WWB Wise Guru Q&A Series: Newly Released Book ‘The Nature Fix’ Presents Cutting Edge Science on How Nature Affects our Health & Well-Being from a World Wise Perspective…

Mar 15, 2017 by

NatureFix_2 with frame.jpgWWB Wise Guru: Florence Williams is an American journalist and nonfiction author whose work focuses on the environment, health and science. She is a contributing editor at Outside magazine and a freelance writer for National Geographic, the New York Times, New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Slate, Mother Jones, High Country News, O-Oprah, W., Bicycling and numerous other publications.

Her first book, Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History, received the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in science and technology and the 2013 Audie in general nonfiction. The New York Times named it a notable book of 2012.

She was a Scripps Fellow at the Center of Environmental Journalism at the University of Colorado. She is a fellow at the Center for Humans and Nature and a visiting scholar at George Washington University. She serves on the board of nonprofit environmental magazine, High Country News.

WWB Featured Book: ‘The Nature Fix, Why Nature Makes Us Happier, Healthier and More Creative’ explores the science behind our connection to nature and proposes that for optimal well-being, regular doses of nature are not only recommended but required.

 

Lauroly Opening- I am so honored and pleased Florence Williams could join me for a Q&A. Her book is a favorite of mine, and so glad she wrote it. Perhaps it’s a favorite because it speaks to me on a very personal level. Nature has always been my fix, without a doubt. Having said this, I never classified myself as ‘Nature Girl’. I didn’t camp as a kid and I didn’t hike until my 20’s. But being outside and playing in nature was always a big part of my life experience. I can thank my Dad for that. I have this in common with the author! I only saw him on weekends growing up, and every weekend, weather permitted, we were either horseback riding in the woods, walking in the woods, or rowing a boat on a lake next to the woods. Those early experiences and the need to be outdoors has never left me. I like the term Florence used in the book, “drinking the tonic of nature.”I wrote a piece for this very blog on Nature Therapy in 2015 and briefly discussed ‘Forest Bathing’ in Japan which she covers quite extensively in the book. Later in my life, traveling for business, I would always make a point to find a Public Garden no matter where I was, so I could reconnect with nature and myself. Reading ‘The Nature Fix’ confirmed what I have had always felt intuitively about nature…I’m a part of it and it’s a part of me.

Besides my personal connection to the topic of your book, I found it to be the perfect non-fiction book. It is well researched, highly informative and very entertaining as well. I love how she takes us through the research via her own personal travel. Her travel takes us to Japan, Korea, Singapore, Finland, Sweden, Scotland, and we learn a lot about their cultures and wellness philosophies. Florence packed so much into this book, I found myself really challenged about where to start. I remind myself that I do these Q&A’s to recommend books and motivate people to go and read the books. I hope to touch on some of the many important findings in this book…

 

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Lauroly Q- Welcome Florence Williams! So if everyone hasn’t heard yet, nature is good for civilization!  What you set out to do is to find the science to support why nature is so important to our humanity and our everyday well-being. To do that we need to understand our senses and how much of how we function is synced with nature.  It seems to me that when we are out in nature we are fully alive, because many of our senses are engaged in our experience. This explains to me personally why I am generally happier when I am outside. There is an enlightening chapter where you focus on a man in Sweden who experienced a personal tragedy and later came to understand how important nature therapy is to patients with depression. Yet like everything else with humans, the dose of nature varies from human to human.  What do we know so far about nature as therapy? Tell us more…

 

 

 

flopromoBarrOutdoorFlorence Williams: Yes, Lauroly, you are exactly right that it does seem to be the full-sensory experience that awakens our sense of well-being, and that there are many studies that support this idea. But the science is still young, and many of the studies are very small. It’s actually quite difficult for scientists to tease apart exactly which elements of nature are most helpful or which senses are most engaged. I was struck by the studies in Japan, led by Japanese anthropologist Yoshifumi Miyazaki, that measured physiological changes to the nervous system after just 20 minutes of being in the woods. These studies showed a 20-minute stroll on a forest trail can reduce your blood pressure an average 11 percent and lower your cortisol hormones (a measure of stress) by six percent. Perhaps because of the practice of forest bathing in Japan, people there are attuned to using all their senses in the woods – so they’re really paying attention to what they’re smelling and feeling and hearing and seeing. It seems that shortcut to mindfulness really helps us feel calmer and relaxed more quickly when we’re out in nature.
 

Lauroly Q– Glad you started with Japan. We can’t discuss your book without talking about ‘ Shinren Yoku (Forest Bathing)’. What is it about the Japanese culture, that has them embracing Forest Bathing so fervently that it has become part of their national healthcare policy? When you asked Miyazaki why nature is so important to their culture, he had this to say, “In our culture, nature is part of our minds and bodies and philosophy. In our tradition, all things are relative to something else.” Loved his answer. But it is amazing how the Japanese ended up being so far removed from the very thing that defined them isn’t it?

Florence Williams: Japan industrialized very quickly. The cities grew fast and there was intense economic competition for good jobs, good schooling and feeding the corporate culture. People are stressed out there, and they work and study incredibly long hours, effectively removing them from a lot of time in the countryside. But it would be mistake to say that modern life has disconnected them from nature. The Japanese still internalize a close connection to plants, for example, in their practices of bonsai and flower arranging, in their tiny gardens and through their lens of wabi sabi, which celebrates the seasons and simple nature. I think in many ways the Japanese definition of nature is more generous that the western one, which looks at spaces like parks and wilderness areas, rather than integrating elements of the natural world into everyday life and homes. That said, the Japanese do seem to relish getting outside when they can. As a result of Miyazaki’s data, the country has designated 48 “forest therapy” trails where overworked, urban citizens are now urged to go unwind, and it looks like more trails are being created.

Lauroly Q- One of the things I was wondering about while reading about your research in Finland, is related to Vitamin D (sun) and the deprivation they experience in winter. Have any researchers looked at how tree therapy might counteract the negative effects of not having enough sun? This is a good time to tell us about why Cypress Trees seem to have such a positive effect on our senses. As you put it, in the book “we enjoy a neural bath of happy hormones”! Below is a quick video you created to illustrate the beneficial effects of nature…

 

Florence Williams: Trees are certainly magical and wonderful, and hit a lot of our happy buttons, from providing rich visuals, especially fractal patterns (known to promote alpha brainwaves) to creating habitat for birds that in turn relax us with their birdsong. The smell piece is fascinating, as tree aerosols from cypress trees in Japan were found to lower blood pressure and increase Killer T immune cells in humans. That said, even in Finland and even in winter, being outside provides more brightness and full-spectrum light than being inside, and so the light aspect is still important. Full spectrum light is linked to wellbeing, and vitamin D is linked to all sorts of good things, from shaping our retinas to strengthening our bones. The lumens outside is generally 10 times greater than the lumens inside, except of course at night. Even the darkness, though, can help reset our circadian rhythms so we sleep better.

Lauroly Q- As a psychology major I found a lot of the research on education, and brain disorders like ADHD fascinating with respect to nature. Besides the specific special needs of children on the spectrum, your book explores the idea that children in general really need nature and play. I loved the section on Friedrich Frobel and his research. He focused on cultivating curiosity and freedom in childhood. Tell us how ‘kindergarten’ was originally conceptualized, and how nature was at the center of child education…

Florence Williams: Friedrich Froebel, who was born in Germany in 1782, was an educator heavily influenced by Rousseau, who said, “Everything is good as it comes from the hands of the Author of Nature.” Rousseau and Froebel both made a case for allowing young children to explore and learn based on their own curiosity. Froebel believed that an education filled with nature and art could instill a lifelong readiness to learn and also develop empathy and a love for living things. He really invented kindergarten, and it was nature-based from the beginning. Unfortunately, many cultures now consider kindergarten the new first-grade, and are taking children inside to sit at desks and learn their academics. We are not devoting enough time to considering what has been lost in this new model.

Lauroly Closing: I hope we don’t lose that model. Cultures change, but we don’t have to lose the wisdom that has already been acquired, especially when it comes to child development. Thank you Florence for joining me at World Wise Beauty, to discuss your important and wonderful book. I am going to make it my personal duty to share this book with everyone! I know they will love it and your research will resonate for them. I believe we are realizing nature is not a luxury but an absolute essential to our personal wellness, our humanity and our culture. See you out there Florence!

Florence Williams Closing: Thanks so much for your interest, Lauroly. It was so much fun reporting and writing this book, and it’s certainly made me spend more time outside. I will hope it will influence others as well.

 

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World Wise Beauty Presents the Winter 2017 ‘Book Wise’ Pick and it Promises to Keep You Warm From the Inside…Out

Feb 18, 2017 by

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BOOK WISE Winter Pick: The Little Book of Hygge –The Danish Way to Live Well

 

CATEGORY: Wellness/Non-Fiction

 

CULTURE SPOTLIGHT: Denmark

 

AUTHOR: Meik Wiking

 

OF NOTE: Book was a best-seller in the UK and just released in America in January,

 

 

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It is with great pleasure to select the ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ as the WWB ‘Book Wise’ Winter Pick! The timing couldn’t be better, as we all can use more ‘hygge’ in the winter. I came across the word Hygge back in June 2016 when interviewing Dr. Tim Lomas, who launched the Positive Lexicography Project, an online glossary of untranslatable words that describe positive traits, feelings, experiences, and states of being that had no direct counterparts in English.

Check out his project via the link above and the WWB Q&A with Dr. Lomas here. The author of ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ also spends time on special words and their meaning and even shares a Hygge dictionary in the book.

So for those who are wondering what the heck is Hygge? I will share a few lines from the the author’s introduction of the book….

“Hooga? Hhyoogah? Heurgh? It is not important how you choose to pronounce or even spell ‘hygge’. To paraphrase one of the greatest philosophers of our time ‘Winnie the Pooh’–when asked how to spell a certain emotion “You don’t spell it–you feel it.” ~Meik Wiking

 

 

Let’s indulge you anyway with a quick definition and you’ll be all caught up with our new favorite word.

 

 

DANISH: Hygge (n) : a deep sense of of place, warmth, friendship and contentment

 

On a personal note, a very dear friend from the UK sent me this book for Christmas and I was tickled. It was the best Christmas gift ever, especially because I know she is also a lover of all things Hygge, and we share simpatico (another great word!) in this area. I should be careful about using the word ‘things’, as the author will tell you, Hygge is about an atmosphere and experience rather than things. Yet a beautiful little teapot sure does contribute to the hygge in a room!

If you have been following this blog, you know that I am a lover of wellness wisdom and books. Anytime I can glean wisdom or ideas from other cultures particularly in the wellness arena, I am eager to share them with you.  The Little Book of Hygge was written by none other than the CEO of Happiness! Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Denmark and has the best job in the world, wouldn’t you say? How cool is it, that there is an actual institute studying happiness! It all sounds fun, but this is a serious institute studying the causes and effects of happiness, and how to improve quality of life for its citizens. If you aren’t aware, the Danes rank number one as the happiest culture in the world. That doesn’t mean we can’t catch up to them though! As the author reminds us in his book…Hygge is for everyone. If you aren’t inspired yet to read this book, then I suggest you go on your curmudgeon way, because I am about to share the 10 important values from the HYGGE MANIFESTO included in the book…

HYGGE MANIFESTO

1- Atomosphere–Turn down the lights

2- Presence–Be here now and turn off the phones

3- Pleasure —Coffee, chocolate, cookies and cakes ( oh my!)

4- ‘We’ over me--share the tasks and the ‘airtime’!

5- Gratitude–take it in, this might be as good as it gets

6- Harmony–it’s not a competition, we already like you. There is no need to brag about your achievements!

7- Comfort– Get comfy. Take a break. It’s all about relaxation

8-Truce–No drama, let’s discuss politics another day

9- Togetherness–Build relationships and narratives ” Do you remember when we…”

10- Shelter–This is your tribe. This is a place of peace and securityes here

What a wonderful manifesto and all this gets baked into a very happy Danish culture. Not hard to understand why they are so happy with social values like these. I did really respect the author for including a section in the book on the dark side of Hygge. He points out the downside of the close, tribal, and social landscape found in Denmark, is they don’t welcome newcomers very well. This syncs with N0. 10 of the manifesto  ( the sense of peace and security one feels within your own tribe). We all want to belong, but I happen to believe there is nothing more cozy than making someone feel welcome and included.  Of course, as long as they practice number two, four and eight of the manifesto!

Enjoy the book my wise friends, and may your winter days be full of Hygge!

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How to Live a Long and Pleasurable Life…Doctor, & Author of “The Olive Oil Diet” Shares the Wellness Secrets of the Mediterranean Culture & Lifestyle

Feb 10, 2017 by

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WWB Wise Guru: Dr. Simon Poole  MBBS DRCOG is a Cambridge based medical doctor, author, broadcaster and commentator with expertise in the Mediterranean diet and lifestyle.

Featured Book: The Olive Oil Diet –Nutritional Secrets of the Original SuperFood –The book has just been nominated for the International Gourmand Prize for food and cookery writing, and shortlisted for the “Best of the World” which is described as the food writing equivalent of the “Oscars”.

Professional Profile: As well as being a full time GP, Dr Simon Poole is a renowned international commentator on the Mediterranean Diet and a member of the Council of Directors of the True Health Initiative in the USA. He has written regularly on matters related to primary care in medicine and nutrition for a diverse range of media including The Guardian, Nutrition and Food Science and the Journal of the Royal College of Surgeons as well as consumer magazines such as Cook Vegetarian and Body Language. He also has extensive experience broadcasting and writing for local, national and international radio, television and web based organisations and regularly speaks at and chairs conferences attended by physicians, the media, politicians and the food industry on subject matters relating to health, politics and nutrition.

 

 

 

 

Lauroly Opening: I am pleased to introduce another doctor/expert from the True Health Initiative. For those just learning about THI, it is a growing coalition of more than 250 world renowned health experts committed to cutting through the noise, and educating on only time-honored, proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. The THI coalition members include physicians, scientists, nutritionists, and authors from nearly 30 countries. An example of their collective collaboration is Dr. Poole will be joining Dr. David Katz (founder of THI and wellness expert here in the U.S) in Italy for the International Food Values Conference in Rome. World leading experts in nutrition, health and sustainability will gather under the patronage of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences next week to debate the urgent need for policies to be adopted which encourage more traditional diets such as the Mediterranean Diet. 

 We have heard about the Mediterranean Diet over the years, and many other diets have come along since, but there has been no other diet that has so much research and science behind it world-wide. How lucky we are to have Dr. Simon Poole here to discuss the diet and his book ‘The Olive Oil Diet’. Personally I am not a promoter of any one diet or any one super-food, because we all are so different bio-individually.  What I will say is the Mediterranean diet has ancient wisdom and a lot of modern science based research behind it, and seems to be enjoyed by many centenarian people. The prospect of healthy longevity gets my attention! At the center of the Mediterranean Diet is ‘Olive Oil’ and Dr. Poole has a passion for Olive Oil! Let’s find out why…

 

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Lauroly Q- Welcome Dr.Poole! Thank you for joining me to discuss your new book, ‘The Olive Oil Diet’ Nutritional Secrets of the Original Superfood’. What I didn’t mention in the opening is I am big olive oil user and cook with it exclusively. Even as the coconut oil trend has accelerated I have stuck with my olive oil. One of my reasons for this, is the amount of research behind the healthy heart properties of olive oil is substantially greater than that available for coconut oil. So let’s start with a hot topic! Is Olive oil better for you or healthier than coconut oil? I realize you are biased because you wrote a book about Olive Oil, but you are also a doctor who cares greatly about Public Health.

 

DR.SPDr. Poole: Extra virgin olive oil is a fundamental cooking and flavouring ingredient in all the regional variations of what has become known collectively as the Mediterranean Diet. Researchers who have demonstrated the myriad of benefits of this pattern of eating invariably include the regular use of olive oil as the main source of fat as a measure of adherence to the diet. Whatever the argument about the differences in saturated fat types in coconut oil which may make it less likely to have an adverse effect on harmful LDL cholesterol, it is perhaps the unique combination of antioxidant compounds in olive oil which may contribute even more to health than the high level of monounsaturated fat.

There is a myth which exists suggesting that cooking with saturated fats like coconut oil is more healthy because of higher “smoke points”, which is the temperature at which heated fats begin to break down to form potentially harmful by-products. In fact, not only are cooking temperatures in general well below the smoke point of extra virgin olive oil, but most of the beneficial antioxidants tolerate heating as well. Try telling a centenarian from the beautiful island of Ikaria, famed for its healthy Mediterranean lifestyle not to use olive oil as part of his or her daily life, and I rather think you would get a short reply!

 

 

Lauroly Q- Your book pretty much platforms the Mediterranean Diet as the ‘Ultimate Diet’. You have a chapter entitled ‘Keeping a Healthy Weight–The End of Dieting.  As a ‘Healthy Epicurean’ which means I value health and enjoy eating, I find the Mediterranean diet most appealing, because it really isn’t a diet as much as it is a cultural lifestyle. As a physician, why do you believe it is the ultimate diet?

Dr. Poole: You are exactly right to make the point that the Mediterranean Diet is a lifestyle rather than simply a pattern of eating. Whilst in the western world we have come to view a “diet” as a way to lose weight, the term actually originates from the ancient Greek word “diaita” which means way of life. Research shows that adopting a Mediterranean Diet is in fact better than a low fat diet at helping people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight and because people enjoy it, they are more likely to continue to eat healthily. I call it the “ultimate diet” because it has the added benefits of many other health advantages, including an association with lower rates of heart disease, stroke, many cancers and even dementia. The lifestyle itself which promotes the enjoyment of food as part of an experience of conviviality and community is also an important aspect.

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Lauroly Q- What I love about your book, is it is a comprehensive health book and cooking book all rolled in one. Your book takes an authoritative and science based look at olive oil, while also exploring the joys of cooking with it. Like some books on wine, your book on olive oil teaches us that growing regions matter, and we discover not all olive oils are the same. You have a dedicated chapter to learning how to buy olive oil. Does this mean cheaper olive oil is not as good as the more expensive? Many wine connoisseurs will tell you that price does not determine a good bottle of wine. Does this apply to olive oil as well?

oilDr. Poole: The “Olive Oil Diet” is designed to help people understand more about the regular use of olive oil, and how to maximise its health benefits in everyday life. It looks at the Mediterranean diet from the perspective of the ubiquitous presence of olive oil. There are different grades of olive oil and even different properties of extra virgin olive oil which depend on the variety, land, agricultural practices, production methods and storage. Oil deteriorates over time and its quality is dependent on limiting exposure to air and light. In the book we describe the indicators of better quality oils and how to recognise markers of excellence. Often the oils with the best nutritional characteristics, including low acidity and powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory powers are grown in traditional ways with passion and care from individual farmers or small cooperatives. Some oils can be bought very cheaply, but often these are sourced from international markets and are a mixture of variable oils from different countries. So, our advice is to get to know a little about olive oils and try different ones from different regions as well as “pairing” different tasting oils with different dishes. There are lots of discoveries readers can enjoy!

 

Lauroly Q- I have never heard Olive Oil called the ‘the medicinal fruit juice’ before, and your chapter on all the health benefits really explains how you could call it that. There are so many health conditions olive oil can help with. Most people think of the highly publicized research on heart disease, but you really connect all the medicinal dots for us in the book. What makes Olive Oil a superfood and how does it help with other diseases beyond heart disease?

Dr. Poole: Olive oil really does qualify as a “superfood” because not only is it a fundamental building block of one of the healthiest diets in the World, specifically recommended in the latest US Dietary Guidelines, but also because research has shown that olive oil by itself can have measurable health benefits. So many chronic illnesses are now considered to be associated with chronic inflammation including conditions such as heart disease, stroke, arthritis and even dementia. The numerous plant compounds designed to protect the olive fruit from the effects of “oxidative stress” in the challenging environment and climate in which the olive tree grows may play a role in decreasing inflammation in our bodies. Type 2 Diabetes is another condition which predisposes people to heart disease and other complications, and the way that olive oil in the diet reduces the spiking of sugar levels from a meal with carbohydrates also contributes to the way the diet can protect us, and even help to reverse the very early stages of diabetes. Olive oil also helps to improve the absorption of important nutrients, including fat soluble vitamins and antioxidants in other foods. So it is a real “superfood” especially when combined with super healthy vegetables.

 

Lauroly Closing: Dr. Poole, thank you so much for visiting World Wise Beauty. I wish I could join you for the ‘Food Values’ conference in Italy this year but I am sure you will come back and share the great wisdom gleaned from gathering with experts in favor of traditional diets. Who knows maybe you will share your wisdom at a ‘Rise of Wise’ event here in the states soon! We would be honored and thrilled to have you visit! In the meantime everyone should read your book and become a connoisseur of olive oil. Keeping in mind that it is what you do with the olive oil that will determine the pleasure of eating it. Check out the tasty recipes in the book and you will be well on your way to having a passion for olive oil too!

Dr. Poole Closing: Thank you. It has been a pleasure Laura and yes, it would be a privilege to attend one of your exciting events perhaps some day soon.

 

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WWB WATCH: Food As Medicine Rising Worldwide and International Conference ‘Food Values’ in Italy Sets the Stage…

Jan 10, 2017 by

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It is no accident that there are ancient health truths that still apply to modern day lifestyle and culture, because they are supportive of the sound fundamentals of human health and well-being. When you take away commercialism of wellness, you are left with ‘What Matters’. With all the diet trends going in and out of style, what if there was one ancient diet that most people around the world could live on? What if there was one diet that has been scientifically proven ( worldwide) to reduce heart disease and many cancers? Well guess what? There is one and it’s called the Mediterranean Diet. The science hasn’t gone away but perhaps the wisdom has…

If you have been paying attention to health and wellness news the last couple of years, you might be aware that we are having a health crisis. Yes, amongst other very important urgent issues in the world, health, diet and chronic disease is becoming a global challenge. Most of the challenges could be prevented with diet, and all them come back to cultural values that have somehow been thrown under the bus for the sake of industry. The good news is, there are a lot of value driven experts around the world who are scientist, doctors, and chefs coming together with a BIG mission.  The BIG mission is essentially to enlighten governments and people around the world with ideal ‘Food Values’. What are their ideal ‘Food Values’? Simply answered, they are centered around traditional healthy plant based diets. What does that sound like? Yes, it’s the Mediterranean Diet!  The Mediterranean diet has significantly reduced the increasing burden of chronic diseases associated with modern industrialized patterns of food production and consumption. Enter the worldwide WISE mission and an important conference to address our food and health crisis with real applicable solutions…

 

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International Conference ‘Food Values’ 

The Renaissance of the Mediterranean Diet and Significance for a 21st Century World
Casina Pio IV, Vatican City–14th February, 2017

World leading experts in nutrition, health and sustainability will gather under the patronage of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences next month to debate the urgent need for policies to be adopted which encourage more traditional diets.

 

Mons. Marcelo SANCHEZ SORONDO, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City

 

Scientific committee

Dr. Simon POOLE, MD – Author and Commentator, Cambridge, UK

Dr. Paolo PASQUALI – Mugello Cradle of the Renaissance, Vicchio, Florence, Italy

Prof. Francesco SOFI, MD, PhD – University of Florence, Italy

Organizing committee

Dr. Monica DINU, MSc – University of Florence, Italy

Dr. Giuditta PAGLIAI, MSc – University of Florence, Italy

Prof. Francesco SOFI, MD, PhD – University of Florence, Italy

Mons. Marcelo SANCHEZ SORONDO, Chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Vatican City

 

casinopio4Professor Francesco Sofi, one of the organizers from the University of Florence stated ” We are privileged to host in such auspicious surroundings luminaries including Dr. David Katz of Yale University and the True Health InitiativeGreg Descher of the Culinary Institute of America, world famous London based patron Giorgio Locatelli and other representatives if scientific institutions and NGOs with particular interests in the environment and in nutritional education.

The guests attending the conference will comprise politicians and representatives of the world of science, food and the media”

 

 

dkatz-380x250” There are real fundamentals truths about a dietary pattern that is pleasurable, healthful, and sustainable, relevant all around the world.” said Dr. David Katz speaking at the conference as President of the True Health Intiative. “It is a great privaledge to deliver the details of that message at such a rarified gathering.”

 

 

Now maybe you can’t attend the conference in Vatican City but you can access the science and values via the True Health Initiative and the many experts around the world who have tirelessly been working on getting this message to you. Their mission is “Lifestyle is Medicine’, and they are are a coalition of health experts from around the world, committed to educating on the proven principles of lifestyle as medicine. In other words you can prevent chronic disease with good sound healthy habits and there is rock hard science to prove it. Food is a big part of your lifestyle and we don’t have to be in a crisis if we listen to wisdom that has history going back to the beginning of time. We have the wisdom but the question is… do we respect ourselves and value our health enough to listen to it?

 

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Dr. Simon Poole, a cambridge based physician and part of the scientific committee said of the conference…

 

simon “We must re-evaluate the value we place on our food, recognise the appalling cost of convenience and the effect it is having on levels of obesity and ill health, and rediscover our cultural links with food production and consumption.

The conference will seek to produce an action plan for governments to educate, promote and if necessary legislate to change the paradigm of diet and nutrition in the 21st Century, aligning policies with food literacy and health in a sustainable environment”

 

What Matters? Your health and the health of the planet. This important conference will hopefully accelerate the urgent idea that wellness values and culture matter. And food is the perfect place to start…

 

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WWB WISE GURU SERIES: Q&A with Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams–Author of New Book ‘BodyWise’ Discovering Your Body’s Intelligence for Lifelong Health & Healing

Jan 3, 2017 by

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WWB Wellness Wisdom Book Selection: BodyWise

Wise Guru & Author: Rachel Carlton Abrams, MD

Author Profile: Rachel Carlton Abrams graduated PHI BETA KAPPA from Stanford University and received her MD from UC San Francisco. She also has a Master’s Degree in Holistic Health from UC Berkley, and is Board Certified in Family Medicine and Integrative Medicine.

In 2008 she opened the award-winning Santa Cruz Integrative Medicine Clinic. Dr. Abrams treats many of the world’s most influential people, from CEOs to billionaire entrepreneurs to Nobel Peace laureates. She has been voted “Best Doctor” in Santa Cruz County every year, from 2009–2016.

 

 

 

 

Lauroly Opening: I will admit I am generally excited to introduce experts and authors here at World Wise Beauty, but this book in particular really resonates with me big time! I think my readers can guess why, by looking at the title of the book ‘BodyWise’ Discovering Your Body’s Intelligence for Lifelong Health and Healing. Anyone that follows World Wise Beauty or even WWB’s Facebook page knows my mission is to encourage inner-wisdom and wellness. Most importantly, I am always reinforcing the idea of being your own guru. This doesn’t mean to reject knowledge or expertise, but to recognize that your own bio-individuality is truly unique. What is good for someone else may not be good for you. Knowing and understanding yourself (mind, body and spirit) is key to a life of fulfillment, happiness and wellness. This featured book shows you how to truly live with yourself in harmony. When you read more about her work below, you will understand why I have selected Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams as the 2017 WWB Icon. It was an easy selection because she truly represents a World Wise Beauty who is comfortable in her own skin, and she educates all women to do the same.

 

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

 

Integrative and holistic health practitioners offer alternative options to treat conditions and disease differently than main-stream doctors, but my role is not to recommend one over the other. I only seek to encourage people to explore and discover what works best for them. I happen to prefer integrative doctors and DO’s personally because I believe in addressing the underlying cause of dis-ease. I also believe in the resounding message of this featured book. ‘Know thyself’.

We can all be ‘Body Wise’ and we all know our own bodies better than anyone, if we only take time to listen to it. I have a unique personal story that makes me particularly passionate about this subject of this book. I grew up with two sick parents, and this life experience really challenged me to look within. My mother through living with her own auto-immune disease experience taught me to listen to myself and body. As a young teen I didn’t always listen, but her constant reminders eventually clicked, and I learned to develop a healthy relationship with myself and my body. I hope everyone reading this buys Dr. Abrams book and no matter where you are in your wellness journey, you become comfortable in your own skin and BodyWise…

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Lauroly Welcome: Thank you so much for joining me Dr. Abrams! I am honored to chat with you and so excited to share some of the ideas in your new book ‘BodyWise’! As said, I am particularly excited about sharing your book with others and especially women, because we generally have so much extra stress added to our lives in the roles of mother and caretaker. To compound this, we now have full time careers in addition to our roles in family, as you share in your own personal story. I think a good place to start is to help us understand the overall trajectory of body wisdom. I love how what you said in the book, “think of it as gathering information about our well-being from the outside in.” I always talk about inside out wellness, but when we live complicated lives, we have to start with what is going on right now in our lives and work our way back in. Tell us more about the four levels of body intelligence. This is a blog so we can only touch on ideas, but I am positive almost everyone will be rushing to read your book for the full comprehensive read.

 

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Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

 

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams: Thanks so much for inviting me, Lauroly! And for your excitement about the book—I so appreciate it! In response to your question, I think that the most powerful diagnostic tool I have in the treatment room is my patient’s own body intelligence. I often say that we will order tests, but that the best test I have is your insight about your own body—what you feel and why, when you are likely to feel that way, what makes your symptoms better or worse. Listening to what you knows about your experience is the key to unlocking the puzzle that causes you pain or suffering. When my patients pay attention to this natural intuition, the results can be quite extraordinary. No expert lives in you, other than YOU! Which is why it is so vital to learn to speak the language of your body, and begin to follow the guidance that you receive from within, in regard to diet, diagnosis, treatment and even selection of health care providers or even friends.

In BodyWise, I teach women (though this process is completely applicable to men!) to begin to listen to the signals that their bodies are giving them. This happens in four steps.

MEASURE: Gather measured observations of health (such as blood pressure, weight or labs)

SENSE: Attend to body sensations (become aware of what you sense inside)

FEEL: Note feelings or intuitions about your body (what feelings might those sensations be connected to?)

DISCERN: Look for patterns of experience that are trying to tell you something, including those influenced by the unconscious mind (dreams, visions, symbols) 
 I think of these four steps as learning the language of the body. Sensing is the basic vocabulary, feeling is metaphoric expression, and discerning involves telling the story of the experience.

Lauroly Q- Your four steps are so important, because when we pay attention to all parts of ourselves, we begin to see the interdependency of mind, body and spirit. This is not only a very insightful and wise book, it is also very practical and grounded. I love all the charts and mini-test you offer throughout the book. I also appreciate everything you explore is approached with medical expertise, and the humble recognition that every patient is different. You demonstrate this, by acknowledging both natural and pharma supplements have their own dangers and each individual responds to different substances differently. You share stories about how many patients walk through your door who are on several drugs and supplements and have no idea how they interact with each other is incredible. What is one wise takeaway you can share about taking natural or pharma drugs and supplements? Is one truly better than the other, and what should we explore before taking anything?

 

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams: Great question. 🙂 It is always my preference as an integrative physician that my patients feel well putting as few pills or concoctions into their mouths (other than food!) as possible. This said, there is much to fear about pharmaceutical medications which are, catch this, the third leading cause of death in the United States. No joke. And, as a physician, I still love medication when we truly need it. We just need to optimize self-healing and minimize medications for optimal health. Many supplements and herbs can be safer than medications, but not all! Which is why I think it is important to listen to your body and either be very well informed or have trustworthy guidance about what to take. And is it possible to take too many supplements? Absolutely.
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Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

 

Lauroly Q- There is a really interesting story in your book about intuitive body wisdom and how one women had a dream that was really guiding her about her illness. I don’t want to give away the story, as I think it is worth reading in the book. You really do a wonderful job of covering the sensitive subject of how much we are responsible for when it comes to our own health. Immediately people think “Oh you are going to blame me for my illness? I made this happen to myself?”

I always think our bodies often are trying to communicate something we are struggling with. When I was taking care of my dying mother, I literally came down with a frozen shoulder. I felt like I had the world on my shoulders and my shoulder just stopped working! Of course there were other external factors, but I got the message! I knew I was struggling. Just going to Physical Therapy was remedy for me. I had to stop and think of myself if only for that time in treatment. I passed on the pain drugs and committed time to Physical Therapy. I healed and magically the pain is gone. My body forced me to face my feeling of overwhelm. My body (and in this case my spirit) has cried out before in my life and because of my Mom’s early influence, I usually can connect life’s circumstances with my body ailments. Tell us more about the fine distinctions of this very sensitive subject. How does our mind, body and spirit work in tandem?

 

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams: After decades in clinical practice, I do believe that the body can speak to us metaphorically and manifest physical illness, discomfort, and pain. Your ‘frozen shoulder’ is a perfect example of this. I also firmly believe that not all illness or pain has emotional or psychological roots. It is true that how we think and feel, our responsiveness to our bodies’ clues, and the behaviors that we choose absolutely affect our health. And ignoring the obvious cues from your body that something is wrong can manifest in more serious illness. But it is not true that we are personally responsible for the illnesses that we have.

What I mean is, some- times “shit happens.” This was my not-so-eloquent response at a public talk to a very spiritual, healthy young woman who was diagnosed with leukemia. The panel I was sitting on included experts on the mind-body connection and its impact on illness. The young woman at this talk was very upset by the implication that if you are ill, it’s your fault, and she wanted to know if we believed that she had caused her own cancer by her thoughts or behaviors. This is a subtle distinction, but the fact that we can influence pain and illness with our thoughts and behaviors does not mean that we cause all of our pain and illness. My vegan meditation and yoga teacher patient got cancer last year. Sometimes, shit happens. Blaming illness on the person suffering (especially if that person is you) is never helpful. If someone, including you, wants to make meaning of the illness—I need to take more time to rest or be with those that I love or eat more healthfully—that is perfectly legitimate. That is not the same as “I caused my illness by not doing those things.” We should listen to our bodies and discern the meaning of pain and illness. We must not get bogged down in the cycle of self-blame or shame about having the illness.

 

Lauroly Q- Thanks so much for addressing that sensitive subject Dr. Abrams. Another great line in your book is “Everything you put into your mouth has complex biochemical messages for the body.” This is a pretty intense idea, but falls in line with ‘You are what you eat’. It must be such a hard idea to get across to patients. Food is such a complicated topic for us humans. Our family and culture shape our eating habits and we are all so different. Science is already confirming that a plant-based diet is generally better for everyone, yet many experts will tell you protein is necessary and each person has different nutritional needs. It gets confusing. Unpack this just a little bit for us…

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams: No matter who you talk to in the health and wellness field, they will agree that more fruits and vegetables (and the more brightly colored the better), are good for you. And no one would argue that you need a healthy source of protein. I would argue that it is ideal if that source is organic (if plant sourced, such as nuts and beans) and also “grass-fed” or “free-range” if animal sourced (eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt and meat). I do think that most vegetable sources of protein are good for most of us. And some of us do better with more animal derived protein. Those are individual decisions to be made based on your personal experience, your body intelligence, and your values. And I really don’t think anyone would argue that you should avoid fast food and fried food, and limit refined grains (white flour and white rice). Many people feel well eating whole grains, which are rich in nutrition. And some people react to gluten or other grains—again, it’s a place to use your body intelligence to see what works best for you.

 

Lauroly Q- The burgeoning trend of yoga and meditation has connected mind, body and spirit and has put the practices at the center of wellness. You state in the book, that from a health point of view, the particularities of meditation and spirituality don’t matter. This is another fine example of how you recognize our diversity and difference while also finding the common. Ultimately finding time for silence and reflection is a healthy ritual, and we all have our own practices. What matters is how these rituals help our individual health and well-being. Why are things like prayer or meditation so important to our overall health? What is happening in our bodies when we do? I always feel nature is my church and I can feel the positive changes in my body when I take time to be quiet in nature.

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Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams: You are very much in line with the latest research, which shows abundant health advantages from being exposed to nature, from lower stress and cortisol levels to lower blood pressure to less anxiety and depression. I think that the purpose of meditation, prayer or simple reflection is to reduce stress and cortisol levels, in a world that is far more stimulating than our bodies are built for. Manifold studies show the impact of meditation and prayer on reduced cortisol levels, reduced depression and anxiety, reduced risk of heart attack and stroke, etc. And these simple moments of reflection allow us to gain perspective on our lives. To extend the beneficial effect of slowing down to contemplate, to the rest of our life, as we take the insights gained and apply them—honking less at other drivers, yelling less at the kids, berating ourselves less.

 Lauroly Closing: Thanks so much again Dr. Abrams for writing this much needed book, and for joining me for this Q&A.  ‘BodyWise‘ is a ‘wellness bible’ and one I would recommend for everyone’s wellness library. I’ve only touched on a few topics covered in your book. It is truly comprehensive, and you show us just how ‘doable’ living healthy can be, when we tap into our body intelligence. Once we start listening to the wisdom of our bodies, we can begin to take care of our mind, body and spirit holistically. While all of us have different lifestyles and challenges, we all retain the gift of being able to tap into our inner-wisdom. How lucky we humans are!

Dr. Rachel Carlton Abrams Closing: Thank you so much for this opportunity Lauroly, and blessings to all of you reading this!

 

 

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