What happened to the idea of “preventative health”?

I remember the day. The day that I totally lost faith in the mainstream medical paradigm in terms of actually focusing on the most basic tenant of health which is preemptive health as in focusing on actions that will promote not needing to go to the doctor constantly.

It was Barack Obama’s declaration of the Precision Medicine Initiative.

It seemed so well intentioned and focused on customized programs for individuals instead of the one size fits all approach that was permeating medicine in the late 20th century.

Quickly my hopes were dashed as I read through the verbiage. It was the usual suspects. “Treatments”, “medications”, “therapies”, these were the words permeating the plan. Ominously missing were such terms as exercise or nutrition or lifestyle or preventative health in general. Like usual, it was all about medical procedures. Drugs. Surgeries. Scans.

To the layman this might seem like a great idea. But there is a lot of information hidden in the depths of the online archives of the medical journals and studies. Juicy morsels just waiting to be unearthed. Like for example how mammograms are associated with breast cancer.

Yet, mammograms are encouraged for every woman, at younger and younger ages and in higher frequency.

The point here is this: recent medical “breakthroughs” have only cemented an idea that has been occurring in me and others with some frequency for the last two decades. And that idea is that pharmaceutical companies which basically run the show in terms of medical knowledge and schooling, they really do care about profits much more than they do about health. This is a terrible realization but it is proven at every turn with developments in the “healthcare” industry. I use parentheses because its a misnomer, what we have is a “sickcare” industry. As in you get sick and then the drugs and surgeries begin to flow.

From a business standpoint this is a fairly straightforward strategy. The healthier people are, the less they need medical treatment. This is just an absolute fact, undeniable by even the staunchest supporter of allopathic medicine. Many times, people become sick because of poor lifestyle habits such as being way too overweight for too long, eating unhealthy foods, becoming malnourished in certain vitamins and minerals…this all adds up and ends up in sickness.

Its not 100% that way don’t get me wrong. Of course there are other factors at play such as genetics or possibly even a very traumatic experience such as a horrible accident. But overwhelmingly the choice of health is in the individual’s hands, they make the decisions,

The problem is that this information on preventative health is taught to essentially nobody, unless you somehow end up in a field of health, nutrition, etc. I’m glad I ended up in that arena.

Ladies and gentlemen. The solutions are very simple in my mind. They would require just the simplest of education in schools on health and nutrition. Just imagine how much information could be given to teenagers if there was a mandatory nutrition class, without funding from the grain and dairy industry, that taught kids about the basics they need? Protein goals. Different sugars and how to use them…

Better yet, let’s throw an advanced nutrition class after the first. Now we can talk about specific herbs and remedies to not just be healthy but enhance overall wellness? The goal is not to just feel ok. The goal is to feel great.

I’m not sure if most people would know this, but just these two classes on nutrition would put these teenagers well ahead of most doctor’s education in this area. Medical school is notorious for a lack of nutrition education. This lays at the very core of the problem of health in America in my humble opinion. This is a massive gap, I would say the biggest gap that could occur to hamper the effectiveness of our already monumentally expensive and inefficient medical system.

Going back to the precision medicine initiative and why it sealed shut my case against medical nutrition recommendations, let me make it clear that there are very explicit reasons for my thoughts on this. There was a series of events that led me to this conclusion. Much of it was simply my personal training career. Many times I would have someone going to the doctor for whatever reason and returning with their doctor’s “nutrition plan”.

I have never laid eyes on worse nutrition advice in my life. Time and time again. It got to the point where I just overrided the doctor’s plan and if my client said they wanted to take the doctor’s advice I simply told them that I could not guarantee results because the plan would not work with our training protocol.

One stark example was an obese woman I had been training for several months with limited success. She had her gallbladder removed for stomach pains…it turned out not to be the gall bladder after all. So now I have a woman with one missing organ to throw another wrench in the works. Specifically the gall bladder helps to remove fats from the digestive tract by creating bile. So naturally, her stomach pain increased. But that wasn’t the worst of it. Her doctor had recommended that she eat 500 calories per day and only “eat when she was hungry”. I read this written confession of stupidity slack jawed. Here was a woman who had an extremely compromised metabolic rate due to carrying all that extra weight, and on top she had about zero muscle. She didn’t need to just lose fat, she needed muscle to boost her metabolism as well as just support healthy joints. A 500 calorie prescription, with no macronutrient profile to speak of, meaning how much protein, fat and carbohydrate she should eat. For all this doctor knew she could eat a McDonald’s cheeseburger, hit her calorie goal because “she was hungry” and then not eat all day.

The problem here is that the medical paradigm, by being devoid of nutrition education, is being fed outdated and simplistic information on weight loss, i.e. the calorie in, calorie out theory. I can say with much confidence that calorie in and out theory of weight loss is a big old pile of stinking crap.

Most of my female training clients end up gradually increasing calories while continuing to shred up and lose fat. So what gives? Basic nutrition knowledge, that’s what. Not taught to anybody, even doctors. Understanding how to craft a nutrition plan based off several factors. Believe me, its not that complicated to be honest, but there still needs to be some knowledge and if the gatekeepers of health, in theory, in this country don’t have this simple knowledge then they are not very useful in preventative health.

Keep in mind I don’t admire their skill and prowess in performing procedures that need to be done. But I’m talking about preventative health meaning we do it and don’t have to deal with the medical system, at least as much. Doctors simply aren’t specialized in that area for the most part.

Another reason I stopped trusting mainstream nutrition information in general was a simple research project into the fabled “food guide pyramid” that was stapled across my forehead throughout my degree. The gospel of nutrition. Here’s a picture of this fantastic piece of junk (which has since been updated I’ll grant them that).

What you see before you is a commercial for the dairy, sugar and corn industries. Notice how the foundation is based off of bread and grains. It reminds me of another strategy for another animal…to fatten them up…what is it?

Oh yeah. Cattle. That’s what I’m reminded of with these nutrition strategies. I don’t think the average person wishes to be fattened in record time for (proverbial) slaughter. Yet this is exactly what you will get if you follow this heinous advice.

The most hilarious portion of that pyramid, besides the foundation, is the apex. Notice the grouping together of sweets and oils. This is a most deplorable mistruth about nutrition. Oils, and sweets, are so unbelievably different in nutrition content and effect it is laughable that this would be portrayed to the public.

The body most definitely does not need sweets like candy and soda, but it does need plenty of fats and oils to keep the body healthy. The brain is mostly fat. The myelin sheaths of the nervous system…that is fatty insulating tissue. We have muscular stored fats. Certain fats are even better for reducing LDL cholesterol and free-floating triglycerides.

“sweets” do none of that. They clog nearly everything they touch, feed harmful bacteria in the gut and even cause glycation by attaching to circulating proteins in the blood, linked to reduce lifespan.

So why, oh why. Why was this pyramid constructed the way it was. The answer is simple: The USDA is lobbied like any other government agency. And the guys with the loot are doing the heavy lifting, namely the sugar, grain and dairy industry. Sadly the watermelon association.

Our collective nutritional information is being, or has been, hijacked by many a corporate interest. People are being told to eat lots of whole grains and its not working. Now we have and epidemic of gluten intolerance, although admittedly a huge portion are suffering from much deeper issues that simply removing gluten will not fix. The grain industry wants this to happen. They love it, naturally, when the demand for their feed is very high. The problems here are myriad. From untested GMO crops laced with glyphosate to the reduction in bioavailable nutrients due to depleted soils, pesticides etc. the whole grain theory is not a suitable goal for those looking to be healthy long term. Of course sedentary behavior does not help because there is no worse time to consume a lot of carbohydrate than when you are not being physically active.

Notice the second from top tier of the pyramid. Dairy and meat. Now who would possibly profit immensely from such a recommendation? If you guessed the industrialized meat and cattle industry you are correct. And they too have a lot of lobbying power. Hundreds of millions of dollars per year should be enough marketing, wouldn’t you say?

The pyramid does do lip service to fruits and vegetables, surprisingly. Although which ones we pick and choose to eat are…well…on us. You’re gonna need a lot more than just some bananas, apples and spinach to get to maximum health potential.

To end this particular rant I’d like to say that it appears that preventative health is simply not going to be part of the conversation for a very, very long time while the allopathic medical paradigm exists in power. But slowly, creeping along there are independent researchers and journalists doing the work necessary to tip the scales in favor of the independent responsibility for health and wellness and how empowering that can actually be.

Because what would you want naturally, to be in control, or to hand over the reigns to someone not versed in natural health?

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