In times like these, it is easy to speak about how things should have been handled. Looking back at the beginning of this pandemic, it is clear now that we had limited data, faulty leadership on most levels, and made policies that were not only ineffective, but harmful.
I could write dozens of articles on what I have disagreed with, what has upset me, and most of all, what has frightened me. But for this article, I will share what I believe has been the biggest mistake… but not just during this pandemic. What I am going to write about here is what I believe to be the biggest mistake affecting our health and lives right now, as well as for the past century.
What is the biggest mistake? Our paradigm, philosophy, or belief system about health in general. We can, and must, change specific details about almost all aspects of our mainstream healthcare system, but it must start with how we define and understand health. And in regards to this pandemic, we need to understand the relationship between our health and disease.
All of the talk, recommendations, and policy right now revolve around this virus. I can hear you now… “But doc, there is a virus wreaking havoc on the world right now. Why wouldn’t we focus entirely on this virus?” I would answer that question with a question… Who are the most vulnerable and most at risk of dying? The elderly and immune-compromised.
Let’s talk about the immune-compromised. I’ll start by defining a word… comorbidity. This is defined by Google as “the simultaneous presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions in a patient.” I’ll leave out specific stats, as I am sure anything that I write will be refuted by some, but no one will disagree that most COVID-19 deaths have occurred in the elderly or those suffering with comorbidities. The CDC has a long list of the most dangerous comorbidity conditions, Type 2 diabetes and obesity to name a couple. (They list smoking in that list, which I guess is now a “condition.” Hmmmm? Oh… and I’m not sure how obesity is considered a “condition” either, but that’s another article.)
There are basic, scientifically proven (over and over again), and common sense strategies to help elevate your level of health. The higher your level of health, the stronger your immune system. The stronger your immune system, the lower your risk of complications from COVID-19. There is virtually no talk about boosting health. All of the focus is on avoiding or eliminating this virus. Our entire modern healthcare system is built on the philosophy of eliminating sickness and disease, yet neglects almost entirely the building up of health.
Let’s say the pathetic strategies that we’ve been abiding by for the past year allow us to buy enough time that this virus fizzles out (which it will). You know… those strategies on the CDC’s website. Why do I say pathetic? Because those strategies by themselves do absolutely nothing to build up health. And no matter what we do, if we do not get healthier, we are at continued risk. Risk of what? Every known chronic illness and complications with every known (and yet to be known) pathogen (bacteria, virus, etc.).
Here is the argument that I have heard… We are in a crisis. A healthier lifestyle is a great idea, but we need something right now. Well, here we are over a whole year later. Had we initiated healthy lifestyle mandates back then, even in conjunction with the mandates that were made, the serious illness rate and the death rate would be significantly lower. And guess what? With those kinds of mandates, all other sickness rates decline too. Yep… less diabetes, less heart disease, less depression, less respiratory disease, and of course… less obesity. (I could have listed all chronic illnesses here!)
At our office, we have had insulin-dependent diabetics that have suffered for 20 years lose weight on our six-week weight loss program and be cured of diabetes. This means that in just six weeks, their level of health went up enough that they no longer needed to rely on medication, and no longer had diabetes. It doesn’t take long to radically improve your health. Yet, your doctors and government agencies fail to emphasize the significance and impact that healthy lifestyle modifications can have.
No matter what policies or mandates you think are a good idea, none compare to the impact healthier lifestyle choices can have. Those benefits can come quickly, and it’s not too late to get started!