Many dis­eases caused by lifestyle

The Daily Courier - - LIFE -

I wrote years ago that, “If you keep go­ing to hell, you’ll even­tu­ally get there.”

To­day, half of North Amer­i­cans suf­fer from chronic dis­ease.

One in four has sev­eral chronic dis­eases, and 30 per cent of chil­dren struggle with chronic ill­ness.

Chris Kresser, an in­te­gra­tive medicine clin­i­cian at The Cal­i­for­nia Cen­ter for Func­tional Medicine, and au­thor of the book, Un­con­ven­tional Medicine, re­ports that con­ven­tional medicine has failed those suf­fer­ing from chronic dis­ease. So how can we pre­vent so many from find­ing their way to hell?

For cen­turies, doc­tors knew the main cause of death was acute in­fec­tious dis­ease, such as ty­phoid fever, tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, and pneu­mo­nia. To­day, they know an­other cause is lifestyle chronic dis­ease, of which diet is a lead­ing fac­tor.

Med­i­cal treat­ment in the past was straight­for­ward. Doc­tors placed a cast on a bro­ken arm, or re­moved a gall­blad­der full of stones.

To­day, lifestyle dis­eases are com­plex. As the Gif­ford-Jones law says, “One chronic prob­lem leads to an­other and an­other.” They are also very ex­pen­sive.

For ex­am­ple, it costs $14,000 a year to treat the aver­age di­a­betic pa­tient.

The U.S Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion states that 100 mil­lion Amer­i­cans have ei­ther Type 2 di­a­betes or full-fledged di­a­betes.

Try mul­ti­ply­ing 100,000,000 by $14,000. My cal­cu­la­tor ran out of space for the sum of just one dis­ease.

This means gov­ern­ments will even­tu­ally run out of money as the pop­u­la­tion in­creases and ages.

This dilemma is not the fault of doc­tors who gen­uinely want to cure pa­tients. But, on aver­age, fam­ily doc­tors now spend about 10 to 12 min­utes per of­fice pa­tient.

You would have to be a ma­gi­cian to solve the lifestyle prob­lems of an obese, hy­per­ten­sive, di­a­betic pa­tient in that pe­riod of time.

More­over, Kresser hits the nail on the head when he says, “We know that in­for­ma­tion is not enough to change be­hav­iour. If it was, we wouldn’t be in the sit­u­a­tion we’re in now.”

So Kresser sug­gests say­ing to this pa­tient, “Rather than wait un­til your prob­lem gets worse, I’m send­ing you to a health coach who will come to your house and do a pantry cleanout.

“He or she will go shop­ping with you, pro­vide recipes and meal plans. Then, we’ll send you to a per­sonal trainer at the gym.

“The good news is your in­sur­ance com­pany will pay for it, be­cause it be­lieves that spend­ing a few thou­sand dol­lars up front will save half a mil­lion over the course of your life­time of chronic dis­ease.”

Kresser be­lieves that for every physi­cian there should be six other ther­a­pists such as nurse prac­ti­tion­ers, well­ness coaches, and nutri­tion­ists, who can direct pa­tients to im­proved lifestyle and to cir­cum­vent chronic con­di­tions.

Thank God, he also wants to elim­i­nate bu­reau­cracy and in­ef­fi­cient elec­tronic med­i­cal record sys­tems.

To­day, doc­tors spend too much time look­ing at the com­puter and less time with face-to-face con­tact of pa­tients.

He claims that few peo­ple re­al­ize how small changes in lifestyle can de­crease the risk of chronic dis­ease.

For in­stance, one-third of North Amer­i­cans get less than six hours of daily sleep.

Years ago, it was two per cent of peo­ple. Now, the lack of sleep has been linked to obe­sity, di­a­betes and re­duced im­mune func­tion.

Sleep, Kresser says, is where we re­ju­ve­nate and re­gen­er­ate our minds. This won’t hap­pen with­out sleep.

He’s also con­cerned about the in­creas­ing amounts of elec­tro­mag­netic fields we’re ex­posed to.

They’ve been shown to im­pair bi­o­logic func­tions and sleep pat­terns. The easy an­swer to this is to shut down the elec­tri­cal cir­cuit in the bed­room at night.

It seems small change, but one Den­ver health fa­cil­ity is in­volved in per­for­mance based pay­ment.

It asks the in­sur­ance com­pany to pay X amount for re­vers­ing Type 2 di­a­betes in pa­tients. If it’s not suc­cess­ful, pay less, but more if it ac­tu­ally re­verses the dis­ease. In­cen­tive usu­ally pays off.

Kesser’s anal­y­sis of med­i­cal care re­minds me of a speech given by an econ­o­mist who, af­ter look­ing at our health care sys­tem, re­marked, “It’s like giv­ing my credit card to my daugh­ter on grad­u­a­tion and say­ing, “Dar­ling, go out and buy some­thing.” He then added, “If that doesn’t scare the hell out of you, you don’t know my daugh­ter.”

Visit Dr. Gif­ford-Jones’ web­site at, or con­tact him at:

DR. W.


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