Michael Greger M.D. FACLM invites readers in his NutritionFacts.org blog to learn about a community-based education program informing physicians and patients alike about the power of nutrition as medicine.
“The best-kept secret in medicine is that given the right milieu”—the right conditions—“the body heals itself, and “[w]hen it comes to cardiovascular disease, there is no substitute for nutritional excellence.” We know about Ornish, Pritikin, Barnard, Esselstyn—all the great names in evidence-based nutrition—but how many have heard about the CHIP program, the Coronary Health Improvement Project, a volunteer-run community-based education program? “More so than any clinical trial, educating physicians and patients alike about the power of nutrition as medicine is the best investment we can make in the fight against heart disease.” More effective, cheaper, and safer. What are the side effects? Improved overall health—and not just physical health, as Dr. Greger discusses in his video CHIP: The Complete Health Improvement Program.
“Lifestyle change programs such as CHIP aimed at improving physical health behaviors can likewise have a profound effect on mental health.” Studies of thousands of individuals who went through CHIP (now called Pivio) have shown there were significant improvements in a number of “sleep or stress disorders,” such as sleeping restlessly, not sleeping at all, or feeling stress, upset, fear, or depression. Most of the numbers were cut in half, and all were highly significant findings, as you can see below and at 1:16 in this video. The question is, why?
“The psychological well-being of the CHIP participants might have been positively affected by increased feelings of empowerment, making strides toward reducing their body weight, and improving other health indicators.” As they started eating better and making strides, “participants’ sense of despair, failure, and possibly social isolation may be replaced with a growing sense of accomplishment, increased social support and a new sense of hope.” Or, they just may have been feeling better physically. If your diabetes goes away, for example, that’s reason enough to perk you up.