(February 2014) Unless you’ve been living under a mushroom, you know basically what’s good for you and what’s not. You might know that there are good fats and bad fats, good cholesterol and bad cholesterol, good and bad carbohydrates, proper food portions, food allergies and addictions. These distinctions have surfaced in the last few years, giving us a broader understanding of health. Making bad food choices has clearer consequences, as do overeating, overcooking and lack of exercise.
Unfortunately, your doctor may know little about this information. Physicians are not instructed on nutrition and prevention in medical school. They do not assess each patient’s diet and lifestyle. It simply does not pay. In this profit-driven world, treating disease is much more lucrative than preventing it. Their drug focus, and billion-dollar campaign to denigrate dietary supplements, interferes with adoption of progressive health measures. Ironically, Big Pharma won’t relinquish its parasitic hold on this country for the sake of better health.
As such, the gap between nutritional science and conventional healthcare is slow to close, despite all the recent advances. Our knowledge of the nutritional deficits behind obesity and diabetes has flourished, but is not benefiting our people. Health care focused on repair and recovery rather than on health and prevention is costly and misguided. Unless corporations find a way make it much more profitable, things are not about to change.
Fortunately, people have begun to take health into their own hands. While it is still prudent to consult your physician to rule out serious problems, you will not learn the latest in health from that route. Expensive drugs and surgery are often unnecessary, since solutions can be found in good diets, dietary supplements and exercise. Indeed, many medical treatments can actually hurt you, and do not address the real problems. Meanwhile, people are sick and tired of being sick and tired, forcing a groundswell of change in medicine. Relying on pharmaceuticals is not the answer; we need to make some major lifestyle changes. Even the American Diabetes Association concedes that changes in lifestyle (e.g., weight loss and exercise) provide a greater range of benefits than do medications. A growing number of integrative physicians, naturopaths, nutritionists and chiropractors can help sort out your health needs without resorting to medications or surgery.
Granted, taking health into your own hands is no piece of cake. We are all very different and have different needs. Each of us has his or her unique weak spot, or Achilles’ heel. We also have our own brand of stress that wears us down, physically, emotionally and mentally. Nutritional deficiency contributes further to the wear and tear caused by stress, and good nutrition helps us cope. U.S. government surveys show that Americans do not consume enough fruits and vegetables, which has led to nutritional deficits of epidemic proportions. Over time, those shortages contribute substantially to chronic disease and the aging process.
Equally confusing is the mind-boggling array of dietary aids and supplements on the market today. It’s hard to know what to take and what not to take, especially if you are on medication. Consumers swallow handfuls of pills daily and spend tons of money chasing after health. Despite advances in nutritional science, there is growing confusion in the supplement marketplace. Who’s minding the store?
The take-home lesson for today is quality. There is no cutting corners or cheap alternatives to eating well and taking supplements. You get what you pay for. You won’t find much quality in a drug store. Instead, buy your vitamins at a health food or Whole Foods market, and consider going top shelf. It may seem expensive, but it pays off handsomely in the long haul. The same is true for quality food. Organic or biodynamic is the way to go, especially for food from animal sources. Even better, buy local from a farmer you know and trust, and who minimizes pesticide and synthetic fertilizer use. And, for God’s sake, eat more whole fruits and non-starchy vegetables!
Despite all our food addictions, creature comforts and reliance on pharmaceuticals, quality is in the wholeness of things. Broader awareness of real health and prevention could help reverse the current health care crisis and boost American productivity, which would go far to preserve the greatness of this country.