When it comes tomedications, I find that people tend to fall largely into two main camps: thosewho reach for the pill bottle at the first sign of distress in their bodies;and those who stubbornly avoid any sort of interference whatsoever with thebody’s natural ability to heal. I, admittedly, fall into the lattercategory. Mainly due to the fact that all my life, I have always experiencedsensitivity to medications.
Very rarely have I taken themwithout some sort of unwanted side-effect reeking havoc on my system. Surprisingly, this isquite the ordinary occurrence in our modern American culture. These daysit seems that there’s very literally a pill for every ill. Or at least that’swhat pharmaceutical companies and their advertisers would have you believe.
Andwhile this “quick fix” approach to health may offer much in the wayof convenience, there are risks far greater and deeper felt than the oddadverse effect. News articles aboundthat bring into sharp focus the rampant issuing of prescription medicationsthat begins with the treatment of one chronic or debilitating illness, thenturning into more prescription drugs to treat the varying adverse side effectsof the first. Avoiding drug interactions then becomes a tricky and expensivegame of managing pill after pill, side effect after side effect and, in mostcases, specialist after specialist. Sometimes with deadly consequences. When did we become soconvinced that we need drugs to function day to day? We have somehow come toaccept our dependence on drugs, so much so that we’ll pay exorbitant amounts ofmoney to get what we need. Which in most cases is quite simply freedom from ourpain. How much of our dependence on prescription medications is simply due toour tendency to blindly trust in the findings of modern medicine and science,and how much is a direct result of the marketing and advertising ofprescription medication by pharmaceutical companies? To date, the U.S.
is oneof only two developed countries in the world that allow drug companies toadvertise their products on television; the second being New Zealand. What’smore, ads rarely provide the sort of context that consumers need to make sounddecisions about their health – about how often a drug actually works or whetheran alternative treatment may actually provide more relief. One study, fromthe Journal of General Internal Medicine, found that 57 percent of claims indrug ads were potentially misleading and another 10 percent were outrightfalse. This coupled with thegrowing number of cases where antibiotics are prescribed for ailments theywill not treat, we are now seeing a steadily increasing numberantibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria and fungi. Antibiotic-resistantinfections are responsible for at least 2 million illnesses and 23,000 deathseach year. For some, the effects of the medication taken are worse than thesymptoms of the medical condition.
It’s statistics likethese that are causing many people to wonder if medicine, for all it’spill-popping convenience, is indeed all it’s cracked up to be. The “quickfix” is quickly becoming a one-way ticket on a speeding bullet train to akaleidoscopic array of debilitating illnesses or symptoms, and even death. Manyof us are finding ourselves saying out loud, as so many old television ads frommy youth would begin by exclaiming, “There has to be a better way!” “Let thy food be thymedicine, and medicine be thy food.
” Enter the food as medicine movement. Is itas simple as eating what is readily available at the grocery store,straight off the shelf? Well, not quite. Here in North America, over 50 percentof our food is processed food. Only 5 percent of our food is plant-based, afact that many proponents of the food as medicine movement would like to seereversed. Truth be told, the foodas medicine movement has been around for decades. However, a small but growingnumber of California based physicians and medical professionals around theworld are beginning to make food a formal part of treatment, rather thanrelying solely on medications. By prescribing nutritional changes, they’retrying to prevent, limit or even reverse disease by changing what patients eat. Patients begin to reallylook at their personal relationship to food.
Many people don’t know how tocook; rather, most people only know how to rewarm food. This means beingdependent upon pre-packaged food with high salt and sugar content. Teachingourselves about which foods are nutritious and how to prepare them can transformour lives. In the last year and ahalf I myself have been witness to, and proof of, such transformation. Atraining schedule that forced me to re-evaluate the fuel, or lack thereof, thatI was giving to my body, coupled with several adverse reactions tomedications (one reaction seeing me feverish and doubled over in excruciatingpain in the emergency room) prescribed to me at the beginning of 2017 had mereassessing everything I was putting into my body out of necessity. The drugsthat my physicians were giving me to make me better were actually making mesick. Nearly a full year into my own shift in perspective on treating my foodas medicine finds me 25 pounds lighter, more energetic, vibrant and armed withwhat feels like a more grounded, and deeply satisfying relationship with mybody and my food. How do we incorporatenutrition and lifestyle advice into the treatment of chronically ill patients?It begins with a shift from the “quick fix” of relief in the shortterm, which is what medications are primarily focused upon, to adjusting ourgoals for health in the long term.
Changes in nutrition and lifestyle have beenshown to make lasting improvements to a person’s health, even after thetreatment has ended. The same cannot be said of prescription medication. Plainand simple.