Trying the Feldenkrais Method for Chronic Pain
The New York Times - By Jane E. Brody
After two hour-long sessions focused first on body awareness and then on movement retraining at the Feldenkrais Institute of New York, I understood what it meant to experience an incredible lightness of being. Having, temporarily at least, released the muscle tension that aggravates my back and hip pain, I felt like I was walking on air.
I had long refrained from writing about this method of countering pain because I thought it was some sort of New Age gobbledygook with no scientific basis. Boy, was I wrong!
The Feldenkrais method is one of several increasingly popular movement techniques, similar to the Alexander technique, that attempt to better integrate the connections between mind and body. By becoming aware of how one's body interacts with its surroundings and learning how to behave in less stressful ways, it becomes possible to relinquish habitual movement patterns that cause or contribute to chronic pain.
The method was developed by Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli physicist, mechanical engineer and expert in martial arts, after a knee injury threatened to leave him unable to walk. Relying on his expert knowledge of gravity and the mechanics of motion, he developed exercises to help teach the body easier, more efficient ways to move.
I went to the institute at the urging of Cathryn Jakobson Ramin, author of the recently published book Crooked that details the nature and results of virtually every current approach to treating back pain, a problem that has plagued me on and off (now
mostly on) for decades. Having benefited from Feldenkrais lessons herself, Ms. Ramin had good reason to believe they would help me. (Source)
Fiber is Good for You. Now Scientists May Know Why.
The New York Times -
By Carl Zimmer
A diet of fiber-rich foods, such as fruits and vegetables, reduces the risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. Indeed, the evidence for fiber's benefits extends beyond any particular ailment: Eating more fiber seems to lower people's mortality rate, whatever the cause.
That's why experts are always saying how good dietary fiber is for us. But while the benefits are clear, it's not so clear why fiber is so great. "It's an easy question to ask and a hard one to really answer," said Fredrik Bäckhed, a biologist at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.
He and other scientists are running experiments that are yielding some important new clues about fiber's role in human health. Their research indicates that fiber doesn't deliver many of its benefits directly to our bodies.
Instead, the fiber we eat feeds billions of bacteria in our guts. Keeping them happy means our intestines and immune systems remain in good working order.
In order to digest food, we need to bathe it in enzymes that break down its molecules. Those molecular fragments then pass through the gut wall and are absorbed in our intestines.
But our bodies make a limited range of enzymes, so that we cannot break down many of the tough compounds in plants. The term "dietary fiber" refers to those indigestible molecules.
But they are indigestible only to us. The gut is coated with a layer of mucus, atop which sits a carpet of hundreds of species of bacteria, part of the human microbiome. Some of these microbes carry the enzymes needed to break down various kinds of dietary fiber.
The ability of these bacteria to survive on fiber we can't digest ourselves has led many experts to wonder if the microbes are somehow involved in the benefits of the fruits-and-vegetables diet. Two detailed studies published recently in the journal "Cell Host and Microbe" provide compelling evidence that the answer is yes. (source)