WWB WATCH: From Sizzle to Fizzle, New PURE Nutrition Study is Challenged by the Medical Community and Health Journalist. Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Actual Study…

Sep 17, 2017 by

WWBWatchTemplate222

 

While two deadly hurricanes captured our attention in the last tree weeks, there was a nutrition study called PURE stirring up an argument in the health and wellness community. To really get a good understanding of the study, you would have to read the study and the findings carefully, which most average working people don’t have the time to do, and are not trained to assess. This goes for the educated and the uneducated. Unless you are a nutritionist, doctor or scientist, you are not likely to immediately see the problems with a study of any kind.

Doctors, nutritionist and health journalist however, do take time to review new studies. What happens though, is the general media runs with the narrative the researchers provide, and create headlines that are provocative and at the same time misleading. The Pure Study came out of the gates with a very clear narrative, which was to challenge the definition of a healthy diet, and counter argue the wisdom of a primarily plant based driven diet. It is a complex study and this is a challenge when it gets released to the general public. I write all the time about the 3 minute news headlines that we see on the six o’clock news.  By the time this particular study was widely distributed, the headlines became “New Nutrition Study finds more fat in our diets maybe healthier for us.”.  What gets translated to an already obese society in the US and other western cultures is ” Yay, more cheese, butter and fat please!” If it sounds too good to be true, it is probably because it is not quite true!

Thankfully there are medical and nutrition experts out there, dissecting the data and research, and they remind us to ask the right questions. One of them is Dr. David Katz, the author of ‘Disease Proof’ and founder of the True Health Initiative. He tirelessly works to make sure we are understanding health research data that is often misconstrued and misrepresented. He also works hard to make sure we can find sound science based health wisdom, through his educational True Health Initiative non-profit. When you read his essays, you will have to wade through some of the academic language, but when you stick with him, you learn how to step back from a study, and have that ‘aha skeptical moment’ and realize the importance of ‘variables’ used in study methodologies. His review of the Pure Study is here.

“What, then, accounts for the strange reporting, implying that everything we’ve been told about vegetables, fruits, and beans is wrong? These benefits were “adjusted away” in multivariable models. When this method of statistical analysis was applied, the health benefit expressly attributable to VFL seemed to peak at about 3 servings per day. That, however, is fundamentally misleading- and the headlines, quite simply, were written by people who don’t have a clue what it really means.” ~Dr. David Katz

Beyond the actual raw data Dr. Katz  shares with us, you will also learn to ask the right questions. If you read along with Dt. Katz he will bring us back to a simple idea. There is enough science already pointing clearly to lifestyle habits and diets like the Mediterranean Diet ( already proven and thoroughly researched) to help support healthy living and improve longevity odds. More importantly, however different we may be as bio-individuals, most of the current lifestyle as medicine prescriptions available to us, can be practiced by many with personal tweaks based on their current health condition.

Another good analysis of the PURE study was made by Marion Nestle, author of many best-selling books like ‘What to Eat’. Marion Nestle is Paulette Goddard Professor, of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, Emerita, at New York University, which she chaired from 1988-2003 and from which she retired in September 2017. You can learn a lot about Food Politics at her website by the same name. Again, many of us don’t have time to read all of this, but it doesn’t hurt to seek out good objective sources when you are considering your health, diet and wellness lifestyle. It just might take more than a 3 minutes news clip on the news or a small paragraph in a magazine on the news stand.  Marion Nestle concluded her overview of the study with these thoughts…

“This study confirms that the single most important risk factor for poor health is poverty. The study results are consistent with the idea that largely plant-based diets are good for health. No single study can settle the fat vs. carbohydrate debate because people eat complicated combinations of foods and diets containing those nutrients. What we really need are well designed studies of dietary patterns—the ones done to date suggest that largely plant-based diets are associated with excellent health and longevity. ~Marion Nestle

James Hamblin who is an MD and writer for the Atlantic also wrote a very good piece on the PURE STUDY  and reminds us of the huge ‘system’ we are caught up in today, when it comes to coverage of medical and nutrition research and our voracious appetite for new information. His headline was “New Nutrition Study Changes Nothing”.

“Neophilia is a problem for science, though. And especially the sort of science pertaining to nutrition. Demand for newness leads writers and publishers to focus on narratives that upend conventional wisdom. If new research doesn’t change or challenge the way readers think about the world, why is it a story worth publishing? Eggs are in, and now they’re gone. Butter? It’s back. Every six weeks, The New York Times is legally obligated to tell us either that breakfast isn’t important or that skipping it causes death.”~James Hamblin, MD

Finally if you would like a simple overview of the study, and a grounded response anchored in common sense and wellness wisdom, it would be worth reading the article shared at Oldways a nonprofit Inspiring Good Health Through Cultural Food Traditions.

“Once again, we’re back on the nutrition roller coaster, being told that a new study has suddenly reversed everything we thought we knew about healthy eating. But has it? To help you escape that queasy roller-coaster ride, Oldways looked behind the sensationalist headlines and scrutinized the actual findings of this study. Given those anti-carb headlines, what we found may surprise you!” ~Oldways

Oldways went on to share these 3 wise takeaways:

The bottom line is that what we knew to be true about healthy eating yesterday is still true today, so we’ll leave you with three pieces of advice:

  1. The experts still agree. In November 2015, Oldways brought together leading nutrition experts representing views from Paleo to Vegan at our Finding Common Ground conference. They all agreed that focusing on quality and variety is the key to eating well. This means choosing high-quality meat, fish, and/or beans and other protein sources instead of living on bologna and bacon; eating whole grains (especially intact grains) instead of refined grains and added sugars; enjoying a range of fruits and vegetables; and favoring the heathy fats found in nuts, avocados, fish, olive oil, and other foods.
  2. Use Carb Common Sense. Everybody needs carbohydrates. Avoiding carbs makes no sense – especially when you remember that fruits and vegetables are also made up primarily of carbohydrates. Check out the Oldways Whole Grains Council’s easy guide to Carb Common Sense, to steer smoothly through your carb choices.
  3. Eating should be a pleasure, not a math exam. We used charts and numbers to prove a point today, but we are not recommending you count grams of this or percents of that as you pick the foods you eat. Traditional diets, like those Oldways champions, can vary widely in their makeup and still support good health. Look for the highest quality you can afford (see #1 and #2), and the numbers will take care of themselves.

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

Now for the Sobering Reality …Why the Questions Raised Matters More than the Pure Study

As for my headline, “Why the questions raised matters more than the study’, I believe we are becoming entrenched in an argument about diet that distracts us from a bigger conversation we need to be having about food. If all of this data I shared isn’t enough motivation to lean toward a conscious value driven diet (mostly plants) for your health, then maybe you haven’t been reading enough about the environmental crisis we are headed for if we don’t begin to look at sustainable ways of living. As Albert Einstein famously said “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”.

WWBwisdomgram83

What I find here at World Wise Beauty talking to experts from around the world, is everything is connected. The obesity crisis isn’t only related to our consumption of too much carbs, fat and protein. The health crisis has been accelerated by an industry of fast food, industrialized food manufacturing, and chemical laden ingredients that effect our chemistry and metabolism. The reason we are so obsessed about food, is because our supermarkets have been filled with ‘boxes’ of  food like ingredients and currently marketing themselves as low-fat, low carb, low sodium, sugar free and gluten free. In other words ‘health products’. Really? Yes.

But we can’t just isolate the processed food manufacturers, we also have to look at the social cultural context. We have to look at the cultural narrative in which marketers of processed food  and pharmaceutical drugs can thrive and exploit. Look at a basic commercial for arthritis pain depicting the hard-working man who does physical work and has to power through his day with a NSAID pill. He needs the quick fix. Also, look at the hard working couples who are raising several kids, and are barely making it on two salaries. They don’t necessarily have time to cook for their kids, so the inexpensive box of cereal or frozen food entree filled with either too much sugar of too much salt and a good dose of unrecognizable chemicals is the quick fix for their lifestyle. The ads for these products are feel good messages that make everyone from the parents to the kids feel good about their choices. These are all real examples of what a culture can manifest. Our culture is collective of values, (based on a number of socio-economic conditions) and maybe the hard bite to swallow, is we have been ‘buying into’ a ‘lifestyle’ that’s not sustainable for our health, our families and our planet.

As I write this piece, there was a front page NYT headline this weekend “How Big Business Got Brazil Hooked on Junk Food”. Sub header is ‘Planet Fat’ Nestle goes door to door.

“The new reality is captured by a single, stark fact: Across the world, more people are now obese than underweight. At the same time, scientists say, the growing availability of high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods is generating a new type of malnutrition, one in which a growing number of people are both overweight and undernourished. “The prevailing story is that this is the best of all possible worlds — cheap food, widely available. If you don’t think about it too hard, it makes sense,” said Anthony Winson, who studies the political economics of nutrition at the University of Guelph in Ontario. A closer look, however, reveals a much different story, he said. “To put it in stark terms: The diet is killing us.” ~NYT Article

When we think of Nestle we think of ‘cozy hot chocolate’ or chocolate chips for our homemade cookies. We also think about the nice, hard working people that work for these companies. We think about the philanthropy of these large corporations who give to various foundations ironically sometimes funding cancer research and diabetes ( an epidemic in our country). It is so hard to to question an industry and corporation that has been in our food culture for half a century. Yet, that old-fashioned company called Nestle is now a multi-national corporation and like any corporation their first priority is to please the shareholders. In order to do this,  their commitment is to sell more product, and this is regardless of the harm it may be causing. This is where our personal values come in. Is this okay? Are you okay with that?

Another example of ‘industry before health’ and particularly targeting women in our culture, is the cosmetic and personal care industries. The manufacture and safety of cosmetics and personal care products is regulated in many countries. In the European Union (EU) certain natural and synthetic cosmetic ingredients require approval of their safety. Banned substances are listed in the EU regulation No. 1223/2009 on cosmetic products (effective in 07/2013), which does also include the ban of animal testing for cosmetic ingredients and finished products too. We have no such safety standard here in the U.S. Just another illustration of where our values are at. So they keep manufacturing makeup made of chemicals that can contribute and cause some cancers, and we keep using them, mostly because many of us are unaware.

“Does this mean that to be for health and wellness of our people we have to be against capitalism? Of course not! Just look at the millennials creating new businesses today. They are creating companies with sustainable practice and philosophy baked into their business modalities.” ~Laura Connolly, Founder of World Wise Beauty & Rise of Wise presents

I recommend you read the NYT article so you can step back objectively, and look at what has happened to our culture, and why we have such a health crisis on our hands today. I would also remind you that demonizing one company is not the point. I think we have to re-imagine food systems, and change the cultural narrative of “industry before the health of a society and the planet”. If you keep hearing experts say “it’s not sustainable’ it’s because it is not. We are left with a health crisis in our society and a health crisis of our planet because the fast cheap food systems ( among other things) is harming the soil, air and water we rely on to LIVE. That’s it in a nutshell. It’s not about being a capitalist or a socialist which is a narrative deliberately spread, so we don’t focus on what matters,–the health and well-being of our families.

So maybe the first question we all ask ourselves is ‘What matters?’ Maybe if we started out with a value driven business idea, before an ethically challenged profit motivated premise for a business, we can begin to build a true wellness culture. Label it whatever you like, but ethics and values do matter, and there is no amount of wealth to sugar coat the damage and harm a corporation can do to a culture, when there is no value system but ‘more profit’ at the center of it’s reason for being.

To leave you with an encouraging thought, here is a wise bite from another important respected voice in wellness culture Paul Hawken

“If you look at the science and you’re not pessimistic, in a sense you don’t understand it,” Hawken says in a slow, unwavering voice. “But if you look at the people who are addressing the problem at hand and don’t feel hopeful, then you don’t have a pulse.”~Paul Hawken, talking to MindBodyGreen

 

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

read more

WWB WATCH: May, Could, Might? Why Recent Research on Coffee & Media Headlines Confuse Us…

Jul 13, 2017 by

WWBWatchTemplate2

 

Did you hear about the latest research on coffee? How did you miss it? It was the perfect story for all media outlets to cover this week and boy did we need some uplifting news this week in our country! Look at all the coffee buzz in the media in just two days…

  • Coffee May Help You Live Longer, Study Finds. New research from the largest study of its kind shows that coffee may help you live longer
  • Coffee drinkers live longer, according to two large-scale studies released Monday that add to extensive research indicating coffee consumption
  • Put the kettle on – two new studies have indicted that drinking coffee helps … This latest research is just the latest in a slew of reports about the
  • Pour another cup–coffee lowers disease risk
  • Coffee drinkers are waking up to some good news Tuesday after new research suggests that a cup of joe a day could keep the doctor away

I left out the media sources because I am not here to pick on individual media companies. This is breaking research news and it’s about the fuel that probably 80% of us drink to get our engines going in the morning. Coffee and the caffeine in it, is our legal drug, and like wine it is steeped in cultural rituals for so many of us. So this research about coffee is not just news, it’s happy news! But we still need to think and pause…

This research story is yet another example of how we get tangled up in the complicated ‘web’ of health studies. Butter is bad, now it’s good! Coffee is bad and may contribute to heart disease, now it may contribute to longevity and lower disease risk?  I’m not a doctor and I am not going to challenge the research from a medical perspective. I can tell you I read a lot of these research findings reports and consume quite a bit of health news. Here is what I see time and time again, and it’s important to point it out these three encouraging but also dangerous words…may, could and might.
The story I personally read on the coffee research this week came from Medical Daily. Their headline read “Your Daily Coffee Could Help You Live Longer.” I mention MD only because I am focusing on language used by the research authors and the publication’s copy. Many of the other media outlets used the same language.
Here is the sub-header following their big headline…”If you’re a regular coffee drinker, a new study might brighten your day. Researchers have found that consuming the popular beverage may increase longevity, and it doesn’t even need to be caffeinated.”

 

The lead photo for this story was this one, with a tagline that read “Researchers say that drinking one cup of coffee per day could lower the risk of death…

a-cup-of-coffee-with-a-smiling-face

 

Now that’s a happy story! One cup of coffee a day may save you from the risk of death! Wow, very powerful! Let’s not only drink more coffee, but also invest in Starbuck’s stock if we haven’t already!

This Medical Daily report does highlight the benefits and risks of drinking coffee and points to previous negative research about coffee. There is balance, which I always seek when reading reports on research findings. Throughout the piece you will find…yes, three words–may, could and might buried in the headlines and the happy picture of coffee. These important words get lost. If we all took the time to read the entire story we would would also find this interesting statement from the lead study author…

“Although this study does not show causation or point to what chemicals in coffee may have this ‘elixir effect,’ it is clear that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle.”

There’s that word ‘may’ again. I hate to break it to the researchers, but centuries of human culture has shown us that coffee can be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle in moderation. What they didn’t know back then scientifically is that it can have adverse side effects for some people. Which brings me back to the concept of bio-individuality. Some people can eat loads of fat their entire lives and live to be 100, and others can’t and drop dead sooner. In comparison, some people can drink coffee at 10pm and go right to sleep, while others can’t drink it past 2pm without being up all night. With regards to the people eating lots of fat, what is often overlooked is the poor quality of life of people who are obese because of their diet and bad lifestyle habits. Everything gluttonous or in excess pays a price in health. We all seem to know this intuitively but just conveniently forget it.

The healers and philosophers of  ancient Greece knew that moderation was the prescription for  good health, and they also knew good sleep and regular exercise is important to longevity. It doesn’t get more simple than this, but we still look for a ‘magic elixir’ and hope it makes up for our neglect in one area or another. Don’t get me wrong, I believe in Super-Foods ( like coffee), because every culture has them and in some ways they compensate for other nutrients missing in their diets because of  factors like climate. I did a Q&A with the author of 30 Secrets of the World’s Healthiest Cuisines a few years ago, and the big takeaway is each of the world’s healthiest cuisines have a super-food and very specific lifestyle habits that contribute to their longevity. This book was published long before the Blue Zones Solution, which is also a good book on how many various lifestyle factors contribute to health and longevity. Both books confirm lifestyle matters my friends, and our diet is one very big part of our lifestyle.

So let’s be real about the research this week. We don’t know why coffee may help us live longer. We can however, identify healthy antioxidants and phenolic compounds in coffee, that we know can be good for preventing cancer. Avoiding cancer is one very effective way to achieve longevity!

It’s not that research shouldn’t be done, it’s not that we shouldn’t learn about the research findings, it’s just how we share the research, interpret the research, and use the research. The last paragraph of the Medical Daily story this week summed up the coffee research with this statement…

“Further studies are needed to gain a better understanding of how coffee might increase mortality. In the meantime, the researchers say that we should enjoy our daily cup of joe; it could be doing us the world of good.”

From everything I have read, the facts are, in moderation and in combination with other good lifestyle habits, coffee can’t hurt us, and it’s definitely a good jump starter in the morning for most of us.  It can hurt some of us with certain heart conditions, and for some it can also disturb chemistry, stomach linings, and our sleep. This much science has established. Does it contribute to living longer? May, could or might…

 

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

 

 

 

read more

WWB Wise Guru Q&A: Doctor, Public Health Expert, and Author of ‘How Not to Die’ Wants You on a Diet Most Marketeers Don’t Want You to Know About…

Oct 5, 2016 by

drgbookcover

Lauroly Opening: I am so excited to have Dr. Michael Greger join me for a Q&A. I will share a little story. I was talking to a friend recently and we were talking about the experts that have visited World Wise Beauty. They are all pioneers, authors and experts in wellness culture. She said “my daughter said the best expert in wellness is Dr. Michael Greger, author of ‘How Not to Die’.” I said “oh yes I am trying to connect with him to do a Q&A!” Anyway, this little exchange said a lot. My friends’ kids are millennials and they really embrace health, wellness and environmental stewardship. They can see the writing on the wall with respect to both the health crisis and environment crisis in our country. The good news is, they have every opportunity to push back some of the problems and live a long healthy life. Let’s get everyone on board with Doctor Greger’s basic call to action–which is not to die of unnecessary diseases! The tag line of his book is ‘Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease.” This should be a desirable option to taking drugs, or undergoing unnecessary treatments, but somehow many haven’t been given the option. Surprised?

 

 

 

Let’s start with the sobering truth, Most doctors here in America are good at treating acute illnesses but bad at preventing chronic disease. The fifteen leading causes of death claim the lives of 1.6 million Americans annually. I think enough of us are aware of the problems, but many of us are not aware of the following simple FACT.

Nutrition and lifestyle can address many of the diseases and chronic conditions we face today.

 

 

dr-greger

Dr. Michael Greger, Author of “How Not to Die’

 

Lauroly Q- Welcome Dr. Greger! So honored to have you join me. I think the best place to start is to share the following paragraph from your book and then let you tell us why we are dealing with such a health epidemic in this country. In a nutshell of course! Everyone who hasn’t read your book will definitely be reading it now.

 

“The one unifying diet found to best prevent and treat many of the chronic diseases is a whole food, plant-based diet, defined as an eating pattern that encourages the consumption of unrefined plant foods and discourages meat, dairy products, eggs and processed foods. In this book I don’t advocate for a vegetarian diet or a vegan diet. I advocate for an evidence based diet. Most doctor’s visits are for lifestyle based diseases which means they are preventable diseases.”

 

Dr. Michael Greger: Thanks for asking me to join this important conversation, Laura. Yes, that quote you shared sums up the take-home message from “How Not to Die”.

Lauroly Q- The study of epigenetics is a hot new field of study that more Americans need to understand. You mention that people eat as if they are not going to live a long life. You hear it from many people who often say, “You only live once” and sometimes even glibly “I’m gonna die anyway”. Some people think they are doomed because of the gene lottery they have inherited. But they couldn’t be more misinformed right? Tell us why epigenetics matters and how the encouraging science and research behind it matters to us all…

Dr. Michael Greger: Great question. Epigenetics is a game-changer. Basically epigenetics is the study of how our lifestyle choices and our environment impact the expression of our genes. And what does that mean? It means our moms were right! We are what we eat! Seriously. We eat junk, and this can actually change our genes, making them misbehave and cause a domino effect of bad effects, including triggering heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and some types of cancer. The great news is, that even if we were dealt a lousy hand, we still have the power to use diet to reign in our genes and protect ourselves from premature disease and death.

Lauroly Q- I want to remind our readers how incredibly comprehensive your book is. You will find the ‘Why and the How’ clearly outlined for you in the book, and also receive an education on the cultural politics of food and medicine. You have a chapter called ‘Follow the Money’. Why hasn’t our society taken the proven research on reversing heart disease seriously, and why hasn’t the research crossed over to Public Policy?

Dr. Michael Greger: It’s hard for society to take this research seriously when they haven’t even been given the opportunity to hear about it. Patients don’t hear about it, because there’s no money to be made in recommending a plant-based diet. Furthermore, most doctors receive less than 5 hours of nutrition education during their entire 4 years in med school, so even when they know a plant-based diet is healthiest, they report that they feel unqualified to adequately counsel patients about plant-based eating. Given the saturation of the medical complex with big pharma and for-profit medicine, each of us, as individuals, are tasked with the responsibility of looking out for what’s best for us and our families. However, we are living in an exciting time, as doctors’ reimbursement is just starting to shift from fee-for-service to quality-based-outcomes, which means we are all going to need to learn about the impact of diet on chronic disease. Stay tuned!

Lauroly Q-  Your book covers all the chronic diseases and conditions –everything from heart disease to diabetes, to high blood pressure and various cancers. You present nutritional solutions to avoiding them and reversing them. I think the best takeaway is from an early chapter in your book, where simply put you say…”In general, the dividing line between health promoting and disease-promoting foods may be less plant versus animal sourced foods and more whole plant foods versus most everything else.” That’s pretty eye-opening…

drgdailydozenpromo

 

After everyone reads your book they will be thrilled to know you created a non-profit organization called NutritionFacts.org and its main mission is to educate us on nutrition by presenting the best science evidence based research. You won’t find a single advertiser from the pharma or dietary supplement world. It is pure information and science and there is no advertising. Hope this got everyone’s attention now! Dr. Greger, tell us more about your website and what you set out to achieve. 

 

Dr. Michael Greger: Thanks for asking about my site, NutritionFacts.org, Laura! Well, whenever there is a new drug or surgical procedure, you can be assured that you or your doctor will probably hear about it because there’s a corporate budget driving its promotion. But what about advances in the field of nutrition? The reason we don’t see ads on TV for broccoli is the same reason groundbreaking research on the power of foods and eating patterns to affect our health and longevity gets lost and buried in the medical literature–as we discussed above, there’s no profit motive. It may not make anyone money, but what if our lives would profit?

Did you know a whole-food, plant-based diet is proven to not only prevent and treat but reverse our #1 killer, heart disease, along with other deadly diseases such as type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure? Yet since doctors get little if any formal nutrition training in medical school, graduating without some of the most powerful tools available to stop the chronic diseases that remain our leading causes of death and disability. The goal of NutritionFacts.org is to present you and your doctor with the results of the latest peer-reviewed nutrition and health research, presented in a way that is easy to understand.

Lauroly Closing: We have to cut through the marketing din, so more people have access to scientific, evidence based nutrition information. Your non-profit website is so valuable and needed. Thanks again for joining me Dr. Greger, and thank you for showing us exactly how we don’t have to die, of anything but old age. I would add as long as we also wear our seat belts! 😉

Dr. Greger Closing: As a public health expert, I couldn’t agree with you more about the seat belts, Laura! Actually seat belts and nutrition are similar in a way. If we speed, text while driving, and don’t wear our seat belts, we are statistically unlikely to live long healthy lives. Nutrition is the same. If we miss out on the “seat belt of nutrition” (a plant-based diet), we place ourselves in grave danger of premature death and disease. So let’s hear it for seat belts and kale!

 

read more

WWB Passioneer Library: Q&A With Author of: Life On Purpose–How Living For What Matters Most Changes Everything

Aug 26, 2016 by

053b_Life On Purpose cover

 

The World Wise Beauty ‘Passioneer Series’

Excited to welcome back  one of my favorite experts, Dr. Vic Strecher.  He came to visit World Wise Beauty in 2015 to talk about his book ‘On Purpose’, which is a graphic novel telling a beautiful, fantasy-fueled, story of self-discovery and personal growth. His new book while not a graphic novel, covers the important topics of ‘purpose and meaning’ in more depth, and shows us how ‘purpose’ not only leads to self-fulfillment but to a better society. Not only is Dr. Stecher a professor and author, but he is also an inspiring entrepreneur who has taken his passion for health and well-being, and created new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. See his very impressive bio below and join me for a stimulating Q&A about his new book Life on Purpose, How Living For What Matters Most, Changes Everything.

Vic Strecher PhD MPH is a professor at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health and Director for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship. For over two decades Vic Strecher has been a leader and visionary in the fields of health and well-being, creating new solutions that operate at the intersection of the science of behavior change and advanced technology. A noted researcher and successful entrepreneur, Vic has cultivated a passion for connecting academic research to practical applications. In 1998, Vic created Health Media pioneering Web-based “digital health coaching.” The company set a new benchmark for scalable, lifestyle and condition management program delivery. Health Media was acquired by Johnson & Johnson in 2008. In late 2014, Vic founded JOOL Health Inc. as a major paradigm shift in how individuals engage in the pursuit of well-being while offering organizations a more insightful means to support positive, healthy change. Vic and his work have recently appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, WIRED, the Chicago Tribute, and at TEDMED and TEDX events. He lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan with his wife Jeri.

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Dr. Vic Strecher

 

 

PassioneerWelcomePink

 

Lauroly Q-Welcome back Vic! Let’s dig in. Just recently I had a conversation with someone who was feeling very depressed about the world in general. She was feeling disillusioned with not only politics but humanity in general. Giving her time and energy to many causes, she felt like giving up. Rather than lecture people, I always have a book up my sleeve to recommend. Guess what it was Vic? It was ‘Man’s Search for Meaning’ by Viktor Frankl. That was a book I never forgot reading as a psychology major in college and always reminds me of mankind’s greatest gift which is the ability to choose and select our own meaning. You mention his work a lot and of course it makes sense because your passion is purpose. I love how you took your passion for philosophy and extracted amazing wisdom for us to think about.  I hope more people discover ‘works of philosophy’ who never studied it in college, through your book. Why do you think going back to the great philosophers is so important when it comes to finding our purpose? You admit in the book, that you didn’t have much interest in it as a young man.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: True, I never felt an affinity with ancient philosophers until I needed them. Then, it felt like they were writing personal letters to me. If you want to read something thoroughly modern and useful, you might start with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, or better yet, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Then read a few of Seneca’s letters and essays. See if you don’t get hooked on these 2,000 year old philosophers as well! These writings were amazing for two reasons: (1) they were written by people who grew up in such different circumstances, yet had such relevant things to say about my own modern life, and (2) they push you to more carefully consider your existence, to not just run on automatic.

Lauroly Q-Thank you for sharing your great book recommendations. I love adding to my wisdom reading list! While you take us on this wonderful tour of philosophy, you also balance things with real world stories and examples of inspiring people finding their purpose. The most important one I feel is your own story. In sharing your touching and personal story, it makes me feel that you have truly connected the dots. Your wisdom was gained not just by research or study but by ‘getting through’ your own challenges and pain, and coming out of it with your own passionate purpose. My favorite quote is from Robert Frost “The Best Way Out is Always Through’. Can you share how you got through losing your nineteen year old daughter to life-long illness?

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: A few months after my daughter died I finally realized that, if I was going to survive, I’d need to think differently. It’s hard to think differently (at least for me) but two books really helped me: Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and Elizabeth Lesser’s Broken Open. These two books shoved me into a rabbit hole of new words and ideas. Words like, “ego,” “transcendence,” and “purpose.” But being a skeptical scientist, I’m always wondering whether these words and ideas have actually been tested. I was happily surprised to find that these ancient concepts have recently been studied by really good researchers. Over time, they’ve become subjects of my own research.

Lauroly Q- You discuss ‘personal agency’ in Chapter 2, and it’s a very important aspect of ‘finding and living your purpose’. Yet essentially the takeaway in your book is, we are all ultimately fulfilled from being ‘other focused’. I believe that’s why Viktor Frankl’s ideas and creation of ‘logo therapy’ is so profound. In this world, there are a lot of people worldwide experiencing strife and they don’t seem to have a sense of ‘personal agency’. They may find it quite difficult to find their purpose in a way that many self-help practitioners might suggest. Do you think like Maslow suggests, that we must first get past survival modes before we can be altruistic? I can answer my own question when I think of Jesus, Buddha, and Mother Teresa. It’s a great topic to explore with you, because there are many stories and examples of transcendence in your book I loved. Feel free to pick one…

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: I’m particularly drawn to the story of James Arinaitwe, who, as a boy in Uganda, lost his mother and father to AIDS by the time he was ten. He and his mother walked over 300 miles to the residential home of the President of Uganda to ask for an education. He’s now the co-founder and director of Teach for Uganda. He laughed when I suggested what many Westerners believe — that purpose is only a higher-order need. He said that “Families that break down are the ones who have no purpose or vision for the family. Purpose goes hand in hand with hope. In the West, people may not relate to this, but this is how we think. Purpose sustains poor people.”

 

Lauroly Q- I loved that story in your book. While purpose is your focus you really make the connection that wellness is key to our personal development. There are 5 wellness practices and rituals you explore in your book. Sleep, Presence, Activity, Creativity and Eating. How did creativity get on your top 5 list? I might add you really expand on the meaning and expression of creativity in your book.

 

Dr. Vic Strecher: Thank you for noticing! Creativity is one of my favorite subjects. It’s consistently ignored or at least de-emphasized in our schools and in our society as a whole, yet creativity is what will ultimately be needed to maintain our competitive edge in the world. I spent quite a bit of time understanding the way people conceptualize creativity. My favorite view is put forth by the psychologist Rollo May — that creativity requires courage — the courage to say that the status quo isn’t good enough and that there’s a better way. By the way, in our research, creativity and presence are the two leading predictors of energy and willpower, exceeding the impact of more traditional behaviors such as physical activity, eating behavior, or sleep.

Lauroly Closing: I could go on forever chatting with you about the ideas in your book, but this is a blog and most people will be better served reading your fantastic book for themselves. So this is my gift to the person I was recently talking to about hope and purpose. Your book is one I will no doubt recommend to anyone struggling with meaning, purpose and direction. Thank you for writing it Vic, and keep them coming. Your gift for communicating and emotionally connecting has so much to offer, especially in wellness culture.

Dr. Vic Strecher Closing: Thank you, Laura. I’ve so enjoyed your blog and your perspective and greatly appreciate your interest in this work!

 

read more

WWB WATCH: ‘It’s Complicated’ –Three Important Articles and Why We Don’t Have to Be So Dazed, Confused, & Clueless About Our Health

Aug 20, 2016 by

WWBWatchTemplate22

 

I love connecting the dots and sharing with you! In the last week I came across three high profile health articles I thought were very interesting, conflicting and ultimately illuminating for us. ‘Here at ‘The Watch’ I aim to raise awareness about important developments in wellness culture that matter. I think sifting through these three articles is worth your while and below I share my takeaway on what I believe matters. The reason I share these particular articles, is because they are all inter-connected and expose the challenges we are confronting today. Each of them also offers wisdom on how to navigate in an increasingly over-loaded information highway on health and wellness.

 

IT’S COMPLICATED! 

 

1- Gina Kolata wrote an article in the New York Times entitled ‘We’re So Confused, The Problems with Food & Exercise Studies”. She put a spotlight on the conflicting data researchers present focused on lifestyle prescriptions, and quotes doctors who conclude the data is inconclusive, and that we don’t know how to measure diet and exercise. It is worth your time reading this article, simply because it shows us just how complicated research is. The research itself is complicated ( size, how rigorous it is and who is supporting the research). The NYT writer does remind us there are some pretty large federally funded research studies that are taken seriously. Yet in other cases there are so many studies that conflict with each other. These studies are released to the public and are deciphered by health media and biased organizations, and often in sound bites. The result as one doctor interviewed points out is ‘whipsaw literature’ and news. One week coffee is good for you and the next week it it is not.

WWB TAKEAWAY:  It doesn’t matter whether coffee is good or not. It does matter whether it is good for you personally. This article needed to be written, because it is exposing two major issues concerning research and interpretation. What it doesn’t focus on enough is how ‘industry’ gets a hold of research and further muddies the water. We all know that many supposed ‘health websites’ are created by and supported by certain industries. We can’t get away from it. Does it mean you can’t trust any study? No, I don’t think so. It does mean we have to be savvy and conservative about embracing the results of new studies released, because they may not apply to you at all. We also have to connect the dots. Who is funding the research, how rigorous was it and who is interpreting the research? It’s complicated! We need research to uncover important health findings, yet we now know that bio-individuality is really all that matters. Some can drink coffee all day and others can not. This is a simple example of bio-individuality but serves the point. Who cares what the study finds if you feel okay! If you are 65 and have been drinking coffee in the morning all your life, it’s safe to say it’s not all that harmful, unless you develop a new health condition that may be adversely affected by the caffeine in coffee. Do you see how it gets tricky? Yes it’s complicated!

You will find me coming back to this one central idea in wellness over and over. The idea… is we are all unique bio-individuals and epigenetics matters. Therefore our interaction with environment, food and substances are always going affect us differently. We have to know our own bodies. The only thing we really have across the board in health and wellness, is common sense. Which leads me to my next article, shared by a well respected expert and nutritionist Marion Nestle, in response to the article by Gina Kolata.  Marion is full of wisdom and is always reminding us to use our common sense! Her perspective is decidedly more optimistic about research.  I agree with Marion Nestle but also see the larger context, which is ultimately a funnel of information spinning around, vulnerable to industries work of marketing distortion. Making us…

 

DAZED, CONFUSED & CLUELESS? WELL MAYBE!

 

2- Marion Nestle’s (Founder of Food Politics) article was entitled “Confused About Diet? Oh Please! She was exasperated by Gina’s NYT article and felt that it only created more confusion for us. Marion believes quote, ” Nutrition advice could not be easier to understand.  Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits; balance calories; don’t eat too much junk food.”.

Good, wise common sense. What part aren’t we getting? Her website ‘FOOD POLITICS’ actually explains a lot.

She is right,  but oddly enough she has an entire website devoted to educating us on the politics of the food industry. She is always trying to keep them honest. We are thankful to have her guiding us and informing us. Her prescription of common sense is so important, but Marion herself recognizes the ‘culture’ of marketing and the power of industry can certainly lead us astray. Or at the very least tempt us. I will get to the ‘culture’ challenge in the next article below. Marion emphatically reminds us quote, “A global consensus of expert judgment concurs… Routine physical activity and a diet of mostly minimally processed vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds and water when thirsty redounds consistently to the advantage of human health. It offers benefits to the planet as well.”.

WWB TAKEAWAY: Marion is spot on in my book, but our culture in the last thirty years and two major industries ( food and pharma) have slowly and methodically conditioned us to approach our diets and our illnesses very differently from the stance of ‘common sense’. What we are left with after a forty year infiltration of marketing is a culture of illness and dare I say, perhaps ignorance. You live and you learn, and in our case we have to re-learn what would seem to be easy common sense. I think what we need is a social/cultural anthropologist ( which is me without the degree!) to give us contextual understanding of how culture shapes us and can mislead us. Oops! I now need an historian to illustrate just how off the grid we have gone taking care of our health and wellness. I will get to this with my closing. Marion shared another link to an article written by Dr. David L. Katz who is a renowned expert in Preventive Medicine and Public Health and a driving force in the practice of lifestyle medicine. His article was entitled ‘Diets, Doubts and Doughnuts: Are We Truly Clueless?  He pretty much makes the case that Marion is strongly advocating. He absolutely believes we are not clueless. He ends his article with this statement “I recommend that you leave your eyebrow just where it is, and lift instead your feet, and your fork, accordingly.”

Hopefully you are following me! Let’s move on to the last article but equally as enlightening as the others.  Like Marion’s, this article reminds us of another expert’s ( Michael Pollan) sage advice ” ‘Eat food, mostly plants and not too much’. The writer for the Atlantic plays with that wisdom and applies it to our exercise conundrum. Please read on…

 

 

DO WHAT YOU CAN & SIT AT YOUR OWN RISK!

 

3- James Hamblin, MD, is a senior editor at The Atlantic. He writes the health column for the monthly magazine and hosts the video series If Our Bodies Could Talk  and wrote a recent article entitled  ‘The Futility of the WorkOut-Sit Cycle–Exercise Can’t Undo Sitting’. Here we go! Is it all for naught? Are we doomed to obesity and illness? Nah, not at all. This is ultimately another article that ultimately reminds us of…there’s that word again, COMMON SENSE. Before he gets to this, he covers all the complicated research and also uses excellent real world examples of how the conclusions and the prescriptions born out of the research, may not be ideal for getting most of us moving and taking care of ourselves. It’s complicated and he also reminds us how many people have different health profiles ( someone with a disability, or diabetes) and different lifestyles because of their individual conditions. Yes we are all different.

I can personally add to this particular conversation because my mother suffered from severe Rheumatoid Arthritis and limited mobility but always made it a point to move. She walked slowly when able, and sometimes just around her home. I also might add through good conscious diet, she showed no signs of heart disease, but ultimately died of cancer. We all die one way or another and sometimes of things that are out of our control. That’s another discussion, let’s get back to Hamblin’s article. In his article he walks us through all the confusing research regarding exercise and fitness. He quotes another expert with this conclusion:

“In a press statement, the chair of the group, Deborah Rohm Young, the director of behavioral research at Kaiser Permanente Southern California, put it this way: “Regardless of how much physical activity someone gets, prolonged sedentary time could negatively impact the health of your heart and blood vessels.”

Or, as Hamblin puts it you can’t undo sitting! This might sound futile but it’s not, because I am here to remind you that bio-individuality matters and so does the WHOLE picture of your overall lifestyle. It’s great to isolate food and nutrition, or exercise and fitness for research purposes, but health and wellness is dependent on a whole host of considerations which includes yes our genes, but also our social connections, emotional/spiritual well-being, and mental health too. It’s complicated! He concludes in his very good article that maybe we need a similar mantra for exercise as Michael Pollan’s for eating. Sit Less…Move More. Once again we hear, sound, wise, common sense.  My closing and takeaway follows here. I connect the dots and find our ‘culture’ to be at the core of all this.

 

OUR HEALTH & WELLBEING IS ONLY AS GOOD AS THE CULTURE WE LIVE IN

 

All of these articles create the sense of urgency we need to have about health and well-being. There wouldn’t be experts writing about this so much if there wasn’t such a crisis. What I often feel is missing in the conversation about wellness is how our collective values can create a healthy society and a sick society. Connecting the dots matters. Whether it be the food industry, or the pharma industry or any industry, they can’t be successful without our buy in. Am I blaming the industry? Am I blaming us? No to both. Because it takes two to tango, and the buy in happens insidiously through cultural shifts and trends. For example, back in the 80’s we discovered that the Japanese were surpassing us as an economy and superpower. What came out of that fear and discovery was a cultural shift. We learned that they worked much longer hours, and this knowledge led us down the ‘workaholic is good’ path. This shift lead to other ‘stressors’ on family, health and diets. Each area became neglected. Fast food and frozen dinners could never be successful without the culture cooperating. The culture’s values changed and wellness was not part of the new ‘value system’.  We got swept up in a culture that systematically affected our overall health and wellness through a span of forty years. It happened slowly and not because we are clueless, but because we shifted our attention to one value superseding all others. You can connect the dots for yourself!

The mission at World Wise Beauty is to advance and celebrate wellness culture, and the word ‘culture’ is extremely important because values create culture. When I share the WWB Watch I am shining a light on all the little things that matter and add up. They illuminate our values and sometimes illuminate our blindspots. Let’s focus on what matters because wellness or the lack thereof affects every aspect of our lives. As Ancient Rome’s greatest poet ‘Virgil’ said, “The greatest wealth is health”. Paying attention really matters, and we don’t have to be dazed, confused, or clueless when we are clear on our values.

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

read more