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On ‘Sound Medicine’: The lack of allergies among the Amish, rural health care, and urban farming


“Sound Medicine,” also available via podcast and Stitcher Radio for mobile phones and iPads, covers controversial ethics topics, breakthrough research studies and the day-to-day application of recent advancements in medicine.

What makes Amish children less susceptible to allergies? In his studies of children in northern Indiana Amish communities, Mark Holbreich, M.D., discovered a very low incidence of allergies and asthma in comparison to children who don’t live on a farm. It has been theorized that pregnant women’s and children’s exposure to barns, large animals and unpasteurized milk contribute to their invincibility to allergies. Specific immune changes occur when children and pregnant women are exposed to a wide array of allergens and pathogens that train the immune system not to overreact to harmless allergens. Holbreich, a specialist in the treatment of complex asthma and allergies at Allergy and Asthma Consultants in Indianapolis, shares how the setup of Amish families affects their health, as well as recommendations for people who do not live on farms.

Is the rural population underserved by physicians? With more graduating medical students choosing to pursue specialties, recruiting doctors to live and work in rural America is a chronic problem, and attracting current physicians to rural hospitals is difficult without the proper resources. Mission-focused medicine is the new centerpiece of recruitment at a small hospital in southwest Kansas, which involves solving problems that are characteristic of third-world countries. Physicians with a mission-focused mantra are passionate about rectifying a specific disparity for altruistic reasons, such as serving a population that doesn’t speak English. Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media reports in a special field piece on the state of the emerging epidemic of faltering rural health care and the mission-focused model in Kansas that could be the catalyst for change.

How can urban farming affect impoverished American families? Will Allen experienced a unique journey to his current position as CEO of Growing Power, an urban farming project in Milwaukee. The son of a sharecropper, he spent the majority of his career playing professional basketball and as a marketing executive for Kentucky Fried Chicken and Proctor and Gamble. Today, he operates the two-acre Growing Power, within two miles of the largest public housing project in Milwaukee. The plot is capable of producing 40 tons of fresh fruits and vegetables a year as well as supporting tens of thousands of fish. Allen is also the author of “The Good Food Revolution: Growing Healthy Food, People, and Communities” and shares his thoughts with “Sound Medicine” essayist Eric Metcalf on how urban farming can transform the food system in urban communities and the success story behind Growing Power.

Does ‘juicing’ have significant nutritional value? Juice diets have been popularized over the past several years, but nutrition experts have cautioned dieters from using it as an exclusive method of nutrition because “juicing” tends to deprive fruits and vegetables of their healthy, fibrous pulps and concentrates the sugar that is naturally present to much higher levels. Sara Blackburn, D.Sc., R.D., clinical associate professor in the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, discusses the value of juice diets and the benefit of whole fruits and vegetables.

Does the secret to health lie in the first 20 minutes of exercise? Gretchen Reynolds, author of “The First 20 Minutes: Surprising Science Reveals How We Can Exercise Better, Train Smarter, Live Longer,” shares the inspiration behind her book and the detrimental effects of a sedentary lifestyle on the body as well as the importance of the first several moments of being active.

“Sound Medicine,” co-produced by the IU School of Medicine and WFYI Public Radio (90.1 FM) and underwritten in part by Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is aired on the following Indiana public radio stations: WBSB (Anderson, 89.5 FM), WFIU (Bloomington, 103.7 FM; Columbus, 100.7 FM; Kokomo, 106.1 FM; Terre Haute, 95.1 FM), WNDY (Crawfordsville, 91.3 FM), WVPE (Elkhart/South Bend, 88.1 FM), WNIN (Evansville, 88.3 FM), WBOI (Fort Wayne, 89.1 FM), WFCI (Franklin, 89.5 FM), WBSH (Hagerstown/New Castle, 91.1 FM), WFYI (Indianapolis), WBSW (Marion, 90.9 FM), WBST (Muncie, 92.1 FM), WBSJ (Portland, 91.7 FM), WLPR (Lake County, 89.1 FM) and WBAA (West Lafayette, 101.3 FM).

“Sound Medicine” is also broadcast on these public radio stations across the country: WLRH (Huntsville, Ala.), KSKA (Anchorage, Alaska), KTNA (Talkeetna, Alaska), KUHB (Pribilof Islands, Alaska), KUAF (Fayetteville and Fort Smith, Ark.), KIDE (Hoopa Valley, Calif.), KRCC (Colorado Springs, Colo.), KEDM (Monroe, La.), WCMU (Mount Pleasant, Mich.), WCNY and WRVO-1 (Syracuse, N.Y.), KMHA (Four Bears, N.D.), WYSU (Youngstown, Ohio), KPOV (Bend, Ore.) and KEOS (College Station, Texas).