We may be required to buy medical insurance, but what we really need is health insurance

The Affordable Care Act was intended to make insurance coverage more secure and affordable, and insure millions of uninsured Americans. The Supreme Court has now deemed the individual mandate portion – the requirement that everyone purchase health insurance – to be constitutional.

Certainly, some aspects of medical insurance coverage are in need of reform.  But a much greater need exists – the need for Americans to reform their health by reforming their diets.

Of course there will be continued debate on this subject, but when we look at the big picture (the overall health of the American people), the Supreme Court’s decision and even government involvement is irrelevant. Regardless of the government’s involvement, the health of Americans will not improve unless the eating habits of Americans improve.

The U.S. per capita health costs are the highest in the world. Health care made up more than 17% of the GDP in 2010. Health care costs rose 5.8% in the year ending February 2012, and costs are predicted to continue rising.  As health care costs rise, so will insurance costs. Overconsumption of medical care (for example, overuse of diagnostic tests) is a significant driver of health care costs.1 

These high costs do not bring about better outcomes than other developed countries. In the U.S. life expectancy is lower than in similarly developed nations whose per capita costs are lower.1  The U.S. is ranked 38th in life expectancy, 37th in infant mortality, and 37th in overall health outcomes, according to the World Health Organization. We cannot expect the Affordable Care Act to significantly improve the health of Americans – its aim is only to increase access to care, which also mean more needless drugs, radiation exposure and surgeries. More medical care does not translate into better health, as much of what doctors do is harmful, such as prescribe antibiotics for viral infections, perform angioplasties and bypass surgeries on stable CAD, or perform CT scans, prostatectomies and other worthless, expensive invasive interventions that serve to protect the doctor, not the patient. Actually interventions that do not extend life are worse than worthless because they create harm. People should not be denied access to care in emergencies, but overall our population (including lower income people) need less medical care, not more.

It is normal in our society to follow a disease-causing diet and sedentary lifestyle. A huge proportion of the health care dollars spent in the U.S. are spent on largely preventable diseases, whose rates are rising.   More medical care supports dependency on medications and the emotional expectation that drugs buy us health, rather than healthy habits and proper dietary choices.  Modern medicine actually weakens personal responsibility. Healthy lifestyle promotion and implementation protect people from medical tragedies, reduces the need for and the side effects and damage from excessive medical care and prescription drugs.

  • Heart disease, cancer, arthritis, hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol are all included in the top ten causes of direct health expenditures.2
  • Almost 70% of Americans are overweight or obese, and recent data estimates that obesity adds $2741 to an individual’s annual medical costs – equating to $190 billion/year or 21% of national health expenditures.3,4
  • Cardiovascular disease was estimated to cost over $297 billion in 2008.2
  • The most commonly prescribed drugs are cholesterol-lowering drugs – 20% of middle-aged Americans and about 40% of older Americans take them.

It is the number of Americans sick with preventable diseases, not the number of uninsured Americans, or the cost of prescription drugs that is of most concern. More affordable prescription drugs are not what we need – reduced need for prescription drugs is what we need.. More than increasing access to care, we need less requirement for care.  To truly improve the health of the American people and reduce health care spending, Americans must take control of their own health.

We know now that genes are mostly irrelevant – what really counts is gene expression in response to the body’s environment, primarily diet and lifestyle. For example, in people with a certain genetic alteration known to increase heart attack risk, still eliminate risk with  high vegetable and fruit consumption.5

Type 2 diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and it can be reversed, often quite quickly with the appropriate diet. Excess weight is the primary risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, and conversely weight loss with a low glycemic, nutrient-dense, nutritarian eating style and exercise is effective at reversing the condition. For example, in a recent study, my colleagues and I found that 62% of participants in the study reached normal (non-diabetic) HbA1C levels within seven months on a high-nutrient diet, and the average number of medications dropped from four to one.6 Plus, a recent study confirmed that lifestyle interventions are more cost-effective than metformin for diabetes prevention in high-risk individuals.7

Cardiovascular disease is preventable and reversible with the proper diet and lifestyle modifications, as documented by much medical research.8,9  Medical interventions – cholesterol-lowering drugs, stents and bypass surgery – do not cure heart disease. A large meta-analysis of the data on surgical cardiac interventions demonstrated conclusively that heard disease patients who undergo these interventions do not have fewer heart attacks or longer survival.10,11  Now millions more will have access to be harmed by interventional cardiologists and cardiac surgeons. 

Cancer risk is also largely tied to lifestyle. The American Institute for Cancer Research estimates that about one-third of common cancers could be prevented by following a healthy diet, exercising, and maintaining a healthy weight. I believe that figure could be more than double that protection if Americans were to truly take charge of their health; eat a health-promoting diet based on immune-boosting and cancer-fighting foods, exercise daily and maintain a healthy weight.  Green and cruciferous vegetables, mushrooms, beans, and onions are associated with significantly large risk reductions for common cancers.  After all, look at the cancer rates in other countries in South Asia before the explosion of the fast food revolution; a small fraction of today’s rates of cancer deaths was the norm.12-15

Here is my point:  Regardless of whether we are required to purchase medical insurance, know that we can only buy real health insurance in the produce section of the local supermarket.

 

References:

1. Brawley OW. The American Cancer Society and the American Health Care System. Oncologist 2011;16:920-925.
2. Roger VL, Go AS, Lloyd-Jones DM, et al. Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics--2012 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation 2012;125:e2-e220.
3. Cawley J, Meyerhoefer C. The medical care costs of obesity: An instrumental variables approach. J Health Econ 2012;31:219-230.
4. Obesity Accounts for 21 Percent of U.S. Health Care Costs, Study Finds. 2012. ScienceDaily. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120409103247.htm. Accessed April 20, 2012.
5. Do R, Xie C, Zhang X, et al. The effect of chromosome 9p21 variants on cardiovascular disease may be modified by dietary intake: evidence from a case/control and a prospective study. PLoS Med 2011;8:e1001106.
6. Dunaief D, Gui-shuang Y, Fuhrman J, et al. Glycemic and cardiovascular parameters improved in type 2 diabetes with the high nutrient density diet. Presented at the 5th IANA (International Academy on Nutrition and Aging) meeting July 26 & 27, 2010 Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa 1300 Tuyuna Trail Santa Ana Pueblo, NM, USA J Nutr Health Aging 2010;14:500.
7. The 10-year cost-effectiveness of lifestyle intervention or metformin for diabetes prevention: an intent-to-treat analysis of the DPP/DPPOS. Diabetes Care 2012;35:723-730.
8. Ornish D, Brown SE, Scherwitz LW, et al. Can lifestyle changes reverse coronary heart disease? The Lifestyle Heart Trial. Lancet 1990;336:129-133.
9. Esselstyn CB, Jr., Ellis SG, Medendorp SV, et al. A strategy to arrest and reverse coronary artery disease: a 5-year longitudinal study of a single physician's practice. J Fam Pract 1995;41:560-568.
10. Trikalinos TA, Alsheikh-Ali AA, Tatsioni A, et al. Percutaneous coronary interventions for non-acute coronary artery disease: a quantitative 20-year synopsis and a network meta-analysis. Lancet 2009;373:911-918.
11. Coylewright M, Blumenthal RS, Post W. Placing COURAGE in context: review of the recent literature on managing stable coronary artery disease. Mayo Clin Proc 2008;83:799-805.
12. Ahn YO, Park BJ, Yoo KY, et al. Incidence estimation of female breast cancer among Koreans. J Korean Med Sci 1994;9:328-334.
13. Jung KW, Park S, Kong HJ, et al. Cancer statistics in Korea: incidence, mortality, survival, and prevalence in 2009. Cancer Res Treat 2012;44:11-24.
14. Zhang J, Dhakal IB, Zhao Z, et al. Trends in mortality from cancers of the breast, colon, prostate, esophagus, and stomach in East Asia: role of nutrition transition. Eur J Cancer Prev 2012.
15. World Health Organization Mortality Tables. [http://apps.who.int/whosis/database/mort/table1.cfm]


Interview with Martin Oswald

Chef Martin OswaldLast weekend the first Nutritarian Food Festival was held in beautiful Aspen, Colorado.  It was organized and co-chaired by renowned chef, Martin Oswald, who owns the Pyramid Bistro on Main Street; the first, fully nutritarian restaurant in America.  Dr. Fuhrman said the cook-off contest between the top chefs in town, making their best nutritarian dishes, was a blast! The entire event was a great success and widely received by the public due to Martin’s vision and dedication, and everyone’s hard work. Welcome to Disease Proof, Martin.

 

How did you discover nutritarian eating and cooking that eventually led to opening the Pyramid Bistro?

I heard about Dr. Fuhrman many years ago, but it wasn’t until someone in the health section of Whole Foods in Denver introduced me to his books again. I saw the nutrient density guides and recognized the chef-friendly approach of Dr. Fuhrman’s plan. It was one of those, "Nutrition meets chef" moments!

 

From your perspective as a renowned chef and owner of the first nutritarian restaurant in the United States, what was the highlight of the Nutritarian Food Festival for you?

The highlight for me was to see all these chefs from competing restaurants, and nutritionists with different backgrounds, come together and push forward a bigger idea. As you may know, Colorado is the only state with under 30% obesity rate so it makes sense to join forces to create a tipping point right here. I think Dr. Fuhrman has come up with the right approach that everyone can embrace.

 

Was it hard to bring so many chefs together to organize such an event for an entire community & city?

Yes, first of all we only had about two months to get the chefs to read and learn the guidelines. Then they had to approve it with the restaurant owner, and all this was done at the height of the busy summer season. For example, the winner, Miles Angelo, caters all summer long and it was difficult for him to switch gears.  I'm very appreciative of everyone’s efforts who participated in the events. 

 

With the nutritarian health revolution on the horizon, what do you see the restaurant industry’s role will be in helping to repair our broken healthcare system?

I'm very fortunate to live here in Aspen and meet some of the great thinkers of our time. For instance, while I was proposing a non-profit approach to spread more information on nutritarianism, some prominent people told me it would make much more sense to come up with a business model that is for-profit and encourage others to do the same.  The Pyramid Bistro had a great first year and people have asked me to open in other locations, which is so important for a nutritarian revolution.

The role of restaurants will be to work much closer with nutritionists in order to prevent obesity and other health related issues. By working with nutritionists and then creating dishes that everyone can enjoy we can make a real difference in peoples’ lives that will ultimately lead to a healthier nation.  

 

Do you have any final comments to share with the Disease Proof reader?

Talk to your favorite waiter, restaurant owner, or chef about Dr. Fuhrman’s nutritarian eating-style.  By encouraging them to include nutrient dense items on their menus, you just might start a food revolution in your own hometown!

 

Thank you Martin for pioneering this exciting vision to promote nutritarian food choices in restaurants all across America and beyond!  Best wishes of great success ~ bon appétit! 

The Myth of Moderation

Here in the United States tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and for many, the day typically includes many compromises; especially overeating on disease promoting foods to the point of misery. What a perfect time to be reminded of the pitfalls of the myth of “everything in moderation.” Dr. Scott Stoll, a board certified physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation; along with being the team physician for Lehigh University, team physician to the USA Bobsled and Skeleton Team, department chair of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation at Coordinated Health Medical Director, member of the Whole Foods Medical and Scientific Advisory Board, national speaker on achieving optimal health through nutritional excellence and exercise, and faculty member of the Nutritional Education Institute will be sharing valuable insights to bust the popular moderation fallacy. Welcome to Disease Proof, Dr. Stoll.

 

We are now on the threshold of a beautiful holiday season that is filled with joy, family, wonderful traditions, and numerous dietary landmines. Traditional foods of the holiday season are typically the least healthy and most addictive foods that can trigger destructive cycles of overeating and binge eating.  How can one safely navigate the season ahead? By avoiding the myth of “everything in moderation."

Why do so many people find that by the first of January they have gained weight and derailed their healthy diet? One common justification, as people reach for a piece of chocolate or second piece of dessert, is that one can safely eat everything in moderation. The underlying belief is that somehow the moderate consumption of unhealthy food is okay and won’t cause any harm. However, science has verified that even small amounts of these foods cause harm to the body; and for many that struggle with food addiction and disease, the moderate consumption of addictive, sugar laden and processed foods can be dangerous.

“Everything in moderation” is a deceptive belief, because there is no established standard for moderate intakes of food. 

How much is too much and where does one draw the line? Without a standard, moderation is a continually moving target; motivated by cravings and desires that promote the overconsumption of unhealthy foods. The only outcome in the end is disease, guilt, and feelings of failure.

Moderation thinking ultimately depends on one’s ability to accurately recall food intakes and amounts. How much was eaten today, yesterday, or last week? The preponderance of studies on dietary food recall found that people generally under-report or forget the consumption of unhealthy foods. 

I want to encourage you to enjoy all the beautiful things of the upcoming holiday season and create new memories with healthy food alternatives. Don’t be caught off guard by the myth of moderation, but instead proactively set your eyes on the prize of optimal health. 

 

  • Prepare mentally and have a plan in place regarding how you will handle the tempting seasonal foods that will appear in break rooms, living rooms and dining rooms. 
  • Know yourself, your weaknesses, and the potential for food addiction.  Avoid circumstances that may lead to temptation. 
  • Prepare healthy meals for your guests, or if you are a dinner guest, take healthy alternatives to share with others.

                 

Don’t let the myth of moderation lead you astray. Excellent health is never found in moderate effort, but rather in excellent dietary habits that are consistently and diligently applied to each new day and situation over time. 

 

Happy Holidays!

 

Cholesterol-lowering drugs may raise diabetes risk

Statins are a class of drugs used to treat elevated LDL cholesterol levels. Recently, researchers carried out a meta-analysis of 13 statin vs. placebo trials. Collectively, these researchers included over 90,000 subjects in their analysis, and came to the conclusion that taking statin drugs to lower cholesterol increases the likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes by 9% over the following four years.1

This is in fact the second meta-analysis performed in the past few months to come to this conclusion – an analysis published in October 2009 determined that statins increased diabetes risk by 13%. 2

Nine percent (or even 13%) may seem like a small risk, but let’s think about how many people take statin drugs. Today, cholesterol-lowering medications are the 2nd most prescribed drug class in the U.S. (behind only pain relievers).3 Between 1988 and 2006 the use of statin drugs in U.S. adults over 45 increased 10-fold.4 

Currently, over 30 million Americans take statin drugs, and this number may increase further. Statins may soon be recommended to older Americans who have normal LDL levels but elevated C-reactive protein.5 

Each one of these millions of people will have a 9% increased risk of diabetes – when they could have used a high nutrient diet to lower their LDL and reduce their cardiovascular risk. A high nutrient diet rich in unrefined plant foods can reduce cholesterol to the same extent as statin drugs.6 Since reducing cholesterol with diet and exercise addresses the cause of the high cholesterol (the typical American diet), there will be no risk involved – in fact, it will also lead to weight loss, which will then reduce diabetes risk.

Statins are not benign substances – they are powerful drugs with side effects that include muscle pain and liver damage. Which would you choose to lower your LDL – statin drugs plus increased diabetes risk and potential liver and muscle damage, or dietary changes that reduce blood pressure, reverse and prevent diabetes and protect against dementia? My view is that drugs also have the psychological effects to inhibit the necessity of lifestyle and dietary changes that are the root cause of almost all our nation’s medical problems. Any way you look at it drugs kill millions of people and drug-centered health care is the problem, not the solution to our heath crisis and tremendous medical suffering.

 

References:

1. Sattar N et al. Statins and risk of incident diabetes: a collaborative meta-analysis of randomised statin trials. Lancet. 2010 Feb 16. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Rajpathak SN et al. Statin therapy and risk of developing type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2009 Oct;32(10):1924-9.

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/FASTATS/drugs.htm

4. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/10newreleases/hus09.htm

5. Spatz ES et al.  From here to JUPITER: identifying new patients for statin therapy using data from the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Circ Cardiovasc Qual Outcomes. 2009 Jan;2(1):41-8. Epub 2009 Jan 13.

6. Jenkins DJ et al. Effect of a very-high-fiber vegetable, fruit, and nut diet on serum lipids and colonic function. Metabolism. 2001 Apr;50(4):494-503.

 

It's Time for a Revolution!

                                                          

Goerge Washington and men crossing river

Are you sick and tired of a medical culture that's influenced by drug reps trained in communication skills and research funded by pharmaceutical companies instead of scientific nutritional research?

Are you fed up with a health care system, including dietitians and food service personnel, who see absolutely nothing wrong with serving pizza, fried chicken, beef 'n noodles, dinner rolls, butter and jelly, cake, ice cream, and pudding to severely ill patients?

Are you disappointed that our educational system values and prioritizes college and career preparation over instruction in optimal health and longevity? How fulfilling and productive is a career intermingled with food addiction and hangovers? What enjoyment and satisfaction is there in a beautiful home and nice car mixed with alcoholism, eating disorders, heart disease, depression, chemo treatments, pain meds, diabetes, and broken relationships?

Are you saddened by a social culture, including religious, academic and athletic; that models, by example, and promotes gluttonous pleasures and indulgences? What will happen to a society in which eating for disease has run rampant? 

Are you disturbed by the fact that a quarter of a million dollars can be spent on a preventable heart surgery, and $110 for an unnecessary vial of insulin, while entire families go to bed hungry? Is it even ethical to squander such financial resources?  

The change of one is a transformation.

The change of many is a revolution.

Change begins with you and me. 

It’s time for a revolution!

 

“We are free to choose our actions. We are not free to choose the consequences of our actions.”   -Steven Covey

 

image credit: montville.net

The Truth About Healthcare Reform

 An article by Christina Pirello, an advocate of natural foods nutrition and professor of culinary arts at Drexel University, on Huffington Post states the uncomfortable truth about healthcare reform that the mainstream media consistently fails to report:

“Healthcare reform is irrelevant until Americans improve their lifestyles.”

The fact is, our healthcare costs are out of control because the diet and lifestyle that has become the societal norm in this country causes disease.  As Ms. Pirello mentioned in her article:

“We are willing to tolerate this revolutionized food because it's cheap. But it comes at a high price to our health. We spend less on food today than any other people at any other time in recorded history. And the less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care.”1

 Here are some numbers:

- Overweight and obesity rates are at an all time high – 73% of Americans are either overweight (38.8%) or obese(34.2%).2 In 1980, 15% of adults were obese – over the past 30 years,that number has more than doubled.3

- According to the CDC, U.S. obesity-related health costs totaled $117 billion in 2000, and if current trends continue, that figure is projected to reach $344 billion per year by 2018.3,4

- Coronary heart disease costs are estimated at $177 billion for 2010, costs for stroke at $74 billion, costs for hypertension at $77 billion. 5

- Health insurance premiums have gone up 131% in the last 10 years.6

- Over 50% of insured Americans take prescription drugs for a chronic condition – the majority of these drugs are for blood pressure or cholesterol.7

These costly diseases are caused by poor lifestyle choices, and they are also preventable by positive lifestyle choices.

The problem is not the fact that there are so many uninsured Americans – the problem is that there are so many unhealthy Americans. Do we need a better health care system? Of course. But not as desperately as we need better health. Better health through improved lifestyle choices is also fiscally responsible. Vegetables are cheaper than statin drugs. A gym membership is cheaper than bypass surgery.

Health care costs are the symptom, poor lifestyle choices are the cause. If we want to improve the situation, we need to address the cause. The only way to reduce these costs is to reduce the prevalence of these devastating (but preventable) diseases.

No matter how many confusing messages the American public gets about nutrition, there are some very simple truths. Fruits and vegetables are healthy, processed foods and fast food are not. If you follow a nutritarian diet, it will cost less to keep you healthy. 

Ms. Pirello suggests a healthcare system in which individuals are rewarded for having healthy habits – sounds like a great idea to me. She also mentions Whole Foods Market’s new Health Starts Here program, for which I provide nutritional guidance.

“They are about to implement a program that encourages their employees to get and stay healthy. Beginning with a simple blood test and survey, each employee who chooses to participate will receive a diet plan. Each benchmark they hit (lower cholesterol and blood pressure, healthier BMI, etc., will result in a greater discount on their groceries purchased at Whole Foods Market. Imagine a health care plan that does the same thing.”1

No matter what the outcome of healthcare reform in Washington D.C., if enough of us develop and practice healthy habits, it will be to the benefit of our healthcare system.

 

References:

1. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/christina-pirello/healthcare-reform-is-irre_b_440589.html

2. Ogden CL et al. Prevalence of High Body Mass Index in US Children and Adolescents, 2007-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3)

Flegal KM et al. Prevalence and Trends in Obesity Among US Adults, 1999-2008. JAMA. 2010;303(3)

3. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/hestat/overweight/overweight_adult.htm

http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/publications/AAG/pdf/obesity.pdf

4. http://www.americashealthrankings.org/2009/obesity/ECO.aspx#2018

5. http://circ.ahajournals.org/cgi/reprint/CIRCULATIONAHA.109.192667

6. http://money.blogs.time.com/2009/09/30/a-dozen-disturbing-health-care-statistics/

7. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/05/14/health/main4094632.shtml?source=related_story

Help Change the Direction of Health Care

 

Nutritional science has made dramatic advances in recent years. We are at a point in history where we understand that the majority of diseases plaguing Americans are preventable. We have an unprecedented opportunity in human history to live healthier and longer than ever before. Nevertheless, most Americans have been brought up to believe drugs are the solution to their health care issues and billions of dollars get donated though non-profits to fuel drug development. This is the main reason we have a health care crisis today; the lack of funding for research in nutrition.

With the help of the National Health Association, I have set up the Nutritional Research Project, a non-profit foundation for the purpose of funding medical research utilizing my high-nutrient-diet therapeutically to reverse diseases. This information is also needed to promote the awareness of dietary-caused disease, the major cause of chronic illnesses and premature death in modern countries. As a nation it is possible for us to win the war against heart disease, strokes, dementia, diabetes, and cancers by making a few simple but profound diet and lifestyle changes.

My 20 years of patient experience with more than 10,000 patients and thousands of case histories demonstrate nutritional excellence is not merely preventative, but more effective than medications for most diseases. However, our population and the medical profession will never incorporate this lifesaving knowledge into our nation’s health care system until it is shown to be effective in medical journal published clinical studies.

We are in desperate need of funding to support such medical studies demonstrating the effectiveness of this dietary-based approach to disease and to bring the results of the research to the public for implementation.

I sincerely appreciate any money that can be donated to help this important cause. The billions of dollars that are typically donated to medical causes go exclusively to drug research and that is what essentially has caused the health care crisis in the modern world, and millions of needless deaths; an over-reliance on drugs, while people destroy their health with a disease-causing diet-style.

Especially in these trying economic times, even the smallest donation will make a difference. If everybody receiving this gave something we would be able to start 3 major studies in 2009. So, please join us in our effort to support the medical research projects that we have been developing. This is the time to initiate a new approach to health care.

Thank you for your support it means so much.

Sincerely,

Make your tax-free donation here. Please email this page to a friend!

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