Saturday, May 14, 2011

How Healthy is America?

I think we can all agree that our health care system is broken. In the year 2000 (the last published scorecard from the WHO), the US was ranked 37th in Health Care Performance. A quick look around the web (or in the local doctor's office) and it is easy to see that hasn't improved in the past 10 years. There is a huge national buzz about needing change, but no real change has been suggested, just government funding for more of the same. Will it help? Of course! But that really isn't the question to ask. We should be asking who will it help?


If you haven't watched the Town of Allopath video yet, you should. Until the problem is exposed, not many people will look for a real solution. We as a generation have grown up doing things the way we do them just because it has always been done that way. We are so far removed from Plato & Aristotle that asking the question "why" doesn't occur to us. "Why?" Because we have been taught not to question. It Is Because It Is ...that's why! We find ourselves in the era of improvement, not discovery. Without common sense questions, this is a scary place to be. "Why?" Because when we improve upon a method that is already faulty...all we get is faultier.


The model of allopathy is a case in point. It is a system of treating symptoms, not looking for causes. In a most simplistic sense, it appears reasonable. In order to expose the flaw, let's create a hypothetical example. When you have a headache a plausible solution would be to take a Tylenol, right? So....what if you have reoccurring headaches? Doesn't it make sense to try and figure out what is causing the headaches? At some point you might come to the conclusion that it is time to see a doctor to determine the problem. In most cases that requires a battery of tests which are designed to discover the cause. So far, this model seems like a good method. But what happens if there isn't a blatant explanation like a tumor? Or what happens if during the examination it is discovered that you have high blood pressure which is 'causing' the headaches? The doctor writes a prescription for a blood pressure med, and pats you on the back telling you it will get better. You are also told that you'll be taking this med for the rest of your life. On occasion you might get some instructions to exercise more and lose a few pounds along with a print out of one of the "low diets" (low fat, low carb, or low calorie). Oh, and don't forget to schedule your next appointment so you can get your prescription renewed.


There are actually a few allopathic doctors that have a little training in nutrition, but not many. In med school, the education is focused on pharmacology and diagnosis. In this case the 'diagnosis' was high blood pressure. But the real "why" was never uncovered. High blood pressure is a symptom. You might say, "But the doctor told me it was because I am overweight." Being overweight can contribute to high blood pressure, but it isn't the cause, otherwise everyone who is overweight would have high blood pressure. There are lots of skinny people that have high blood pressure. Even many doctors who consider themselves holistic in their approach, will treat allopathically with herbs instead of drugs. Though this is a better approach, it still only addresses the symptom most of the time.


It is my opinion that the best method is to apply common sense in a truly holistic way, much the same way that James Lind approached scurvy. A good first question to ask is "What is missing?" In the case of the Navy it was fresh fruits and vegetables. Deeper digging uncovered that citrus fruits we key. In the world of wellness, we do see this approach more broadly used. We even see it to a small degree in the development of the RDA. Here is a great article to read.


As we progress we are learning more about what nutrients are vital for good health. In recent years we have learned more about the importance of Omega fats, even though they aren't on the RDA list. Antioxidants have taken the front row as the baby boomers start to feel their age, because there is convincing research that antioxidants are essential to slow the aging process. We are learning more about macronutrients, and micronutrients. We are also learning that supplementing isn't good enough. We must use good supplements. Just because it says it has it all, A-Z, doesn't mean we will absorb it all.


For some people, even when they make changes to include everything necessary to promote good health, there are residual effects of prior bad choices. Toxin buildup needs to be addressed, and often parasites play a key role in preventing a wellness approach from working optimally. Sadly, we live in a world where people prefer to take a pill than to put forth the effort to take care of themselves properly.


Other influencing factors are the ever present drug reps promoting the latest and greatest pharmaceuticals on the market. Our society has evolved into a "fast food nation" that demands instant gratification. Logic isn't taught anymore, so we think more in terms of the here and now, than pondering the cause-effect relationship which forces one to ask the question, "What will be the long term result of following this protocol?" Common sense allopathy is an oxymoron. There must be a paradigm shift if we are going to make the changes necessary to improve our health score card which is inherently connected to the treatment model being used.


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