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 WATCH: The Center for Science in the Public Interest Has an Important Health Update For You…and How Sweet it is Not!

Sep 13, 2016 by

WWBWatchTemplate222

 

If you missed the NYT article this Sunday on how the sugar industry manipulated research findings to downplay sugars role in heart disease, you can find the links here. Before you do, below is a quick but important message from the Center of Science in the Public Interest worthwhile reading. Their wise advice is echoed by the best experts and doctors from around the world.

I think the biggest challenge we face is the conflicting cultural dichotomy we live in. Wellness experts have been trying to warn us for the last twenty years about the dangers of a diet filled with sugar and fat, and yet our ‘pop culture’ which is everything from marketing promotion and traditional supermarkets, are peddling processed food to us ‘as if’ none of this wisdom and research was out there. I will acknowledge, some supermarkets are getting better with attuning to our health needs, but we still have a long way to go. For now, the best takeaway from WWB is ‘just because they are selling it, doesn’t mean we should buy it.’ If you leave your health and family’s health in the hands of marketers, you will not be able to send them the medical bills. Choose wisely and remember…

 

healthwisdom1

TrulyHerselfSignature22-300x75

 

 

 

FROM THE CENTER FOR SCIENCE IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST

 

New research from the University of California San Francisco finds that in the 1960s, Big Sugar paid scientists to downplay sugar’s role in heart disease: http://ow.ly/H5Pc3048OTB These findings provide one more reason why scientific journals should disclose all potential conflicts of interest in study abstracts.

But just because Big Sugar blamed saturated fat for heart disease doesn’t mean saturated fat is blameless. Both saturated fat and sugar promote heart disease. Major health authorities like the American Heart Association recommend that a healthy diet should limit added sugars (especially from sugary drinks) and replace foods rich in saturated fats (like meat, butter, and cheese) with foods rich in polyunsaturated fats (like fish, oils, and nuts). Read more: http://ow.ly/DRay3048IUC

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

WWB WATCH: Ken Burns Documentary ‘The Emperor of All Maladies’ Airs on PBS, March 30th. Based on Publitzer Prize Winning Book About Cancer

Mar 23, 2015 by

Having personally read this book from cover to cover, I highly recommend catching this series if you can’t read the entire book. It changed my perspective about cancer, the medical field ( for better and for worse) and opened my eyes wide about our human limitations. It is hopeful but painfully sober as we realize that cancer is here to stay. We all know someone who has been touched by Cancer and we all have our stories. The most compelling statement the series starts out with is the idea that there are so many kinds of cancers and so many trajectories each cancer cell can take. The excerpt below from PBS captures the essence of the book best and the part you need to hone in on is ‘the misunderstanding and the misperception’ about cancer. Be wise, learn more and don’t miss this series.

Truly Herself, Lauroly

EXCERPT PBS: “The series matches the epic scale of the disease, reshaping the way the public sees cancer and stripping away some of the fear and misunderstanding that has long surrounded it. The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience and perseverance but also of hubris, paternalism and misperception. Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies examines cancer with a cellular biologist’s precision, a historian’s perspective and a biographer’s passion. The series artfully weaves three different films in one: a riveting history documentary; an engrossing and intimate vérité film; and a scientific and investigative report.”

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Columbian Siddhartha Mukherjee’s Book Debuts on PBS March 30

Ken Burns Documentary is Based on Pulitzer Prize-Winning Book,

“Cancer: The Emperor of All Maladies”

Posted in: Cancer

A three-part, six-hour documentary series based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning cancer biography written by Siddhartha Mukherjee, MD, DPhil, assistant professor of medicine at P&S, debuts on PBS stations March 30 and continues on March 31 and April 1.

The documentary, based on the book “The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer” (Simon & Schuster, 2010), is directed by Barak Goodman and executive produced by Ken Burns. It is part of a project that also includes nearly two dozen webcast short films by Redglass Pictures (CancerFilms.org) and a comprehensive national campaign with Stand Up To Cancer and other project supporters.

The documentary series was included in a Jan. 1, 2015, New York Times list of “20 Shows to Watch, A Winter Bounty for Serious TV Fans.”

The book and documentary tell the comprehensive story of cancer from its first description in an ancient Egyptian scroll to the gleaming laboratories of modern research institutions. The film interweaves a sweeping historical narrative with intimate stories about contemporary patients and an investigation into the latest scientific breakthroughs.

WNYC, the national radio partner on the project, will present “Living Cancer,” a two-week series that begins Feb. 9 and will illustrate cancer research and treatment through personal stories of patients, doctors, and scientists. The series will air on NPR magazine shows, which are broadcast on public radio stations around the country. Some compelling voices in the series are availableonline. In March, “On the Media,” WNYC’s nationally distributed media analysis program, will air a special episode on cancer and the media, an important theme in Dr. Mukherjee’s book.

The website associated with the documentary, CancerFilms.org, includes produced and user-generated content that explores the three intermingled strands of the series: a historical documentary, a vérité film that focuses on current patients, and a scientific report. The website is intended for the vast cancer community of patients, survivors, family members, caregivers, scientists, clinicians, other health care providers, and the public at large.

The PBS documentary is narrated by the late actor Edward Herrmann, who died of brain cancer on Dec. 31, 2014.

read more