The Power of Thought Over Health

Practicing Positivity with “The Four Agreements”

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

There are many studies that show the mind has a powerful effect on the body. We all know that we can control our thoughts, but how many of us actively do? Since our thoughts, like diet and exercise, determine body function, we should also practice healthy thinking.

The Power of Thought Over Disease

Many research studies show that positive thinking is an effective tool in the fight against cancer and other diseases.

Stress is a leading cause of disease. Stress can be reduced with modified thinking as stress levels are based on an individual’s interpretation of how stressful something is. Basically, if we believe an event is stressful, our bodies will respond accordingly. The reverse is also true. So, how do we control our thoughts in order to remain disease and stress free?

Recently, I benefitted from reading The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz. This book is a great tool to learn how to move our thoughts, and our behaviors, into a healthy direction. This book dramatically changed my thoughts and life, and so in honor of the holidays and your health, I will summarize the four agreements.

The first agreement: Be impeccable with your word. Your word is your power to create and is how your intent manifests. The word is a force, the power you have to express, communicate, think and create the events in your life. The word is like a double edged sword. It can create a beautiful reality or cause destruction around you. Your word can be pure magic, but, to misuse the word is what the author calls black magic. Too often words are used that injure or create fear. Impeccable means “without sin”, so to use your word impeccably means to speak without sin, or with good intent. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all.

The second agreement: Don’t take anything personally. This one is a bit more self-explanatory however, for most people it is easier said than done. If someone sees you on the street and says, “Hey, you are stupid.” it is not about you it is about them. If you take it personally, perhaps you believe you are stupid. How would this person know if you are stupid or not? Is he psychic?  Ruiz points out that this second agreement is based on the first as if we are all impeccable with our word, we will not shout comments at others like “you are stupid” nor will we speak that way to, or believe these negative things about, ourselves.

The third agreement: Don’t make assumptions. The first thought that comes to my mind is the wife or girlfriend who pouts without saying a word hoping the husband or boyfriend will figure out what is wrong (I of course have never done this!). Most men are not psychic and he is therefore probably not going to figure it out, unless she tells him. This is the idea behind the third agreement. Don’t assume people know your wants, needs or expectations; communicate them instead to avoid hurt feelings and arguments.

The fourth agreement: Always do your best. This agreement allows the other three to become deeply ingrained habits. Doing your best can mean doing better one day than another, as your best will vary depending on whether you are tired or well rested, unwell or healthy, but always do your best—no more and no less.

There is a reason this powerful little book was on the New York Times Bestseller List for over seven years. I highly recommend it to adjust your thoughts, improve your health and change your life.

This book will also make a great gift. Giving a positive gift like this may also boost your health as there are studies that show acts of kindness improve the mood and health of those who perform, receive and witness them.

There are many of us who can benefit from improving our thoughts and therefore our health. Additionally, when I see television commercials with wives criticizing their husband’s laundry folding abilities and those that condone lies and humiliation, as well as programs like “I Hate My Teenage Daughter” and those with characters that regularly insult each other, it only enforces my already held belief that our society can benefit in many ways from practicing The Four Agreements.

May peace, love, positivity and kindness always be with you. Happy holidays!

Resources:

Ruiz, M. A. (1997). The Four Agreements. Amber-Allen Publishing; San Rafael, CA.

 

 

Why Eat Whole Grains?

By Dietitian and Wellness Educator, Elizabeth Kahn

You hear a lot these days about eating whole grains. But that is just more useless advice that you can ignore, right? Wrong. But, let me explain why you want to eat whole grains and maybe you will be more inclined to do so. Let’s take whole wheat for example. Whole wheat has many more nutrients than white flour. Let’s start with amino acids, the building blocks of protein.

The whole wheat grain has three main parts: the bran, germ and endosperm.

The parts of the whole-wheat grain with the most amino acids are the bran and germ — the parts removed when making white flour. All that is left in white flour is the endosperm, which not only has fewer amino acids, but is full of gluten. Food manufacturers love gluten because it is extremely pliable and tasty. Many people are developing gluten allergies as a result of the overconsumption of white flour.

Protein quality depends on all the essential amino acids being present in the right amounts, and in complete proteins they are. According to a measurement by the Institute of Medicine, a complete protein has a score of 100. Letter grades — based on numeric
scores — for the individual parts of the wheat grain are:

Germ: A

Bran: C

Endosperm: F

For nutrients like amino acids to do their jobs effectively in the body they must be balanced, and in whole grains they are. Here is how many amino acids are lost during processing white flour.

Amino acid  Units  Whole-Wheat Flour  White Flour
Tryptophan

G

0.254

0.159

Threonine

G

0.474

0.351

Isoleucine

G

0.610

0.446

Leucine

G

1.111

0.887

Lysine

G

0.454

0.285

Methionine

G

0.254

0.229

Cystine

G

0.380

0.274

Phenylalanine

G

0.775

0.650

Tyrosine

G

0.480

0.390

Valine

G

0.742

0.519

Arginine

G

0.770

0.521

Histidine

G

0.380

0.287

Alanine

G

0.584

0.415

Aspartic acid

G

0.844

0.544

Glutamic acid

G

5.190

4.349

Glycine

G

0.662

0.464

Proline

G

1.706

1.498

Serine

G

0.775

0.645

Whole wheat has more of every amino acid than white flour.

There are many other nutrients that are affected in processing whole wheat into white flour.

Nutrient

Units

Whole-Wheat
Flour

White
Flour 

Macronutrient
Energy

kCal

407

455

Protein

G

16.44

12.91

Carbohydrate

G

87.08

95.39

Fiber

G

14.6

3.4

Minerals
Calcium

Mg

41

19

Iron

Mg

4.66

1.46

Magnesium

Mg

166

28

Phosphorus

Mg

415

135

Potassium

Mg

486

134

Sodium

Mg

6

2

Zinc

Mg

3.52

0.88

Copper

Mg

0.458

0.180

Manganese

Mg

4.559

0.853

Selenium

Mcg

84.8

42.4

Vitamins
Thiamin

Mg

0.536

0.150

Riboflavin

Mg

0.258

0.050

Niacin

Mg

7.638

1.562

Pantothenic acid

Mg

1.210

0.547

Vitamin B-6

Mg

0.409

0.055

Folate

Mcg

53

32

Choline

Mg

37.4

13.0

Betaine

Mg

87.4

0.0

Carotene, beta

Mcg

6

0

Vitamin A, IU

IU

11

0

Lutein + zeaxanthin

Mcg

264

22

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)

Mg

0.98

0.07

Vitamin K (phylloquinone)

Mcg

2.3

0.4

Fats
Fatty acids, saturated

G

0.386

0.194

Fatty acids, monounsaturated

G

0.278

0.109

Fatty acids, polyunsaturated

G

0.935

0.516

Whole wheat has four times the amount of fiber white flour does. Whole wheat also has fewer calories, carbohydrates and more protein than its less healthy counterpart. There is about fifty percent less calcium, about one-third the amount of iron, and one-sixth the amount of magnesium in white flour. The list goes on and on but you can see it for yourself.

These are a few of the reasons to eat more whole grains. Whole grains have a lot more of the nutrients we need to function, learn, maintain sufficient energy levels for our busy lifestyles and thrive.

Sources:

  1. Self Nutrition Data. (n.d.). Know what you eat. Retrieved April 4, 2011, from http://nutritiondata.self.com.
  2. United States Department of Agriculture. (2009). National nutrient database for standard reference, release 22. Retrieved December 30, 2009, from http://www.nal.United States Department of Agriculture.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/.