The old adage, “You are what you eat,” traces back to a 19th-century French gastronomist. Unfortunately, in the nearly 200 intervening years, many of us seem to have lost touch with this common-sense advice, as poor eating and stress-related habits have resulted in high levels of obesity, cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. We spend millions each year to treat our symptoms with pharmaceuticals and medical procedures, yet what we should be doing is focusing on the underlying causes of chronic illnesses. It is this more comprehensive pursuit that can lead to a healthier and significantly more sustainable life of quality and wellness.
A Better Way
Living longer and aging gracefully is a worthwhile and achievable goal. At PALM Health, our emphasis on functional medicine and our highly personalized approach to your wellness can help you in your meaningful pursuit.
Functional medicine is a comprehensive, patient-centered approach that focuses on diagnosing and treating the root causes of illness. This means that, using the best science available, we take the time to go behind the symptoms to better understand the sources leading to your ill-health.
By examining all aspects of your health history, your habits and behaviors, and environmental, stress, and lifestyle factors, we can help modulate aging and inflammatory pathways. This information is critical as we begin to identify the lifestyle changes that will work for your unique needs and that will help you achieve your goals for health and happiness. Together, we can work to prevent and reverse the progression of age-associated chronic illnesses and to promote your long-term health.
Working Together for a Healthier You
At PALM Health, our experienced medical staff and lifestyle coaches work with you to create and maintain a customized program that combines conventional medicine, nutrition, exercise, alternative therapies, wellness techniques, and spa services. Together, we can help you achieve life-changing results by implementing a healthcare and wellness plan just for you. Functional medicine can work for anyone, as so many of our patients have already discovered. You too can change your future for the better. Let us help you restore balance in your life, return your body to its optimal functioning, and eliminate the root causes of chronic and debilitating illnesses.
Q: What is the first step to preventative health?
A: Know yourself! Have you ever taken time to have a comprehensive review of your personal health risk factors? There is no single diet, exercise program, or stress management formula that works for everyone. We are each unique in our genetic makeup, family history, environmental exposures to toxins and pesticides, lifestyle habits such as nutrition, sleep, and exercise, and levels of stress, inflammation, positive emotion, and hope.
At PALM Health, we take a whole person approach to assess your individual health risks and protective factors. We then develop a comprehensive health plan for you.
Q: Do you have primary care doctors at PALM and offer annual preventive health exams?
A: Yes. All of our primary care doctors are board-certified in Internal Medicine or Family Medicine. Plus, they have additional specialty training in Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine utilizes a complex, systems biology approach to help our doctors determine how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.
Q: What is a key factor in preventing illness?
A: Reducing inflammation. Arthritis is inflammation of the joints. Heart disease is inflammation of the arteries. Inflammation has long been known to play a role in allergic diseases like asthma and arthritis. We also know that it is a catalyst for many illnesses, such as anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, weight gain, and memory loss.
A poor diet, stress, minor food allergies, a sedentary lifestyle, or inadequate sleep can contribute to chronic inflammation. Instead of taking medication to reduce joint pain or lower cholesterol, we are often better served by reducing inflammation in the body through a whole person mind-body approach.
Q: I am motivated to reduce stress and inflammation this year. What does PALM Health offer?
A: At PALM, we have a myriad of services and amenities that focus on stress reduction. A few key services include:
Meditation Classes: Our classes rotate through practices that focus on intentional meditation, mindfulness, and contemplative approaches. Our techniques allow you to calm the tensions and struggles in your thoughts, become more aware of your senses, and help you to experience an increased sense of well-being.
Cardiac Coherence Biofeedback Sessions: These sessions teach you breathing techniques to balance the autonomic nervous system. The result is better emotional control, decreased stress and anxiety, and enhanced healing.
Food Allergy Testing and Nutrition Counseling: We can help you identify triggers and reduce foods that contribute to inflammation such as corn and soybean oils, pasteurized dairy, refined carbohydrates, conventional meat, sugars, and trans fats.
PALM Signature Stress Reduction Massage: We use a combination of deep tissue massage, myofascial release, gentle strokes, and stimulation of acupressure points. This assists in letting go of tension and helps regulate your energetic balance.
Salt Room: Our Himalayan Salt Room is infused with purified ionized salt particles. Studies show this promotes relaxation and may reduce inflammation and mucus in the lungs, improving respiratory conditions such as asthma, allergies, bronchitis, sinus congestion, and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).
Cryotherapy: This rejuvenating cold therapy safely provides ultimate anti-inflammatory properties for the skin, joints, and body, releases endorphins, and increases metabolism. Elite athletes and professional sports teams regularly use cryotherapy for recovery and joint pain.
Fitness: Personal training and classes offer a variety of strength, cardio, Pilates, yoga flow, and deep stretching options.
We also offer intensive 8-week programs focused on stress reduction and inflammation.
The Resolve Inflammation Program is designed to help individuals resolve conditions linked to inflammatory processes (i.e. digestive issues, fatigue, autoimmune disorders, skin conditions, etc.).
The Stress Management Program helps individuals work towards their mental health goals (i.e. reducing anxiety, managing depression, decreasing fatigue, improving calmness).
Depression, anxiety, and many other mental illnesses are on the rise in the twenty-first century. We sat down with Dr. Nigel Lester, Director of Mental Health at PALM, to ask for his insight.
Why are so many people depressed today?
Two thousand years ago, the Greek philosopher Plato said, “Life must be lived as play.” In many ways the huge rise in mental illnesses in our society, and especially depression, can be seen as a collective forgetting of the potential for joy and awe that human existence offers us. There are many causes of depression that lead us to become psychologically and emotionally stuck. A common scenario we see at PALM Health is that people are living under increasing amounts of both physical and psychological stress, leading to a state of constant tension and anxiety about life. Life stops being like play and becomes more like punishment! Eventually, body and mind suffer, leading to fatigue, ill health, and depression.
How does PALM Health use a holistic approach to depression?
At PALM Health our integrated approach recognizes the need to address all aspects of the being: body, mind, and spirit. Our treatment programs include psychological interventions, diet, exercise, meditation, personal goal setting, and much more.
For example, exercise can be meaningful and joyful. Why force yourself to do 45 minutes on the treadmill while watching the news about all the sad things happening in the world when you can spend 45 minutes walking in nature, gardening, or even doing housework? Not only will you burn more calories in the long run, but you will also reawaken body awareness and rediscover meaning in your daily activity.
Do you recommend supplements in the treatment of depression?
Diet should be tailored to individual needs and be varied over time. At PALM Health our nutritional and functional medicine team assesses your specific nutritional needs and designs a diet and supplement regimen for your individual situation.
Sadly, much of the food available to us today is lacking in nutrients. Even a balanced diet may not be sufficient when you are struggling with depression, so the use of supplements may be justified. Study after study confirms that we simply do not have a correct balance of fatty acids in our diet and the brain needs these essential fatty acids more than any other part of the body. At a minimum, you should take a daily dose of good quality omega-3.
What about relaxation therapy?
It is often the case that the first time we teach relaxation and meditation to a client at PALM Health they will fall asleep. This should tell you something! Sleep is essential to mental and emotional well-being, yet most of us are not getting enough sleep, or enough quality sleep; it makes us highly vulnerable to depression. We make it a priority to help our clients learn how to let go at the end of the day through good sleep habits, meditation, self-acupressure, and relaxation techniques.
What about psychological support?
It is essential that we learn how to be calm in the face of stress. This is achieved through understanding ourselves, and accepting our personal challenges, addictions, fears, and obsessions, without condemnation but with calmness, patience, and kindness. That will allow us to move forward in meaningful ways.
The foundation of our mental health approach at PALM Health is our unique Well-Being Coaching philosophy, which involves promoting neuroplasticity (the biological basis of change), addressing personal life goals, and experiencing a cultural awakening through a unique educational program called “Know Yourself.” Combined with Psychological Therapy and conventional psychiatric practices, such as the judicious use of medication where indicated, this philosophy perfectly encapsulates the truly integrative approach of PALM Health in the treatment of depression.
How do I get started to tackle my stress and depression?
At PALM Health we have devised a comprehensive and intensive Stress Management Program to help clients get started on their journey to mental and emotional well-being. We know that when people have physical symptoms, they want to do all they can to get better. It should be no different for mental health challenges like depression.
The Stress Management Program is an intensive eight-week immersion program in which the client is guided by a personal program coordinator and assisted by a team of multi-disciplinary health professionals under the supervision of a Board Certified Psychiatrist. It is designed to open the individual to a wide range of mind, body, and spirit activities, addressing all aspects of their being. It stimulates their own potential for self-healing and rekindles that innate memory that life can be play! This is how we find a truly holistic path to attaining and maintaining mental and emotional well-being.
We’ve all heard about supplements. The question is, do we really need to take them? We asked Dr. Lauren Munsch Dal Farra, cardiologist and CEO of PALM Health, for her advice.
What is a nutritional supplement?
Nutritional supplements can be vitamins, minerals, herbs or other plants, amino acids (the individual building blocks of protein), or parts of these substances. They come in pill, capsule, tablet, or liquid form, and are intended to replenish deficiencies in the body and add further nutritional value to “supplement” the diet.
Here in the U.S., where we have access to nutritious foods, are supplements necessary?
The standard American diet often does not contain the nutrients necessary for proper functioning of the body. Few individuals in the U.S. are eating the recommended 7-9 daily servings of fresh fruits and vegetables and even this quantity does not ensure sufficient vitamin and mineral intake. Additionally, changes in farming practices over the past 50 years have significantly decreased the nutrient content of the foods we eat.
How have farming practices changed the nutrient content of our food?
Years of growing produce without adequate crop rotation and resting of the soil has resulted in mineral depletion of the soil. Also, when produce is grown with pesticides, the plant does not develop its natural phytonutrients to protect itself from the environment. Additionally, food is now manipulated to be grown larger and more quickly for a higher yield. These factors have led to a reduction in the nutrient density of our produce.
What is the importance of adequate nutrients in the proper functioning of the body?
Nutrients are key factors in our energy production, detoxification, hormone regulation, and immune pathways. In our current environment, we are exposed to more toxins and chemical additives than ever before. This higher burden requires more energy production from the body and more nutrient cofactors for detoxification and functioning.
Who should consider taking a supplement?
At PALM, we always begin with a food first approach but we have greater success healing the body with individualized nutraceutical support. We test for various micronutrient imbalances that may lead to dysfunction in individuals seeking to optimize health, increase energy, resolve symptoms, and treat chronic illness. This is specifically important in chronic illness where digestion is frequently impaired leading to poor nutrient absorption. We also recommend them for acute illness to support immune function, for athletes trying to optimize performance, for individuals at risk for cardiovascular disease, and for those interested in cognitive health and graceful aging.
Do you use nutritional supplements instead of medications?
In integrative medicine, we use a combination of nutritional supplements and medications (when necessary). Medications tend to target one biologic organ system or symptom by upregulating or blocking function. Nutritional supplements promote health and treat disease by addressing dysfunction at the root cause. They work in a holistic way by addressing the function of the body as a complex and dynamic biological system.
Are there any risks associated with taking supplements?
Individuals often think of supplements as very safe, but we prescribe them in the same way we would prescribe and adjust medications – based on individual diagnosis or testing, which changes over time and needs to be monitored. Supplements can have side effects and interactions with medications. It is also very important to choose high quality supplements from a reputable source. The brands that we sell are all pharmaceutical grade supplements that have been subjected to rigorous quality control testing to ensure therapeutic benefit and safety.
How do I know which supplements to take?
A supplement plan should always be individualized based on symptoms, health conditions and goals. It is best to work with a provider to develop this plan and monitor it for efficacy. At PALM, we offer a Nutrition Supplement Consult with our nurse practitioner, Sarah Bird, DNP, who is certified in Functional Medicine. If you are interested, you can call 314-801-8898, ext. 1, and speak to a navigator for more information.
Light is a powerful tool for healing the body. On the electromagnetic spectrum, light waves ranging from visible light to infrared rays can be used to warm the body, relax muscles, and detoxify bodily systems. Infrared saunas and medical-grade heating pads such as the BioMat serve to provide heat through infrared and far infrared rays, while chromotherapy uses the visible light spectrum to balance the body’s energy systems and provide stability.
The BioMat is a medical-grade FDA-approved heating pad made of superconducting amethyst crystals that deliver far infrared rays and negative ions to the body, which are integral to healthy cellular function. The conductive properties of the mineral amethyst allow the far infrared rays of the BioMat to help promote healing and restore balance at the cellular level. The BioMat can be used to relieve muscle and joint pain, soothe minor strains and sprains, alleviate minor muscular back pain, reduce stress and fatigue, support the immune system, reduce inflammation, relax the body, and promote restful sleep. The BioMat is safe to use every day, and it is safe to sleep on, even for the duration of a full night’s rest. Many people experience immediate relief from use of the BioMat, while others may experience relief after a few weeks of continued use.
The infrared sauna uses light to warm the body internally, whereas a traditional sauna uses heat to warm the body externally via the air. Radiant energy in the form of a band of light penetrates the skin to a depth of at least one and one-half inches. Infrared saunas are much like traditional saunas in that they are designed to relax, de-stress, and detoxify. They differ in mode of action (heating the body rather than just the air), and offer enhanced efficacy with greater detoxification at lower temperatures. Sessions have been reported to boost the immune system, prevent viral and bacterial infections, speed recovery from viral and bacterial infections, support treatment of depression, and support treatment of high blood pressure, obesity, congestive heart failure, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Chromotherapy uses the visible light spectrum to balance the body’s systems and hormones. Many people who experience symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder due to the lack of sunlight in the winter months use a full spectrum lamp to mimic the sun’s rays. Light therapy treatments have been shown to improve the immune system, repair and restore cells, increase circulation, regulate hormones, and promote detoxification. In addition, exposing oneself to natural sunlight at sunrise is crucial. The sleep-wake cycle is dependent on morning sunlight to start the body’s wakeful phase and ensure proper sleep at night. Setting a regular bedtime and getting sunlight first thing in the morning helps cue the body when it is time to sleep and when it is time to be awake.
The variety of ways that light can be used to heal the body shows just how essential it is for physical, mental, and spiritual well-being.