“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.”―
It’s obvious this day and age that what we eat affects our physical and mental health.
Unhealthy eating and physical inactivity are leading causes of death in the U.S.
Unhealthy diet contributes to approximately 678,000 deaths each year in the U.S., due to nutrition- and obesity-related diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes.
However, unfortunately many physicians still tend to write prescriptions all too frequently for anything and everything that brings us to their office.
Maybe some physicians feel compelled to give you the newest wonder drug simply in exchange for the exorbitant bill you’ll receive after an office visit. However medical providers are taught medication management as the first option for treating their patients. In my experience attending doctor visits over the years with various family members, I’ve rarely heard recommendations for diet and exercise mentioned in the treatment plan. Since I have a background in nursing and fitness, I know the importance of exercise and nutrition in regards to healing.
More than a quarter of doctors admit to prescribing medication that likely won’t have many therapeutic benefits for patients, according to a recent survey of more than 5,000 American College of Physicians (ACP) member physicians.
In the survey, which asked doctors to identify two treatments often used by internal medicine physicians that weren’t likely to provide high value care to patients, 27 percent of doctors said they prescribed antibiotics to patients even when it was likely the treatment wouldn’t be effective. Nine percent said they used aggressive treatments on terminally-ill patients even when these treatments weren’t valuable, seven percent prescribed medications for chronic pain, while five percent recommended dietary supplements to patients.
The survey highlights that over-prescribing is still an issue among physicians and that it’s a problem that leads to a lot of waste, inefficiencies and added costs within our country’s health care system.
So, why does this keep happening?
The pressure to fulfill patients’ expectations may be the root cause of the problem. Patients come to doctors for answers, and often many of these patients have spent time Googling their ailment and have come up with a solution before they even step foot into a doctor’s office.
For example, my son recently went to see his physician for a physical and due to the fact that his cholesterol was slightly elevated, his physician recommended he start a statin drug. With my experience as a nurse, I know medications are sometimes necessary and can save lives. But wouldn’t it be nice if patients were encouraged to start with nutrition and lifestyle changes before starting a medication with possible side effects.
Per Dr. Mercola in 5 Great Reasons Why You Should Not Take Statins
- There is evidence showing that statins may actually make your heart health worse and only appear effective due to statistical deception
- Statins deplete your body of CoQ10, inhibit synthesis of vitamin K2, and reduce the production of ketone bodies
- Statins increase your risk of serious diseases including cancer, diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases, musculoskeletal disorders and cataracts
If a patient comes in with slightly elevated blood sugar or blood pressure, why not look at dietary changes and stress reduction before being prescribed a drug as treatment.
You of course have the option of going to a naturopath provider which The Better Health Channel defines as
Naturopathy is a holistic approach to wellness. Naturopathy treats each person as an individual and supports the whole person to live a healthy lifestyle. The foundations of naturopathy are based on the importance of a healthy diet, clean fresh water, sunlight, exercise and stress management.
Naturopathy aims to educate the person to look after their own health and the health of their family, minimising symptoms of any illness, supporting the body’s capacity to heal, and balancing the body so that illness is less likely to occur in the future.
Or there is the functional medicine approach who Dr. Mark Hyman (a functional medicine provider) points out is
An integrative, science-based healthcare approach. Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology, and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
However, typically functional medicine and naturopathy are not covered by insurance and with the cost of healthcare, these alternative therapies are often not financially feasible.
Therefore, it’s up to us as consumers to educate ourselves on the importance of a healthy lifestyle when it comes to disease prevention and treatment.
Rather than automatically accepting a new medication at your next visit to the doctor, why not ask if there are other treatment options available. Do your research to determine if nutrition and lifestyle changes could be implemented first before turning to pharmaceutical treatment. Which brings me to another one of my favorite quotes:
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”