We live in a world where people want to have their cake and eat it too. On one hand we want to indulge and on the other hand we want to stay in good health. On one hand we keep on talking about the need for a healthy lifestyle, but on the other hand we keep on being riddled with chronic diseases.
The lure of having it all has been very tempting. The belief that one can “have the cake and eat it too” got into me in the past. I saw myself eating cheesecakes for breakfast and staying size 6 forever or watching Netflix from morning to night while my physique was getting ever more athletic. The idea did not look that far-fetched.
I wasn`t dumb. I was paying attention. I listened to media. I read newspapers and popular health magazines. I learnt a lot about slim bands, liposuctions, protein powders, steroids, slimming pills, diuretics, and other convenient methods of preserving good looks. I could use them together with cheesecakes and Netfix for best effect.
Healthy lifestyle isn’t tabled
The medical system was perfectly in sync with the media message. Healthy lifestyle wasn`t tabled. Not a single doctor taught me that good looks follow good health and good health is dependent on getting proper nutrition, engaging in outdoor activities, or mastering stress coping skills.
Healthy lifestyle was not something many doctors talked about. They preferred to mention cutting-edge procedures, newest drugs, break-through research, and the need to lower the cholesterol. Apparently medication, surgeries, and high-tech gadgets were more important and more powerful than anything nature-made.
I became a doctor myself to get the best slice of the pie. After many years of sweating over books I got fully armed to tackle on the “cake approach” as a professional, no longer as a laymen. I mixed powders, potions, lotions, pills and tablets. I threw in tumeric, grape seeds, ashwaganda and three thousands other supposedly magic medicines that cure the ills of poor lifestyle habits.
Did it work? Not a peep! Despite full access to medical tools, burning desire, and continuous persistence I was not able to cheat the nature. I got defeated every single time I tried to trick it. This was a miserable failure that later became my greatest success. I finally understood:
Doctors follow one set of rules
This is not easy to admit. Medical books focus on body mechanics, but offer very little information about what makes the body healthy. There is plenty guidance on how to manage diseases and make changes to lab values, but very little on how to bring the body back to its full health potential. There are myriads of protocols for disease, but not one for health.
Doctors need to follow established protocols. They are to dispense drugs, refer for procedures and screenings. They are not to pick ideas from holistic farmers, environmentalists, or God forbid, that hippie organic movement. Doctors are to stick to their scope of practice and keep their personal opinion outside the clinics. If they don`t they may get into trouble with the officials, regulators, and the government.
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Good health follows another set of rules
I was naive. I thought that I would find instruction on good health in medical books. There wasn`t any. I was shocked to learn that doctoring didn’t have much to do with teaching good health and good health was not the same as writing prescriptions to control symptoms or to change lab values. I also realized (to my dismay) that pills not only have limited value, but in many cases prevent people from reaching their full health potential.
Pills, besides being less effective than healthy lifestyle, are also detrimental to the environment. Think about it: healthy lifestyle does not leave behind plastic garbage or man-made metabolites that choke our waterways and contribute to pollution.
Healthy lifestyle starts with fewer pills
I am not an anti-pill advocate. Pills can save lives, and when used appropriately can make a huge difference to a person’s well-being. However, pills should be added when good lifestyle habits are insufficient.
Unfortunately this is not how medicine is used today. Today pills are given to mask poor lifestyle habits and to avoid the inconvenience of making a health effort. We take painkillers when a mere hand touch would do, blood sugar tablets when a menu change would yield much better results, and cholesterol-lowering potions when adding some exercise would do miracles. But we are too busy and convenience oriented. After all, we want to have our cake and eat it too.
Pills do not work. Healthy lifestyle does!
I saw this clearly during my clinical practice. There was a very obvious trend among the patients. Those, who embraced healthy lifestyle seriously, unanimously won the battle over their symptoms. Their ailments reversed, their lab results stunned their medical specialists, and their functional parameters shot up.
Patients who preferred tablets did not do nearly as well. Despite spending a lot of money on prescriptions, they seldom managed to go beyond symptom control. Their apparent sensation of better health was short-lived despite full “doctoring” efforts.
Disappointed by the outcome such patients were eager to point fingers at genetics, rare diseases, unknown causes, and circumstances. They continued perplexing unaware of lifestyle effect medical experts as to the origin of their symptoms.