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What’s Eating You?

In the world of health we spend significant time talking about what we eat, moment to moment, day to day, although I would like to pose a different, crucial, and often neglected question. What’s eating you?

If you’re someone who likes to tune into the latest news, media, and health content provided through many resources to the public, you’re probably well aware that “stress” is a big killer in terms of our inner health, body composition, and quality of life we desire, however, what you may not be aware of specifically is how it translates into the array of undesirable symptoms you go to a doctor for treatment of, a limiting factor in your weight loss efforts, and also just how “deeply” it does affect all of us in our personally, professional, and relational lives!

Those of you who know me well, hear me speak quite often on the many topics surrounding stress, change psychology, and my favorite” “emotional intelligence since these areas of human science relate back to how we think, believe, and behave in response to others. The Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, an international society for mind-body research, states that 75-80% of primary care patients exhibit evidence of some psychosocial or psychophysiological component in their symptom presentation.

Patients with “chronic illness” represent ~46-75% of healthcare costs ranging from conditions such as Diabetes Mellitus, anxiety, arthritis, smoking, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease! The social and environmental factors must be considered when a full spectrum view of an individual’s chronic health concerns are being put together by a medical practitioner, Clinician, Nutritionist,  Psychologist, or Health Coach.

Research in mind-body integral medicine, a revolutionary 21st century medicinal method which incorporates a wide range of behavioral and lifestyle interventions supporting the unity, totality, and integration of mind, body, and spirit of a person, reveals that 20% of all visits to primary care physicians have discoverable organic causes and only 10% are clearly psychological disorders without physical confounding physical symptoms such as chest pain, dizziness, headache, fatigue, edema, back pain, insomnia, abdominal pain, impotence, or numbness to name a few.

I found it interesting that according to many primary care physicians, the majority of their regular patients complaints lie in a “twilight zone” between the mind and the body marked or noted by an overlap of psychosocial stress, physical pain, relational conflicts, life-stage dissatisfaction, and unfulfilled life aspirations. Can you recall a time when you “felt” unfulfilled in an area of your life or simply had a dream that you never were able to get off the ground running? You know it’s never to late!

Somatization disorders are ones characterized by the transfer or translation of emotional distress(negative) into physical symptoms(things you tell your doctor about). Have you ever considered that a thought process, emotional response, or a language/communication pattern when continued can be a cause leading to perpetual problems in your present and future?

There’s an old saying in eastern medicine, the “mind is in the body and the body’s in the mind” meaning that they directly affect one another. In essence, this means simply that we have the power to choose our thought patterns in a given moment, and response with “Emotional Intelligence” while maintaining the utmost imperativeness emotional control during life’s numerous chaotically challenging conditions we may find ourselves wrapped in.

In the journal, Gut, from the National Library of Medicine(NLM) and National Institute of Health(NIH), I found an intriguing study showing a connection or link between gastric ulcers, emotional stress, and personality pattern where 181 participants showed domestic and financial stress to be a factor and aspirin, alcohol, and cigarette usage to be tied to those with gastric ulcers along with noting that the “personality pattern” of self sufficiency and independence was connected to anxiety and depression while having a 3X greater likelihood than those without chronic gastric ulcers.

It’s always nice to see evidence-based scientific research with “real people” just like us, to back up what we already believe to be true, that “stress” kills the quality of life we were meant to enjoy, the battlefield is in the mind, and emotional control just might be the #1 most valuable asset to carry in your mixed bag of health artillery to “Remain” youthful throughout the many stages of life, with twist and turns, and bridges that at times burn.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the 2 mind-body medicine references shared below! I encourage you to start a conversation with your friends, family, and coworkers when you have a “moment” which can easily begin with the question, so “What’s Eating You?” After all, if Zebras don’t get ulcers, why should we?


1. http://www.aapb.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageID=3386

2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1553105/

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