Online Musings: Reader’s Digest Health Recipe

The May 2016 Reader’s Digest cover story is “Secrets Your Body Is Trying To Tell You.” I love how RD gives credence to revolutionary cultural memes, like the mind/body connection and self-healing. Their mainstream, easy-to-digest reader appeal has been informing America and the rest of the world for almost a century.

The human body is designed to be self-healing. Unfortunately, our western medicine system gets in the way of that by maintaining that doctors, drugs and insurance plans hold the keys to your health. You can’t really listen to what your body is telling you it needs when your first instinct is to turn to the doctor to diagnose your symptom.

Your body is always doing something! There’s always one symptom or another popping up and doing its thing, expressing itself, and plenty that you’re not even aware of going on. It’s the body’s way of maintaining homeostasis minute by minute, hour after hour, year after year. Amazingly, the body manages to transmute everything that’s thrown at it — good diet, bad diet, pharmaceuticals, no pharmaceuticals, stress, abuse — and still live another day to tell about it. No health professional can claim such a record of success!

It seems the body’s wisdom is finally getting the recognition it deserves as diet, exercise and natural therapies continue to make the latest headlines in curing disease. As the meme grows stronger, so does the population doing it, putting the power of collective consciousness to work in our favor.

The “Secrets” article notes that the placebo effect is increasing. “An analysis of 84 chronic pain-drug trials found the placebo effect getting stronger. By 2013, patients receiving placebos experienced a 30 percent decrease in pain levels on average, compared with about 5 percent in 1990.”

Here’s other ways from RD that your body is letting you know what it really needs for better health, nutrition, sleep, pain relief and more:

Your mind can add years to your life. By keeping a positive attitude about aging and continuing to feel useful and happy, you’ll most likely live about seven extra years, according to Yale University surveys.

You can reshape your brain through meditation. According to MRI scans, the hippocampus — the part of the brain in charge of learning and memory — thickens after only a couple of months of mindful meditation. Brain-cell density also decreases in the amygdala, responsible for fear, anxiety, and stress. Those physical brain changes can alter your mood.

Think twice before you look down at your phone. Would you hang four bowling balls from your neck? Sixty pounds (or about the combined weight of those balls) is the same amount of force exerted when you tilt your head forward at about a 60-degree angle to text or e-mail from your smartphone. For the love and integrity of your cervical spine, raise that phone up to your sight line.

Before you grab a sweater as soon as you feel chilly, suck it up for a little while. When you shiver from cold, it stimulates hormones that convert energy-storing white fat into calorie-buring brown fat. Shivering for about ten to 15 minutes has similar hormonal effects as an hour of moderate exercise.

Don’t skip the flexibility exercises. Joints needs to be stretched as you get older. Connective tissue within ligaments and tendons becomes more rigid and brittle with age, which means a restricted range of motion and decreased flexibility. Pilates and yoga are two good options, but even simple stretches held for 10 to 30 seconds can keep you moving more easily.

To swing or not to swing. Arms are like pendulums that naturally sway as you move. You expend less energy when they do their thing and swing. Holding them still while you walk uses 12 percent more energy.

Mix your yogurt. That watery stuff sitting on the top is whey, and it’s filled with protein, bone-strengthening calcium, vitamin D, and gut-friendly probiotics. When you pour it in the sink, you miss out.

Tap your forehead to curb a craving. Next time a chocolate doughnut is calling your name, place your finger on your forehead and tap away your desire.

Color to reduce stress. When you are focused on something that’s concrete and repetitive, it activates portions of the parietal lobe, the same area of the brain connected to spirituality and one that tends to be active during meditation and prayer.

Carol Bedrosian is the publisher of Spirit of Change holistic magazine. Email

See also:
15 Simple Lifestyle Changes That Can Add Over A Decade To Your Life
How One Man In His 70s Avoids Alzheimer's And Stays Physically And Mentally Fitter Than People Half His Age