In considering health there are many confounding thoughts of how to achieve/create/maintain it.
Statistically speaking most of us are usually in a state of health (free from illness, injury or pain) for the majority of our life. Disease usually enters our lives after many years of health. Illness and trauma will always be part of our lives, but, if we have a healthy, robust body and mind we can usually overcome. In other words, health is our inherent state – it’s where our bodies want to be.
As a physician, I was taught many things in medical school and residency. The problem with that training was it focused on disease and external treatment. Very little time was spent on nutrition and exercise, the keys to good health.
Medicine’s path is similar to other scientific disciplines. Over time pioneers made amazing discoveries that began to explain complicated systems. Unfortunately, with each discovery the medical profession lost touch with the basic common sense approach to health. The practice of medicine was transformed from a relatively simple, compassionate profession to a complex system where doctors separate from the patient and focus on technology. This put the focus of medical education on dysfunction rather than function. At my medical school and most of the others, then and now, virtually no time was/is spent on ways to keep the body healthy.
It took 20 years of practicing medicine, and help from my patients, to provide me with the epiphany: If each person understands how to take care of their body they will have minimal disease.
Maintaining the ‘basic state of health’ has been the focus of my practice since the fall 2012 when I read The China Study by Dr. Colin Campbell. In addition to that book (including the impressive bibliography), I found many peer-reviewed medical articles that focused on disease prevention. The multiple evidence-based articles were clear – what you eat is critical to health. In a nutshell, people eating a plant dominated diet will be significantly healthier than those consuming the typical American diet.
As I tell my patients – the body is an amazing system that allows us to breath, eat, walk, talk, grow, heal, etc. – and we didn’t create it. Just considering humans (and all living creatures) start as a single cell is beyond comprehension. We in the scientific community have yet to fully understand the myriad of electro/chemical/mechanical processes occurring in the 37 trillion cells in the body that keep us alive.
When it comes to computers, cars, airplanes, satellites, etc. we know how they work. And, to work properly those items (I’m typing on one right now) require a specific type of environment. For instance, if the electricity to my computer changed – 70 Hz or 95 Volts rather than the 60 Hz 110 Volts – the recording of my finger taps would cease – perhaps permanently if any of the electronics in the box became damaged. Although there are incredible technological advances with electronics and mechanics, the inanimate nature of man-made items pale in comparison to the animate (alive) nature of us.
Back to my statement above – we didn’t create the body. Cuts, bruises, even broken bones are repaired – miraculously in my opinion. This is the basic state of our body – to heal – every second of every day.
If a person understands the basic state – the miracle within – and eats healthy food (plants) while minimizing foods that are unhealthy (processed foods and animal products – fish, chicken, turkey, pork, beef, milk, cheese, etc.) they will have an amazing healing machine. Add a healthy body weight (body mass index between 18-24.9) and you’ve significantly increased the likelihood of living in health for the totality of your life.
The best way to reduce your risk of heart attack, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer, dementia, depression, etc. is to take care of your body. Doctors can intervene after the disease is manifesting, but your choice at the dinner table is the best way to prevent illness and maintain your miracle within. A wise man many years ago stated “Let Food Be Thy Medicine and Medicine Be Thy Food” – Hippocrates (ca. 460 BC – ca. 370 BC).