Poor nutrition contributes to many of the leading causes of death and disability in America. Six of the ten leading causes of mortality (death) and morbidity (sickness) are nutritionally related. Cancer, coronary artery disease, diabetes, M.S., arthritis, colitis, Alzheimer’s, dementia, to name a few, all have several components in common.
All chronic diseases share concepts of inflammation, oxidative stress, protein glycation (sugar attached to proteins) infection and toxic chemical exposure, etc. These mechanisms destroy or damage cellular nutrition. The body’s optimal immunity depends upon the integrity of the GI system, cellular nutrition, and the ability of the body to excrete. No single concept or explanation or theory is paramount to health because the human body is too complex an instrument to think that drugs, nutritional supplements, therapy, diet, exercise, life style factors, genetic predispositions, or dark chocolate alone will cure or treat all diseases. The process of inflammation is generally known to be the root cause of essentially all chronic health conditions, including one of the major health concerns facing America—OBESITY.
A high glycemic diet (refined sugars), nutrient deficiencies, poor meal planning, stress at the dinner table, eating foods that cause food intolerances and allergies all support the process of systemic inflammation. We need to go back to basics concerning meal planning and snacks. Whole, unprocessed foods, in nature’s original form need to be consumed daily. Fresh fruits and vegetables (organic if possible), whole milk products that are minimally pasteurized, non-GMO foods (like not genetically modified grains), quality cold pressed oils (olive, coconut, grape seed, etc.), butter, clarified butter (Ghee), grass fed beef, and free range eggs are several examples that contribute to a healthy immune system and also support mental health. Issues of emotional eating, addictions, blocked emotions, feelings of self-worth, isolation, inadequate sleep, and the inability to respond to stress in a positive way also affect immune functioning.
Medical education has not focused on nutritional training for medical doctors. Their American model of medicine is based on the notion that one is well until proven sick. Treating a blood test and controlling symptoms with drugs is the “standard of care.” Integrating a comprehensive approach to mental and physical health is what should define our American healthcare system. It’s much easier to spend 11 minutes with a patient, write a prescription and hope for the best. Therefore, patients are being treated by M.D.’s who essentially have little or no knowledge concerning nutrition and who are overprescribing drugs as the “only way” to help the sick. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) lists the number of prescriptions ordered under the Medicare drug benefit program for the year 2010:
- 94 million prescriptions for cholesterol lowering drugs
- 87.4 million prescriptions for thyroid drugs
- 87.5 million prescriptions for blood pressure drugs
- 48.3 million prescriptions for diabetes drugs
- 53.4 million prescriptions for antacids drugs
- 131.2 million prescriptions for pain drugs
Prevention and nutritional counseling, for all practical purposes, is missing in the American health care system. There will always be a place for drugs and surgery in medicine; however, this cannot be the only answer for treating patients. The current health care system (medical-pharmaceutical-hospital industrial complex) believes that overmedication is “the standard of care” and that invasive procedures, over testing, over imaging and over billing are part of the system. The health care delivery system in America is strangling our budget by rewarding hospitals and physicians that support the status quo. The more diagnosis, the more insurance reimbursement. This approach supports disease and rewards disease.
Stanley E. Kacherski, D.D.S., M.S., C.N.
NYS Certified Nutritionist
Integrative Nutritional Medicine