While paleo is a great thing my psoriasis has hardly budged with this way of eating. Given that my psoriasis started at a time of tremendous stress in my life I'd be wise to consider emotional factors. So, in my pursuit of good health I'm becoming interested in making sure I consider non-dietary interventions. As an example, two years of mid-afternoon fatigue went completely away when I started tuning into my circadian rhythms and going to sleep when I got tired, even if it was only 8pm.
My question to you is, what testimonials can you provide for non-dietary things that have improved your health?
Clarification. While I'm sure that life overall is better when we sleep more, meditate, and such, I'm particularly interested in your stories of specific conditions that you believe went away because of specific lifestyle changes or other non-diet interventions.
Here are three "non-foods" for thought.
- Malcolm Gladwell, in his Book "Outliers," writes about a community in Pennsylvania:
In Roseto, virtually no one under 55 died of a heart attack, or showed any signs of heart disease. For men over 65, the death rate from heart disease in Roseto was roughly half that of the United States as a whole. The death rate from all causes in Roseto, in fact, was something like thirty or thirty-five percent lower than it should have been.Were these people paleo? Yes and no (which I guess would be "no!")
Wolf's first thought was that the Rosetans must have held on to some dietary practices from the old world that left them healthier than other Americans. But he quickly realized that wasn't true. The Rosetans were cooking with lard, instead of the much healthier olive oil they used back in Italy. Pizza in Italy was a thin crust with salt, oil, and perhaps some tomatoes, anchovies or onions. Pizza in Pennsylvania was bread dough plus sausage, pepperoni, salami, ham and sometimes eggs. Sweets like biscotti and taralli used to be reserved for Christmas and Easter; now they were eaten all year round. When Wolf had dieticians analyze the typical Rosetan's eating habits, he found that a whopping 41 percent of their calories came from fat. Nor was this a town where people got up at dawn to do yoga and run a brisk six miles. The Pennsylvanian Rosetans smoked heavily, and many were struggling with obesity.So, what was their secret sauce?
What Wolf slowly realized was that the secret of Roseto wasn't diet or exercise or genes or the region where Roseto was situated. It had to be the Roseto itself. As Bruhn and Wolf walked around the town, they began to realize why. They looked at how the Rosetans visited each other, stopping to chat with each other in Italian on the street, or cooking for each other in their backyards. They learned about the extended family clans that underlay the town's social structure. They saw how many homes had three generations living under one roof, and how much respect grandparents commanded. They went to Mass at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Church and saw the unifying and calming effect of the church. They counted twenty-two separate civic organizations in a town of just under 2000 people. They picked up on the particular egalitarian ethos of the town, that discouraged the wealthy from flaunting their success and helped the unsuccessful obscure their failures.
- Jane Brody recent wrote an article for the New York Times: Forging Social Connections for Longer Life. This paragraph caught my attention:
After 200-plus pages of very informed discussion of life-enhancing issues like diet, exercise and mental stimulation, Mr. Robbins devotes a major section to relationships. He notes the importance of others in our lives and takes issue with self-absorption, with the “me” generation that focuses on itself to the neglect of others. Mr. Robbins cites an illustrative study published in 1983 by Larry Scherwitz, then a psychologist at Baylor University, who taped the conversations of nearly 600 men, a third of them with heart disease. Dr. Scherwitz counted how often the men used first-person pronouns — I, me, mine — and found that those who used them most often were most likely to have heart disease and, when followed for several years, most likely to suffer heart attacks.Yes, this is John Robbins. Regardless of what you think of his diet and philosophical views he's worth listening to about stress and health.
- Chris Kresser and many other people write about the importance of managing stress. Kresser writes, in part:
The gut is especially vulnerable to the presence of chronic (and even acute) stress, demonstrating stress-induced changes in gastric secretion, gut motility, mucosal permeability and barrier function, visceral sensitivity and mucosal blood flow. (2) There has also been evidence to suggest that gut microbiota may respond directly to stress-related host signals. (3)