November 2016

Five Wellness Trends That May Save Your Life

Author: Becca Edwards

We don’t have a health care system; we have a sick care system. Research suggests many Americans do not visit a physician unless there is a serious problem. One report found that Millennials actually value “other priorities” over their health, and another study found many Americans “simply don’t like visiting the doctor”—and not just because of the cost of health care but because of poor patient-doctor relations. As a result, Americans are going to the doctor’s office less frequently than in the past; on average, we visit our doctor four times a year, which is substantially less than in other countries. For example, in Japan, people usually go to their doctor 13 times a year. In Germany, they go 9.7 times. And in Canada, they go 7.4.

Despite our reluctance to visit our doctor, statistics show that we are in dire need of medical attention. More than 70 percent of adults across the U.S. are already being diagnosed with a chronic disease. Even though Americans are the biggest consumer of weight-loss products (80 percent) in the world, we still lead the world in obesity and unhealthy lifestyle. And NBC News reported, “While life expectancy in the United States used to be one year above the [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] average in 1970, it is now more than one year below the average,” and “The US ranks at twenty-sixth in life expectancy out of 34 OECD countries.”

Adding insult to injury, Western medicine typically hyper-focuses on one part of the body rather than the body as a whole. We go to the cardiologist for our heart, the gastroenterologist for digestion-related conditions, the neurologist for neurological issues, and so on. As a result, if we do have a health event, we often end up getting knocked around like a pinball from doctor’s office to doctor’s office, filling out release forms, recapping our health story to multiple nurses and physician assistants, and spending a lot of time, energy and money in hopes of maybe solving the problem.

In 2010, I was experiencing chest pains. I went to a cardiologist, who sent me to a neurologist, who sent me to a physical therapist, who then thought I should see a pain management doctor, who referred me to a gastroenterologist, who then recommended me to a sports doctor, who then sent me to another physical therapist who specialized in myofascial work, which finally solved my problem—in 2016. That’s right, it took me six years to discover that my hip was rotated which caused my SI ligament on my left side to pull my ribs out of whack, causing a condition much like costochondritis.

I bet you can relate to my story. I’m sure you (or someone close to you) have had a health challenge that led you down a winding maze of medical providers and diagnoses. If you’re like me and sick and tired of people feeling sick and tired about our health care approach, then let’s band together and begin to feel empowered wellness-wise. Let’s remedy our health care situation by seeking innovative care rather than the current standard form of care and look at five wellness trends that may save your life.

Holistic Healthcare
Jenna Christ, RN, BSN, CHT, LMT of Oasis Life Spa is a holistic healthcare provider—meaning she looks at a person’s whole being, which includes his or her physical, emotional, mental and spiritual wellness. Christ, who previously worked in hospice before buying Oasis Life Spa in July, has a clinical understanding of medicine and certain treatments. She also offers her clients a long list of wellness modalities such as reflexology, Reiki, massage therapy, healing touch (an energy technique), hypnotherapy, and colon hydrotherapy. Combining both conventional and complementary care, she is making it her mission to create a network of providers from medical specialists to alternative therapists to provide more comprehensive health for Hilton Head Island and the surrounding area. As her business grows, she will sell probiotics, nutritional supplements, and essential oils for aromatherapy.

Like all holistic practitioners, Christ believes preventative care is our best defense against many of the leading causes of death including some cancers and heart disease and many chronic conditions like poor digestion and autoimmune disorders. “As a hospice nurse, I heard countless times from my patients, ‘If only I had known better’ or ‘If only I had eaten better.’ I decided to move from hospice care to owning Oasis so that I could help people be more proactive about their health,” Christ said.

Holistic health professionals treat patients as a person, not as a disease. They take a team approach to healing, integrating complementary medicine. Their treatment involves fixing the root cause of the condition, not just alleviating the symptoms. As a result, holistic practitioners are less likely to first prescribe a drug—and this is critical to improved health in the U.S. The Washington Post reported that researchers have found the prevalence of prescription drug use among people 20 and older rose to 59 percent in 2012 from 51 percent just a dozen years earlier. During the same period, the percentage of people taking five or more prescription drugs nearly doubled, to 15 percent from 8 percent. According to the CDC, overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, and in 2014, more than 14,000 people died from overdoses involving prescription opioids.

Thermography and BEMER
Christ is joining forces with Shanna Schultz, CTT to provide both thermography and BEMER treatments. Thermography is an early detection screening that is non-invasive, painless (no compression), does not emit radiation and is currently being studied as an alternative to mammography for early detection of breast cancer. “Patients remove their clothes in a 72-degree temperature room and there is a 15-minute acclimation period,” Schultz explained. “Many people want to start out with a breast scan, but I recommend a full body scan, because there could be something life-changing like a blood clot. I take 30 images and then send them to a team of interpreting doctors through PACT, who produce a report in one to two weeks.” Patients then go to their physician or sign up with an interpreting doctor to review the results. “You can see heat imbalances eight to 10 years before something could show up on an anatomical study like a mammogram or through self-detection,” Schultz said. “Thermography is 97 percent accurate for early breast cancer detection, whereas mammography is 83 percent accurate.”

Schultz also introduced me to the BEMER, a healing device that has been around for 20 years and recently came to U.S. “BEMER pulsates therapeutic electromagnetic frequencies into the body and improves circulation by 31 percent,” Schultz said. “In our bodies, we have 74,000 miles of micro-vessels that become compromised due to injuries, aging and illnesses which can cause build up. BEMER opens up the micro-vessels and allows nutrients to flow throughout our bodies, irrigating waste build up.”

According to Dr. Chitvan Malik, 45,000 diseases (or 80 percent) are due to disturbed microcirculation or not enough blood flow getting to where it needs to go, and waste not being removed. Malik also said that BEMER increases ATP, or the energy source of our cells, and promotes oxygen in our cells. BEMER provides 29 percent increased oxygen utilization and “disease cannot thrive in an oxygenated environment,” she said.

In studies, BEMER generated 27 percent improved vasomotion over exercise, 29 percent increased microcirculatory blood flow, which is better than beta blockers, and 31 percent improved venous blood return. The list of health conditions improved by BEMER includes diabetes, poor wound healing, osteoporosis, heart attack, migraines, arthritis, stroke, dementia, kidney impairment, autism, neuropathy and digestive issues—just to name a few.

Schultz clarified that neither thermography or BEMER are standalone applications to detecting or treating conditions like cancer. “These are proactive approaches. I want to help save lives. Early detection is the key, and thermography is an excellent tool. Also, I have seen amazing results with BEMER.”

Pelvic health
Another innovator in promoting comprehensive health is Donna Pagano, MSPT of the Wellness Institute in Okatie. She began working as a pelvic health specialist in 2003 and has treated people with an array of health issues. “Pelvic therapy is a slightly under the radar modality, but can help people in so many ways,” said Pagano, who specializes in myofascial work and was the therapist who finally helped me with my chest pains. “Scar tissue continues to build for years and years,” she explained. “Even minimally invasive surgeries can cause painful conditions down the road.” Through her scar work, Pagano helps patients recover from surgeries like prostatectomy, hysterectomy, mastectomy, abdominoplasty, vasectomy and appendectomy.

Pelvic therapy is also used to correct many digestive issues, trauma to the body and postpartum recovery, as well as a useful technique to diagnosing some chronic conditions like sciatica. “The average person who has pain goes to five to seven doctors before they walk through my door,” Pagano said. “I like to look at the body as a whole. Connective tissue runs from your scalp to your toes. Just like that song, you know, ‘The hip bone’s connected to the thigh bone,’ everything is connected, and I have to piece the symptoms together to try and find the source of the problem. A lot of times the treatment spot might not be where the pain is occurring.”

Pagano also believes pelvic health is preventative health and is extremely helpful for some people living on pain pills and a solution to going under the knife. “Surgeries can cause even more issues, but pelvic PT is a conservative treatment. If I had to put a stat on it, I would say 80 percent of my clients improve enough to opt out of surgery,” Pagano said.

Gut health
Finally, we have gut health. Dr. Josh Axe has written extensively on this topic and I recommend following him on social media; he’s a wealth of health information. He wrote, “Did you know that at all times there are actually billions of beneficial bacteria present within all of us? In fact, bacteria make up our microbiome, an integral internal ecosystem that benefits our gut health and the immune system. It’s been said by some researchers that up to 90 percent of all diseases can be traced in some way back to the gut and health of the microbiome.”

Axe believes the importance of our gut microbiome cannot be overstated. “Poor gut health can contribute to leaky gut syndrome and autoimmune diseases and disorders like arthritis, dementia, heart disease, and cancer, while our health, fertility and longevity are also highly reliant on the balance of critters living within our guts.”

To achieve good gut health, Amanda Walton of WellFed, LLC recommends avoiding foods that promote inflammation and eating anti-inflammatory foods. Walton, who is a certified holistic health nutritionist and specializes in wellness catering, also believes people need to understand what’s going on in their bodies in relationship to food. “I really recommend that people get blood work done on a regular basis and talk to a wellness advocate like a nutritionist or physician to proactively prevent diseases,” Walton said. She also advised, “Everyone is so different. You cannot pinpoint what foods work for everyone, but there is a general consensus that people should eat healthy whole foods like lean meats, fresh vegetables and fruit versus pre-packaged foods like deli meat, canned vegetables or fruit juice. I enjoy sitting down with people, learning about their food preferences and lifestyles and creating a personalized food plan—especially as it pertains to gut health, because that’s where your health starts.” 

Foods That Promote Inflammation
Refined vegetable oils (canola, corn and soybean oils)
Pasteurized dairy products
Refined carbohydrates and processed grain products
Conventional meat, poultry and eggs
Added sugars (found in most packaged snacks, breads, condiments, canned items and cereals)
Trans fats/hydrogenated fats (used in packaged/processed products and often to fry foods)

Anti-inflammatory Foods
Fresh vegetables and fruits (but not fruit juice)
Probiotics
Herbs and spices (e.g. turmeric, ginger, basil, oregano, thyme)
Green tea and organic coffee (in moderation)
Wild-caught fish, cage-free eggs and grass-fed/pasture-raised meat
Healthy fats (e.g. grass-fed butter, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, nuts/seeds)
Red wine and dark chocolate/cocoa (in moderation)

Becca Edwards is a wellness professional, freelance writer and owner of b.e.WELL+b.e.CREATIVE (bewellbecreative.com).

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