What we can learn about health from the people of Roseto, PA.

Hello again,  as I write this I am finishing up my first week of nutrition school with the Institute for Innovative Nutrition, IIN.  I’m loving it, and I want to share with you some pieces of what I am learning.  I am also putting the finishing touches on the decade of my 30’s.  With 2 months until my birthday, I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a push to really work towards accomplishing my dreams.  Writing is something I want to do a lot more of during this next decade so I hope you can follow along and I hope I can contribute some helpful information that can improve your overall health in some way.

My favorite lecture this week was by Dr. Lissa Rankin who began by telling the story of the people of Roseto, Pennsylvania in the 1950’s and 60’s.  The people of Roseto were immigrants from Italy.  One night the local doctor was talking to a colleague and told him that he was stumped by the fact that the people of Roseto were not getting the typical illnesses that people from different townships developed.  They were dying of old age, not heart disease.  Intrigued, the colleague decided to study the people of Roseto.  He thought it must be something they ate, but he found that their diets were actually fairly unhealthy.  They couldn’t afford olive oil so they were frying their meatballs in lard, and they drank a lot of wine and smoked cigarettes.  What the scientists concluded was that none of the people of Roseto were lonely.  They had a tight knit community, and they lived in multi-generational homes.  They were all friends with their neighbors, and they supported each other when they needed help.  The sad ending to the story is that the children of Roseto decided to move out of Roseto and live elsewhere, marry people from other townships and have more of a typical American existence, including the normal rates of loneliness and disease.

If you read my last post about primary and secondary food, Roseto PA is an example of a township that placed a strong importance on relationships which is a huge factor in your primary food.  Just a brief recap, primary food is the stuff that nourishes you in life that is not food.  This includes relationships, spiritual practices, physical exercise, career, and environment.  Studies have shown that healthy and meaningful relationships are one of the most important factors in your overall health.  In fact, loneliness can be an even bigger risk factor for heart disease than a poor diet or lack of exercise.

Dr. Rankin spoke about the nervous system and this point really hit home for me.  I have read this in many other books but the way she said it nailed it to me, and maybe it will for you too.  She said that sickness happens when we live in a chronic repetitive stress response.  That is, when our sympathetic nervous system is active everyday, we are stressed, we are worried, we feel alone, those feelings are poisonous and detrimental to our health.  And on the opposite end, when we feel relaxed, or surrounded by love, our bodies can do what they are built to do, heal themselves.  Our bodies have natural self-healing mechanisms that can only work when we maintain a relaxed state.  That is why meditation and other relaxation techniques are so powerful.  But even more powerful is living in a way that is full and true to your nature, filled with love and support, in a healthy environment, where your physical and mental health is a priority, your creativity thrives, and your life condition can stay positive.

I seem to be drawn to this kind of research as I’ve read a lot about this in the past.  Dr. John Sarno wrote a few amazing books on how pain is directly related to our emotions.  I highly recommend reading any and all of Dr. Sarno’s books, as they will open your mind to viewing your pain in a different way (link below.)

Another fascinating book I read not too long ago is The Molecules of Emotion by Candace B. Pert; a neuroscientist who began the break through research on how emotions effect our physical health (link below.)

All of this research leads back to the same place, that our emotions are so powerful that they can manifest physical symptoms in the body.   I personally am SO aware of this in myself, now more than ever!

But what can we do about it?  We will always have things in our lives that stress us out.  I know that one thing that I try to do when I am feeling physical symptoms is that I go straight to my diet, as if I can cure my all of my physical problems by eating well.  And honestly, it does help sometimes, but diet is only one piece of the puzzle.  Taking a step back and evaluating what you are stressed about, whether its a relationship, finances, health, your environment, or a lack of love and connection and truly being honest with ourselves about these things can be the beginning of making change in those areas.  I am learning that we can change the things in ourselves and our environments that cause us suffer, and when we take even the smallest action in the direction of where we want to be, things begin to feel better.

I surely don’t have all the answers for you, but I do know that all the answers are within you.  I’m excited to share more about the things I’m learning through this blog.   I really wish I started doing this years ago.  I hope you follow along with me.  Please enjoy the rest of your today with your family and friends.


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