Healthcare, as most people think of it in 2019 in the USA, consists of regular visits to a doctor to take tests to check your vitals. When things go amiss, more frequent visits with the doctor prescribing medications or surgery are required. Sometimes you see the doctor for crisis care. And for those who have chronic diseases, you go more frequently to manage your symptoms and get them under control.
But fortunately, in this day and time, lots of people are beginning to move beyond the conventional wisdom paradigm of this kind of health care. Instead they are managing their own health and wellness. In large part, this shift is due to the internet, which makes information that used to be exceptionally hard to find available with the flick of a finger on the search bar.
But how did this switch in paradigm come about?
There are more people than ever with chronic, lifelong illnesses. And many of these people – perhaps most – are dissatisfied with the state of their care. The truth is, with many of these diseases, auto immune diseases like MS, Crohn’s or Fibromyalgia, obesity and diabetes the knowledge is not yet on board about how to resolve them with medicine.
What conventional medicine often leaves to the side – generally because it is not within the paradigm doctors were taught in med school – is the lifestyles choices necessary to manage these diseases, to fight them back to baseline, to put them in remission and in some cases to vanquish them altogether.
There is a key to ongoing wellness – an approach that is preventative rather than one that deals only in crisis management. And it is a three-pronged stool. The three prongs are a diet targeted to help relieve symptoms of illness you are suffering with and then resolve it. Serious stress reduction. And exercise. For most ill people who are still capable of exercising, this moves the numbers in the right direction.
Sometimes the people who are best on helping you manage these goals are fellow sufferers who have gone down the same path before you, rather than doctors who are only familiar with these illnesses intellectually, but have not had to deal with them through their own illness or that of a family member.
However, sometimes a doctor will develop a chronic disease only to realize that the conventional treatment is not helping him or her. And in those cases, when so motivated, the doctor will begin to look into different modalities.
A well-known case in point for this is Dr. Terry Wahl, who suffered from MS that became debilitating, to the point that she was confined to a wheelchair with severe exhaustion and brain fog. She was unable to function as a doctor. As the main support of her family, this was obviously a personal crisis. After years of trying all the new medications for MS to no avail, she did a complete search of the medical literature to discover that certain supplements and an approach based on the Paleo diet, with a strong emphasis on organic vegetables might be appropriate for MS. The proof came in the complete reversal of her health. She is now out of her wheelchair, functioning as a doctor again, and has developed a specialization in teaching patients with MS how to recover their health through diet choices, exercise, stress and toxin reduction. She has written about this in The Wahls Protocol, A Radical New Way to Treat All Chronic Autoimmune Conditions Using Paleo Principles.
Fortunately, these new approaches are beginning to seep into the popular culture. The New York Times ran a story last week written by a woman with type 1 diabetes whose doctor recommended that she begin intermittent fasting for her disease management. What I found particularly interesting is that the experience educated the writer on using food to make herself feel better: to achieve a more Zen state, to have more energy and to reduce her insulin. The most important thing is that she felt that she had more control over how her body was operating.
And don’t we all want that? When you understand how your body is operating and what your triggers are, it is far easier to avoid them and to keep yourself balanced and your mood even.
This time of year, with the variety of vegetables available at farm stands and markets, it is easy to add more colorful fresh vegetables into your family’s diet. Are you up to the challenge?