From the Editor: Total Wellness
More than most, this issue has a holistic theme, with articles addressing the body, mind, and spirit. Also in the mix is a piece that looks at the health consequences of culture.
First the body. In “Eating Out of the Box or Bag,” dietitian KC Wright explores an often-overlooked aspect of nutrition for people with diabetes—the detrimental influence of ultraprocessed foods. It’s a concept, she says, that’s increasingly recognized by researchers and other experts, yet awareness is lacking. It’s crucial, she suggests, that everyone involved in diabetes care and education stresses the need to promote reduced consumption of foods containing ingredients not typically found in the kitchen and laden with additives such as emulsifiers, thickeners, sweeteners, and flavors.
In “Matters of the Heart,” Jamie Santa Cruz writes about the latest in treatment for atrial fibrillation, which, though it affects 12 million people, she describes as primarily a disease of the elderly. AFib not only increases the risk of stroke up to five-fold but also boosts the risk of other serious conditions, including dementia and heart failure, Santa Cruz writes. She reports on the disagreement concerning the two basic strategies for managing AFib, as well as five new and encouraging developments that may allow more patients to achieve heart rhythm control.
In the realm of the mind, and encompassing culture, is an article by contributor Lindsey Getz that reports on a new study about the role discrimination plays in the development of anxiety disorders. The research suggests that clinicians need greater awareness of this risk factor and must be part of the conversation that drives the development of new policies that target systemic racism.
On the spiritual side, Scott Janssen discusses an experience about which many—if not most—health care professionals know little and often dismiss: near-death experiences. It’s a serious education gap, he suggests, insisting that all professionals working in long term care need to develop knowledge and skills with respect to near-death experiences and other end-of-life transpersonal experiences.
Also writing about end-of-life care, contributor Michele Deppe looks at the rise of telehospice care in the era of COVID-19. Thanks to technology, she reports, the physical and spiritual needs of terminally ill patients can continue to be met.
Rounding out the issue, Jennifer Van Pelt reports on the importance of targeted exercises in fall prevention, and Bonnie Johnson reports on the increasing use of cannabis to combat chronic pain.