The National Institute of Whole Health (NIWH) | Pioneers of Whole Health Education® and Whole Person Care
October 3, 2017

How Your Food Choices Affect Your Mood, And Vice-Versa

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

Food Affects Your Mood

Have you ever stop to consider how your food choices affect your mood? It’s interesting that the emphasis is usually on how things from the outside of us affect our insides. In reality so much of what is going on inside of us affects our outsides. That’s right, our mood and our food are intimately connected as students learn in NIWH’s accredited health program.

This is really evident in terms of weight loss and weight gain. The way we feel about ourselves, work, life, if we are fulfilled or dissatisfied, has more to do with what or how much we choose to eat than how eating a food has to do with how it “makes us feel.” Our food decisions are often linked to our level of emotional wellness.

One of the reasons diets don’t work is because the “work” is being done on the outside of the problem instead of the inside. I have been a nutritionist for over 30 years and have seen tens of thousands of patients and students in my accredited health program who want to change the way they look or the way they eat.

When we start to “work” on the goal, within a relatively short period of time, they become aware that there are underlying feelings and emotions associated with not eating foods that help them to “medicate” or mask their feelings.

They often become discouraged because the feelings are uncomfortable and sometimes painful. It is our human nature to avoid pain and move towards pleasure. It takes courage to truly tackle and confront the underlying issues of “food and mood,” rather than focusing on the outside of the problem, to focus on the inside instead.

Here is an exercise you may find to be of value. If you are dealing with mood or food issues, keep a journal for 10 days. Write down everything you eat and how you feel when you don’t eat what you want, as well as how you feel when you DO eat what you want.

Just becoming more aware of what you are putting in your mouth and how it translates to how you feel after you eat a particular food, can be the start of a healthier and happier relationship with food and your mood. You can apply this knowledge as a holistic nurse or health coach too. For more detailed nutrition information, consider enrolling in our accredited health program. Next time you meet with a patient, consider how their food choices may be affecting their overall mood, and vice versa. Consider ways to encourage wellness through a nourishing and wholesome diet paired with emotional support.

 

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful accredited health program information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates.

 

 

 

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Published in Accredited Health Program, Holistic Nutrition, Integrative Nutrition, Whole Health Nutrition, Whole Person Health | Comments (0)

September 26, 2017

Are Patients Who Belong To A Spiritual Community Inherently Healthier?

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

Are Patients Who Belong To A Spiritual Community Inherently Healthier?

Students and professors of NIWH’S accredited health program should understand one fact of life. Stuff happens — especially as we age. Our lives and health generally change. The usual causes include children leaving the nest, divorce, the loss of a spouse or partner, changing financial circumstances or any one of a dozen other events. Often the outcome of these changes can lead to sadness, loneliness, depression and decreased immune function, with the resultant lowered health indicators. Our immune system is an essential key to our longevity and as we age it becomes more important to preserve its function and integrity, especially for those of us over 55 years old. One common question I have encountered is whether patients who belong to a spiritual community are inherently healthier.

An interesting study explored in our accredited health program comes from Duke University Medical Center. It found that older people who attended religious services at least once a week were about half as likely as those who do not attend services weekly to have elevated levels of an immune protein, interleukin-6 (IL-6), which serves as an indicator of how well the immune system is functioning.

IL-6 indicates the presence of inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been implicated in most major chronic diseases, including heart disease, cancer, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. This decreased level of IL-6 translates into a healthier immune system enjoyed by those with regular attendance at their religious community.

The Research

The Duke researchers, Dr. Harold Koenig and Dr. Harvey Cohen, studied 1,718 older adults in an accredited health program in North Carolina, factoring into the outcomes the health conditions experienced by the study subjects. These included depression, chronic illness, and negative life events — all of which the researchers identified as likely to affect immune status. Even with these conditions, the improvement to the immune system in those who attended weekly services was evidenced.

The study was funded by the National Institute on Aging and first reported in the October 1997 issue of the International Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine, updated in 2004. These findings identified and suggest that religion or participation in a spiritual life community may affect immune function through better coping skills, psychosocial factors and the mechanisms by which organized religion promotes positive thoughts and behaviors.

However, there may be other factors at play as well. Feelings of belonging to a community, shared values, as well as the togetherness of a shared meaningful activity, such as worshiping with others, may be at the cause and effect of these findings.

Dr. Koenig, the lead author of the study, states:

 “Perhaps religious participation enhances immune functioning by yet unknown mechanisms, such as through feelings of belonging, togetherness, even perhaps the experience of worship and adoration… Such positive feelings may counteract stress and convey health effects that go far beyond simply the prevention of depression or other negative emotions.”

This study explored by our accredited health program also raises the theory that there may be a factor in participating in such a weekly ritual that derails the experience of loneliness, experienced by older Americans to a larger extend than younger populations, and that this factor may be part of the healing effect of the weekly spiritual community attendance.

While Koenig had found similar outcomes in a different study a year before this study, those outcomes were based on personal interviews as markers for wellbeing and health status. In the latest study, blood samples were measured for the body’s chemicals such as alpha, beta and gamma globulins, fibrin d-dimers, lymphocytes, and neutrophils, which regulate immune and inflammatory responses, providing a more accurate and scientific measurement to the findings and in calculating how healthy a person actually is.

Subjectivity In The Field

“There is so much subjectivity when people say they feel better that you can’t rely on self reports alone to truly reflect health status,” said Dr. Harvey Cohen, professor of medicine and director of the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development at Duke. “By measuring blood levels of IL- 6, we were trying to put rigorous scientific parameters on the positive health effects of religion,” he said.

Dr. Cohen explains that the team selected IL-6 as it has been identified as contributing to a wide spectrum of various age-related diseases. Cohen’s own research identified a relationship between high levels of IL-6 and a “poor functioning ability, which is a term that is used for tasks of daily living such as dressing, cooking, bathing and so forth.

Other studies have also shown IL-6 levels are elevated with diseases such as cancer, heart disease and high blood pressure in older adults. It seems that as we age our bodies decrease the ability to overcome the many challenges to our immune system and this leads to a decrease in its function and a greater vulnerability to all forms of illness.

The Women’s Health Initiative follow-up survey based on 92,529 post-menopausal women, at 50 years or older, identified that attending religious services increased life expectancy. This survey was taken with a diverse group of women who varied ethnically, religiously and socioeconomically. The study was funded by the National Heart, Blood, and Lung Institute; National Institutes of Health; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The report was published in the Journal of Religion and Health in November 2011. The report states that “those who attend services frequently were 56 percent more likely to have an optimistic life outlook than those who don’t — and were 27 percent less likely to be depressed. Those who attended weekly were less likely to be characterized by cynical hostility, compared with those who did not report any religious service attendance.”

Different Shades Of Health

Another study, published in the Winter 2001 Annals of Behavioral Medicine reported that “weekly religious attendants in 1965 were more likely to both improve poor health behaviors and maintain good ones by 1994 than were those whose attendance was less or none. Weekly attendance was also associated with improving and maintaining good mental health, increased social relationships, and marital stability.” So in that sense, yes, patients who belong to a spiritual community may be inherently healthier.

While further studies to explore and more fully understand this data is warranted, for us longevity-focused boomers, a return to a spiritual or worship community could represent an opportunity for renewed connection with others in a shared environment, as well as potential discernment and insight into the importance of belonging.

 

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful accredited health program information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates. 

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September 19, 2017

The Important Role of the Adrenal Glands and How to Encourage Proper Functioning

By Georgianna Donadio, MSc, DC, PhD

The Important Role of the Adrenal Glands and How to Encourage Proper Functioning

The ability for a human being to adapt to its environment and to deal with the many ongoing and changes it faces is the hallmark of a healthy body, and an important topic explored in our accredited health program.  That we can withstand day to day events that challenge our nervous system, and subsequently our immune system, is a reflection that our body is working very efficiently. This all comes back to the important role of the adrenal glands and how you can encourage proper functioning.

Understanding the connection between how events affect our stress adaptation system, primarily the adrenal glands, and how the adrenal’s hyper-secretions under stress can create havoc with the digestive and immune systems is important. This allows us to make informed lifestyle choices that will preserve and respect our body and our long term health.

Variations In Stress

Most of us do not know what stressors are. We tend towards the idea that emotional upset is what constitutes stress. However, the accredited health program reveals 12 major categories of stress that can impact our body and health. Unfortunately, we are subject to these stressors on a regular basis.

A stressor is any activity or event that requires the body to change or adapt in order to maintain its homeostasis, or balance. Therefore, it becomes essential to know the factors we must be mindful of in order to keep our stress levels in check.

Below is a list of the stressors to be aware of in your day to day life:

-Weather (exposure to hot or cold)
-Sleep and Rest (specifically, not getting enough)
-Infection or Silent Inflammation
-Allergies (all types)
-Dental or Medical Procedures and Surgeries
-Reproduction  (for women: menstrual cycle, pregnancy, breast feeding, menopause)
-Sexual Activity
-Nutrition  (too many calories or non-nutritious food)
-Exertion and Exercise (too much or not enough)
-Trauma (any form)
-Fear, Anxiety, Worry  (ongoing)
-Loss or grief

Enjoyable Prevention

By keeping your stress level low, you will reduce wear and tear on your body parts that, in the long term, can lead to chronic illness and disease. It is not the stress itself that makes you sick, but the ongoing wear on the body that causes dysfunction and dis-ease.

There are many ways to reduce stress and maintain a balanced nervous system. While the list is endless here are some of the most popular methods which NIWH encourages students of the accredited health program to explore: (1) Exercise regularly. (2) Listen to soothing music. (3) Practice Yoga. (4) Participate in sports. (5) Tend a garden.

Sharing Knowledge

As a holistic nurse or health coach, encouraging your client to engage in these types of activities more often can really improve their health today and safeguard against chronic disease in the future. These tasks also come with tremendous psychological benefits.

Each person finds their best way to relax and de-stress. It is something we all need to do on a regular basis to balance or nervous systems and stay healthy!

Join the conversation. If you enjoyed this article, be sure to follow NIWH on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates filled with useful accredited health program information for holistic nurses and whole health coaches or advocates. 

 

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Published in Accredited Health Program, Whole Health, Whole Health Living | Comments (1)

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