For the past few days, I've been incredibly fortunate to be at The Chopra Center for the Journey into Healing program. Wow - It has been amazing. The speakers have been wonderful, and the general atmosphere is something else. Pretty cool to be in such a beautiful place, surrounded by so many amazing people each on their own wellness journey. Dr. Andy Weil's lectures are always inspiring, and brought me back to the reasons I chose to do my fellowship at the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine.
What happened to the healing art of medicine? When did "medicine" become synonymous with pharmaceutical drugs? How can people truly believe that what you eat and how you live can't possibly affect your health? And more importantly - what can be done about it? The United States spends 18% of GDP on healthcare, and is expected to surpass 20%. Yet we continue to have THE WORST OUTCOMES of any developed country. In fact, we have health outcomes right on par with Serbia. What?! Like many modern problems, much of this goes back to what we eat. Our government continues to spend money subsidizing corn and soy, when fruits and vegetables are relatively expensive and inaccessible to much of the country. Why is this OK? The general public can't be held entirely responsible - hospitals, the "facilities for state of the art health care" serve some of the worst non-food out there. 50% of them have a fast food chain restaurant INSIDE the hospital! Is it any wonder that people think this is OK to consume?! Beyond that - is it any wonder that people have no idea what to eat? Fat is bad. No - it's ok, fat is good. Well, except saturated fat. Wait - no that's OK too. Carbs are the problem. No - just some carbs. Sugar is the problem. No, artificial sweeteners are the problem. OF COURSE people are confused about what to eat. What about direct to consumer advertising of pharmaceuticals? The US and New Zealand are the ONLY countries to allow this. Why? It's just bad medicine. These companies exaggerate the benefits of their products and downplay the risks, often knowingly yet without any significant consequences. Too many lobbyists, too much money, and no concern for the wellbeing of society results in patients thinking they need every medication featured with sunshine and butterflies. Each of us must wake up to this reality and make our choices accordingly. Unfortunately health care providers are part of the problem here as well. Most of them were not really trained in nutrition, in mind-body medicine, in using complementary and alternative therapies. They don't know what to eat themselves. How is your doc supposed to talk to you about your diet when they skip meals, drink sodas and eat whatever is available at that hospital full of edible food-like substances? Everyone has a line about "eating healthy" - whatever that means. Most of them continue to believe that what you eat and how you live cannot affect your health in any measurable way. This results in most physicians not translating to patients that THEY, the patient, are the most valuable factor in their healing. So what can you do? As far as nutrition, stop demonizing food groups and just EAT REAL FOOD. Avoid refined, processed and manufactured food. Avoid anything "low-fat" or with other health food claims. Or better yet, see if you can eliminate food from packages completely. Stop counting calories. Drink water. I would love to see the restoration of medicine to health and healing. To place a true focus on prevention, and on the importance of nutrition, stress management, self-care. To see natural, botanical remedies used first instead of drugs. To see all parts of lifestyle as well as community connection as an integral part of health. Over 80%, and possibly 95% of chronic disease can be entirely prevented by the choices YOU make. Take ownership of your health. You have the power to treat and prevent disease. OK rant over:)