Note: This appeared in the Sauk Valley Newspapers under the title “A Cure for What Ails You: Healthier Living”.
I work with some very dedicated and caring medical professionals and our organization as a whole has been recognized for quality care in many areas. We do our very best to fix whatever illness you might have but we should all realize that modern medicine has its limitations.
If you come to your doctor’s office or the hospital with symptoms of disease your physician will treat the symptoms according to established standards of care. They will use medications and/or procedures to lower your blood pressure, control your blood sugar, improve your lung function, reduce your cholesterol numbers, unclog your arteries, etc., etc. Most of the medications prescribed will have unwelcome side effects and all surgical procedures come with some degree of risk. And unfortunately, these treatments do not address the underlying cause of the illness.
The top 10 causes of death in the United States are: heart disease*, cancer*, COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder)*, stroke*, accidents, Alzheimer’s, diabetes*, pneumonia*, kidney disease*, and suicide. At least 7 of these (the ones with asterisks) are related to our own unhealthy behaviors. Smoking, poor diet, and lack of physical activity are the primary contributors.
We may not like to accept the responsibility for our poor health. We’d like to blame our parents or our genetics but science is showing that what we do with our fingers (smoking), forks (eating), and feet (exercise) can turn “on” or “off” the genes that might predispose us to cancer, heart disease, and other illnesses.
As an example I refer you to the work of Dr. Dean Ornish, one of the pioneers of preventive medicine. He has done clinical trials with heart patients and with prostate cancer patients. In both groups he was able to show a reversal of symptoms with a lifestyle related prescription. Patients consumed a plant based diet, participated in regular physical activity, and were taught how to manage stress. Another very famous physician who has had great success in reversing existing heart disease is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn of the Cleveland Clinic. I encourage you to look into their research.
While drugs and procedures can address symptoms of lifestyle related diseases, we can’t expect our illness to go away if we continue to practice unhealthy behaviors. Most importantly we should realize that we can prevent, and in some cases even reverse, most of the diseases that kill us before our time.