Tuesday, September 27, 2022

How Not To Die: Part 1

Based off the book "How Not To Die" by Michael Greger 

How Not To Die: Part 1:

Most deaths in the United States are preventable, and they are related to what we eat. Our diet is the number one cause of premature death and the number-one cause of disability. The primary reason diseases tend to run in families may be that diets tend to run in families. For most of our leading killers, nongenetic factors like diet can account for at least 80 or 90 percent of cases. Surely, diet must also be the number-one thing taught in medical schools, right? Wrong. While most of the public evidently considers doctors to be “very credible” sources of nutrition information, six out of seven graduating doctors surveyed felt physicians were inadequately trained to counsel patients about their diets. But this is the twenty-first century. Can’t we eat whatever we want and simply take meds when we begin having health problems? For too many patients and even the author's physician colleagues, this seems to be the prevailing mind-set. We’re living longer, yes, but we’re living sicker. In public health school, students learn that there are three levels of preventive medicine. The first is primary prevention, as in trying to prevent people at risk for heart disease from suffering their first heart attack. An example of this level of preventive medicine would be your doctor prescribing you a statin drug for high cholesterol. Secondary prevention takes place when you already have the disease and are trying to prevent it from becoming worse, like having a second heart attack. To do this, your doctor may add an aspirin or other drugs to your regimen. At the third level of preventive medicine, the focus is on helping people manage long term health problems, so your doctor, for example, might prescribe a cardiac rehabilitation program that aims to prevent further physical deterioration and pain. As physicians, the authors colleagues and the author himself were trained not to treat the root cause but rather the consequences by giving a lifetime’s worth of medications to treat risk factors like high blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol. This approach has been compared to mopping up the floor around an overflowing sink instead of simply turning off the faucet. Drug companies are more than happy to sell you a new roll of paper towels every day for the rest of your life while the water continues to gush. This is how much influence the business of medicine has on the practice of medicine. In his words, Dr. Ornish “realized reimbursement is a much more powerful determinant of medical practice than research.” In 2012, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced newly mandated safety labeling on statin drugs to warn doctors and patients about their potential for brain-related side effects, such as memory loss and confusion. Statin drugs also appeared to increase the risk of developing diabetes. In 2013, a study of several thousand breast cancer patients reported that long-term use of statins may as much as double a woman’s risk of invasive breast cancer. But why accept any risk at all if you can lower your cholesterol naturally? Given the right conditions, the body heals itself. If you whack your shin really hard on a coffee table, it can get red, swollen, and painful. But your shin will heal naturally if you just stand back and let your body work its magic. But what if you kept whacking it in the same place three times a day—say, at breakfast, lunch, and dinner? It would never heal. If you eat the typical American diet, processed foods and fast food, these can stiffen your arteries within hours, cutting in half their ability to relax normally. And just as this inflammatory state starts to calm down five or six hours later—lunchtime! You may once again whack your arteries with another load of harmful food, leaving many Americans stuck in a danger zone of chronic, low grade inflammation. The American Dietetic Association (ADA), which produces a series of nutrition fact sheets with guidelines on maintaining a healthy diet, also has its own corporate ties. Who writes these fact sheets? Food industry sources pay the ADA $20,000 per fact sheet to explicitly take part in the drafting process. So we can learn about eggs from the American Egg Board and about the benefits of chewing gum from the Wrigley Science Institute. In 2012, the American Dietetic Association changed its name to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics but didn’t appear to change its policies. It continues to take millions of dollars every year from processed junk food, meat, dairy, soda, and candy bar companies. In return, the academy lets them offer official educational seminars to teach dietitians what to say to their clients. When you hear the title “registered dietitian,” this is the group they are registered through. The top reason doctors give for not counseling patients with high cholesterol to eat healthier is that they think patients may “fear privations related to dietary advice.” In other words, doctors perceive that patients would feel deprived of all the junk they’re eating. Can you imagine a doctor saying, “Yeah, I’d like to tell my patients to stop smoking, but I know how much they love it”? Possible reasons for not counseling patients include a lack of insurance reimbursement for the extra time spent, a lack of resources, a lack of time, and a lack of knowledge. We’re just not training doctors how to empower the people they serve. So what do we eat? It has also been shown with data going back fifty years that a high intake of fruits and vegetables is positively associated with good lung function. Sources of potassium-rich foods such as greens, beans, and sweet potatoes. Certain fruits and vegetables may give the immune function an extra boost like broccoli. For disease prevention, berries of all colors have “emerged as champions,” according to the head of the Bioactive Botanical Research Laboratory. The purported anticancer properties of berry compounds have been attributed to their apparent ability to counteract, reduce, and repair damage resulting from oxidative stress and inflammation. But it wasn’t known until recently that berries may also boost your levels of natural killer cells. It’s critical to understand what the concept of “normal” is when it comes to our nutrition and our bodies. For example, having a “normal” salt intake can lead to a “normal” blood pressure, which can contribute to us dying from all the “normal” causes, like heart attacks and strokes. Remember, if we continue to eat as though we’re having our last meals, eventually they will be.