A Look into Mind-Body Medicine

In most Western medical practices, mental health and physical health are viewed as two separate entities; physical health is handled by a primary care physician and mental health is covered by a psychologist or psychiatrist as needed. However, newer practices are pulling from centuries-old beliefs that the health of the mind and the health of the body are more interconnected than we’ve been practicing.

Mens sana in corpore sano.

In ancient Greek times, there was a firm and widely held belief that the mind and body are connected and influence the health of one another. A well-known Latin phrase was developed from this belief: “mens sana in corpore sano” translates to mean “a healthy mind in a healthy body.” In essence, total, holistic wellness is wellness in both your mental and physical health. This duality between mind and body remained the common belief and practice until the Renaissance and Enlightenment periods when they were separated into two different entities. In the 17th century, Rene Descarte described humans as being comprised of two contrasting substances which could not unify with one another; the mind being sentient and able to reason but without substance, and the body with substance but constricted to the physics of earth whereas the mind is not.

Reconnecting the mind and body.

As medical knowledge progressed and our understanding of health deepened, the importance and influence of the mind began to creep its way back into discussions of physical health in the 20th century. They began to study the power that the mind has over the body in the wake of studies on how placebos can affect the body’s ability to control pain.

Mind-body health today.

Today, an entire sector of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is devoted to researching the connection between mind and body health. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) studies the impact that mental, social, emotional, spiritual, and behavioral factors can directly affect a person’s health.

Some mind-body medicine practices from the NCCIH include mindfulness, meditation, tai chi, yoga, deep breathing, massage, and homeopathy. Mind-body practices also promote the use of natural products like herbs, minerals, probiotics, and vitamins.

The designation that mind-body health practices are “alternative medicine” presents a misinforming picture of the power that incorporating these holistic practices in life can have. “Alternative” gives the impression that all typical Western health practices are abandoned when in reality it just expands the scope through with which we view these practices and understand their impact.

The Link Between Obesity And Cancer

In a world where processed foods, sugar-laden desserts, and the high-fat fast food is easily and readily available, it’s no wonder that obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the U.S., as in some other countries. Obesity is a struggle for many people, and now there is, even more, reason for alarm as the scientific community has discovered a link between obesity and certain types of cancers. According to the World Cancer Research Fund, about 20% of cancers diagnosed in the United States are in some way related to obesity, poor nutrition or physical inactivity, meaning that they are largely preventable.

abdominal-obesity

Being overweight has been clearly linked to an increased risk for the following types of cancers:

  • Kidney cancer.
  • Breast cancer.
  • Colon and rectal cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer.
  • Esophageal cancer.
  • Endometrial cancer.

Studies are still being conducted to see if there is a direct link between obesity and an increased risk for other cancers such as liver, cervical, prostate, and other types of cancer. Science has also shown that having an excess amount of belly fat increases the risk of getting colon or rectal cancer, in addition to other types of cancer. Although the connection between excess body weight and increased cancer risks are quite complex and not entirely understood yet, it is believed that excess weight on a person’s body can affect cancer risk by:

  • Hindering the immune system function and increasing inflammation.
  • Increasing certain levels of hormones.
  • Affecting factors that affect cell growth.
  • Affecting how the body uses certain hormones.

weight-loss

So what can you do to decrease your cancer risk? Although the research on weight loss and its effect on cancer risks is still in its infancy, overall health risks associated with obesity are certainly well-documented, so it’s beneficial from multiple standpoints to try to eliminate obesity. Here are some things that might help aid in weight loss:

 

  • Exercise at least 30 minutes a day at a moderate pace.
  • Increase consumption of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains.
  • Cut down on foods that are high in sugar and fat.
  • Consume healthy oils like olive oil instead of animal-based oils.
  • Work with a trained diet or nutritionist who can help create a diet and exercise plan that might work best for your lifestyle and body type.

To learn more about how Houston Concierge Medicine & Wellness Center can develop personalized diagnostic and treatment plans using integrative medical care, call 713-333-6464 or schedule an appointment online.

Six Ways for Better Sleep

We live in a busy world with untold numbers of stressors that fly at us from every angle. Work, technology, relationships, finances, responsibilities—it can all pile up on you and create major anxiety and stress, causing you to have low-quality sleep. And the last thing that you need on top of all of this is to feel tired, groggy, and cranky all day while you’re trying to manage your life.

Getting good sleep at night can be a remedy for many problems ranging from memory and cognition issues to behavioral issues like how you relate to your co-workers and important people in your life. To help you make the most of your night and get the best sleep possible, here are some tips for practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’:

  • Get a sleep study. According to the Cleveland Clinic, 9 percent of women and 24 percent of men suffer from a condition called Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a sometimes life-threatening condition that causes breathing to stop while sleeping, can mask itself as other conditions like depression, among others. What’s more shocking is that more than 80 percent of people go undiagnosed. This condition can lead to obesity, diabetes, and heart disease a host of other issues. The answer? Get a sleep study. If people have complained about your snoring or you feel exhausted during the day, it may be time for you to consult a sleep specialist and get a sleep study.
  •  Keep a ‘baby’ bedtime. When you were a baby, it’s likely that your parents put you to bed at the same time every night— and it was probably pretty early. Babies need good sleep to help their brains and bodies develop, but adults need this too. If you find yourself tired during the day, power down your life and crawl into bed by nine at night to get some good quality, ‘baby’ sleep.
  •  Manage your stress. Easier said than done, right? It’s true that stress management may seem daunting to some, but if you make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth or eating breakfast, stress management can easily become part of your daily life. From meditating to playing calming music or folding laundry, finding coping mechanisms to make stress management a part of your nighttime ‘wind down’ routine can really help you catch some zzz’s.
  • Exercise helps. Science has proven that physical activity during the daytime can really help you sleep better at night, so making sure that you make time for exercise during the day is important. Even mild exercise like walking or yoga can help you sleep more soundly at night.
  •  Stop snacking and drinking before bed. If you tend to be a late night snacker or drinker, stop doing that now. Late night snacking can lead to weight gain, but it can also just make you uncomfortable. Drinking late at night can cause you to repeatedly get out of bed to make trips to the bathroom. It’s also important to cut out caffeine late in the day if you have trouble sleeping.
  •  Get rid of the blue light, and create a sleep sanctuary. Recent studies indicate that the blue light emitted from items like laptops and blu-ray players can interrupt sleep significantly. So, power down those electronics early and cover those lights so you can sleep better. Not only that but ‘unplugging’ before bed will help calm your mind and help you relax. Try keeping your bedroom cool (68 degrees or less), dark and quiet during sleep.  Simulate dusk by dimming your lights for a couple of hours before bed.