I remember oat bran….
It burst upon the scene in the late 1980s with promises of helping us to be healthier in several ways, including lowering cholesterol. Before we knew it, oat bran seemed to be in everything!
There was oat bran garlic bread, oat bran muffins, oat bran animal cookies, oat bran brownies, oat bran-dusted potato chips and doughnuts. I can remember eating pizza with oat bran and it was even added to the cookie dough in ice cream! (For me, oat bran’s taste ruined many delicious foods.)
And then a few years later, almost as suddenly as it arrived, it was gone. Apparently, a new report challenged a lot of its health claims and it was removed from most ingredients lists. (I’m convinced that the taste had to do with the rapidity of its disappearance. )
I’m not coming down on one side or the other of the oat bran argument – which included law suits alleging false advertising claims.
But I bring up this history because February is “wise health care consumer month.” And in our efforts to make wise choices, we often follow the latest trends – only to see them shift.
Those of us who consumed those oat bran foods trusting that they would improve our health, felt like we had the rug pulled out from under us. It made one question whether there is real health wisdom that won’t change.
The debates on what to eat or not eat or how much to exercise and which remedies really work, never quite get resolved. It seems like there’s always another new study debunking the latest findings. And when you add to all that uncertainty the frightening side effects of drugs, it can seem pretty daunting to find the right path and products for maintaining good health.
A recent article by Dr. Glenn D. Braunstein, Vice President of Clinical Innovation, at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, tries to help the public sort through the confusion of contradictory theories and conflicting studies. Yet despite some helpful guidance, he includes a huge caveat – that results may not match the research due to certain individual factors.
So is it possible to be a truly wise health consumer? Are there choices we can make that stand the test of time?
Recently, more people are searching outside traditional models in order to find the answers. And often the newest answer is actually something old. By definition, something that’s stood the test of time has been around for a while.
One new/old way to care for health includes a focus on our consciousness. As more reports confirm the positive health effects of reducing stress, for example, various avenues of gaining mental peace and calm are being sought – from yoga and meditation to relaxation techniques and prayer.
There is a discovery going on that expressing love and caring about others, being generous and giving unselfishly are things we can indulge and even over-indulge in with only positive, healthy effects and side effects.
The Minneapolis-based Bravewell Collaborative describes integrative medicine: “A practical strategy, integrative medicine puts the patient at the center and addresses the full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect a person’s health.”
These ideas are not new. Tried and true mental approaches to health and happiness have been available to the consumers for centuries – without any required insurance coverage.
Nineteenth century health pioneer, Mary Baker Eddy, offers this wisdom in her main work, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: “You embrace your body in your thought, and you should delineate upon it thoughts of health, not of sickness.”
As the title of Eddy’s book alludes to, she acquired her health wisdom from an even older source: the Scriptures. After being suddenly healed herself, she studied the Bible to find out if that was just a one-time miracle or if there was something understandable and even repeatable behind it. The book quoted above is the result of her study and testing.
Thought-based methods of caring for health are making a comeback. As those using them continue to experience good outcomes, it looks like they’re here to stay.
Joel Magnes blogs on spirituality and health and is a Christian Science practitioner. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Brenda, a canine behaviorist (think dog whisperer). They have a charming Havanese dog, Rafi, and a chubby orange tabby cat, Wally. See more on his website, called “HealthThoughts.” Follow Joel on Twtter @CSinMinnesota