Monthly Archives: February 2012

Natural Cholesterol Helpers: Safe Alternatives to Statin Drugs

The wildly popular cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins must carry new warnings, the FDA said today.   Users need to be alerted about risks of blood sugar or diabetes problems as well as potential memory issues related to use of the drugs.

If your cholesterol numbers aren’t perfect, don’t forget that there are drug-free ways to push them in the right direction.  Meryl Davids recently wrote this helpful piece that I edited for Whole Living Magazine, Foods that Fight Cholesterol, highlighting the heart-healthy benefits of delicious foods such as almonds, eggplant and soy.

.…Scientists have discovered that certain foods — dubbed “the portfolio diet” for its array of benefits — act like cholesterol-sucking vacuums, removing the excess from the body before it lodges dangerously in artery walls. In fact, when people in studies ate a diet rich in these foods, their LDL levels plummeted 35 percent on average. 

“The results are as dramatic as if they had been on a first-generation statin drug,” says Cyril Kendall, Ph.D.,…MORE

Holistic Eco-Health: Protesting blocked bike lanes with comedy

I’m an NYC cyclist, but I hadn’t seen Casey Neistat’s clever cycling video until today. Make sure you watch the first 90 seconds of bike lanes

Related alternahealthgrrrl stories:

Naked Cycling & Bike Share Systems

Power Cycling

A New Call To Take Back Our Health–Together

Mark Hyman, MD gave a preview of his new book, The Blood Sugar Solution, due out in the end of February, at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium this month.  In addition to a bunch of daily detox tips (sweat, drink water, eat garlic) he told us about the new movement he’s launching alongside the book. Take Back Our is a social movement, a conversation about how to get healthier together.

It’s not just about occupying healthcare, it’s about taking back health in our schools, in our places of worship, and in our communities.  Like Surgeon General Regina Benjamin in her recent praise of the Seventh-Day Adventist commitment to healthy living, Mark Hyman stressed the important role that social support (aka love) plays in individual health.  Especially in group worship, he says, because a rabbi, priest, minister, pastor, or imam can encourage care of the body as well as the soul. He sited the Saddleback Church project, where he worked with Daniel Amen and Memhet Oz to help create The Daniel Plan, a get-healthier small group guide.  The tagline is “Glorifying God in the Way We Eat, Move and Think!”

It’s the new “group health plan” or group fitness class, and I love the team approach. Belief in a higher power can be motivational–I think (and hope) it’ll be successful.  Especially thanks to the part of Mark Hyman’s site that lets members post pictures of people “caught in the act” doing something healthy.

Holistic Health: What you can really get out of meditation

Elaine Retholtz, my MBSR (mindfulness-based stress reduction) course instructor, shared this clever video short from Headspace.  In mere seconds it explains the practice of meditation and what you can really get out of meditating and being mindful.

It is, I presume, a free sample or promotion for their products–various apps and mindfulness training programs (some of which are free) led by Andy Puddicombe, author of Get Some Headspace. I can’t say for sure how useful the products are, but judging from this clip, Headspace seems kind of amazing.

Michael Pollan’s Food Rules: A Stop-Motion/Cliffs Notes Version

  Michael Pollan’s Food Rules has been translated into visual art once again.  Check out this short entered into the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce‘s film competition to illustrate and enhance big-idea talks.(RSA is something like a British version of TED, Ideas Worth Spreading) This cool video interpretation of a talk Pollan gave about the food industry, which we found on Brainpickings by way of Katherine Lanpher, is by Marija Jacimovic and Benoit Detalle.

New Natural Sleep Aid


Here’s the next big nightcap: Tart cherry juice cordials. A new study published in the European Journal of Nutrition says two glasses a day could add up to 40 minutes more sleep.  You can learn more on Pill Advised.  Sweet dreams!

Hooray for Holistic Healthcare!

More proof that holistic is the way to go when it comes to feeling good and maintaining good health: Integrative medicine is effective for treating everyday problems, according to a national survey by the Bravewell Collaborative.

Some 75 percent of integrative health centers said they had successfully treated chronic pain.  And more than half reported positive results for treating gastrointestinal conditions, depression and anxiety, cancer and chronic stress. Food and nutrition, supplements, yoga, meditation, traditional Chinese medicine, acupuncture, massage and pharmaceuticals were among the most cited approaches.

What’s more, the multidimensional team approach is cost-effective, personalized and empowering for patients. To learn more about the results, check out  Integrative Medicine in America: How Integrative Medicine Is Being Practiced in Clinical Centers Across the United States.

All You Need Is Psychosocial Support

“What we call psychosocial support in medicine,” explained Dean Ornish, MD, a few minutes into his talk at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium this morning, “is really just another way of saying love.” Speaking about his program’s focus on four key aspects of patient lifestyle, he highlighted food, stress response, exercise, and lastly, love and support.

On the surface, the importance of love in healing sounds cheesy and trite, but like the Beatles song, once you hear it, feel it and experience it, you can’t resist it.

Ornish is certainly onto something. Over the years, he has made real strides bringing integrative medicine to the mainstream.  Recently, Medicare agreed to provide coverage for his comprehensive lifestyle change prescription to reverse heart disease.  Not only will this make integrative medicine accessible to more people, it will help medical practices that approach health holistically fund their important work.

No doubt about it, Dean Ornish is spreading the love.  And to that end, I’ll share some of the things he told us today about the crucial roles of altruism, compassion and forgiveness in health and healing. (Find more on on

Fear is not a motivator for healthy change, feeling better is.

Our need for love, connection and community is as powerful as our need for food, air and water.  (He cited the successes of Facebook and Starbucks as examples of businesses that met an unmet need.  Connecting with others, via the internet or congregational coffee lounges, satisfies us.)

As with more exercise and better nutrition, your brain gets more blood flow and oxygen with more love.

This Valentines day, try spreading around some of that psychosocial stuff.  We need it!

Related story: Dr Vegan Goes to Washington

Jeffrey Bland Opens Integrative Health Conference With Talk On Inflamm-Aging

The Integrative Healthcare Symposium kicked off with a keynote speech from Jeffrey Bland, Phd, the “father of functional medicine.”  He addressed practioners from around the world who came to New York to learn more about integrative healthcare.

You can watch an interview with Dr Bland about last year’s symposium here.

This year, he tackled the Clinical Implications of Epigenetics, and gave an overview of how environment and lifestyle influence the expression of our genes—and the role they place in the development (or prevention of) of disease.

When describing nutrition’s role in health and how food talks to genes, Bland defined “inflamm-aging”:  How eating white foods like sugar and fat leads to inflammation and accelerates aging.

About functional medicine: This approach to medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership…By shifting the traditional disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, functional medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Functional medicine practitioners spend time with their patients READ MORE

Is green tea the key to independence?

Could be. New research suggests that drinking green tea keeps you spry and sharp. Older Japanese people who drank a lot of the antioxidant-rich brew were less likely to suffer disabilities than those who didn’t sip as much. The more they drank, the more likely they were to be mentally and physically able to take care of themselves as they aged.

Researchers suspect that green tea consumption protects against disabling diseases such as stroke, cognitive impairment and osteoporosis. Chock full of nutrients, the tea contains catechins and other polyphenols, phytochemical compounds and other vitamins and minerals associated with anti-aging.

The results were published in the March issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Read more details on Medical News Today.