Something New Under the Sun:
Adapting to Change in the 21st Century


AnthroHealth News

November 2003

Volume 2, Issue 11


Greetings!! We begin this newsletter with a quote from Lao Tzu, the founder to Taoism.

Whatever is flexible and loving will tend to grow;
Whatever is rigid and blocked will wither and die.

We need to be open to change if we are to optimize our health and well-being.


News Updates:

Alcohol, Heart Disease, and Women’s Health: While there has been some research which indicates that drinking 1 – 2 glasses of red wine each day may be good for men’s heart health, alcohol use is much more problematic for women. Women develop liver and brain damage more quickly and with a reduced rate of alcohol consumption than is true for men. The effects of alcohol on heart disease also differ for women: no more than one glass of red wine per day is considered appropriate for women. However, the risks associated with alcohol probably outweigh the benefits. Folate is a necessary component of good health including prevention of heart disease. But alcohol consumption has a negative impact on the body’s ability to effectively use folate. Researchers analyzed data on 83,929 women who were initially without evidence of heart disease or cancer and who were between the ages of 39 and 54. After 16 years, the researchers found that women who had both the highest alcohol and lowest folate intakes also had the highest risk of heart disease or cancer compared to women who did not drink and who ingested between 400 and 600 micrograms of folate each day. For women who drank, the negative effect of alcohol on health was mitigated among those women who also had high folate intakes. The benefits of wine on heart disease can easily be eliminated by overindulgence. Jiang R, Hu FB, Giovannucci EL, Rimm EB, Stampfer MJ, Spiegelman D, Rosner BA, Willett WC. Joint association of alcohol and folate intake with risk of major chronic disease in women. Am J Epidemiol. 2003 Oct 15;158(8):760-71.

The AnthroHealth Way: Avoid alcohol. If you do drink, limit intake to no more than one glass of red wine per day for women, two glasses for men. However, the same health benefits of red wine can be achieved by eating dark berries such as blueberries and blackberries. Edenharder R, Sager JW, Glatt H, Muckel E, Platt KL. Protection by beverages, fruits, vegetables, herbs, and flavonoids against genotoxicity of 2-acetylaminofluorene and 2-amino-1-methyl-6-phenylimidazo[4,5-b]pyridine (PhIP) in metabolically competent V79 cells. Mutat Res. 2002 Nov 26;521(1-2):57-72. Eat a diet rich in sources of folate such as spinach (cooked or raw), cooked broccoli, orange juice, tomato juice, and cooked legumes (e.g. black or kidney beans, black-eyed peas, lentils).


Depression Self-Assessment: Late fall and winter is a time of the year when many feel blue or even seriously depressed. This can be related to a seemingly unending sequence of dark, sunless days. Holidays can also be a tough time for those without a strong social network. Often the depressed individual is not the first to be aware that he or she is depressed. Others see changes in behavior or attitude that cause them to question that person. However, the person may still deny that there are any problems. In order to help individuals determine whether or not they are depressed, the Mayo Clinic has developed a short, on-line questionnaire. See the hotlink below. Just reading and thinking about the questions and one’s answers can be enough to help a person make a decision on whether or not to get some help. But the answers can also be submitted to Mayo for further feedback and advice based on one’s score on the questionnaire. It is also important to remember to eat well, exercise, and optimize your vitamin D levels.


Book Review: This month we are reviewing a nutrition book: The Schwarzbein Principle II: The Transition. Dr. Diana Schwarzbein is an endocrinologist whose research indicates that many health problems are the result of an improperly balanced and poorly functioning hormonal system. This book is a detailed description of the process she developed to improve her patients’ health and well being by altering diet and lifestyle to achieve proper balance and functioning among several of the body’s hormonal systems. The text of Schwazbein’s book is quite repetitive. This serves two purposes: 1] it drives home her major point that a balanced diet equals a balanced hormonal system equals good health; and 2] it takes what would have been a relatively slim volume and makes it seem more substantial.

Her idea of a balanced diet is that one must eat protein, fats, non-starchy vegetables, and good carbohydrates (not refined grains) at each meal if one is to properly balance the hormonal systems. While this is better diet advice than occurs in many other popular books, it is not fully supported by an analysis of our adaptive history. Yes, we need to eat many of the foods she suggests. However, during our long evolutionary and adaptive history humans essentially “grazed” throughout the day, generally gorging on one type of food at a time: fruit, nuts, shellfish, eggs, etc. Therefore, if one eats appropriate foods throughout the day, it should not really matter if they are eaten together or not. It is probable that Dr. Schwarzbein does not believe that individuals will actually manage to achieve a properly balanced diet unless they eat all four food types at each sitting; therefore, she makes this a requirement.

Dr. Schwarzbein discusses a number of hormonal systems and their interactions, reiterating frequently that all hormonal systems are interactive. Given the importance she puts on hormones, it is odd that she does not discuss the parathyroid/vitamin D hormonal system. She does not even mention vitamin D at any point in the book. As regular readers of AnthroHealth News know, an optimized vitamin D hormonal system is critical to preventing a wide variety of diseases. Inadequate blood levels of vitamin D are associated with bone disorders (e.g. osteoporosis and rickets), cancers (prostate, breast, colon), autoimmune disorders (diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis), muscle weakness, and depression. To ignore such an important hormonal system in a book based on optimizing one’s hormonal systems for optimal health is most curious and a cause for concern.

Dr. Schwarzbein believes that in addition to healthy eating, one must also exercise in a healthy manner. Her version of exercise is in agreement with that recommended by AnthroHealth. That is, overtraining can be just as harmful as too little exercise to good health and well being. She also emphasizes the importance of obtaining enough sleep, as discussed in prior issues of AnthroHealth News. An important concept that Dr. Schwarzbein repeatedly makes is that poor diet and lifestyle do not immediately result in poor health; it is a long-term process. Therefore, it will be a long-term process to correct these problems and optimize health. There are no easy fixes. This is a point that does bear repeating: there are no easy fixes. Although there are some problems with The Schwarzbein Principle II: The Transition, it does contain valuable insights and information that make it a good adjunct to the advice available through AnthroHealth and AnthroHealth News.


AnthroHealth Tip of the Month: Sometimes making needed health changes can seem overwhelming. However, if the changes are made in steps, they may be easier to make and more likely to be sustained. This month choose three health behaviors that you want to work on, change, and improve. Focus on one behavior for two to three weeks. When that behavior has improved, add the next behavior, and two to three weeks later, the third. Continue working on the first behaviors when you add the others. For instance, the three behaviors may be: 1] obtaining 8 – 10 hours of sleep each night; 2] eliminating refined grains from your diet; and 3] walking 2 – 3 miles each day. By the third month, you should be feeling healthier and more productive. This will be a great way to begin the New Year.


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Copyright © 2001-2009 Kathleen E. Fuller, PhD. All rights reserved.