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Functional foods give a boost to your wellness By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.
Living With Cancer
What we eat plays a key role in keeping us healthy and protecting from major diseases, such as cancer and heart disease. Researchers are studying how certain foods can help enhance health and prevent illness.
Foods such as fruits and vegetables that contain phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemicals made by plants) and antioxidants (man-made or natural substances that may prevent or delay some types of cell damage), whole grains with natural fiber, low-fat dairy foods, nuts and oils, and oily fish high in omega-3 fatty acids are now being placed in a new category called functional foods. Functional foods go beyond nutrition and have a positive effect on health.
Functional foods are whole and unprocessed, such as fresh berries, cauliflower or broccoli — or they may have ingredients added to them, such as low-fat yogurt with live cultures.
Specific to cancer, cruciferous vegetables and vegetables in the cabbage family contain phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals, and fiber that are important to your health.
Vegetables in this family include cauliflower, broccoli, kale and others and have been the focus of study for some time. Here are a few examples of research with functional foods and specific cancer types: •Prostate and breast cancer — Evidence shows that eating cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower, can reduce the risk of prostate and breast cancer. •Stomach cancer — Scientists are studying a specific component found in cruciferous vegetables called benzyl-isothiocyanate (BITC). It has shown promise in preventing the growth of gastric cancer cells. Additional studies are needed to confirm this in humans. •Lung cancer — The Nurses’ Health Study reported that women who ate more than five servings a week of cruciferous vegetables had a lower risk of lung cancer. More studies are needed to confirm this finding as well.
Here are a few tips to add more functional foods to your daily routine: •Add more fresh or frozen, ready to use vegetables to soups, salads and casseroles. •Eat fruit with every meal. Keep a bowl of fruit on your table. Berries, apples, bananas, oranges, pears and red grapes are a great idea instead of dessert. •Begin your day with high-fiber cereal. Aim for 5 grams or more of fiber a serving. Try using wheat bran, ground flaxseed over cereal, yogurt or fruit. •Use whole-grain breads and pastas. Look for the wording whole grain as one of the first ingredients and aim for at least 3 grams of fiber a serving. •Eat more whole grains and legumes. Make the switch to brown rice or barley, bulgur and quinoa. Add black beans, lentils and kidney beans to dishes. •Make your snacks count. Try low-fat popcorn, whole wheat crackers, raw vegetables and fresh fruit instead of high-fat or sugary treats. •Go meatless at least once a week. Use lentils, beans, tofu and other sources of protein instead. •Add fish to your menu at least twice a week. Fish high in omega 3 fatty acids include tuna, salmon, anchovies, trout, cod and others.
The Science of Mindfulness posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak <p>BS16096A recent analysis of mindfulness research studies (known as a meta-analysis) was published by the Association for Health and Research Quality (AHRQ). This government agency does major reviews of various therapies.<p>The good news is that mindfulness has come of age to attract such a review. The bad news, if you will, is that the modest results appear to run counter to the current wild enthusiasm for mindfulness. How can we understand this apparent incongruity?The main reason is methodology. AHRQ reviews only include studies that meet stringent criteria. The vast majority of mindfulness studies did not meet these criteria. In fact, only .2 percent were included. Not all of these excluded studies focused on mindfulness, many implemented transcendental meditation.<p>Peer review versus gold standard. Grant supported versus Many of the mindfulness studies published over the last thirty-five years have appeared in peer-reviewed journals. However, peer review is not the most stringent criteria. The AHRQ study concludes:<p>After reviewing 18 753 citations, we included 47 trials with 3515 participants. Mindfulness meditation programs had moderate evidence of improved anxiety (effect size, 0.38 at 8 weeks and 0.22 at 3-6 months), depression 0.30 at 8 weeks and 0.23 at 3-6 month, and pain (0.33) and low evidence of improved stress/distress and mental health–related quality of life. We found low evidence of no effect or insufficient evidence of any effect of meditation programs on positive mood, attention, substance use, eating habits, sleep, and weight. We found no evidence that meditation programs were better than any active treatment (ie, drugs, exercise, and other behavioral therapies).<p>Understanding this study is part understanding scientific literacy, part philosophy of science, and part epistemology.For more on research methodology read the interview with Willoughby Britton, a neuroscience researcher at Brown University Medical School.<p>The popular consumption of science contains much misunderstanding. If you read that something has been “proven” be careful. It is very difficult to prove anything. What science can do, with well constructed studies, is disprove things. This is the principle of falsifiability.<p>If a study gets a positive result that is evidence that supports the hypothesis that this treatment, let’s say, works better than chance. But you never know when future evidence may contradict what you’ve found. Accumulated evidence is good but it is not definitive. A study that finds a negative result may be more definitive if the methodology of the study is robust enough to support that claim. this is known as “power” in statistics and a study must have a sufficient number of subjects and other design characteristics before you conclude that the difference between the treatment group and the non-treatment group (placebo) were no different than chance variations. If scientists replicate such studies and consistently find a non-result, it is reasonable to conclude that the treatment offers nothing beyond a placebo response.<p>With mindfulness, we simply don’t know enough yet. There is much to encourage that with sufficient methodological rigor, mindfulness intervention studies will continue to demonstrate benefit. There are many other effective forms of treatment, such as cognitive behavioral therapies. Mindfulness may not be superior to these other forms of treatment and this does not mean that it not effective, just not incrementally more effective. Studies study groups and the results of a study report group averages. Individual results will vary.<p>Efficacy is not the same as effectiveness and a placebo response is always part of a positive result. Studies attempt to remove sources of variability and create a controlled labaroatory envireonment. These conditions do not replicate real life. There is a difference between participating in a research study on stress and being referred by your physician to a mindfulness-based stress reduction group in the community.<p>The small mindfulness database does not mean that mindfulness does not work. It means that there is not enough rigorous scientific studies yet. It costs more to run a high level study. It requires more subjects and an active control group. this adds complexity and expense. Mindfulness studies are just now getting funded.<p>In the “real” world outside the laboratory, when people seek treatment, they bring with them a set of expectations for response. This is the power of the placebo response and it is active in almost every treatment, including drug treatments (and especially with drugs that treat anxiety and depression). The goal in clinical practice is not to eliminate the placebo effect. In fact, the opposite. What you don’t want is a treatment that works only via placebo. The results of the AHRQ study suggest this not the case for mindfulness, but more research needs to be done. When people undergo mindfulness-based interventions, they receive benefit.<p>Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/mindfulnessmatters#ixzz36Psi0L7... more at http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/mindfulnessmatters#tFV4YkaXKYyG..." />
7 Contemplations for Realizing the Spiritual Introvert Edge (for introverts AND extroverts)
posted by Dr. Arnie Kozak
“Spiritual but not religious” is a popular designation. What does it mean to be spiritual? There may be as many definitions of spirituality as spiritual people. Everyone puts their unique imprint on what it is to be a spiritual person. These definitions range from religious without the ritual, super-natural, and mystical on one end of the continuum to humanistic, value-based, and practical on the other. I tend to prefer the latter—a spirituality defined as anything that transcends the individual narrative of self. It manifests in your values: what you consider to be most important in your life. It goes beyond selfish concerns to a compassionate engagement with self, others, and the planet-at-large. Spirituality opens us to realms of consciousness that are simply not available when we are self-preoccupied. Introverts and extroverts have equal access to spirit and will approach it from different angles.
Introversion and Extroversion Within All of Us
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about introverts and extroverts. We all have qualities of both, with most of us having a center of gravity that resides in one end of that continuum or the other. Our introvert tendencies have a preference for thinking over action, quiet time to boisterous socializing, and intense focus on one thing over a multiplicity of activities. An extroverted form of spirituality can be found in evangelical Christianity. Here, the spiritual action is social—converting people to the faith with less of an emphasis on quiet contemplation. An introverted form of spirituality can be found in the teachings of the Buddha, a quiet path of interior contemplation, meditation, and stillness.
The Interior Door to Spirit
The inner door to spirit requires a quiet place of solitude to be realized. It is found when the body is still and the mind stops its talking, commentary, and judgment. The interior will be more familiar, comfortable, and accessible for introverts. The interior is also accessible for extroverts when they develop an interest towards the internal world of imagination, concentration, and contemplation. Access to the interior is a learnable skill; you can practice it whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. This access will likely involve slowing things down so you can appreciate the subtleties of your senses and the mind. The interior can be a nuanced form of perception as well as an explosion of emotional intensity, creativity, and insight.
The Buddha was a Spiritual Introvert
Siddhartha Gotama, the Buddha to be, was most likely an introvert who was forced to behave like an extrovert during the earlier part of his life. He went from the extreme of 29 years of a princely life of indulgence, luxury and privilege to an austere life of deprivation in his six years of seeking a way beyond suffering in the forests of Northern India. His famous discovery of the Middle Way navigated between these extremes and was also a call for a balance to between our introverted and extroverted tendencies. On the verge of death from starvation, the Buddha remembered a day when he was eight-years-old and fell into a spontaneous meditation under a rose apple tree. This memory inspired him to seek the middle path and was a rare instant when he had some solitude in his early life. The Buddha’s spirituality advocated an introverted path of meditating alone with a community of like-minded others. He valued silence, stillness, and seclusion that was not lonely.
The Buddha’s Spirituality
The Buddha’s teachings were non-speculative and promoted a vision of humanity that was non-contingent. The Buddha deflected all metaphysical questions seeing them as a distraction from the pressing task at hand: how to relieve the sense of anguish that besets us in every moment. This is all he cared about: the causes and end of suffering. He compared speculation on the nature of the universe, soul, and rebirth to a man struck with a poison arrow who refuses medical treatment until he can know every possible detail of that arrow. If you are bleeding out, does it matter what kind of wood the arrow was made from? The Buddha also discovered that happiness does not depend on anything. It is non-contingent on conditions, internal or external. Life is a continual process and there is nothing that stands outside of this flow—not even our sense of self. When we can experience this never-ending process we can come to know great peace and relief from the relentless suffering that motivated his spiritual journey in the first place.
Introversion as Solitude, Quiet, and Focus
The introverted aspects of everyone’s nature emphasize solitude, quiet, and focus. Each of these is central to the Buddha’s spirituality. American society has become overly reliant on extrovert qualities such as talking frequently and loudly, doing more and more, and never slowing down or being disconnected from communications and information. This extrovert culture has squeezed out solitude, drowned out quiet, and dispersed attention. We have forgotten Thoreau’s lessons from Walden on the value of quiet, undisturbed contemplation. Life moves too fast to go deep with concentration. The pace of life is relentless with no room for quiet spirituality. Meditation is a vehicle for bringing these three introvert qualities back into the forefront of attention.
Mindfulness Gives You the Introvert Edge
Mindfulness is growing in popularity in part because we are starved for silence in our lives. Mindfulness nurtures that connection to the interior by training the mind to extricate itself from involvement with painful, difficult, or distracting stories and, instead, to pay attention to the ceaseless flow of life happening in this moment. Whether you are prone to be an introvert or an extrovert, mindfulness gives you the advantageous edge of introversion: looking within from solitude. Mindfulness meditation practice develops your ability to focus and to reclaim your attention from the fragmented, loud, and chaotic demands of everyday life. Mindfulness trains the mind to be spiritual by giving you access to that interior flow and releasing you from self-preoccupation. Join me in August for a 5-day workshop at the wonderfully spiritual, Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health. The Introvert Edge: Mindfulness Meditation for Finding Peace and Quiet in a Loud and Crazy World will run from
Read more: http://www.beliefnet.com/columnists/mindfulnessmatters#ixzz36PoEoF62
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