Optimism and Adaptation

In researching the scientific mind-body literature for my book, Power of the Five Elements, one thing stood out: having adaptive attitudes can have an enormous impact on whether a person maintains their health or develops a serious illness.   Optimism is one of the most important of all the traits identified as essential in staying healthy, something that can be developed even if it not one’s nature.

The optimist puts ‘bad’ events in perspective and do not blame themselves and are realistic about what they can control. They are able to move on and see the world in a positive light. A fascinating study by Seligman of baseball players in the Hall of Fame, found those with a pessimistic attitude (blame themselves, are self-centered and often feel hopeless), had  much greater  overall mortality rate than the optimistic players.

If you see yourself with the traits of a pessimist (see Power of the Five Elements for more details), you can work to develop the following traits of optimists: expect positive outcomes; do not give up in difficult situations; expect to be successful; feel they can fix what is needed to be fixed. Your health depends on it.

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Food Allergy and Health

Studies show that up to one of every two Americans could have some food allergy or intolerance. There are two types of food allergy: immediate and delayed. Immediate food allergy involves symptoms such as hives, breathing problems and bowel symptoms occurring within a few minutes of ingesting a food. Typically, this is limited to certain foods such as shellfish, peanuts, strawberries and tree nuts like Brazil nuts. The mechanism of immediate food allergy, which can be life threatening, is release of histamine triggered by IgE antibodies. These allergies are fixed, meaning they don’t change much over a lifetime.

A much more common form of food allergy and intolerance is delayed hypersensitivity where symptoms might not occur for up to 24 hours after ingesting a food. Symptoms can include fatigue, digestive problems, headaches, joint pain, muscle pain, urinary problems, skin rash and nasal congestion and asthma. The most common food triggers are wheat, dairy, sugar, beef, soy, tomatoes, citrus and corn. Many people have developed masking where frequent use of an allergic food prevents the person from seeing the connection between the food and symptoms. These allergies are mediated by IgG antibodies and often do not include major histamine release.

One way to identify if these foods are contributing to symptoms is to do an avoidance diet and then add the food back into the diet. This approach is detailed in The Adaptation Diet as well as information on rotation diets.