While at work in the Emergency Department a few weeks ago, I saw a young man in his early forties who had come to the hospital because of neck pain. It turns out that he was concerned because he had just suffered a heart attack the prior week for which he had a cardiac catheterization and a stent placed in his heart to open up a blocked blood vessel. A few months ago, I took care of a woman in her fifties that was admitted to the hospital and ended up needing open heart surgery due to extensive heart disease.
I realize that the above is not the most uplifting opening paragraph for a blog post. However, it is factual nonetheless. My intention is not to be discouraging, but rather to create awareness and inspire change. Diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, cancer, heart disease and stroke are chronic diseases that are very often related to lifestyle choices—especially diet and exercise. These horrible conditions are frequently preventable. When they do occur, many are often reversible. Moreover, these maladies are oftentimes created by the afflicted individual.
Although I could be mistaken, I believe that I have a fairly unique perspective on the healthcare system in this country. I would like to preface my thoughts by stating that our healthcare system is miraculous. We have an armamentarium of pharmaceuticals, procedures and surgeries that are life saving. I know this because I’ve seen it first hand. Amazing things happen in hospitals every day.
Having said that, I believe that our society has it all backwards. We eat an abundance of processed foods containing sugar, white flour, salt, oils and artificial chemicals. These lifestyle choices unquestionably cause people to become sick with one or more of the aforementioned chronic diseases. How do we currently fix this? We turn to doctors, pharmaceuticals and medical device companies. We use pills to control the symptoms of diseases that we ourselves have often created. This. Is. Backwards. We need a paradigm shift. Why eat poorly, become ill and then take pills to put a band-aid on your diseases? Instead, why not eat a nutritious diet and greatly decrease the risk of sickness in the first place? Do this and you can feel vibrant, focussed and well.
Which option sounds better? The choice belongs to you. Have a conversation with your doctor. It is my sincere hope that we can have a paradigm shift. I know that we can be better. Are you with me?