10/24/2013 02:18 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

What Is -- and Isn't -- Working in Health Today


Recently, I went to the "What Is Working: Health" panel discussion hosted by The Huffington Post. Moderated by Arianna Huffington, the panelists included Joy Bauer (founder of Joy Bauer Nutrition Centers), Deepak Chopra (founder of The Chopra Foundation and The Chopra Center for Wellbeing), Self editor-in-chief Lucy Danziger, Dr. Frank Lipman (founder and director of Eleven Eleven Wellness Center NYC), Assistant Professor at NYU Langone Medical Center Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa, and Chief Medical Editor of NBC News Dr. Nancy Snyderman.

The discussion ranged from the impact of nanotechnology and epigenetics to the mind-body connection. While Dr. Snyderman pointed out that no one in the Waldorf audience had likely experienced food insecurity, the group was encouraged by the increasing awareness of health and nutrition, the proliferation of wellness coaches and the use of social media to support friends and family. The panelists came armed with both positive and negative statistics and news. (Edited quotes below.)

Starting with the positive:

• "Exercise reduces the recurrence of breast disease by 50 percent." (Dr. Rajapaksa)

• "$5.60 would be saved on each $1 spent on community-based programs to boost physical activity, improve nutrition and prevent smoking." (Lucy Danziger)

• "Programs like Fair Food Network in Detroit ... changed the way families ate by doubling the value of SNAP (formerly foodstamps) when used for fruits and vegetables." (Dr. Nancy Snyderman)

• Paul Tudor Jones just donated $12 million to launch a Contemplative Sciences Center at the University of Virginia. (Arianna Huffington)

Statistics to change:

• "People are fed by the food industry, which pays no attention to health, and are healed by the health industry, which pays no attention to food." (Dr. Lipman from Wendell Berry's Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community: Eight Essays, 1993)

• "The equivalent of two jumbo jets of people crash every three days from medical accidents." (Deepak Chopra)

• "The last grocery store in Camden, N.J. closed." (Dr. Nancy Snyderman)

• "There are eight health care lobbyists for each member of congress." (Deepak Chopra)

Final words of wisdom from the group:

"In the United States, we do extremes really well, but we don't realize that life is played within the 40 yard lines. Come to that center place. As the tarmac of your life is getting shorter, you try to crystallize your life and do things better." (Dr. Snyderman)

"Twenty years ago, I realized I was living in a lunatic asylum. We have war, terrorism, eco destruction, etc. You have to decide if you're going to be an inmate of pick up your visitor's badge. I wear my visitor's badge." (Deepak Chopra)

"Twenty-eight percent of low-income Americans are overweight. Twenty-six percent of Americans are overweight. Stress has no socio-economic bounds, but it is a self-imposed reality. Live a more authentic, enjoyable life. Enjoy the moment you're in. Reward yourself with a healthy body and good food." (Lucy Danziger)

"My favorite quote is from Alfred de Souza: 'For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life.'" (Arianna Huffington)

"Junk food is the modern day cigarette. Use wisdom from Chinese medicine and Buddhism. Teach people about balance." (Dr. Frank Lipman)

"I see people befriending their kitchen more so they're more in control of their food quantity and quality. People share tips on where to find inexpensive groceries using social media. There are new fitness groups for all levels so now there is something for everyone." (Joy Bauer)

"Technology and social media are helping people live healthier lives. We have seen studies that prove frequent reinforcement works. My 6-year-old son is being taught meditation at school by learning how to focus on the teddy bear rising and falling on his stomach as he breathes. If children learn to be mindful about everything, they will be calmer and happier adults." (Dr. Roshini Rajapaksa)

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