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7 Ways Acupuncture Changes Your Brain, According To Science

Acupuncture Changes Your Brain

Acupuncture Changes Your BrainWe often think of human health as disparate organs and other body parts. While Traditional Chinese Medicine does discuss similar items they are not the same. In fact, acupuncture changes your brain in ways that Traditional Chinese Medicine never even tried to express… because it is a system of medicine that embraces a holistic approach. Still, recent research suggests there are changes to your brain from acupuncture.

Most everyone knows what acupuncture is, but do you actually know how it affects you? The age-old practice has been around for at least two thousand years (and some people believe it is much older than that), and despite any skepticism about its efficacy, the benefits of acupuncture for various health conditions and pain are backed by a large body of scientific research. If you were ever curious as to how and why acupuncture works to combat many chronic health issues, it’s because acupuncture can literally change your brain, from its chemistry, to your neurotransmitters, and your response to pain.”Acupuncture is part of Traditional Chinese Medicine [TCM], which is a whole system approach to health,” Dr. Elizabeth Trattner tells Bustle. “Unlike western medicine, Chinese medicine and acupuncture takes into account a patient’s whole being, and we address the entire body — including the physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.”Dr. Shari Auth, DACM, LAC, LMT, and acupuncturist at the NYC wellness center Modrn Sanctuary, explains, “One of things that so amazing about acupuncture is its numerous use cases. In addition to being a great alternative to prescription pain medication, it is also good for mental health. In today’s busy world, people are turning to acupuncture for relief from stress and anxiety.”

Source: 7 Ways Acupuncture Changes Your Brain, According To Science

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The Largest Health Disparity We Don’t Talk About – The New York Times

Our Largest Health Disparity.

Our Largest Health DisparityMental Illness is our largest health disparity. And it seems to be getting worse. At a time when poor diet, stress, and more have caused an epidemic of chronic illnesses in the US and around the world these same factors may compound health challenges for those with mental illnesses.

Americans with depression, bipolar disorder or other serious mental illnesses die 15 to 30 years younger than those without mental illness — a disparity larger than for race, ethnicity, geography or socioeconomic status. It’s a gap, unlike many others, that has been growing, but it receives considerably less academic study or public attention. The extraordinary life expectancy gains of the past half-century have left these patients behind, with the result that Americans with serious mental illness live shorter lives than those in many of the world’s poorest countries.

National conversations about better mental health care tend to follow a mass shooting or the suicide of a celebrity. These discussions obscure a more rampant killer of millions of Americans with mental illness: chronic disease.

We may assume that people with mental health problems die of “unnatural causes” like suicide, overdoses and accidents, but they’re much more likely to die of the same things as everyone else: cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and respiratory problems. Those with serious mental illness are more likely to struggle with homelessness, poverty and social isolation. They have higher rates of obesity, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Nearly half don’t receive treatment, and for those who do, there’s often a long delay.

To read the original article please see: The Largest Health Disparity We Don’t Talk About – The New York Times

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Researchers Just Found the Key to Your Well-Being and It’s Not Money – Mother Jones

Well-Being Needs More Than Money

Well-Being Needs More Than MoneyAccording to a new study, money really doesn’t buy happiness. Humans have instinctively known this for ages, celebrating that well-being needs more than money in song and literature for centuries. Conventional healthcare has also picked up on the theme and attributed health to a constellation of non-clinical factors known as social determinants of health. Let’s use this instinct and knowledge to expand how we address well-being.

Your sense of well-being likely depends on a few specific characteristics about where you live—and it’s definitely not just about the money. It turns out that diverse neighborhoods, specifically those with more black residents, commuting by public transportation or bike, and having access to health care are all top factors associated with greater well-being, a new study finds.

Although self-reported, well-being—defined as “a person’s cognitive and affective evaluations of his or her life”—is one crucial way to measure the health of a community. Science shows that people with higher well-being levels live healthier, longer lives than people who report lower well-being. And while regional well-being is understood at a large scale, this study aims to explain exactly why some people are living better lives at the county-level.

As part of a national Gallup-Sharecare poll, nearly 340,000 American adults, both English- and Spanish-speaking, answered questions about their lives—their standard of living, satisfaction with community, work, relationships, and personal health, to name a few—by telephone between 2010 and 2012.

Based on their answers, a team of scientists led by researchers from Yale and the University of Cincinnati, assigned each person a “well-being” score. Then, they compared Americans’ self-reported well-being levels to more than 70 different demographic, social-economic, medical, and physical environmental factors within their county, to measure which ones wielded the greatest influence on people’s life satisfaction. The results published Wednesday in the journal PLOS ONE.

To read the original article please see: Researchers Just Found the Key to Your Well-Being and It’s Not Money – Mother Jones

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The HealthCare Too model provides for a collaborative holistic care approach to health. We look for articles and knowledge to help consumers and their care teams make holistic health decisions and also shop for the best deals in holistic health so you can find them here! We appreciate the value of surgery and pharmaceuticals but want to make more paths available for your HealthCare Too. See our model for Holistic Health for more information!

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Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds : NPR

Gut Feeling

gut feelingDo you know people who just seem to have a knack for sensing something? They have a “gut feeling” that defies logic but turns out to be right more often than not? Perhaps the “gut feeling” warns them about a fraudulent potential business partner or a bad house choice or to miss a disastrous meeting. Mom, Nancy, is the queen of “gut feelings” and there may be an explanation.

Could the microbes that inhabit our guts help explain that old idea of “gut feelings?” There’s growing evidence that gut bacteria really might influence our minds.

“I’m always by profession a skeptic,” says Dr. Emeran Mayer, a professor of medicine and psychiatry at the University of California, Los Angeles. “But I do believe that our gut microbes affect what goes on in our brains.”

Mayer thinks the bacteria in our digestive systems may help mold brain structure as we’re growing up, and possibly influence our moods, behavior and feelings when we’re adults. “It opens up a completely new way of looking at brain function and health and disease,” he says.

So Mayer is working on just that, doing MRI scans to look at the brains of thousands of volunteers and then comparing brain structure to the types of bacteria in their guts. He thinks he already has the first clues of a connection, from an analysis of about 60 volunteers.

Mayer found that the connections between brain regions differed depending on which species of bacteria dominated a person’s gut. That suggests that the specific mix of microbes in our guts might help determine what kinds of brains we have — how our brain circuits develop and how they’re wired.

To read the entire article please see: Gut Bacteria Might Guide The Workings Of Our Minds : Shots – Health News : NPR

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VA Expands Holistic Health Programs | Military.com

VA Expands Holistic Health Programs

VA Expands Holistic Health ProgramsGood news for those vets who need a more holistic approach to their health problems. The VA is expanding its holistic health programs! The VA seems to be leading the way in holistic health approaches that knit together multiple facets of health: mind, body, spirit, and environment. The programs embrace complementary therapies like yoga and mindfulness practices that can be personalized into a vet’s care plan.

According the the VA’s website, the Whole Health Initiative is a new program that they say creates a personalized health plan that considers the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and environmental needs of veterans. The VA says the Whole Health System “acknowledges that health care involves more than the physical human body.”

“VA’s Whole Health approach helps veterans live their lives to the fullest,” said VA Acting Secretary Robert Wilkie. “By developing a personal health plan that integrates many areas of their lives, veterans can truly take charge of their well being and improve their health all around.  I’m pleased to recognize these VA facilities that are helping our veterans do just that.”

NEW DIRECTION FOR VA CARE

This new program offers things like peer support involving other veterans with similar medical conditions or military service experience; well being programs such as yoga, tai chi, and mindfulness; and whole health clinical care utilizing a holistic approach rather than just handing out pills.

The VA says they are shifting from a health care system focused primarily on treating disease to one rooted in forming continuous healing relationships and partnerships that “support you in achieving your greatest overall well being.” The result is a whole health approach, which is a radical redesign of health care focused on empowering you.

To read the entire article please see: VA Expanding New Holistic Health Programs | Military.com

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New Documentary Explores How Acupuncture Helps Cancer Victims

Acupuncture Helps Cancer Victims

acupuncture helps cancer victimsThough Americans and other Western countries increasingly accept acupuncture, we still only scratch the surface (excuse the pun). A new documentary looks at how acupuncture helps cancer victims, opening new and complementary therapies to those who need all the help possible.

“While acupuncture is certainly gaining in popularity, its potential is still being underestimated,” said Matthew Bauer, President of the ANF. “We wanted to produce a documentary that shows how this ancient health care approach can and should be incorporated into modern medicine.”

Co-produced and directed by Doug Dearth (also the producer of the documentary 9000 Needles), this first ANF episode of the documentary series Getting to the Point has Dearth meeting the families of young Cade Spinello and Max Wilford. Viewers learn the touching stories of how they and their families dealt with the devastating effects of childhood cancer.

Facing the complications from brain surgery and their upcoming chemotherapy treatments, CHOC neurosurgeon Dr. William Loudon suggests to Cade’s and Max’s parents that they try something outside the box—and introduces them to CHOC hospital acupuncturist Ruth McCarty. This unique treatment approach helps ease the fatigue, nausea and pain so common in cancer victims, while Cade is also aided in the recovery of a devastating stroke he suffered after his second brain surgery.

“Many people struggling with cancer, as well as parents of children suffering serious illnesses like cancer, would not think of acupuncture as a viable additional resource,” said Bauer. “We want to help people better understand the strengths and weakness of this natural healing system as well as how they can find qualified practitioners and facilities.

”As a longstanding national advocate of the practice of acupuncture, the NCCAOM was the perfect partner to join forces with the ANF as a major sponsor for the film. The NCCAOM’s mission is to assure the safety and well-being of the public and promote national evidence-based standards of competence.

“The wide-ranging, profound healing effects of acupuncture remain largely unknown to the general public,” said Kory Ward-Cook, Ph.D., CAE, Chief Executive Officer of the NCCAOM. “This documentary is of great importance not only to the acupuncture community, but to potential viewers everywhere. We are honored to sponsor the film, and we recognize the need for additional funding so that more such films can be made.”

For more information and to see the video please visit: New Documentary Explores Acupuncture’s Potential in Helping Cancer Victims

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Not All Calories Are Equal: Some calories can promote fat gain and obesity more than others

Not All Calories Are Equal

Not All Calories Are EqualFor decades many of us have worked under the assumption that all calories are equal. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking that calories for a soda, burger and fries were the same as anything else. Research is showing that, in fact, not all calories are equal.

Healthy, balanced eating involves much more than counting calories.

In fact, counting calories has barely any relation to having a nutritious diet. And a new study claims that we should probably be more concerned about where our calories come from, rather than how many calories we consume.

Published in the Obesity Reviews, the research says that those calories found in sweetened drinks (read: fizzy pop) can be particularly bad for our health.

A team of 22 researchers from different US universities found that despite containing the same number of calories, a 340ml can of sugary soft drink is far less healthy than a medium-sized potato (surprise, surprise).

The former can increase your risk of type 2 diabetes and other issues, while a potato is rich in a whole range of vitamins and minerals.

So far, so obvious.

The study reads: ‘Calories from any food have the potential to increase risk for obesity and cardiometabolic disease because all calories can directly contribute to positive energy balance and fat gain.

‘However, various dietary components or patterns may promote obesity and cardiometabolic disease by additional mechanisms that are not mediated solely by caloric content.’

To read the original article please see: Some calories can promote fat gain and obesity more than others | Metro News

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Meditation 101: Practices, Postures, and Everything In Between

Meditation 101

Meditation 101Meditation is supposed to be simple, even relaxing. For many, however, it can be confusing and cause tension. Fitness Goat provides us with a Meditation 101 guide that lists many types of meditation and reassures us that it takes time.

“I am incapable of meditating,” admitted a friend of mine just the other day. “It ends up being just me silently agonizing over my to-do list.”

I totally get it; meditation is difficult. It’s definitely not a practice you’ll excel at right away. Just like you can’t pick up a golf club for the first time and expect to make it to the Masters Tournament next year and get that green jacket.

Okay, maybe that’s exaggerating, but you get the picture. The art of meditation can take years to learn, and you may never achieve perfect bliss, but it’s all about the practice.

And just like golf may not be your sport, certain styles of meditation may not be your cup of tea either. It takes some experimenting to find what works for you.

What is Meditation?

Meditation is a deliberate practice and one that requires your most quiet, mindful state. The word is tossed around a lot, but you may not exactly know meditation’s actual meaning or function. If asked, I would initially picture Yoda summoning the Force. Perhaps this is a form of meditation, but we’ll leave that for the galaxy.

Though mediation varies and splinters off into different styles of practices, it begins with one specific application—calming your mind. It also (hopefully) ends with a similar goal—restoring balance. The in-between is where you can customize your practice.As with most new endeavors, it’s helpful to be educated on the subject before you jump in. That’s why we’re here! In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn about the types of meditation, the benefits of meditation, meditation postures, and even some apps that will help you get in the zone. Then we’ll answer some common questions about meditation and silence any skeptics out there.

For more information please see: Meditation 101: Practices, Postures, and Everything In Between

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California Becomes The First State To Prescribe Food As Medicine

Prescribe Food As Medicine

Prescribe Food As MedicineThe ancient Greek physician Hippocrates left us many important thoughts on health, including Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. While physicians around the world still pledge the Hippocratic Oath, too few receive any training in nutrition. As a result, the healthcare system overlooks the vital nature of food as a component of healing. As part of any care plan, health systems should prescribe food as medicine. We have to eat. What / When / How / With whom we eat makes a difference in our health. If we prescribe food as medicine and think holistically, we can improve care while reducing costs and improving quality of life. If patient engagement is important to your organization, then remember Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.

Nutritious, plentiful food plays an outsized role in helping people recover from major illness or live with a chronic condition. In addition to cancer treatment, which requires patients to eat high-calorie meals, people with cardiovascular illnesses may benefit from low-sodium food, while those with type 2 diabetes can better manage their disease with meals that are low in sugar and refined carbohydrates.

Across the country, an estimated one in eight Americans ― 42 million in total ― are food insecure. Not only does this mean that they may be experiencing hunger, but that the kinds of food they do eat are not nutritious enough to sustain an active, healthy life. At the same time, rates of chronic disease caused by poor nutrition are rising, and the more food insecure you are, the more likely you are to have chronic diseases like hypertension, coronary heart disease, hepatitis, stroke, cancer, asthma, diabetes and arthritis.

Despite its importance, food during an illness can often be an afterthought. Crucially, it is not covered by any medical insurance plan. Instead, people like Latney have to rely on nonprofits or charity to help them fill the nutrition gap, and not all cities have organizations that can help.

To read the entire article see: California Becomes The First State To Prescribe Food As Medicine | HuffPost

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Lifestyle Medicine Promotes Cost Savings: An Actuary’s Pilot Project

Lifestyle Medicine Promotes Cost Savings

lifestyle medicine promotes cost savingsSo simple yet so hard to change. We know lifestyle medicine promotes cost savings. There is decades of research already available and more coming every day. This article from noted holistic health advocate, John Weeks, looks at a simple experiment that produced remarkable results. Using the well-known book / movie “Forks Over Knives” an actuary ran his own experiment.

“I didn’t know anything about this information, before the movie, about how this was possible,” he recollected. He began to concoct the idea for his experiment. What would happen if a set of Central States’ insureds who use their Medicare supplement were merely given the opportunity to access this news information, as he had been. Might this impact health across the population.  He received internal approvals and carried out the little study on 500 Medicare supplement policy-holders.

The intervention was simple. Each was sent a copy of the “Forks over Knives” film. It arrived with a letter that shared with them that, by following the concepts in the film, they could reverse the pattern of their chronic diseases: “We kind of tried to present it like a drug intervention. We said here is something that could help you reverse your disease.” The letter also included a number to call to request a copy of the book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, by one of the featured doctors in the film.

Of the 500, 17% requested a copy of the book. Ten months after the intervention, Beckman compared claims for medical services versus the 10 months prior to the mailing for two groups: those who responded to the book offer, and those who didn’t. Those who responded saw a 20% reduction in claims compared to a 5% reduction in claims for those only receiving the film. This compares to a 6% increase for those not receiving any materials.

A follow-up survey supported these numbers with 90% of the book recipients saying that they “did something” to positively change their habits in response and 80% reporting some health improvement.

How about the cost side? “The R.O.I. was through the roof,” said Beckman. The book plus video cost $17. The total cost was perhaps $6190-$8000 for all mailed including some handling costs. At this cost, reducing a couple nights of hospital stay would alone take the pilot to break-even.

Source: Remarkable lifestyle medicine cost savings from an actuary’s pilot project

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