Thursday, October 25, 2012

Religious Faith and Coping with Depression

Depression is a major public health problem.  Based on a joint study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health and WHO, depression was the leading cause of disability in the world (measured by years of life lived with disability) in 1990 and, in 2020, is expected to be the world’s second leading cause of disability, surpassed only by cardiovascular disease. See the following website at Duke University to view the ongoing study of religious versus conventional psychotherapy methods being used in treating depression:

This article of ongoing research in this field strongly suggests that since recent polls have shown that some 65% of the United States’ population indicates that religion is very important to them, and since some 80% of those suffering from depression would like for their therapists to use religious approaches in helping them to deal with their depression, that it is important for therapists to include such methodologies in treating depression in person’s of faith.  Former studies have already shown that one’s religious beliefs may be a real help in coping with depression.

In a book by Dr. Koenig of Duke University, he says the following: “Most of the adult population of the US experiences personal or emotional problems at some point or another during the course of a year. . . In any given month of the year, about 10-15 percent of the population suffers from depression or anxiety severe enough to warrant some form of treatment. Is there a relationship between these emotional problems and religion?  Does religion help people to cope better?

Between 1987 and 1989, our research group examined the relationship between the use of religion as a coping behavior and depression in a sample of almost 1,000 hospitalized medically ill men. . . . People who used religion as a coping behavior were then compared with those who said they coped in other ways (staying busy, visiting friends or family, and so forth).  Patients who depended heavily on their religious faith to cope were significantly less depressed than those who did not. . . . The only characteristic that predicted lower rates of depression was not the level of support from family or friends, not physical health status, and not even income or education level.  Rather, it was the extent to which patients relied on their religious faith to cope.  This was the only factor that predicted significantly better mental health six months later.  These findings were later published in the American Journal of Psychiatry and in Psychosomatics.”   Is Religion Good for Your Health?  (Harold G. Koenig, MD, Duke University Medical Center)

To what extent do you depend upon your faith to cope with physical or mental illness?  More and more studies are indicating that one’s religious faith may play a vital role in such coping.  Yours for a happier and healthier tomorrow.

-- Wayne Young

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Religion and Your Health
Over the past couple of decades there have been many studies showing that religion has a positive benefit for those desiring better health.  The following two paragraphs are quoted from the January 2010 issue of Vibrant Life online edition which may be found at for those who would like to read the entire article.
"One of the first studies to examine the specific pathways by which religion affects health was done by Dr. Harold Koenig, a researcher at Duke University Medical Center. In a study of 1,718 older adults in North Carolina who attended church at least once a week, he found they were only half as likely as nonattendees to have elevated levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune system protein involved in a wide variety of age-related diseases. It was hypothesized that if religious commitment could reduce stress, it would keep down the production of substances that impair the body’s ability to fight disease. One such substance was to be determined IL-6. Dr. Koenig’s findings were reported in a 1997 article in the Journal of Psychiatry in Medicine.
Koenig says he has run the numbers and found that religious people spend less time in the hospital, are healthier, recover faster, have fewer heart attacks, and generally handle life’s ups and downs in more positive ways. Other studies report that religious people tend to live 30 percent longer and experience better physical and mental health. They also have better marriages, use addictive substances less, and have stronger support systems. Even the skeptics, he says, should pay attention to his latest findings because of the practical results in terms of savings for insurance companies and hospitals. He advises that doctors need to factor in the patient’s religious beliefs and use their faith to help them recover."

Yours for better health!

-- Wayne Young

Monday, August 13, 2012

Social Relationships and Health

An article which was recently published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior ( entitled, “Social Relationships and Health: A Flashpoint for Health Policy, points clearly to the importance of social relationships for good health.

It has been shown that social relationships – marriage, religious meetings, volunteer agencies, etc. – both quantity and quality – “affect mental health, health behavior, physical health, and mortality risk.” It goes on to say that “Adults who are more socially connected are healthier and live longer than their more isolated peers.” 

The results of the studies that have been done over the last few decades indicate clearly the benefits for those who have social connections.  For Christians who attend a fellowship regularly and develop many good and wholesome relationships, this should be good news!  You might even find that your health will improve and you will live longer!

- Wayne Young

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

How to keep your Eyes Young

Your eyes are one of the most important organs in your body.  Blindness is the most scary condition humans fear short of cancer.

The eyes act as little video cameras that are constantly taking pictures of our world around us. The film of the eye (camera) is a layer of tissues called the retina, composed of rods and cones. The retina converts light energy into electrical impulses that travel in the 1 million strands of the two optic nerves to the area in the brain at the back of the head. A person “sees” with his brain. A stroke in the brain can cause blindness.

 In order for the cells in our eyes to be healthy they must receive sufficient oxygen, water, nutrients and antioxidants to counter oxidative damage(ageing and degeneration).

Lets look at two diseases associated with ageing of the eyes that can be prevented or progress slowed by lifestyle change. Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and cataract (cloudy lens).

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
The area in the center of the retina is called the macula lutea.  The lens in your eye focuses the image on this central focal point just as when using a magnifying glass (in fact one can burn paper and even start a fire with the magnifying glass and sunlight- right boy scouts?) The macula is where we see color and the area we use for reading. The maculae cells have the highest rate of metabolism in the body. More oxygen free radicals (damage) occurs here than anywhere else in the body.
Macular degeneration occurs in two forms: either a dry (cells die) or wet (new blood vessels develop that leak). The wet form causes the most severe visual loss.
Age related macular degeneration is the leading cause of irreversible visual loss in the western world.

If you have AMD, your eye doctor may prescribe for you a vitamin-antioxidant pill to prevent progression of moderate dry macular degeneration or if you have the wet form, advise laser or injections of medication into the eye.

Cataract (cloudy lens) occur when sunlight or other insults damage the proteins in the lens. Not protecting your eyes from the sun and smoking clearly increase your risk.  Dark green leafy veggies and a variety of whole foods, eaten whole, decrease the risk of cataracts.

How can I protect the cells in my eyes from degenerative damage?

            1.  Get sufficient oxygen. Exercise increases oxygen in the body, smoking
decreases it.

2.   Whole plant foods eaten whole (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts),
They are abundant in energy nutrients as well as loaded with vitamins,  minerals, phytochemicals (plant chemicals) and antioxidants (prevents oxidative damage)

The following are a few studies that have shown the undeniable connection between a proper diet and exercise with a lower incidence of AMD and cataract.

Carotenoids in Age-Related Eye Disease Study (CAREDS), an ancillary study of the Women’s Health Initiative showed that the women who ate diets highest in fruits and vegetables and lowest in fat demonstrated 37% fewer cataracts and a 46% reduction in odds for AMD than those with diets low in fruits and veggies and high fat.
         And those who exercised the most demonstrated a twofold decrease in risk of AMD

Beaver Dam Eye Study, participants that consumed the most lutein, an antioxidant, (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, etc.) demonstrated nearly 50% less cataract compared to those who ate the least.
Also there is a 50% decreased incidence of AMD in high dark green leafy veggie consumers.

Smoking is the principal known, preventable risk factor associated with any form of age-related macular degeneration (AMD). The risk is two to three times higher in current-smokers compared with never smokers.

A paper published in the Arch Ophthalmol 2003 by Seddon, et al “Progression of AMD Assoc with Body Mass Index, Waist circumference, and Waist-Hip Ratio” reported that individuals who are overweight face double the risk of developing AMD compared to those with normal body weight, and those who performed vigorous physical activities at least three times a week reduce their chances of developing AMD compared to those with a sedentary lifestyle.

The same lifestyle that prevents and reverses hardening of the arteries, coronary heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, obesity, etc. is the same lifestyle that will keep your eyes young and healthy.

The Lifestyle is:

·   Do not smoke.

·   Eat a large variety of whole foods, foods as grown. 5 to 9 servings a day of fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens.

·   Avoid refined and concentrated foods that come in “crinkly bags and or cans. (soda pops, chips, pastries, ice cream).

·   Limit carbs that raise blood sugar quickly (sugars, potatoes, white bread).

·   Eat low fat (reduce or eliminate meat, dairy products and oils).

·   Eat Omega-3 fatty acids at least twice a week (especially fatty fish like salmon or ground flax seed or chia seeds).

·   Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight.

·   Do moderate exercise ½ hour  5-6 days/week

·   Wear blue blocking U-V sunglasses – especially at high exposure situations: mid-day, and (high altitude, snow, water).

·   Normalize – Blood pressure, blood sugar, blood lipids(cholesterol, triglycerides) preferably through lifestyle or by medications if needed.

George D Chen, MD, MPH

Thursday, June 14, 2012

“Interesting! God Gave the Principle a Long Time Ago!"

A recent headline caught my attention: Denmark introduces fat tax to curb unhealthy habits, improve life expectancy. This article from the Associated Press of October 2, 2011 said that  Denmark, which already has higher fees on sugar, chocolates, and soft drinks, is now imposing a tax on products that have saturated fat!

Jakob Axel Nielsen, the health minister, said, “Higher fees on sugar, fat and tobacco is an important step on the way toward a higher average life expectancy in Denmark,” because he went on to say, “saturated fats can cause cardiovascular disease and cancer.”

Needless to say, less cardiovascular disease and less cancer would benefit the country hugely in making it possible for the nation to continue to benefit from the talents of many individuals as well as enjoying decreased health costs. Today, in the United States, the “normal” open-heart surgery costs around $112,000! That means that about 50 billion dollars a year is spent on our poor health in just this one area of healthcare. 

Now, regardless of how one feels about a government doing this, if you are know about the impact of animal fat on cardiovascular disease, you know what fat does to the blood vessels and the disease processes. This article was even more interesting to me because of the fact that many thousands of years ago God said to His people that they must not eat the fat of animals. (See Leviticus 7:23,24)

The Apostle John says, “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” 3 John 2   God had our health in mind from the beginning! Amazing!

- Wayne Young

Friday, May 4, 2012

Pole Walking and Good Health!

Nordic (pole) walking is a great way to increase the benefits from a walking program. Pole walking increases cardio workout by about 20%, and calorie burn by 22-45% depending on the individual. It also decreases the stress on the lower extremities and low back by about 25%. In regular walking a person uses about 40% of their muscles but with pole walking they use 90% and it strengthens the arms and core and improves posture. 30 minutes of pole walking is equivalent to 50 minutes of regular walking. It is a great form of exercise for those who can no longer jog due to old knee injuries. If done regularly it can help with weight loss. One lady who took it up dropped 190 lbs. in 3 yrs. When done properly the wrist resting in the pole strap is slightly higher than the elbow with the arm at the side and then the poles are angled slightly back and you push when you walk (the tip of the pole is not placed out in front of your feet, but slightly behind). You plant the pole as you step with the opposite foot-so R. pole with L. foot and L. pole with R. foot. After practicing it for a while it becomes a rhythmic motion which propels you forward. I would highly recommend it for anyone who likes to walk but would like to "kick it up a notch".

— Jerry Fessler

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Forgiveness and Health

Many studies over the last two decades have shown that resentment and bitterness may have a profound negative impact upon the mental, physical, and spiritual health of an individual.

The anger that arises from such bitterness and resentment and an unwillingness to forgive, according to Redmond and Virginia Williams in their book, Anger Kills, may lead to a number of serious health problems. Dr. Don Colbert in his book, Deadly Emotions, tells how the hormone cortisol which is increased when there is chronic anger, may also increase the chances of being affected by a number of diseases.

What is the answer to such bitterness, resentment, and anger? A large part of the answer is to be found in the word "forgiveness." A basic principle which God's Word shares with us is this: If we know that we have been forgiven by our Savior, then we are free to forgive others. Hence, if I am struggling with forgiving someone else, perhaps I need to take a look and see if I really believe that I have been forgiven. There is a freedom in forgiveness. It is because this is such an important topic that the Apostle Paul makes the following suggestion: Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

This is the way to a healthy, hope-filled life! 

— Wayne Young