Alarming Health Statistics vs Wellness Revolution
On March 23rd, Womens enews.org featured an article about Atlanta’s Spelman College. It said: The historically black college for women decided it was time to do something major to redraw its student body’s alarming health profile: “We’ve been greeting incoming freshmen students who were pre-hypertensive, overweight, obese,” says its health services director.
Brenda Dalton, director of Spelman’s Student Health Services, noticed that there had been a precipitous increase in blood pressure levels and chronic conditions of new students. She remarked, “We’ve been greeting incoming freshmen students who were pre-hypertensive, overweight, obese and may have other chronic conditions like type II diabetes, asthma and allergies.”
Atlanta is also the base of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. According to their statistics, 44% of black women over 20 years of age have hypertension and 80% of African American females are overweight or obese. Hypertension can lead to heart attack or stroke and being obese increases your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and some cancers.
While Spelman is making a positive attempt to better the health of its population by introducing sports programs, healthier food on campus, fitness facilities, health awareness, and even napping stations, there remains a nationwide epidemic of bad health, often due to long standing habits of poor food choices and lack of exercise.
Regarding hypertension: many studies have been done on the TM technique and hypertension, including several randomized controlled trials of African Americans since that population has the most difficult time controlling hypertension. The American Heart Association, after a thorough review of many non-medication, non-dietary and all alternative approaches to hypertension, recently published their conclusions that the TM program is the only meditation or relaxation practice that has been shown to significantly reduce high blood pressure. This benefit has been reported throughout the media, including in an NBC news report.
Regarding obesity: one significant cause of obesity is food addiction. With the improvements proven to take place in brain functioning during the TM practice, impulsivity is reduced. And with the decrease of anxiety and depression that results from TM, compulsive eating also decreases. There is evidence from a well-controlled scientific study published in Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 that the TM technique can reduce the components of metabolic syndrome. Patients with metabolic syndrome are characteristically overweight, with high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar and triglycerides, and low HDL (good) cholesterol.
Regarding diabetes: research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 2006 shows that the practice of the TM technique can help during the initial stages of type 2 diabetes by lowering insulin resistance. Further, stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline aggravate insulin and glucose levels. Reducing these neurohormones through the Transcendental Meditation technique helps to balance glucose and insulin in the blood. This helps to normalize diabetes.
According to the World Heart Federation, “People with diabetes develop atherosclerosis at a younger age and more severely than people without diabetes. Hypertension is more than twice as common in people with diabetes as in people with normal blood glucose levels. People with diabetes are more likely to have a heart attack or stroke, than people who do not, and their prognosis is worse….”
What can women do about it? Exercise, nutritious food, and other healthy habits are significant contributors to the solution. And adding the TM technique to a daily routine:
“Transcendental Meditation is associated with statistically significant decreased hypertension and atherosclerosis, clinical improvements in patients with established heart disease, decreased hospitalization rates, and improvements in other risk factors including reduced stress and even decreased smoking and cholesterol.” – Abraham Bornstein, MD, FACC, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Science Education, Hofstra North Shore LIJ School of Medicine
As a nurse of 40 years, I have watched the steady increase of chronic health conditions presenting in women of all ages due to obesity and lifestyle choices. I have cared for many young women who could have avoided critical health issues had they started a regimen including the TM technique. If you know someone or are someone with risk factors, it is not too late. Anyone who can think a thought and follow simple instructions can learn and successfully practice the TM technique and will have a powerful boost to better health.
About the Author
Amy Ruff, RN BSN, is the national director of TM for Nurses in the United States.