By Dr. Adam Hughes
Recession, unemployment, rising food prices, and stock market crashes are a few of the depressing subjects you hear about daily. While political and financial leaders do their best to revive our beaten down economy and begin the long climb out of the hole we’ve dug for ourselves, one of the most controversial issues lately has been government bailouts of, first, financial institutions and now the auto industry. The cost is approaching the trillion-dollar mark.
While I don’t fancy myself a true expert on economics or politics, neither do I believe the actions taken by our leaders will provide a long-term remedy for this economic crisis. The planned “fixes” just don’t address underlying causes of our financial turmoil. As a result, while some policies may reduce the pain of the immediate crisis, treating symptoms will only prolong the malady, just as addressing symptoms of a disease only prolongs its effects on the body.
Wealth Loss, Health Loss
Our economic bleeding is similar to the healthcare problems we face. Profuse amounts of money are spent on medical care each year-and it’s not doing any good. Chances are you or someone you know are on multiple medications for a number of illnesses. Many people take 5 to 10 different medications every day, and many are in and out of the hospital several times a year. Most Americans have come to think of this as a normal part of health maintenance, and that wrong-headed thinking is perhaps the greatest crisis of all. The truth is we are meant to be healthy.
While we call our medical services “healthcare,” what it really amounts to is sick-care-trying to fix people when they’re broken. To be sure, there are plenty of modern medical procedures that save people’s lives, and for those we should be grateful. Our emergency care, for instance, is unsurpassed and can hardly be applauded loudly enough. But when it comes to dealing with chronic conditions and illnesses, major improvements are essential.
The paradigm for sick-care typically revolves around diagnosis and treatment of disease symptoms. This allopathic approach generally assumes that the correct illness-fighting intervention is to reduce symptoms of the disease-a disease that is often said to be brought about by a failure of genes to properly regulate and control the body. If the symptoms are reduced, the treatment is considered a success. Examples include therapies such as taking medication to eliminate a headache or to lower blood pressure, or surgically removing a dysfunctional gallbladder. With these procedures, symptoms and pain are decreased, but the underlying cause of the problems is ignored. The regimen turns a blind eye to the vital question of why a patient is sick. Sadly, the ultimate consequence of this approach is that whether or not the patient actually becomes healthier is totally disregarded.
Why So Sick
Most of the billions spent every year on sick-care are used up treating chronic conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. The United States expends more money than any other country doctoring these illnesses. We have the greatest number of hospitals, doctors, and nurses in the world, and our medical services inventory grows every year. Although we make up only about 4% of the world’s population, we consume more than 60% of the world’s pharmaceuticals. So with all of the time, effort, and money put into healthcare, we should be the healthiest folks around, right? But no-the World Health Organization ranks the United States as only the 37th “healthiest” county in the world. And the sick-care model of medicine is to blame.
A paradigm shift away from sick-care to true healthcare is vital. The World Health Organization makes a respectable attempt in defining health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well being and not merely the absence disease or infirmity,” but I prefer a more scientific and biological characterization of “health.”
A key term in medical biology, homeostasis refers to “optimal functioning of an internal environment”- everything works the way it is designed to. For the human body, homeostasis occurs when all of our cells are functioning at an optimal level. That’s when sickness and disease are absent. A true healthcare model, then, should have as its goal to move the body towards homeostasis. That means we must also figure out why the body was moving away from homeostasis in the first place.
One of the more difficult aspects of this paradigm shift is what it requires of each of us as individuals. As it is, sick-care is not just the fault of care providers. Users buy into it because it’s easier to “let someone else take care of me” than to take personal responsibility for being healthy.
Many people assume disease and sickness are just a part of life, often stemming from genes passed down from their parents. Patients tell me all the time that the reason for their pain, arthritis, high blood pressure, headaches, or whatever, is because their parents had the same problem. While genes do play a role in how health is expressed, they do not tell the whole story. More and more studies show that genes are greatly influenced by our environment. Yes, your mom may have passed down a gene that can lead to a defect in heart function, but just because the gene is there does not mean it has to be expressed. Environment can turn genes on and off. This is why lifestyle is so crucial in true health and wellness care.
Lifestyle changes over the past 100 years have generally been for the worse. Our distant ancestors lacked cars, refrigerators, grocery stores, vaccines, blood pressure medications, hospitals, and computers. Yet they were surprisingly healthy when compared to the chronic conditions we face today. Heart disease, diabetes, and cancers were unknown to our ancient cousins except in rare cases. Genetic research has demonstrated that we share the same genes as our ancestors, yet our health rates continue to decline every year. Clearly, the genes haven’t changed-environment and lifestyle have. Our forebears had no choice but to eat organic foods, drink water free of modern-day pollutants, breathe smog-free air, and engage in significant, daily physical activity. By contrast, most Americans are lucky if they can squeeze even one of these healthful patterns into their lives.
Healthcare would acknowledge that well being is a natural state. Our bodies were designed to be self-sustaining. Think about it: when you cut your finger and cover it, does the bandage do the healing? No, of course not. Your body heals itself. We are all born with an inner intelligence governing our bodily functions and health.
Our bodies don’t make mistakes. Every action and reaction on the inside has a specific purpose-to maintain homeostasis and good health. Succumbing to an illness is not a mistake or a genetic problem. Diseases are simply the body’s way of adapting to stress in our environment. Given the right environment and lifestyle, we adapt and heal from the inside out. But when the environment is fraught with chronic stress and bad lifestyle choices, our body’s ability to adapt diminishes, and sickness and disease progress. Most stresses on the body come in the form of toxicities and deficiencies.
Being Toxic Wastes Us
When you face most any health problem, chances are you are either toxic in something bad, or deficient in something your body needs to thrive. The bad stuff includes pollutants, junk food, contaminated water, and heavy metals. What’s worse, people are often deficient in vital nutrients, minerals, essential fats, helpful bacteria in our intestines, and exercise.
Toxicity and deficiency create sickness and pull us away from homeostasis. For good health it’s necessary to create an environment and lifestyle that benefit your genetic makeup and create health naturally.
Adding to the problem that we are on our own in choosing this path, insurance companies don’t pay for such changes. But if you hope to be-and stay-genuinely healthy, you can’t afford to wait around for insurance companies, the government, and physicians to address our needs and for it to cost nothing. And whether our country eventually adopts government-sponsored “universal healthcare” or continues with more free market options, the health of our nation will continue to decline. No matter what treatment delivery system we use, the “answer” will be more drugs, more surgeries, and less well-being for patients.
I do believe there’s hope for a cultural change toward a healthy healthcare system. People will eventually realize our current system is bankrupt-in all ways. We must encourage our leaders, scientists, politicians, and physicians to shift healthcare in the direction of true health and well-being, rather than focusing on who is going to pay for our badly broken sick-care model. And personally, you can choose every day to create a better environment for yourself.
God designed your body to heal from the inside out as long as there body to do its job is no interference. Remove toxic stresses from your life, and allow the body to do its job. The health you salvage just may be your own.
In his Columbia practice, Dr. Hughes focuses on a modern approach to Chiropractic, emphasizing lifestyle changes rather than strictly focusing on pain relief. Th is way, patients receive relief from their health problems, while at the same time learn better ways to live a healthy life and prevent future problems. This is a far more comprehensive and holistic way approach the patient’s overall health and wellness. Dr. Hughes has a passion for educating patients on better ways to eat, move, and think – utilizing the latest technologies and research regarding the central nervous system, spinal health, whole food nutrition and enzymes. His office is located at 622 West 7th St., Columbia, TN 38401. Phone# 931-380-1144