The field of medicine is like an oil tanker – slow to move forward and even slower to change direction.
Which means while your doctor may be brilliant, passionate, and even in the best cases, up to speed with the latest science, he or she is probably doing things by the book, and the book is not just out of date, it’s missing a few chapters when it comes to health in the 21st century.
The notion of what it means to be “healthy” is changing for most of us. It’s no longer just about not being sick, or not having a disease with a name, like cancer or diabetes or high blood pressure.
Today, health is more than that. “Healthy” is vitality, energy, a sense of calm, and a body that doesn’t hold you back. A body that isyour vehicle in life – firing on all cylinders and ready to take you where you want to go. It’s not about looking perfect. It’s about feeling supple, strong, and light on your feet, whatever your weight happens to be.
On the flip side, the definition of “unhealthy” is changing too. The bulk of the disease burden in the United States is now chronic disease, meaning disease that is driven by and modifiable with lifestyle choices, and that spans a continuum and progresses with time, rather than having a definitive on or off.
Naturopaths, Functional Medicine doctors, and many others who practice from a holistic point of view get this. But most mainstream doctors aren’t educated to see things this way. Which is why they need your help.
If you go to a traditional “western,” or allopathic, doctor, here are five things to ask him or her at your next visit that have the power to start a revolution in medicine.
1. How do you think my job affects my health?
2. What do you know about the human microbiome? Are the prescriptions you’re giving me possibly impacting my microbiome in a negative way?
3. What is a good resource to know if herbal medications are safe, or might have interactions with my prescription medications?
4. How does food contribute to systemic inflammation? Which foods should I be eating to decrease inflammation and which foods increase it?
5. How does stress affect my overall health and what are some concrete ways of decreasing the impact of stress in my life?
The response you get to these questions will give you a sense of how much your doctor understands – or is open to learning – about the most important concepts in holistic medicine: the context of your life and how you live it; the essential role played by the bacteria that live in and on us; the potential for herbs and other non-pharmaceuticals to support health; the power of food as medicine; and the power of mental and emotional stress to both cause and affect disease.
If you doctor can’t answer most of these questions, you know that they are not practicing from a holistic perspective. If your doctor can’t answer but is open and curious to find out more, and has answers for you at your next visit, they are making progress.
If your doctor is dismissive of you, maybe find another doctor, but asking wasn’t a waste. It gave you some important information about them, and, you might have just planted a seed that could one day grow so big it changes the way they practice.
It’s fair to ask most doctors these questions, including general practitioners, pediatricians, OBGYNs, specialists like cardiologists, gastroenterologists and rheumatologists, and even surgeons.
Demand more from medicine. More from your doctors. More from health care.
We are in a time of huge disruption in health. If everyone starts asking for change we will get it sooner than we could ever imagine.
Soda is the most devastating thing you can put into your body. Soda contains phosphoric acid. Phosphoric acid leaches calcium out of your body, which means weak bones. The pH of a dark colored soda is 2.5. The acid attacks your teeth and the lining of your mouth and throat. A can of soda has 39g of sugar. Sugar is inflammatory. It leads to metabolic disarray and immune dysfunction. It makes pain sensitivity worse, so if you have pain and you eat sugar, you will hurt more. One soda is more dangerous than one cigarette. – Dr. Hal Blatman #IHS13 #healthnerd ihsymposium.com
Great question! because it isn’t door to door. you have to walk stairs to take the subway, walk to the train or bus. move about. it keeps you on your feet. (it’s also better for the planet – as we’ve seen with Sandy, resources are not unlimited!)
What do you think? Would love your thoughts too!
On wednesday – day two of the Sandy Black out – I walked from my apartment at 9th and Broadway up to 44th and 6th to find an open Radio Shack, in order to bring my 80-something year old neighbor back an FM/AM tape-deck and headphones. Mrs. H hadn’t had any way to contact the outside world since Monday night and cannot walk down six flights of stairs with her walker.
Our doormen had been checking in on her daily, which is lucky, but they couldn’t leave their post to get her things. That morning when we knocked and asked if she needed anything she said if we came across a radio she would be so grateful -she felt like she was losing her mind trapped in her apartment without any news or contact. We only knew she was there because we asked the doorman if there were elderly on our floor. I had never met her before.
This storm should be a reminder to all of us. Don’t get complacent. Don’t take your ability to walk far and sweat for granted.
You think life will always come with a hot shower and a ride but now we know there WILL be times when it won’t. It’s hard to combat the way that our jobs and lifestyles literally force us to be sedentary and constantly make it easy to eat more than we need.
You actually have to fight back. Not just hope you’ll be healthy by having a salad now and then, but work on it. Demand that your body be useful to you. Put it under some pressure sometimes.
I recommend the following.
1. Always take the stairs if it’s 5 flights or less.
2. Use a standing desk.
3. Use public transportation even if you have a car.
4. Leave your office at least once per day for a walk even if you bring lunch, even if it’s cold out.
5. Dedicate at minimum five full hours to vigorous exercise per week, spread out however you like. Vigorous means actually sweating.
In my last post I talked about the connection between the gut and the brain, and how your enteric neuro-endocrine system (see last post if this term is eye-crossing), is affected by what you eat and then impacts your mood.
The reality is that eating refined sugar, preservatives, food dyes, other inorganic chemicals that are hidden in processed food, and even what I call “calorie-bombs” like fruit smoothies and bagels, whose simple sugars stream into your system at warp speed, is like waging toxic warfare on your gut.
And when your gut is unhappy, the neurotransmitters and hormones in your gut head off to your brain to make sure you are unhappy too.
If you are skeptical, try the following road trip away from your old food habits and see what happens to your outlook on life. Take two full weeks – enough time to acclimate – and cut out the toxic.
This means strictly avoiding all foods that come in plastic-wrap, tinfoil, cans, frozen containers, and airtight bags, and any other foods that have the capacity to sit in a fridge or on a shelf for more than a week without spoiling.
This does not apply to dried goods like whole-wheat pasta or quinoa.
This does apply to ice cream, canned soup, frozen dinners, any type of chips regardless of whether they say “healthy” or “baked” on the label, “energy” and “protein” bars, deep-fried foods, and drinks other than water or unsweetened tea.
This also applies to alcohol of any kind, and recreational drugs if you use them habitually.
If you’re wondering what’s left to eat, don’t freak out.
Step 1: Go to epicurious.com and write down some recipes that contain kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, endive, turnips, and beets.
Step 2: If you’re someone who feels better eating meat, for these two weeks limit yourself to wild-caught, non-heavy metal-burdened fish like salmon, trout, and sole. Or go for cage-free vegetarian-fed chicken from your local farm if you must.
Step 3: Add some new whole grains into your diet like wheat berries, quinoa, steel-cut slow-cooking oats, and wild rice. Note: instant oatmeal has the fiber cooked out of it so avoid!
Step 4: Make sure the only sugar you eat comes pre-packaged by Nature. This means tomatoes (organic ones in-season are sweet!), sweet potatoes, apples, pears, and carrots. Local and seasonal are better for your body, because we all evolved adjusting our meals with the seasons – Nature knows what she is doing. But, if you miss the tropics, bananas and mangoes make great desserts.
If you need a sweetener use a bit of raw honey, which is medicinal, pro-digestive, and pro-fertility. Avoid it if you have a lot of inflammation in your body as it is heating.
Step 5: For fats, cook with olive oil, or ghee (clarified butter). Dress your salads with flax oil and sunflower oil as a base. Snack on raw unsalted almonds, walnuts, and pumpkin seeds just a few at a time.
Step 6: Add some love. Avoid foods make in unhappy places by unhappy people. Their energies are pervasive and affect the energy of the food you eat. Instead make your own food for two weeks and be sure to send it some positive thinking as you prepare and eat it, because it’s going to BE you soon enough.
Each day notice how you feel having changed your diet, and write it down. When you crave a beer, go for a walk and drink a glass of water. Start to notice when your instinct is to eat for emotional reasons, boredom, or in response to stress. These two weeks might undo some of those impulses.
Most of all, notice if the way you see the world – or react to life – has shifted at all. You can always go back to your old way of eating.
In the long run two weeks will blow by while you give this plan a shot. Your happiness is worth it.
– Dr. Robin