Get Healthy and Save Our Country

Treating the Cause of Our Health Crisis: Doctors Must “Do” Lifestyle Medicine Treating the Cause of Our Health Crisis: Doctors Must “Do” Lifestyle Medicine

Recently the economist Dr. Larry Summers spoke about our nation’s narrow escape from economic depression. Dr. Summers then discussed the even greater looming risks to our economy if the costs of health care are not successfully addressed now. Dr Summers is the Director of the National Economic Council and Assistant to the President for Economic Policy.

Lifestyle medicine or FLT First Line Therapy is not just about preventing chronic diseases but also about treating them, often more effectively and less expensively than relying only on drugs and surgery. The chronic diseases that affect 160 million Americans account for 78% of our $2.1 trillion in annual health care costs. Lifestyle and environmental factors –our diet, sedentary lifestyle, smoking, and chronic stress—are the most important underlying causes of these diseases.

Too many believe that doctors don’t “do” lifestyle and it isn’t their job. Even the eminent economist Dr. Summers dismissed “lifestyle” as a community and public health issue that was already included in the current proposed government healthcare plan. He just didn’t get it that physicians can and must do lifestyle medicine to effectively treat disease and at the same time truly reduce health care costs. Lifestyle is the man cause leading to chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer…which are the domain of doctors and not just a “public health problem.”

There is strong evidence that the approach of First Line Therapy/Lifestyle intervention works and saves money. Guess what? That’s right…insurance doesn’t usually pay for it. No one profits from lifestyle medicine (well not the hospitals and not the pharmaceutical drug companies and medical technology companies…no one profits except the patient, so it is not part of medical education or practice. In fact First Line therapy/lifestyle medicine is the only approach that makes sense to be the foundation of our health care system.

Just take for example the recent “EPIC” study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Here researchers tracked 23,000 people’s adherence to 4 simple behaviors (not smoking, exercising 3.5 hours a week, eating a healthy diet [fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and low meat consumption], and keeping a healthy weight (BMI <30). The results speak for themselves. In this study those who followed the lifestyle changes…93% of diabetes, 81% of heart attacks, 50% of strokes and 36% of all cancers were prevented. Now can you Google any drug or surgery that can produce these same results? No, and if you could they would be blockbuster billion dollar drugs or procedures. Again since no 3rd party company becomes rich with Lifestyle results that are almost unbelievable compared to drugs and surgery…ho hummm! Let’s do more research and find a drug that can do what lifestyle modifications can do and then we’ll be rich but the country will be bankrupt.

Treating the Cause of Our Health Crisis: Doctors Must “Do” Lifestyle Medicine

So in the words of one of our most influential Presidents, “Ask not what your country can do for you…Ask what you can do for your country.” Personalized lifestyle medicine is a high-science, high-touch, low-tech, low-cost treatment that is more effective for the top five chronic diseases than our current approaches. Yet is it not taught in most medical schools, practiced by most physicians, nor delivered in most hospitals or health care settings. If lifestyle treatments were applied to all patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic syndrome (obesity), prostate cancer, and breast cancer, then net health care expenditures could be reduced by $930 billion over 5 years, according to analysts from the Cleveland Clinic. This will result in dramatically better health and quality of life. Considering these cost savings and the results stated above in the EPIC study and those we have seen in our clinic using the methods of functional medicine with First Line Therapy and lifestyle changes…What you can do for your country is to take on the responsibility for your own health and get healthy. You will not only decrease your risk of falling into the grip of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancers…You will also save our country economically! Become healthy and Be patriotic…they are one and the same in my estimation.

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