While the general prescription of “eat right and exercise” seems simple enough, sometimes it’s hard to separate hard science from marketing hype, especially when it comes to health fads. This Week’s blog post explores the research behind the benefits of meditating, whether candida really causes fatigue, and if eating organic is truly the ticket to cancer-free living.

Can meditation improve physical health?

Experts can’t say for sure—yet. While there are studies that show a link between meditation and better brain aging, reduced inflammation, and short-term blood pressure management, some researchers have pointed out that many of these studies are small, non-random, and the concept of “mindfulness” is somewhat subjective. However, many researchers are still optimistic about meditation’s effects on health since studies generally show a positive link. So it seems a few minutes of quiet reflection is generally a good way to start the day—even if science can’t prove it yet.

Does candida cause chronic fatigue?

Anyone who has ever suffered a vaginal yeast infection or oral thrush can attest that candida is definitely a nuisance. However, the medical community is still investigating whether candida in the digestive tract causes a host of other purported symptoms, such as fatigue, bloating, and indigestion. Most people have candida in their body and suffer no ill effects from it—in fact, candida’s presence might be part of the natural balance of gut flora. Some experts believe one’s digestive issues could arise from bacterial imbalance or general malabsorption unrelated to candida. And while anti-candida diets do seem to help symptoms, that might be because they focus on whole, unprocessed foods that are low in added sugar—a diet change from which anyone at any stage of health would benefit.

Does organic produce lower the chance of getting cancer?

The truth is we don’t know. The science on organic vs conventional produce is inconclusive and not nearly enough studies have been done, despite this being one of the most popular of the health fads. The biggest existing studies of organic vs conventional tend to find that there’s little difference in quantities of cancer-fighting vitamins and antioxidants between the two, but some studies have found that organic fruit may be more nutritious. The most important take-home message from researchers is that not eating enough fruits and vegetables is one of the top 5 causes of cancer in the U.S. So don’t skip out on produce—even if it’s not organic. Whether pesticide and herbicide residues on produce can increase chances of cancer is still up in the air as well. But it’s a good idea if you can’t buy organic to rinse conventional produce thoroughly before eating.


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