CAN SOCIAL MEDIA REALLY MAKE YOU FAT?

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Far-fetched? Not really. Check out the two articles below.

The first one reiterates what we have known for a long time. Stress increases adrenal hormones, and not just Cortisol as noted, but all “Glucocorticoids,” or hormones that mess up how we process sugar.

Stress hormone may be linked to obesity, study suggests

“USA Today (2/23, Rossman) reports that research suggests “long-term exposure to the stress hormone cortisol” may be linked “to increased levels of obesity and wider waists.” Investigators “collected years of hair samples of about 2,500 people.” The researchers “found obese participants had significantly higher levels of cortisol…than people who were normal weight or overweight.”

CNN (2/23, Lamotte) reports that “the release of cortisol…says” lead author Sarah Jackson, “is triggered by receptors that are densely located in visceral fat tissue, the type that surrounds our organs, which may explain its association with weight gain and loss.” The findings were published in Obesity.”

ANY stress can do the above, whether it is physical, mental, or spiritual, or SOCIAL. As previously documented by many studies, social media tends to be not only about superficial relationships that often motivate people to compete, show off and other behaviors that are not conducive to peace and quiet.

Social media increasing stress levels in Americans, study says

Blomberg News (2/23, Shanker) reports that last week the American Psychological Association “released a study inding that Americans were experiencing the first statistically significant stress increase in the survey’s 10-year history.” Bloomberg explains that “in January, 57 percent of respondents of all political stripes said the U.S. political climate was a very or somewhat significant source of stress, up from 52 percent who said the same thing in August.” Meanwhile, “on Thursday, the” group “released the second part of its findings,” which indicated “43 percent of Americans say they are checking their e-mails, texts, or social media accounts constantly. And their stress levels are paying for it: On a 10-point scale, constant checkers reported an average stress level of 5.3.”

Of course, inactivity, and eating poorly, activities often fomented by immersing in social media a little too much are the main drivers of obesity.

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THE HEART-GUT CONNECTION – AN INTEGRATIVE HEALTH VIEW

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THE WAY TO A MAN’S GUT IS THROUGH HIS HEART

I recently heard of a patient of mine with no heart disease signs or symptoms die of a heart attack. His cholesterol was normal and his coronaries were shown to be clean—free of plaque—as he slowly deteriorated and died from uncontrollable heart beat irregularities. Interestingly, right before being emergently admitted to the hospital he had some sort of food poisoning at a local restaurant. His bowel movements were frequent and loose as he slipped away. But, being that his electrolytes (minerals, etc.) were within normal range the GUT- HEART connection was not explored further.

Could it be that the inflammation generated by the infection, or imbalance of gut flora had something to do with the genesis of his heart problem? We will never know, but, there is ample evidence that our intestinal microbiome is at the “heart” of practically all conditions. It does sound farfetched to those who have not followed the burgeoning medical literature on the role of our gut immune system in maintaining our health. But, if you have been studying this website you have hopefully been motivated to eat lots of veggies for the good of your gut microbes who work for you, and your heart.

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References

The heart and the gut, European Heart J. 2013;35: 426

“The heart and the gut seem to be two organs that do not have much in common. However, there is an obvious and clinically relevant impact of gut functions on the absorption of drugs and oral therapies on the one hand. On the other hand, the gut determines the quantity of nutrient uptake and plays a central role in metabolic diseases. Patients with inflammatory bowel diseases appear to have a higher risk for coronary heart disease despite a lower prevalence of ‘classical’ risk factors, indicating additional links between the gut and the heart. However, they certainly have a ‘leaky’ intestinal barrier associated with increased permeability for bacterial wall products. An impaired intestinal barrier function will be followed by bacterial translocation and presence of bacterial products in the circulation, which can contribute to atherosclerosis and chronic heart failure (CHF) as recent data indicate. Impaired cardiac function in CHF vice versa impacts intestinal microcirculation leading to a barrier defect of the intestinal mucosa and increased bacterial translocation.”

Intestinal Immunity and Gut Microbiota in Atherogenesis, J. of Atherosclerosis and Thrombosis 2017;24:110-119

Atherosclerosis is a chronic inflammatory disease. Interventions targeting the inflammatory process could provide new strategies for preventing atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases (CVD). Previously, we have reported that oral administration of anti-CD3 antibodies, or active vitamin D3, reduced atherosclerosis in mice via recruiting regulatory T cells and tolerogenic dendritic cells to the gut-associated lymphoid tissues. From this, it is reasonable to propose that the intestine could be a novel therapeutic target for prevention of atherosclerotic CVD. Recently, the association between cardio-metabolic diseases and gut microbiota has attracted increased attention. Gut microbiota, reported to be highly associated with intestinal immunity and metabolism, were shown to aggravate CVD by contributing to the production of trimethylamine-N-oxide (TMAO), a pro-atherogenic compound. We have also previously investigated the relationship between patient susceptibility to coronary artery disease (CAD) and gut microbiota. We found that the order Lactobacillales was significantly increased and the phylum Bacteroidetes was decreased in CAD patients compared with control patients. In this review article, we discuss the evidence for the relationship between the gut microbiota and cardio-metabolic diseases, and consider the gut microbiota as new potential diagnostic and therapeutic tool for treating CVD.”

Intestinal microbiota metabolism of L-Carnitine, a nutrient in red meat, promotes atherosclerosis, J. Nature Medicine Epub April 7 2013.

Intestinal microbial metabolism of phosphatidylcholine and cardiovascular risk.

N. England J. Med 2013; 368:1575

Vascular Disease Is Associated With the Expression of Genes for Intestinal Cholesterol Transport and Metabolism, JCEM 2016;102 :326-335

Gut Microbial Metabolite TMAO Enhances Platelet Hyperreactivity and Thrombosis Risk, J. Cell 2016;165:111

Regression of Atherosclerosis: The Journey From the Liver to the Plaque and Back,

  1. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2016;36:226

Ninety percent of cholesterol imbalances are due to liver issues, https://courses.washington.edu/conj/bess/cholesterol/liver.html

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THRESHOLD RADIO AND THE BRIDGE OF LIGHT MUSICAL ALLIANCE

This blog is another update on New Galaxy’s efforts to further develop Threshold Radio and the Bridge of Light Musical Alliance.

Threshold Radio, which we like to call a Global Media event- is an attempt to integrate the universal elements of human spirituality into a program which discusses personal, business, political and spiritual topics from the standpoint of this perspective. As host and producer of Threshold Radio, I am happy to announce our attempts to expand our program as well as to continue to promote our wide range of guests and musical artists in our LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter networks. Our programs are now available on our website, ThresholdRadio.com, YouTube, Sound Cloud and ITunes.

Here is our first video announcing our show, when it was featured- over a year and a half ago- on a Las Vegas radio station. We will soon be broadcasting live from our ThresholdRadio.com site.  You can find our archives on this site right now including some our newer programs.

Bridge of Light Productions and Threshold Radio are divisions of New Galaxy Enterprises, a comprehensive media content development company based partially on the experience I have garnered over the years in working on a complex set of challenging content development projects- ranging from novels to screenplays, website development and social network content, radio shows, podcasts and videos and many, many songs. We have continued to featured many wonderful and fascinating guests including suspense thriller novelist, Ken Eade; Business Game Changer radio host, Sarah Westall; Integrative Physician and spiritual investigator, Hugo Rodier, M.D., Crop Circle Investigator and singer/songwriter, Patty Greer; multi-faceted musical artist, Zave Nathan and his talented songwriter/wife, Bonnie Blazak; psychically gifted U.K. singer/songwriter, Stephanie Slevin; phenomenal singer and long-time associate, Patricia Welch and Edgar Arens, Russian composer/musician/singer/songwriter, Edgar Arens.

I am very pleased to announce the on-going formation of a Bangladesh Band, Seven Strings, featuring Ashrasful Shihab who is working with our very talented Director of Technical Services and musician, Hasan Khan- and assisting me in developing a variety of musical projects with a number of associates from our Bridge of Light Alliance. On-going projects include our second video with Patricia Welch, featuring “The Palm Springs Lullabye” with music by Edgar Arens; the “Stranger in the Harbor,” with songwriter Stephanie Slevin with the help of Zave Nathan’s ZaveMusic and “Hoist Up Ye Solar Sails,” part of an album I am developing called, “Libra Unchained.”

Several other projects with Patricia Welch are included in her 2-part interview. Here in the second hour, Patricia discusses our work together with Russian composer, Edgar Arens- in an ongoing project for an album and musical called “Hadleigh’s Castle” with a variety of samples of our songs.

Johnny Blue Star

With Johnny Blue Star
Host of Threshold Radio
CEO of New Galaxy Enterprises

Our understanding is that we can pursue  and see manifest all our real and important dreams in the state of Divine Presence- but to do this, we must give up those thoughts and feelings which separate us from this Presence. These elements, when separated from contact with the Creator could be called the human ego, that sense of self that is truly separated from Source and its intentions.

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MONEY MATTERS IN HEALTH – AN INTEGRATIVE HEALTH VIEW

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Money Matters in Health

Tuesday February 7th CNN has a debate between Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz. The former will advocate for a Single Payer System, and the latter for insurance companies to continue to run the Health Care system. I hope you make the time to watch.

When you watch the debate keep in mind these facts: the USA Health Care system only covers 10% of factors that influence health,[1] a fact that ranks our country dead last in the industrialized world.[2] The top 5 countries in health quality spend one half of what we do per patient per year,[3] mostly because insurance companies’ overhead expenses are so high, even three times higher than government-run Medicare.[4]

Here is a YouTube video that contains the actual debate. Watch it now or sometime later, after you peruse this article.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ugBYg1zbuY

Lastly, a report showed that ~90% of what our Health Care system does is driven by profits, not evidence.

Business Week Magazine Cover

With these and many other facts in mind I quit the system to do what is best for my patients without insurance companies holding me back. Interestingly, February 2nd, TV Channel 2 had a report in their 10PM news that it is cheaper NOT to use one’s health insurance and pay out of pocket in many cases.[5]

Below you will find a sample of many articles appearing in the medical literature expanding on the idea that the health care system is not serving the public well. There is no need to study them if you get the point this blog makes.

Financial ties of principal investigators and randomized controlled trial outcomes: cross sectional study BMJ 2017;356:i6770 Financial ties between principal investigators and the pharmaceutical industry were present in 132 (67.7%) studies.

Industry-backed studies less likely to link sweet drinks and diabetes

The New York Times (10/31, O’Connor, Subscription Publication) reports researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, performed a meta-analysis of soft drink consumption studies and their “relationship to obesity and diabetes published between 2001 and 2016” and found that “about 60 studies…were fairly rigorous in their methodology.”

The New York Daily News (10/31, Pesce) reports studies backed by the sugar-sweetened beverage industry were less likely to identify a link between sugary drinks and diabetes than those that were funded by other sources, according to a report published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. Mark Hyman, MD, the director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, said, “The sugar industry and soda companies are following the same playbook as the tobacco industry did trying to defend tobacco.”

 $4B wasted on mammograms and false positives per year, J. Health Affairs April 6 2015

Revolving door between government and industry Future jobs of FDA’s haematology-oncology reviewers BMJ 2016;354:i5055

Evidence Gaps and Ethical Review of Multicenter Studies

  1. Science 6 November 2015: Vol. 350 no. 6261 pp. 632-633

“Evidence gaps and ethical review of multicenter studies–Large, multicenter clinical studies are the backbone of evidence-based prevention and health care. Ethical review of multicenter research is usually conducted by the institutional review board (IRB) of each participating institution. However, variation in interpretation of regulations by IRBs is common and can have ethical and scientific implications (1, 2). Recent mandates in the United States aim to reduce the administrative burden and to expedite multicenter research by conducting ethical review with a single, central IRB of record (CIRB). Yet the quality of ethical review must not suffer. We characterize current models of ethical review in the United States and identify research gaps that must be addressed before such policies are instituted.”

How 21st century capitalism is failing us, BMJ 2014;349:g7516

“It requires a thoroughgoing democratic transformation. The popularity of Thomas Piketty’s book Capital1 was perhaps the publishing surprise of the year, but it is paradoxical for three reasons. Firstly, its 700 academic pages are hardly an inviting bedside read. Secondly, its appeal was primarily to people already worried by rising inequality, even though its main argument is that increasing inequality is built into capitalism and will be hard to overcome. And, thirdly, for those of us who regard a combination of low inequality and little or no economic growth as a precondition for environmental sustainability, Piketty’s message is doubly unwelcome: it implies that slower economic growth leads to faster rises in inequality.

So could the attraction of this book—its title echoing Marx’s magnum opus—be that it lays the blame for increasing inequality firmly at the feet of capitalism rather than suggesting that minor reforms would solve the problem? The popularity of Naomi Klein’s latest book, This Changes Everything,2 may stem from the same source. Subtitled “Capitalism vs the Climate,” it shows how large corporations, particularly fossil fuel companies, have bought off governments and many environmental groups, watering down policy proposals, legislation, and international environmental agreements. Even the much publicised environmental commitments of several major industrialists have not lived up to their promises. The upshot is that we have frittered away the little time we had to substantially reduce carbon emissions so that environmentalists increasingly believe that we are heading for catastrophic temperature rises.

The growing trickle of institutions (including the BMA) disinvesting from fossil fuel companies is a welcome expression of a desire not to be seen to benefit from profits of the companies ultimately responsible for carbon emissions. But exactly who owns their shares and receives their profits makes little difference to the companies themselves. Another recent book that launches a major attack on capitalism, this time on health grounds, is Nicholas Freudenberg’s Lethal but Legal.3 He sets out the evidence that the food, alcohol, tobacco, automobile, pharmaceutical, and gun industries are now the main sources of damage to public health. And of course, in the endless conflicts between public and corporate interests, corporations use their huge advertising wealth, media, and political influence to defend themselves to the hilt. They pack regulatory systems with people who will defend their interests, they buy politicians, and continue to maximise the sales of their products in the face of massive evidence of harm—from obesity, drunkenness, smoking related disease, environmental damage, and so on.

If we wanted evidence that the antisocial behaviour of big corporations is a large political problem, their record on tax evasion provides it. Estimates of the cost just of corporate tax avoidance to the UK government vary between £4bn (€5bn; $6bn) and £12bn depending on whether estimates include things like “legal” profit shifting.4 5 (Loss of tax revenues from all sources is estimated as £34bn upwards.)

In 2008, the US Government Accountability Office reported that 83 of the country’s biggest 100 corporations had subsidiaries in tax havens.6 The Tax Justice Network reported that 99 of Europe’s largest 100 companies also used tax havens,7 and it estimates that over half of all world trade passes—on paper—through tax havens in order to avoid or reduce taxation. The amount of money lost in tax revenue by developing countries far exceeds all international development aid.8 9 As well as tax avoidance and the huge sums of money that Klein shows the fossil fuel industry pours into subverting efforts to reduce carbon emissions, business and its sophisticated marketing and advertising arms is hell bent on maximising sales and consumption—even though consumerism is a big obstacle in the path towards environmental sustainability.

But consumerism is not simply a reflection of the desire of business to sell. It is also an expression of the importance of status competition among consumers. Research shows that status anxiety is intensified by greater income inequality.7 10 As a result, people in more unequal societies give higher priority to buying status goods.11 They also work longer hours, save less, get into debt more.12 13 14 Inequality makes money even more important as it becomes the key to demonstrating our status and worth to each other.

But if our future lies in maximising wellbeing rather than economic activity, we will be aided by what might be called “a convenient truth”15: rather than benefiting from further economic growth, health and happiness in rich countries is now better served by improvements in the quality of social relations and community life.16 17 It looks as if greater equality would reduce consumerism and improve the social environment.

It should not be beyond the wit of modern societies to ensure that production is undertaken in the service of the public good, humanity, and the planet. The obstacle is that large corporations are so powerful that our democratically elected politicians are afraid to touch them—and far too afraid to start thinking about alternatives.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated that in a single year the British financial services industry spends more than £92m on lobbying politicians and regulators “in an ‘economic war of attrition’ that has secured a string of policy victories.”18 What this figure would be if other sectors—pharmaceuticals, food processing, arms, energy, alcohol—were added in is anyone’s guess, but it certainly compromises the democratic political process.

Could an extension of democracy into economic life be part of the solution? More democratic business models include companies owned and controlled directly or indirectly by some or all of their employees, companies with varying degrees of employee representation on boards, consumer cooperatives, mutuals, and credit unions. They include organisations as different as the London Symphony Orchestra, the Mondragon Cooperatives, Oxbridge Colleges, John Lewis Partnership and Waitrose, Suma Wholefoods, Divine Chocolate, Cafe Direct, and, perhaps more informally, Gore-Tex. Around half the member states of the EU have at least some legal provision for employee representatives on company boards or remuneration committees.19

Those like Germany, with stronger legislation, have had smaller rises in inequality. Evaluations suggest that more democratic companies not only have smaller income differences within them but also enjoy higher productivity.20 21 As well as reducing income inequality, wholly employee owned companies are also part of the solution to the increasing concentration of capital ownership which is Piketty’s focus. More democratic business models would help to disperse capital ownership as well as income from profits. There is even evidence that more democratic businesses are more ethical.22 23 Perhaps then our salvation lies in a thoroughgoing democratic transformation of capitalism.

Swimming against the Current — What Might Work to Reduce Low-Value Care?             

N Engl J Med 2014; 371:1280.

“Given the evidence that as much as one third of U.S. health care spending is wasteful, however, health care organizations are now embracing explicit consideration of value and turning their attention to overuse. Reducing overuse could theoretically improve quality while slowing spending growth. American Board of Internal Medicine Foundation’s Choosing Wisely program, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, and the National Quality Forum have advanced the dialogue about low-value care by identifying services that deserve that label.

Demand-side interventions — targeting patients — principally include financial incentives and education. Increasing patient cost sharing

Supply side: caregivers incentivised is best—risk sharing, in which providers accept financial responsibility for total costs of care. In a national survey, 92% of physicians said they felt responsible for ensuring that patients avoid unnecessary tests and procedures, and 58% believed that physicians were best positioned to do so.

Evidence-based guidelines, i.e. Canada gives up on PSA CMAJ Epub October 27 2014

Transitioning to a population-health focus

To address overuse, we now need to work against the current of culture and payment models that still largely reward volume over value

Price, cost, and competition in health care, JAMA October 22/29 2014 Cover issue: Editorial page 1639: Who benefits from health system change?” Not the patients.

The Oregon experiment re-examined: the need to bolster primary care

BMJ 2014;349:g5976

Drug Companies’ Patient-Assistance Programs — Helping Patients or Profits?

N Engl J Med 2014; 371:97

Too much medicine BMJ 2013;346:f1328

 Pinching the poor? Medicaid costsharing under the ACA.

New Engl J Med. 2014 Mar 27;370(13):1177‐80.

 “If this sort of flexibility encourages more states to expand Medicaid, most low-income adults will be better off for the effort — since some cost sharing is almost certainly preferable to being left without any coverage at all.”

The US Health Disadvantage Relative to Other High-Income Countries, JAMA 2013;309:771. Institute of Medicine Report

“The US spends more on HC than does any other country, but its health outcomes are generally worse than those of other wealthy nations… Although this disadvantage has been increasing for decades, its scale is only now becoming more apparent.”

“Shorter life expectancy than 16 wealthy nations (including newborns)… The USA ranks near the bottom on both prevalence and mortality for multiple diseases, risk factors and injuries.”

“Why? A lack of Universal health Care, weaker primary care, greater barriers to access and care coordination is also a problem.”

“People in the US consume more calories… pronounce income inequality… high rates of poverty… The US ranks below other countries in social mobility.”

“The US health disadvantage may only worsen with time… committee urged prompt action of proven strategies such as those outlined in Health People 2020 and the recommendations of the National Prevention Council which target the conditions responsible for the US health disadvantage-from infant mortality to injuries, obesity and chronic diseases.”

What Business Are We In? The Emergence of Health as the Business of Health Care, New England Journal of Medicine 2012;367:888.

“Although doctors and hospitals focus on producing health care, what people really want is health. Health care is just an expensive means to that end. What lessons can we learn from companies that failed because they didn’t recognize the larger business they were in?”

From Sick Care to Health Care — Reengineering Prevention into the U.S. System, New England Journal of Medicine 2012;367:888.

“Flexner’s acute care model remains securely embedded in the U.S. health care system. But given our chronic-disease epidemics, unsustainable costs, poor outcomes, frequent medical errors, and worsening health disparities, we must replace it with a prevention model.”

[1] “Bridging the divide between health and health care,” JAMA 2013;309:1121

[2] http://www.ajmc.com/contributor/julie-potyraj/2016/02/the-quality-of-us-healthcare-compared-with-the-world/

[3]Health system report ranks UK first, US last,” BMJ 2014;348:g408. US last of 11 industrialized nations. They spend $3,406 on average. US $8,508, Commonwealth Fund report June 17 2014.  “The state of USA health,” JAMA 2013;310:591.

[4] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2013-04-10/the-reason-health-care-is-so-expensive-insurance-companies

[5] Video available on request.

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TRUMP, THE MEDIA AND BIG PHARMA – AN INTEGRATIVE HEALTH VIEW

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Trump, the Media and Pharmaceutical Ads
An Integrative Health View

Warning: no matter how you feel about our President you will likely not like this blog. Such is the fate of any article that seeks a middle ground in our polarized society.

It is disturbing to have a President so contemptuous of the media. His pronouncements makes many of us fear an escalation of rhetoric that may edge dangerously close to censorship. Even Fox News agrees with this. But, no news outlet—and especially not Democrat-leaning CNN—has been courageous enough to admit at least a modicum of truth in the President’s assertions that the media is corrupt, a statement the media ridicules as a “conspiracy theory.” But, lets’ look at some facts that should cause us to ponder the possibility that something is rotten in Denmark.

From my perspective as an Integrative Health specialist I see a glaring problem with the media; it is not as squeaky clean as they would like us to believe. Hear me out: approximately half of commercials during National News programs on TV are about pharmaceutical drugs, and about one eighth of total commercials during regular programming, a practice that only the USA and New Zealand allow. The networks heavily depend on Big Pharma’s money to operate, especially their reporting of the news. This explains why they seldom comment on the health problems caused by the excessive prescribing of expensive medications that only address symptoms. Remember the movie The Insider? Check it out. It is about how 60 Minutes caved in to pressure from the tobacco industry—then heavily advertising on all the networks—and failed to initially report on how addicting tobacco is.

Excessive advertisement of pharmaceutical drugs entices both patients and doctors to overuse them; the result is the cavalier use of them in rushed visits that often fail to discuss the drugs’ side effects and their failure to address the breakdown of homeostasis at the cellular level. Last week I saw an 85 year old woman barely able to function. She needed a walker to slowly follow her family into my office. Her mind was just as sluggish. They asked me to evaluate the 22 prescription medicines she was on, most of them prescribed during rushed ten minute appointments with doctors who abruptly end the consult when it becomes clear to them which drug will treat the symptom she described. Together we reduced her “polypharmacy”[1] to eight drugs, half of which could also be stopped if she were fed better food at her Assisted Living facility. Today I called her family to see how she was coming along. They were happy to report she was moving better, had more energy, and was able to speak and cogitate more clearly.

Is the media influenced by those who buy their commercial slots? Could the media’s judgment be compromised? Is it biased when reporting on issues that impact its clients, the advertisers? Is the media also failing to report embarrassing facts when it comes to other industries, like the Industrial Complex and Energy Production? Could this color our view of international affairs?

One thing is for sure. “What we have here is a failure to communicate.”

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