Doctors have never taken much interest in preventive medicine or in how to help their patients stay healthy. This, I’m afraid, is because they have little or no financial interest in keeping their patients healthy. Except in China (where doctors were once paid only for as long as their patients stayed well) doctors have always earned their money out of diagnosing and curing illness.
When you earn money out of making people healthy when they are ill, keeping them healthy makes no financial sense at all. Drug companies don’t make money when people get better – they make money when people remain ill and need constant medication.
The drug companies have persuaded doctors to encourage us to believe that when we are ill we must take something to rid ourselves of our symptoms. It’s all about money.
It’s because of this that doctors take very little interest in helping people stay healthy and almost no interest in teaching people about healthy eating.
We were designed (or slowly evolved) for a very different type of diet to the one most of us eat today. We were designed for a diet based on fruits and vegetables, supplemented occasionally with a small amount of lean meat. We weren’t designed to eat vast quantities of fatty meat, we weren’t designed to drink milk taken from another animal (and meant for its young) and we weren’t designed to eat grains.
Around 99.99% of our genetic material was formed when we were eating the sort of diet for which we were designed.
But now most of us live on fatty meat, milky foods and cereals.
There were 100,000 generations of humans known as hunter-gatherers (living on fruits and vegetables they gathered and animals they occasionally managed to kill) and 500 generations dependent on agriculture (living on food grown on farms and animals reared in captivity).
There have been just ten generations of humans since the onset of the industrial age and just two generations have grown up with highly processed fast, junk food.
Knowing all this it is hardly surprising that most of us ill most of the time.
And, of course, obesity is now endemic in most Western countries. Type 2 diabetes (also known as maturity onset diabetes) is often a consequence of obesity. And yet most doctors do little or nothing either to help their patients to lose weight or to diagnose type 2 diabetes. In some countries about a quarter of the people who have diabetes do not know that they have diabetes.
When diabetes is diagnosed the doctor’s usual response is to reach for a prescription pad and prescribe one of the potentially hazardous drugs promoted for the purpose. In fact, most overweight patients could control their diabetes (and protect themselves from health problems) by changing their diet (cutting out junk foods) and losing excess weight.
But prescribing a pill is easier than giving advice. And taking a pill is easier than cutting down on chocolate bars.
Is it a coincidence that when gorillas are brought into captivity and fed on the sort of diet we think they should eat (not dissimilar, of course, from the sort of diet we eat ourselves) they too develop heart disease, ulcerative colitis and high cholesterol levels — problems they don’t suffer from in the wild? Given the opportunity to become couch potatoes, baboons will jump at the idea.
The Masai Mara National Reserve on the Serengeti Plains of Kenya had baboons who traditionally picked and chose their diet from everything available. But as the Park grew it inevitably attracted tourists, hotels and rubbish. Within a few years of the first waste dump being formed the baboons found that they could just lie around until the waste lorry arrived and then binge on high fat, high protein, high sugar leftovers. The baboons feeding like this grow faster, reach puberty earlier and weigh more. But their cholesterol levels shot up and they developed diabetes and chronic heart disease.
In North America the same thing happened to wild bears who hung around waste dumps and car parks in places such as the Yosemite National Park. They became obese and ill. And they also became mentally disturbed; showing signs of confusion and becoming increasingly violent.
Is it coincidence that the hunter-gatherer societies which still exist in the world’s few wild, remote areas have far less cancer, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis? They may die falling from trees or being eaten by wild animals but they don’t die from the sort of diseases which cripple and kill us. Time and time again anthropologists have observed that as native societies abandon their traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle so their health deteriorates.
Today, we are like captive cows and sheep, falling ill because we can no longer choose a varied diet but must rely on what the farmers choose to offer.
If doctors told their patients the truth about food most of the world’s drug companies would virtually disappear within months. The market for heart drugs, high blood pressure drugs, anti-cancer drugs and so on would fall through the floor. Drug companies would be struggling along side-by-side with the buggy whip manufacturers.
And yet the advice about nutrition given to patients by doctors, nurses, nutritionists and dieticians is often appalling and frequently lethal. The food served in hospitals (where people are, it can safely be assumed, at their weakest and at their greatest need of wholesome, nutritious food) is almost universally inedible and customarily harmful to the patient. The food produced for patients is nothing more than unwholesome stodge, full of calories and fat and devoid of vitamins.
Finally, there is clear evidence to show that how much food you eat is just as important as what you eat. Eating less can lead to a longer life.
A team from the Louisiana State University in the USA monitored a group of 48 overweight men and women aged between 25 and 50 years. A quarter of them were put on a diet containing 25% fewer calories than they would be expected to eat for their age and weight. Another quarter had their calorie intake reduced by 12.5% and were also put on a strict exercise regime. A third group stuck to a very strict diet of just 890 calories a day. Finally, the last group was placed on a diet which would enable them to maintain their weight.
The results showed that the volunteers on the fewest calories lost, on average, 14% of their body weight during the six months. The other calorie-restricted dieters lost 10% of their body weight. All the volunteers who cut down their calories showed a fall in their average body temperature and showed reduced fasting insulin levels — both figures which are linked to longevity. The rate at which their DNA decayed also slowed. This is important because decaying DNA increases the chances of mutations and degenerative diseases developing, and producing problems such as cancer.
Other research has shown that people who eat less also have healthier hearts.
Researchers believe that cutting calories reduces the production of free radicals, the toxic particles which are difficult for the body to get rid of. The message is simple: eat less, live longer.
If you eat like a bird you’ll live as long as an elephant.
So why don’t doctors and dieticians warn patients of this?
Where’s the profit? It might save lives, but it wouldn’t help the drug companies increase their profits.
Most doctors are unquestioning — too frightened to upset the establishment. Asking uncomfortable questions can ruin a doctor’s career. And medical journalists are just as useless. Most have very little formal medical training, they don’t know what to look for, they not infrequently receive payments from drug companies and they hardly ever have the courage to take on the establishment. Far too many so-called medical and health journalists are wimpy incompetents who won’t print or broadcast anything which might damage their cosy relationships with the medical establishment and the international pharmaceutical industry.
The doctors and nurses who do know the truth don’t dare talk about it. And, sadly, most doctors and nurses don’t bother to search out the facts. They just recite what they’re told by the drug companies, prescribe vast quantities of pills and carefully avoid seeking or sharing out the truth. That is the essence of Coleman’s 9th Law of Medicine.
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