Pass the chocolate

One of the staff members of the newspaper I founded and publish, The Chiropractic Journal, gave birth to a healthy son last month. We all cheered the occasion, knowing that this child will grow up in a world that has discovered the true meaning of health and wellness.

It’s incredible to think that the work we do now, educating the public about the dangers and risks of drugs and invasive medical procedures, will improve the lives of generations to come. In that infant’s lifetime, we’ll make astounding advancements in what is now being called the “new biology,” and in the field of energy healing.

Most wellness practitioners, including chiropractors, fully understand that stress is the key factor in most — if not all — chronic illnesses, since it effectively shuts down the immune system. In a study appearing in the current online edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers concluded (not for the first time) that stress increases the inflammatory activity that is part of our immune system’s natural response to potentially harmful situations. “Frequent or chronic activation of the system may increase risk for a variety of disorders, including asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and even depression,” stated lead researcher George Slavich, a postdoctoral fellow in the UCLA Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology. Also included in the list of diseases that could be triggered by stress were certain types of cancer. (Abstract available online

What many people don’t know — including some doctors — is that the stress levels of pregnant women can affect the health of their unborn babies. In 2007, a study published in the journal Clinical Endocrinology, Stress revealed that high stress levels during pregnancy may affect the unborn baby as early as 17 weeks after conception, with potentially harmful effects on brain and development. Another research study linked stress during pregnancy to premature and low-weight births.

Obviously, stress reduction is critical for all people wanting to maintain a high level of health — but it’s even more important for pregnant women. After all, they’re pumping stress hormones for two!

On a lighter note, several research studies have found that eating some types of chocolate (dark and raw chocolate particularly) during pregnancy can be beneficial to the child, partially because it tends to alleviate some of the woman’s stress.

A Yale study published in Epidemiology, May 2008, claimed chocolate during pregnancy reduces the risk of preeclampsia, a major pregnancy complication. Another study — this one published in Early Human Development back in 2004 — found that babies born to women who ate chocolate every day while they were pregnant were more active and “positively reactive” (meaning they smiled and laughed more). They also showed less fear of new situations than babies of stressed women who didn’t indulge their sweet tooth in chocolate!

So, forget the meds … pass the chocolate!