marine slogging through the mud, a boxer going one more round, or a football player picking himself up off the turf for one more play. We believe that the longer we tough it out, the tougher we are, and therefore the more successful we will be. However, this entire conception is scientifically inaccurate.

The very lack of a recovery period is dramatically holding back our collective ability to be resilient and successful. Research has found that there is a direct correlation between lack of recovery and increased incidence of health and safety problems. And lack of recovery — whether by disrupting sleep with thoughts of work or having continuous cognitive arousal by watching our phones — is costing our companies $62 billion a year (that’s billion, not million) in lost productivity.

And just because work stops, it doesn’t mean we are recovering. We “stop” work sometimes at 5PM, but then we spend the night wrestling with solutions to work problems, talking about our work over dinner, and falling asleep thinking about how much work we’ll do tomorrow. In a study released last month, researchers from Norway found that 7.8% of Norwegians have become workaholics. The scientists cite a definition of “workaholism” as “being overly concerned about work, driven by an uncontrollable work motivation, and investing so much time and effort to work that it impairs other important life areas.”

It is highly likely that the rates of ‘workaholism’ are far higher in countries such as Australia, England and the USA.

In the work I have done with chronic fatigue syndrome, fibomyalgia, IBS, anxiety and other chronic illnesses using Mickel Therapy and a variety of techniques, I regularly see a person’s homeostasis (or internal state of balance or regularity) being pushed way out of balance. The imbalance then sees the person in state of what we would describe as ‘hypothalamitis’, or permanently in a state of ‘fight or flight’. The impact of this is that the person is constantly running in emergency mode, leading to them being internally, and therefore externally, exhausted, or in pain. It is like they are running a continual, permanent ‘biochemical marathon’ internally. No wonder they display symptoms of chronic illness!!  Their resilience has been completed depleted.

As a result, we incorporate regular actions in their daily life that rejuvenate or balance them. They are the actions that bring them joy or pleasure, engage or stimulate them, or get them out of their heads. We call it the fun list or joy list.

The idea being to balance work, chores and the things we have to do, with something more rewarding or enjoyable afterwards. According to the approach of this article, this will recharge us, and increase our resilience. And balance. And therefore energy levels increase, pain decreases, we feel happier and our body achieves homeostasis – or health.

It makes sense from an evolutionary perspective given that research of hunter gatherer cultures has revealed that are designed or built to work 15-25 hours per week max. The rest is spent in leisure. That is balanced.

Compare that to the culture we have created and the wok ethic that gets conditioned into most of us, and it is not surprising that many of us end up with poor resilience, exhausted, burnt out, unhappy and chronically ill.

If you feel any of the above, or this blog resonated with you, feel free to email me on tim@timaltman.com.au or phone 0425 739 918, to book in or see whether the techniques I use to optimise health, energy and happiness would be helpful for you.

https://hbr.org/2016/06/resilience-is-about-how-you-recharge-not-how-you-endure

 

This Month Is ME or CFS Awareness Month

Celebrate ME or CFS Awareness Month by Curing Your Condition

It is ME awareness month.
Here at Mickel Therapy, we don’t just think it’s important to raise awareness of ME but also to raise awareness of the fact that people CAN and DO recover from it.

I thought I’d celebrate by sharing a blog from the Mickel Therapy website (linked below) about the recovery of one of my overseas colleagues. I’ve made it easier by copying and pasting it here.
Please read and share as widely as possible so that we can reach and help as many people as we can.

It is true. People do recover. Often.

I have witnessed and personally guided many recoveries in clients suffering from CFS, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Anxiety, Depression and a range of other chronic illness. A great number of them had been ill for many years, and had almost given up hope after trying almost everything. I, and they, are glad they didn’t completely give up….

Also, as an offering for May and June, I will offer a free 15-30 minute phone or Skype discussion to offer more information about Mickel Therapy and its’ role in curing CFS, ME, Fibromyalgia, IBS, Anxiety/Depression etc., and determine whether it would suit you or someone you know who suffers from these ailments. Send me an email or contact me via phone (o425 739 918) to take me up on this offer..

I survived M.E. now I’m thriving.

Saul Levitt, Mickel Therapist

 

 

 

 

 


Advanced Mickel Therapist and Trainer

2006 seems like a long time ago. I guess it is!

That’s the year I fully recovered from M.E.

Let’s back up a little…..

In the late 90s while studying a degree in Marketing at Plymouth University, I was struck down with a horrendous bout of the flu. It meant I couldn’t return to university for over a month.

I remember my first day back at university, everyone excited to see me and welcoming me back and all I wanted to do was crawl into bed. I had to drag myself around with zero energy, the lights in the student common room hurt to look at and I felt dizzy.

Things didn’t get much better for the next few years. I developed food intolerances, couldn’t drink alcohol, had excruciating muscle pains, stomach problem…I could go on and on.

Now, I was never someone that found studying that easy, possibly as I have dyslexia but trying to study for a full on degree while experiencing the effects of M.E. was nearly impossible.

I, as so many others do, tried all sorts of things to get better. I particularly remember my housemates disgust at the smell of me boiling herbs having tried Chinese medicine…let’s just say the taste was less than great.

A few other things I tried: Osteopathy which relieved my aches to some extend but they would have returned by the end of the session, counselling, naturopathy, antidepressants…the list goes on.

Some how I managed to push through to get my degree (a 2:2) and even go on to get a job, meanwhile still struggling with multiple symptoms.

Some years later, looking for a move in career and something different, I decided to travel to Australia for a year. This is something I’d always wanted to do but was pretty daunting given my illness, even though I was somewhat improved by this point.

Anyhow, I went ahead with it and unlike my usual approach to travelling, went without a plan, other than knowing I was staying with some friends on my arrival.

Now I won’t bore you with my tales of travelling but sometime into my stay my sister back home told me of a friend of hers who had got better using Mickel Therapy.

I immediately looked up the website, downloaded the eBook and devoured it. Unlike so many other treatments I tried, there was something about this that connected and clicked with ‘M.E.’

At this time (2006), there weren’t any Mickel Therapists in Australia but there was training in a months time in New Zealand to become a Mickel Therapist Practitioner and something told me that I had to do it.

I applied and after an interview with accepted onto the training and the rest as they say is history.

I remember on the last day of the training having a beer with the other trainees (something I wasn’t able to do during my illness) and feeling fine, so much of my energy was already returning and over the coming weeks and months things continued in this direction, so much so that I thought I’d share a list of a few things I’ve achieved since my recovery:

  • Cycled 65 miles from London to Brighton

  • I have two children both under the age of 5 (neither of which are great sleepers!)

  • Skydived, bungee jumped and everything in between

  • Helped other people like myself around the world also struggling with M.E.

  • Held an art exhibition jointly with my wife and sister

  • Enjoyed simple things like watching a movie without feeling exhausted or in pain

I’m not sure what’s next on my wish list but I know helping anyone I can who’s gone through something similar or worse is part of it.

 

http://www.mickeltherapy.com/blog/

 

 

There is a Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – CFS, ME, Fibromyalgia, Adrenal Fatigue

The Cure For CFS is Mickel Therapy

I’m going to keep this blog brief.

Linked (below) is a page from the Victorian Government ‘Better Health Channel’.

I have grabbed a section from this page and pasted it here:

“Scientists are starting to understand the biological causes of ME/CFS, although they have not yet found a prevention or cure. Genes appear to be a factor in many cases.”

Other medical and government pages state that ‘there is no cure for CFS, ME etc. etc.”

This is universally accepted in the medical community.

I have only 3 thing to say about this:

BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT

They may not have a cure with their approach or their paradigm, however there is a cure, and I have witnessed it many times now in clients.       The solution lies in finding a completely different approach to the medical/natural medicine approach. A different paradigm in fact, which involves investigating the ‘root cause’ of chronic illnesses like CFS, ME, fibromyalgia etc. at higher levels than where the symptoms show up – that is, going to the level of the brain stem that regulates all automatic bodily functions. The hypothalamus. By rectifying a dysfunctional hypothalamus (one in overdrive), the body finds it’s own way to health.

To be specific, by cure I mean a complete removal of symptoms.                                                                                                                           These sound like strong, fighting words, and when I first investigated Mickel Therapy, whilst it made sooo much sense, I didn’t entirely believe. I sounded too good to be true. However, my experience as a practitioner once I started using Mickel Therapy surprised me in ways I hadn’t dared to imagine. Based on my education in the medical paradigms, I did not believe that any technique could yield such potent results.                         It is not often in this world that we are left both speechless (despite what Facebook says) and very pleasantly surprised. That has been my experience since incorporating this technique. I have guided and witnessed multiple complete recoveries or ‘cures’ from a range of chronic illnesses, including:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), ME, Fibromyalgia, Adrenal Fatigue, Post Viral Fatigue.
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Anxiety/Depression
  • Chronic Pain – including arthritic.
  • Auto-Immune Conditions.
  • It is alse fantastic for removing blockages to performance and happiness.

Enough talk.

There is a cure for CFS. Just because the medicos haven’t seen it or researched it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!!

Go to the Mickel Therapy tab on my website, watch the videos by Dr Mickel.

Feel free to call me on 0425 739 918 to discuss. I’ll even send you Dr Mickel’s book for free.

It also works equally as effectively via Skype or phone if you live remotely.

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/chronic-fatigue-syndrome-cfs

 

 

 

There Is a Cure for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Article: Queensland Scientists Make Chronic Fatigue Breakthrough

Linked below is an article outlining that Queensland scientists have made a world first breakthrough in discovering a link between chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) and  a dysfunctional immune system.

More specifically, “Griffith University’s National Centre for Neuroimmunology and Emerging Diseases identified a defective cell receptor that appeared to be central to the development of CFS and the related myalgic encephalomyelitis.”

Queensland’s Science Minister Leeanne Enoch said; “This discovery is great news for all people living with CFS and the related Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (ME), as it confirms what people with these conditions have long known – that it is a ‘real’ illness – not a psychological issue.”

“CFS and ME are notoriously difficult to diagnose, with sufferers often going for years without getting the proper care and attention they need.

“Currently, there is no effective treatment.”

The two diseases are believed to affect 250,000 Australians, with diagnosis, treatment and management estimated to cost more than $700 million annually.

This is a fantastic breakthrough given the anguish and frustration so many sufferers go through in tying to even get a diagnosis or recognition for their ails.

However I take issue with one comment made by Ms Enoch. That is that current there is no effective treatment.

Is that based on their research. But, have they researched all treatments?

I am just a clinician at the coal face of CFS who has specialised in treating it for almost 20 years now, and I lack the time and resources to conduct my own studies, but I definitely do my own research to better treat my clients, and I do believe there are extremely effective treatments. Dare I say it, even cures for CFS.

I am very comfortable in saying that Mickel Therapy which I adopted as a clinician 3 years ago, is one such cure. This technique takes a major paradigm shift by taking the attention or search for the cause of CFS to higher levels in the brain, which regulate the rest of the systems in the body.

Mickel Therapy, developed in 1999 by a medical doctor (Dr David Mickel) which seeks to address problems with the Hypothalamus gland in the brain. This gland which normally regulates everything in the body becomes overactive creating a wide range of symptoms.

Another way of putting it is Mickel Therapy works by identifying the emotional, mental and behavioural factors which drive the hypothalamus into overdrive, and consequently create physical symptoms.

From the evolutionary medicine perspective, the Mickel technique looks at what should be a harmonious working relationship between how we process emotion and how we think (therefore how we process stress), and makes significant, action based change with the effectiveness of this relationship, or how we process stress.

I have been very humbled by guiding and witnessing dozens of complete recoveries from CFS, fibromyalgia, adrenal fatigue, anxiety, depression and IBS using this technique in this time.

If you suffer from CFS, fibromyalgia, IBS, anxiety/depression, auto-immune illness (or know someone who does) feel free to contact me and discuss whether Mickel Therapy would be suitable for you.

 

http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/21/queensland-scientists-make-chronic-fatigue-breakthrough

 

Childhood Emotional Trauma and Chronic Fatigue

A fantastic article here on the link between Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and childhood emotional trauma.

I love this quotation from it:

“Emotional trauma in childhood is now confirmed as a major risk factor for the onset of ALL the main chronic diseases which afflict humans in later life including chronic fatigue”

And to quote my Mickel Therapy trainer and supervisor, Kim Knight of NZ, who is one of the most experienced Mickel Therapists in the world, on this:

“I have not yet met one client this did not apply to”.

From my experience in treating CFS, Fibromyalgia, Anxiety, Depression, IBS and a range of other chronic ailments with Mickel Therapy, I could not agree more.

Definitely worth a read.