All posts by Mick Daly

Soy and Cancer Risk

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There are a lot of soy foods in the grocery store – not just tofu and soymilk, but edamame (green soybeans), soy nuts, soy nut butter, soy “meats”, and high protein bars. If you’re boosting plant foods on your plate, soy foods can give you plenty of protein, fiber and other nutrients.

But Americans are still confused about whether soy is risky when it comes to breast cancer. Now there is plenty of solid research, both globally and from the US, that for breast cancer patients and survivors, eating moderate amounts of soy doesn’t increase a woman’s risk for breast cancer.

If you’re wary of eating tofu and other soy foods because you’ve heard it may up your risk of breast cancer, or a recurrence, you are not alone. Here, our dietitian talks about the research in this short video.


Full article…

More articles on soy…

The 3 Foods to Avoid for a Healthier Gut

Why does it matter?

Over the past decade, research has brought to light how your ‘gut microbiome’ plays a role in almost every aspect of health, including digestion, immunity, fat storage, and heart health.

Studies suggest a healthy gut may even help clear up skin conditions, such as eczema and acne, and may make you less susceptible to stress, anxiety, and depression—a finding that’s earned the microbiome the nickname “the second brain.”

Like most things in life, it’s all about balance: You want the “good” bacteria (like lactobacillus) to outweigh the “bad” bacteria. If this balance is thrown off, it can lead to a compromised immune system, inflammation, more fat storage, and other adverse effects.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as simply letting the good bacteria flourish. There’s a lot out of your control that affects your microbiome—such as where you live, where you were raised, and some aspects of your personal lifestyle. But there is one major way to influence your gut health that’s 100-percent in your control: what you eat.

Certainly, there are foods you should be eating (think: yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi or sauerkraut) to boost gut health. But there’s another important piece of the puzzle: cutting back on particular foods is also crucial to ensure a happy homeostasis for those microscopic critters. Here are the top three:

1. Conventional Meats and Poultry

At some point, we’ve all taken a course of antibiotics, which are designed to do pretty much what it sounds like: kill bacteria. But antibiotics don’t discriminate—they go after good and bad bacteria alike. While you shouldn’t perhaps refuse the meds your doc prescribes, research shows consuming antibiotics when unnecessary can do serious damage to your gut flora.

If you’re eating meat from livestock that’s been treated with antibiotics, you may be getting extra antibiotics without realizing it. While the use of some antimicrobial drugs in livestock to treat diseases is approved by the FDA, concerns arise when they’re used to help animals gain weight or when drugs intended for human consumption are given to animals, which has been linked to antibiotic resistance in humans.

The best way to avoid antibiotic-raised meat? Eat less meat and buy organic.

2. Artificial Sweeteners

If you thought fake sugar was a miracle sent from heaven to make all things sweeter sans calories, think again. Research suggests that sucralose—the main ingredient in Splenda—can significantly alter the balance of bacteria in the microbiome. In one small study, after consuming artificial sweeteners for just one week, many of the participants began to develop glucose intolerance—the first step on a path to metabolic syndrome, diabetes, and a host of other health issues.

And there are plenty of ways to sweeten things up without resorting to the fake stuff. Bad bacteria feed off sugars, a diet high in real sugars has also been linked to an off-balance microbiome, so you’ll still want to cut back on any kind of sweet stuff, Alpert says.

3. Genetically Modified Soy

While fermented soy is good for you, it may be wise to cut back on soy products that have been genetically modified (GM)—and if you’re eating them in the U.S., they most likely have been, as 94 percent of soybeans in America are GM. GMO food is a point of contention in the national health conversation, but that’s another story altogether. The point here is that the herbicide used on GMO crops in the U.S. (a.k.a. Roundup) has been shown to kill off many species of beneficial gut bacteria in animals. While research in this area is still ongoing, there aren’t many good reasons to choose to eat GM soy – or any other GM food. It also contains phytic acid, which messes with digestion and has been linked to gastric issues, such as gas and bloating.

You can get your bacteria back on track by cutting back on the above items, adding in beneficial foods for your gut, and taking a probiotic supplement.

Read the full article… 

More articles on gut health and the microbiome.

Fruits and Vegetables Help You C Better

If your mother ever told you eating carrots would help your eyesight, she was right. But did you know that other fruits and vegetables can help too? Just in time for Healthy Vision Month, a recently published, long-term study of over 2,000 female twins showed that dietary vitamin C — in other words, vitamin C that you get from food — helps slow the progression of cataracts. So there you have it: vitamin C from fruits and vegetables may help you see even better.

Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye that impairs vision. You can have cataracts in one or both eyes, and they’re quite common when you’re older. By the age of 80, half of Americans either have cataracts or have had cataract surgery. With that statistic, there’s even more reason for dietary vitamin C.

In a study published in March in the journal Ophthalmology, researchers in the United Kingdom had 2,054 female twins, averaging 60 years of age, fill out food questionnaires to determine their intake of various nutrients. Next, they took digital images of the participants’ eyes. The eye-opening result? Women who ate diets rich in vitamin C (two servings of fruit and two servings of vegetables per day) were about 20 percent less likely to have cataracts than those who skimped on fruits and vegetables.

Researchers followed up with 324 of the women nearly a decade later and found that over time, the association between vitamin C consumption and protection from cataracts became even stronger. Those who were consuming the most vitamin C — at least twice the recommended daily allowance of 75 milligrams per day — now had a 33 percent lower risk of cataract progression than those who didn’t get as much of the nutrient.

This is great news for people who have a family history of cataracts, because the study concluded that genetics accounts for only 35 percent of cataract progression.

Environmental factors, including diet, account for the remainder. That means there are concrete steps you can take to protect your eyesight, and a good place to start is by eating fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, such as citrus fruits (oranges and grapefruit), berries (blackberries, blueberries and raspberries), papaya, dark leafy greens, and broccoli.

This is just the latest good news about fruits and vegetables’ effect on eyesight, though. Here are two more ways eating produce can benefit your vision:

bugsA 2005 study showed that eating 4.5 ounces of carrots a day improves night vision. Carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body uses to make vitamin A, is critical for healthy vision. Sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, apricots, kale, and spinach also contain beta-carotene.

Fruits and vegetables high in two other phyto-nutrients known as lutein and zeaxanthin may help preserve the macula of the eye, which is responsible for clear central vision. Kale, spinach, broccoli, carrots, and corn are good sources of these eye-loving superstars.

One easy way to increase your intake of many important nutrients from fruits and vegetables, including beta carotin, vitamin C and lutein/zeaxanthin is Juice Plus+. Several Juice Plus+ studies have shown significant increases in these phyto-nutrients. We’ve been eating Juice Plus+ for more than 23 years and our health, including our eye health is excellent.

Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.

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This is the famous advice from Michael Pollen, author of “In Defense of Food” and other great books.  The heart of his advice (that impacts everything) is “EAT PLANTS”.

Sure enough, studies show that a plant-based diet reduces the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers— most notably colon cancer. A 2013 study of over 70,000 Seventh-Day Adventists, who are encouraged to eat a whole food, vegetarian diet, found that those who followed the church’s advice to eschew meat were less likely to die of any cause than the meat-eaters.

But what if you really like meat? The good news is you don’t need to make a stark either/or choice. According to an article by The Washington Post, the flexitarian diet, which includes meat, just not much of it, also offers significant health benefits. Most notably, centering plant foods with judicious servings of meat, dairy, and eggs can lead to better cardiovascular health. A large-scale study by the American Heart Society found that a flexitarian diet consisting of 70 percent plant-based foods reduced the risk of dying from heart disease or stroke by an impressive 20 percent.

This is largely because fruits and vegetables are so good for you. According to Sharon Palmer, editor of Environmental Nutrition, “When you base your meals on plant foods, you’re packing your diet with the fiber, vitamins, minerals and healthy fats that most Americans don’t get enough of.”

If you’ve decided you want to eat a more plant-based diet, there are lots of ways to go about it:

1. The simplest way may be to just eat more fruits and vegetables, even if you don’t really cut back on meat. The key step is to include fruits and veggies at every meal and snack. And that includes breakfast! For example, if I’m going to eat yogurt for breakfast, I top it with a cup of fresh strawberries, blueberries, or raspberries. If I’m making scrambled eggs, I throw in some frozen spinach.

2. Another step you can take is to de-center meat. For example, make vegetables the stars of your stir-fry, even if you do include some beef or shrimp in it. The key to making this work is using the right spices. My secret is gourmet flavored cooking salts, a mixture of salt and spice, which are an easy way to add loads of flavor. I love these flavored finishing salts, especially the chipotle, black garlic, and coconut-lime flavors!

3. Think about the kinds of meat you’re eating. The basic tenet here is that your meats should be whole just like the rest of your food. So keep the chicken breasts, New York steak, pork chops, and lamb kabobs if you love them. But cut out the processed stuff — hot dogs, sausages, bacon, and lunch meat.

4. Eat more fatty fish like salmon, which is high in healthy omega-3 fatty acids. An interesting finding of the study of Seventh Day Adventists cited above was that the pesco-vegetarians, those who ate a vegetarian diet plus fish, had an even lower rate of mortality from all causes than the vegans.

5. Some people take semi-vegetarian literally, with the institution of Meatless Mondays. (Yes, it’s as simple as it sounds. Go meatless one day a week.) Another semi-veggie system is called VB6, or Vegan Before 6 p.m., in which you eat no meat, fish, dairy or eggs for breakfast or lunch, but include them at dinner.

6. Get fruits and vegetables in a whole-food based nutraceutical.

jp hand23 years ago I discovered a simple solution to my problem: I hated to see anything green on my plate, and certainly would NOT eat it! I was a committed “meat and potatoes” guy – and had no plan or desire to change. In fact, if someone had said “if you don’t start eating spinach (or broccoli, cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts …) you will die” I would have said, “ok, so be it – I’m coming home Lord!”

Then along came Juice Plus+. It was a ‘trojan horse’ that smuggled all those greens into my body. Instead of going into shock, my body said “it’s party time!” My body had never seen any of those greens (or many of the fruits that are in the capsules), but it knew what they were and that they were good – better: they were excellent, much-needed, life-saving!

The improvements in my health over time were amazing and today I am healthier that I have ever been. But the most amazing change was from what medical experts call “metabolic reprogramming”. Like the programming of our computer or smartphone, our bodies have ‘programming’, and the nutrients from the fruits and veggies in those capsules changed my cravings. After a while I started looking differently at them and – once I had recovered from the shock – I started eating them and came to love them!

Now, because of the powerful nutrition in Juice Plus+ and all the plant food I eat as well, I am in the best of health, living life to the plus … looking forward to my 70th birthday in July ; we will be in Spain at that time, on a 2 month vacation in Europe.

As Dr. Corson says (below), “Juice Plus+ is the best, strongest, most proven catalyst to better health” she has ever seen.

Common Health Faux Pas

Adding healthier choices into your routine can be difficult, especially when there seem to be so many conflicting ideas.

Avoiding some of the most common health faux pas can have lasting effects on your overall health and well-being.

To help you navigate the good ideas versus the bad, we’ve compiled some of the most frequent healthy living mistakes and tips to avoid committing them below.

Failing to Understand that Sleep and Hydration are Key to Health

Sleep: Did you know? Going to bed too late (getting less than 7 hours sleep each night) can increase the risk of breast cancer by 200%, heart attack by 100%, the risk of premature death by any cause by 20% and the risk of obesity – by a lot. Aim for, and get close to, 8 hours/night and you will be glad you did.

Water: It’s a common belief that you must drink eight 8oz glasses of water per day. However, that is not necessarily true– your activity level, environment and general health all play a crucial role in determining how much H20 you should be consuming. Keeping these factors in mind, remember to drink lots of water throughout the day and choose fruits and vegetables with a high water concentration for snacking, like cucumbers or celery. If you are unsure of how much water you should be consuming, check out this Hydration Calculator that does all of the work for you.

Skipping the Strength Training

Focusing your workout routine strictly on cardio and neglecting strength training is another healthy living mistake. While cardio is an essential component to an active lifestyle, strength training provides equally important benefits. Incorporating simple strength training exercises like these into your weekly workout regime can help with long-term weight maintenance, disease prevention, and promote mood and energy boosts.

Forgetting to Stretch

Stretching is very important when exercising, but is often overlooked. It is essential to stretch both before and after your workouts, to help your muscles prepare and recover. Even basic stretches like these, can help improve your flexibility and reduce your risk of injury.

Substituting Fruit Juice for Fruit

The label may read 100% fruit juice, but juices are not a healthy substitution for fresh fruits. While fruit juices do contain fruit, they are often high in added sugar and unnecessary calories. Instead of grabbing that glass of fruit juice, instead try substituting water infused with fresh fruit, a homemade muddled fruit drink, or an easy, on-the-go fruit snack like an apple or banana. This swap will help you significantly cut down on your sugar intake, provide more nutritional benefits and help you feel full longer.

Ignoring Nutrition Labels

The nutrition labels on the back of all food and drinks are based on the U.S. dietary guidelines. Learning how to read and interpret these labels can help you with portion control and encourage you to be more cognizant of how much sodium, fat, and sugar you are consuming daily. To learn how to better navigate nutrition labels, check out this guide from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Eliminating the Wrong Sugars

Not all sugar is bad sugar. While eliminating processed sugar from your diet may help with your goal of maintaining a healthier lifestyle, you should not completely cut sugar from your diet, especially natural sugars like those found in fruit. Unlike processed sugar, natural sugar is more complex for the body to metabolize, which helps reduce drastic spikes in blood sugar and keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Avoiding Frozen Fruits and Vegetables

Frozen fruits and vegetables are often just as nutritious as produce fresh from the farmer’s market. In some instances, like when certain fruits and veggies are out of season, frozen produce can contain even more vitamins and nutrients than their fresh counterparts, as it usually is packaged at its peak ripeness.

Making a few simple changes to your routine can help you avoid these nutrition and lifestyle pitfalls.

Thinking that Juice Plus+ Cannot Help!

“There is no single disease or condition that cannot he helped by good nutrition; and Juice Plus+ is great nutrition!” Dr. Paul Williams, MD

More articles on Juice Plus+…

Color Your Plate

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The new U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating lots of fruits and vegetables of all colors to ensure you get the nutrients you need.

Spring, a time marked by its vibrant colors, is the perfect time to begin incorporating this recommendation into your diet. In the spirit of the season, be sure to “color your plate,” and include a variety of colorful fruits and veggies in each meal.

Adding color to your plate not only makes eating fruits and vegetables fun, it also allows you to try new spring recipes. Read on to learn how to add some of the season’s most brightly hued produce into your diet.

Fruits

Strawberries hit their peak ripeness in the spring time. Filled with great nutrients like vitamin C and folate, strawberries are also fat and cholesterol free, making them a great alternative to sugary snacks when you’re craving something sweet. When picking strawberries, choose bright, shiny, and firm berries with fresh caps to ensure you’re reaping all of the fruit’s health benefits. While strawberries are delicious plain, an innovative way to add them to your spring menu is through a refreshing Strawberry Gazpacho. Checkout the recipe here!

Apricots, a fruit native to China, are also at their best in the spring. An excellent source of vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber, apricots only have 17 calories, making them a great snack. When shopping for this fruit, choose apricots that are firm and consistently the same color. This apricot leather is a fun snack and a great way to sneak an extra serving of fruit into your child’s diet.

Honeydew melons are tastiest in the spring, when they’re at their ripest. Not only is honeydew cholesterol free, but a wedge of honeydew provides nearly half of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. When buying honeydew, look for one that is nearly spherical with a waxy surface and don’t forget to be creative with its preparation! Try making this yummy honeydew melon smoothie with Juice Plus+ French Vanilla to start your day!

Vegetables

While white asparagus does not exactly bring “color” to your plate, it is a good source of vitamins A and C. Known as the vampire vegetable, it is grown underground and protected from sunlight, giving it is unique, creamy color. When selecting asparagus choose stalks that are odorless, dry and tight to ensure you have a fresh batch. Try cooking white asparagus tonight with this delicious recipe.

Peas are the most nutritious leguminous vegetable. The veggie can be eaten raw or cooked and is a nutritious source of vitamins A and K, folate and dietary fibers. When picking peas, select firm, bright green, medium sized pods that feel heavy in your hands. While there are many different ways to prepare peas, we love this light Sugar Snap Pea recipe.

Red leaf lettuce is an easy way to add color into your salads. The leafy vegetable is low in sodium and rich in manganese and vitamins A and K. Even better? The FDA has labeled it as a calorie and fat-free food. When selecting red leaf lettuce choose a head that is closely bunched with fresh leaves. Incorporate this veggie into your diet with this Red-Leaf Lettuce recipe with Shallot vinaigrette.

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines recommend eating an appropriate mix of produce to make sure you get the nutrients your body needs. Be sure your family is meeting these guidelines by eating whole fruits and vegetables that represent all the colors of the rainbow. What family-friendly fruit and veggie recipes do you make each spring?


Of course, Juice Plus+ is the perfect foundation for a person Color My Plate campaign!

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Why do the Amish rarely get cancer?

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The Amish way of life isn’t in any way modern. But when it comes to health and longevity, studies show that the Amish may be up to something very modern indeed.

A study published in the journal Cancer Causes and Control found very few instances of cancer among the Amish population of Holmes County, Ohio. Out of 26 000 individuals, only 191 cancer cases were identified between the years 1996 and 2003 (1).

The researchers were surprised to find such low rates of cancer. In fact, they theorized that the Amish would have higher instances of cancer because of their small gene pool, which should have increased the incidence of cancer-related gene mutations. Instead, this small gene pool, combined with a few lifestyle factors, may be responsible for their low cancer rates.

The secret to Amish health lies in their restrictive lifestyle. As you probably know, the Amish are a conservative Christian group that shuns conveniences of the modern world because they believe that modern technology negatively impacts humility, family, community, and faith.

While most Amish communities shun modern society as a whole, others are more open minded and may embrace technology as long as it doesn’t disrupt family and community stability.

1. They Lead A Humble Life
Amish families rely on hard labour to survive. In fact, Amish children quickly learn how to build homes and furniture as well as how to tend to the land. This constant exercise maintains their cardiovascular health and keeps their organs and tissues fueled with essential nutrients and oxygen. The Amish also don’t smoke or drink, aren’t sexually promiscuous, and keep their skin covered from the harsh sun. These habits reduce their risk of developing certain cancers.

2. They Make Everything At Home
Since Amish people shun modern conveniences, they don’t use the chemical-laden products popular in American homes, such as dishwasher soap, deodorant, fragrance plug-ins and toxic cleaning products. Amish people also aren’t exposed to cancer-causing EMFs in their daily life because they simply don’t own any appliances or electronics.

3. They Eat Organic Whole Food
Most Amish communities grow their own organic food and use heirloom seeds, which tend to be more biological compatible with the human body than GMO seeds. These communities don’t rely on herbicides, pesticides or chemical fertilizer and their meat and dairy products don’t contain any hormones or antibiotics.

4. They Believe In Modern (alternative) Medicine
Amish people experience fewer medical interventions throughout their lifetime than other Americans. When they do have a medical problem, most Amish families rely on natural remedies to get their health back on track. Some turn to traditional medicine, but many prefer reflexologists and chiropractors to conventional doctors. This approach limits their exposure to liver-damaging pharmaceuticals and the potentially devastating side-effects of conventional drugs.

The Amish people seem to have it right when it comes to living a carcinogen-free life. While joining them completely may be a bit of a stretch, it’s worth looking into following a more natural lifestyle to ensure better long-term health.

Read full article… 

Why gut bacteria is good for you

Blame it on our naivety, ignorance or hypochondria, we tend to associate the word ‘bacteria’ with illness and poor health.

Combined in equal parts with our ancestral disdain (because our microbiota is mainly a replica of that harboured by our parents) for salads and greens (the richest source of fibre on which these bacteria thrive), our gut bacteria have now been pushed to the brink of near extinction.

So where does this diminishing biodiversity leave you? For starters, let’s just say, more incapacitated than you thought!

Role of gut bacteria

The bacterial consortium residing in our gut is an important determinant of our optimal wellness. From assimilation of essential nutrients in food, synthesising of Vitamin K, digestion of cellulose in green vegetables, to promotion of angiogenesis and regulation of enteric nerve function, these bacteria perform myriad jobs in our body.

Furthermore, these commensal bacteria strengthen our immunity by enhancing barrier integrity, thus preventing pathogens and harmful bacteria from invading our systems.

Other benefits rendered by gut microflora include absorption of minerals, transformation of bile acid and destruction of toxins, genotoxins and mutagens. Some bacteria even prevent formation of kidney stones.

To put the acuity of their roles in perspective, consider the ‘hygiene hypothesis’ which posits that disruption of microbiome in the body leads to onset of autoimmune diseases due to compromised immunity of the individual.

Other studies have found association between depleted microbiome and diseases such as Type II Diabetes, and conditions like allergies and food sensitivities.

Gut microbiome and lack thereof has been implicated in obesity because these organisms contribute in appetite regulation and energy harvest from food.

An unhealthy or imbalanced bacterial flora has also been alleged in conditions such as intestinal inflammation, cardio-metabolic diseases, and colorectal, prostate and gastric cancers which occur due to production of genotoxins by bacteria and microbial metabolism of carcinogens’ in food.

This upheaval is triggered by a number of factors such as environmental exposures, genetic makeup, age, use of antibiotics and most importantly, diet.

Dietary fibre is given way less credit than it is due. It does so much more than just regulating bowel movements. For instance, research links high fibre diet with lesser incidence of breast cancer in females as increased consumption of fruits and vegetables during adolescence cuts back cancer risk by 24%.

Scientific data accrued over several decades shows plausible ties between fibre rich diet, thriving of gut microbiota and low cancer incidence. Additionally, variety in type of fibre consumed benefits the human body even more as it tends to diversify the bacterial population because different bacteria specialise in metabolism of different type of fibre.

A rich gut microbiome translates into increased cellular nutrition and less chances of acute and chronic inflammation.

Direct impact of low fibre diet on gut microbiome was recently studied by a team of microbiologists at Stanford University. Experiments conducted by microbiologist Justin Sonnenburg and his team using a mice model found that low fibre diet did indeed render the gut microbes virtually extinct.

Using mice loaded with identical gut flora, the investigators fed them high fibre diet and then randomly switched half of them to low fibre chow for a period of seven weeks. As expected, the microbiota of low fibre group badly suffered, with colonial count of as many as 60 different microbes waning dramatically.

Not only this, but the effect cascaded through generations as the researchers found that the off springs of test subjects had narrower microbiomes, and even more bacterial species blinked out if these mice consumed low fibre diet like their ancestors.

The change was also found to be irreversible in fourth generation of mice even when fed high fibre diet subsequently. Other studies show that the gut microbiome of industrialised populations is much less diverse than those residing in rural areas and consuming a high fibre diet of vegetables and fruits.

So the next time around, don’t pass the salad for chicken nuggets. You will be doing yourself an enormous favour as it will take more than a tub of yogurt to reverse the impact of your oil and salt rich diet on your friendly gut residents.

Full article … 

Purpose: Secret to a Longer, Healthier Life

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NO, I’m not obsessed with the subject of longevity, even if I do hit 70 this summer (after all, 70 is the new 50, right?!) But this is good stuff from Life Reimagined

Having a clearly defined the purpose not only makes your life more meaningful, but can extend it as well. This is one of the newest and most exciting trends in health research. Eric Kim, a research fellow at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health studies how aging, positive thinking and physical health are linked. Here are some of his encouraging findings.

Research in psychology has almost exclusively focused on how negative factors lead to worse health. Now, we’re learning that positive psychological factors like optimism, satisfaction and purpose in life appear to have a unique positive impact on health—an impact above and beyond the absence of psychological distress. We also find that positive factors that are beyond an individual’s control—for example, the psychological functioning of your partner—can have an impact on health. Our research suggests that you would be healthier if your partner was more optimistic. Further, the level of cohesion in your neighborhood appears to impact your health and create a healthier lifestyle.

Are meaning and purpose the same?

For hundreds of years philosophers and theologians have been writing about purpose and meaning in life. It is only very recently that scientists have begun examining this topic. In general, meaning looks backward and helps us process and make sense of life events that have happened in the past. In contrast, purpose in life looks forward and helps motivate us into the future through aims, goals and directions.

Is purpose different than optimism? Do you need both?

Purpose is indeed different than optimism. Purpose is a self-organizing life aim that helps people stimulate and organize goals, which in turn helps manage behaviors. Optimism on the other hand is a generalized expectation that good things will happen. I don’t know of any studies that examined whether we need both purpose and optimism in order to have a positive impact on health, but my educated guess is that having both will lead to better health compared to having only one or the other.

What does your research reveal about the health benefits of having purpose?

I have had the good fortune of leading studies on purpose in life with a number of experts in different fields. In a nutshell, we found that higher purpose in life was longitudinally associated with a reduced risk of stroke, myocardial infarction and sleep disturbances. We also found that purpose in life was associated with an increased likelihood of obtaining several preventive screenings, including cholesterol tests, colonoscopies, mammograms, pap smears, prostate exams and flu shots. Further, purpose in life was associated with fewer overall doctor visits and fewer overnight hospitalizations. In all of these studies, we found that these associations between purpose and health persisted in several statistical models that adjusted for plausible confounders.

Can having purpose make anybody healthier?

We are tackling the question of whether the health benefits of purpose cross all socioeconomic lines. The preliminary answer appears to be yes. This study is not yet published, but we have found the association between purpose and a healthy life persists across levels of wealth and education. We also plan to see if the health benefits of purpose persist across racial/ethnic lines.

Are there any projections on how much the health care industry could save if everyone lived more purposefully?

This is difficult for me to calculate, however here are some results from our study, conducted in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults over the age of 50. Compared to people with the lowest purpose, people with the highest purpose make 32% fewer doctor visits and spend 61% fewer overnights in the hospital. Further, compared to people with the lowest purpose, people with the highest purpose are 121% more likely to obtain flu shots, 228% more likely to obtain cholesterol tests, and 133% more likely to obtain colonoscopies. Women are 330% more likely to obtain a mammogram and 210% more likely to receive a pap smear, while men are 386% more likely to receive a prostate exam. Each hospital stay for an adult aged 65-84 costs approximately $12,300. Physician visits average $218 per visit.

What’s the future of research on purpose and its relationship to wellness?

There is rapidly growing interest in this topic. Religion and philosophy have explored this topic for several centuries, but recently scientists, healthcare, and even the world of business is realizing how important purpose is. Also, there is an interesting concept called Blue Zones, places where people seem to live longer. People in these zones have some things in common including an active lifestyle, healthy diet and a sense of purpose. Okinawa Japan is a Blue Zone where they have a term called “ikigai,” which translates into “a reason for which you wake up in the morning.” This reason for living isn’t always large and grand in scope—although it is sometimes. For example, some people say their “ikigai” is tending a vegetable garden that helps feed his/her children and grandchildren. More research has to be done on these Blue Zones, but it’s a fascinating concept.


Some of us are working on maintaining our own Blue Zones. My Life Purpose is “to encourage others to their full potential”. My Life Goal is “to know and love my great-grandchildren”. Can you connect them? I can! That means these kiddos children!!

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