Over the last few weeks, I’ve been lucky enough to have interviews with US based Dr. Iris Schrijver, Adjunct Clinical Professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
She’s also a certified lifestyle medicine physician and specialized in clinical pathology and molecular genetics.
We’ve spent the last 3 weeks talking about COVID, the vaccines, fake news vs. real news, and the media’s role and contribution to the situation, the mind body connection in medicine, gut bacteria, burnout, the US health system, home cooking and much more, a lot of which is in her new book “On The Path to Health, Wellbeing and Fulfillment,” and it’s been a delight. I’ll be sharing some of her wisdom over the next few weeks. There’s a lot to share, so let’s start.
H) Hi Iris, thanks for talking with me. What main issues did you want to express and address with your latest book On the Path to Health, Wellbeing and Fulfilment?
I) As a doctor, I am committed to helping people thrive regardless of where they are in their lives. We can all take steps to improve and support our health, wellbeing, and happiness.
I focus on this because lifestyle-driven chronic diseases now account for the majority of premature deaths. Many of these diseases are preventable or can be reversed, through good nutrition, exercise and lifestyle choices, but it is not always easy to recognize how: you need to know what real information is and what is just a fad.
I wrote this book to clarify what we actually know: what is valid and therefore helpful, and what is inaccurate, and how to tell them apart.
Science is useful because it’s built on evidence, evidence we have to account for. Credible research papers are peer reviewed by others and often state where the funding is coming from as well as listing their possible biases. It’s transparent. It’s not just one person’s idea.
What we discover in science can be used as easy and practical tools in everyday life for everyday people, to help them. Increasingly, however, and at the moment in particular, the scientific process is being misunderstood, misrepresented, or dismissed altogether.
My book has stories of how people are bamboozled when erroneous information is presented as fact. And if we believe something to be true, then our behaviour and our health are influenced. I tried to demystify the process of medical research, so readers can take a realistic look at the evidence that we have about health.
H) From documentaries such as The Social Dilemma, we’re becoming more aware that media and social media platforms are often designed to foster addictions to them, manipulate viewpoints by manipulating dopamine production (a neurotransmitter responsible for reward motivated actions), and therefore, manipulating your emotions and behaviour, while spreading misinformation. Often all in a bid to make money. How do you feel this has happened during COVID?
I)Every message, in the news or in advertisements, is designed to reach people, and will influence them in one way or another.
The key goal of manipulation by the media, by politicians, or by advertisers is to direct decisions to their advantage. And when in a vulnerable state, such as being in fear around COVID, or feeling in chaos around what’s true or incorrect, this increases susceptibility to outside influences.
Vulnerability, such as this, reduces the ability to think clearly and critically in order to make wise decisions.
So, it’s important for people to be aware that marketing strategies that can influence them are not only on adds on TV, but can be all around them, including healthcare advertising and messages about health.
H) A few years ago, while studying paediatric nutrition, we learnt that it takes 10 introductions of a food in order for that child to even consider eating it. It looks like the media world use the same principle where repetition is key to making our brains buy it.
I)The media are vital in sharing new health information, and as long as the reporting is accurate, ethical and fact-checked, it is a great service to humanity. But if health news is not fact-checked, misinformation and anxiety can go viral, especially on social media. That is more likely to happen with negative stories, because consumers and the media both pay more attention to stories that are alarming and sensational. So, you are more likely to see stories about a disaster than about positive news.
And unfortunately, our psychology makes it that we tend to believe news stories more when see and hear them more often. The simple act of repetition, be it about COVID-19 or anything else, makes things more credible, even when there is not a kernel of truth in it!
And in some cases, even more so if the information is sensationalised or unbelievable. Just that it’s out there, tells our brain it must be credible, even if it’s a retraction of a false statement.
So, the point is, get curious and stay flexible. It’s easy to become fixed in an idea that we’re right, but we’re all learning about COVID as we go, and as it unfolds.
But some good tips for choosing well are question where your information is coming from. Does the source have validity or are they trying to sell you something? Does it make sense to you? Common sense is an undervalued commodity at the moment. Be aware that thinking for yourself isn’t as easy as it once was. There’s a lot of hype in the way trying to grab your attention for reasons of its own, even if it doesn’t seem obvious at first.
It’s time to reconnect with yourself and your higher wisdom where you feel peaceful and make good decisions for you. Eat well, sleep well, stay calm, avoid stress and drama, get curious, be kind and flexible and practice being an explorer not an expert.
Find Dr. Iris Schrijver’s book, “On the Path to Health, Wellbeing and Fulfilment,” www.cambridgescholars.com/product/978-1-5275-7476-2
And for more information like this visit www.noosa-nutrition.com.au
Next week, we’ll be continuing on, exploring more about who we really are, with Clinical psychologist Mataji Kennedy, and wise words from physician Gabor Mate’.