By Molly Patrick
Sep 7, 2015,
I don’t know how it all happened, but today’s fuckery is exceptionally eye opening.
It is my great pleasure to hand over today’s mic to someone who has first hand experience with healthcare in the US. He’s here to explain why it’s crucial that we all take responsibility for our own health.
Dr. Mo works for one of the biggest hospital chains in the country. He practices family medicine and works in urgent care in the Portland, Oregon area.
He contacted me a couple months ago and asked if I would write a piece for him that he could refer his patients to about how to incorporate better food into the diet. I told him shit yeah, and I got to work.
Any doctor who understands the important role that food plays on health and who’s willing to impart this knowledge on their patients is aces in my book. We emailed back and forth a few times and it quickly became clear to me that you need to hear what he has to say.
I took a chance and asked him if he would be willing to write a guest fuckery. To my surprise he said yes, and today I’m happy to share it with you.
I commend Dr. Mo for his honesty and for having the balls to share the following information with us.
I went into medicine because I’m compassionate by nature, and I love the sciences. I did 5 years of undergrad, 4 years of medical school and 4 years of residency.
I decided to practice family medicine because I wanted to do a whole breadth of care and hopefully intervene early in people’s lives to help make a difference.
Here are a few of the problems that I experience first hand about healthcare in the US that everyone should be aware of:
1. Doctors have to practice evidence based medicine.
It’s not that evidence based medicine is a bad thing, it’s that the majority of evidence that we must practice from is manufactured by the pharmaceutical industries and regulated by the FDA.
Doing medical research is extremely expensive, and these industries can easily afford to put up the cash to publish whatever they want, even if the research is biased (for obvious reasons). Furthermore, most of the doctors you see on TV or in the news are on multiple boards of pharmaceutical groups, medical device companies, imaging groups, etc…
The whole system is flawed by widespread conflict of interest.
2. America is one of the only countries where patients can sue their doctors for virtually anything.
This means that 90% of our time is spent practicing defensive medicine to ensure that we don’t get sued. Let’s say we examine someone and their examination doesn’t show any red flags. It doesn’t matter, we will still run lots of tests and give lots of antibiotics just in case. What I’m saying is that doctors over treat everything. From high cholesterol to high blood pressure and throat infections to skin infections.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say a 55 year old woman comes in for acid reflux. It seems like a classic case of indigestion but there is always that 1% chance that it’s a heart attack disguised as reflux. So we might transfer her to the ER, order blood tests, and maybe even keep her overnight for more testing. All of this incurs major cost and stress to the patient, as well as takes up a lot of time on our end.
It would make more sense to ask the patient what she ate to draw conclusions about her reflux, but because doctors are fearful of getting sued, defensive medicine is standard.
3. And then there’s the numbers game.
Medicare wants us to control the A1C (diabetes level) down to 6.0. The ADA wants it at 6.5. The AACE (society of endocrinologists) want it at 7.0.
The problem is, the guidelines that we must follow from the medical research articles (the ones funded by pharmaceutical companies) change all the time. They change all the time because the facts really aren’t there.
We’re told that we should use Metformin to get diabetes levels down. And then we’re told to wait on the Metformin and start with insulin. And then we’re told to prescribe Metformin, along with Glipizide instead of insulin. And then another article comes out proclaiming that there’s a brand new medication about to come out that works better than all of them.
Meanwhile, our patient’s numbers aren’t changing, but then again, neither is their weight. But that’s okay because medicare will now pay for gastric bypass.
The mention of diet isn’t built into the medical system. Period.
Here’s what it comes down to.
Everyone in the healthcare system in the US knows that enabling the patient makes everyone money.
The pharmaceutical companies, the medical device companies, the pharmacy, the physical therapists, the weight loss clinics, the lab companies, and of course the insurance companies.
And it’s rare that patients question their course of treatment because the medical industry creates fear, and makes people feel that they can’t take care of their own health without a doctor or medication.
America and New Zealand are the only two countries in the world that are allowed to advertise pharmaceutical drugs directly to the consumer. In other countries, you’ll see public service announcements on TV gently reminding people to eat better, to be kind and respect your elders, and to go home and have dinner with mom and dad.
Then you have the U.S., where the pharmaceutical industry spent over $4.5 billion on television ads in 2014. Every drug advertisement ends the same way. They run through a list of possible side effects (which are often much worse than the original reason for taking the drug), and then they say “Talk to your doctor about _______”.
Here’s the thing that gets me. I went to a great medical school (UCLA), a great residency program and I had fantastic professors. Why on earth would I need my patients to talk to me about prescription drugs?
Most doctors are well aware that the majority of health problems stem from sugar, processed food and too many animal products. So why not prescribe a lifestyle switch instead of writing out another prescription?
Let’s play this out.
The majority of patients are under the impression that diet and lifestyle changes alone “aren’t enough”, because that’s the message they get from drug ads on their TV. The other challenge, is most patients won’t even entertain the idea of changing how they eat, especially if it means no more bacon and eggs.
So let’s say one of these patients comes in. They have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity, sleep apnea, excess stress and not enough sleep. If I tell them that they must change their diet and lifestyle instead of taking more medication, I risk them either finding another doctor (I just lost customers for my company), or I risk them not taking my diet and lifestyle advice, having a heart attack and filing a lawsuit against me (I just lost my job or worse).
Society has pushed health so far down the totem pole that it isn’t even a thought until after a person gets sick. Many have no idea how to take care of their health and have given up control by willingly handing over the reins to their doctors.
The human body might not come with a manual, but you are in charge and you have choices. You can tune your body, you can change it, you can hone it, you can improve it and you can listen to it. Headaches, chronic aches and pains, tightness, constipation, diarrhea, rash, urine color, poop color, eye color, mouth dryness and acne are all signs of your body’s status.
It’s important to focus on the food we eat because a lot of health problems start with what we put in the body. The foods that harm people the most are refined sugar, processed food, animal products, and chemicals added to foods.
- We know that patients who eat a lot of refined white bread and animal products are most likely going to have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, bad joints and increased risk of cancer.
- We know that patients who eat a lot of sugar have low energy, bad skin, poor digestion, mood problems and high body fat content.
On the other hand, we know that patients who eat a mostly unprocessed plant based diet have leaner bodies, better attention and focus, lower risk of cancer, lower risk of type 2 diabetes, and lower risk of heart disease.
Even patients who grew up eating lots of processed foods, animal foods, and sugar have turned their health around by making changes to their diet.
A diet of unprocessed whole plant foods could get you through decades of your life without any problems.
The decision is up to you about how you want your body to work over your lifetime.
- You can start on blood pressure meds by age 40, suffer from back pain and knee pain due to obesity by age 45, take cholesterol meds by age 50, suffer a couple of “minor” heart attacks and undergo a few surgeries by age 60. Then onto chemo and radiation for cancer by age 70, and finally die in the hospital if you make it to 80.
- Or you can go through your life only needing the occasional preventative maintenance by your doctor and dentist and never have to be hospitalized, never need medications, never need surgery, never suffer from a major illnesses, and live a long and happy life.
The first option will leave you miserable, unhealthy, unhappy and broke. It will also keep my $250k+ a year salary coming in nice and strong.
The second option will leave you in control, happy, healthy, and with more money in the bank.
If you want to choose the second option, all you have to do is avoid being sedentary, cut out sugar, cut out processed foods, cut out animal products, drink plenty of water, and focus your diet around unprocessed whole plant foods; vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds.
Molly is an amazing resource. As a doctor, I’m telling you that she knows more about nutrition and healthy eating than most doctors. I had a chance to take a sneak peek at her programs, and it’s the perfect owner’s manual for your body. Thank you Molly for this platform and for all of the work you do.
In closing, my thoughts here are not meant to paint the healthcare system in the US as evil or belittle the work that doctors do. Nor do I take the suffering of patients lightly who look to their doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants for help.
I do want you to understand that pharmaceutical companies profit from people’s dependency on medication. And doctors are employed based on how well they treat numbers (cholesterol levels, blood sugar levels, blood pressures, etc…), not by the quality of their patient’s lives.
Medications have become the iPods of technology. They promise so much, yet alone they are completely useless in accomplishing what they are advertised to do. Your health is in your hands, it is your responsibility, and it is not to be taken lightly because it is precious.
Taking responsibility for your health is the most important step in your overall health and wellbeing.
WHOA! Did I tell you? I’ve never wanted to take care of myself and eat healthy more in my entire life. Dr. Mo, your insights are invaluable and I thank you again for sharing your viewpoint with us.
Today’s recipe is for a smoothie that’s ridiculously yummy and packed full of carotenoids, thanks to my special ingredient, boiled sweet potatoes. Carotenoids are important for proper immune function, and they also help give the complexion that healthy looking glow.
Carotenoids are awesome for lots of other things too, but I was sold at glowing complexion. I try to eat boiled sweet potatoes as often as I can, but they aren’t something that I crave every day.
A couple weeks ago I had some boiled sweeties in my fridge and I didn’t feel like eating them, but I knew I should (because GLOWING COMPLEXION), so I popped them into the blender along with some cinnamon and the rest of my green smoothie ingredients, and BAM, it was delicious.
This is the easiest way to get a good dose of carotenoids and all the other benefits of sweet potatoes without having to eat them on their own.
Make this recipe and thank me later.
- 16 ounces water or unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 1 banana
- 1/4 - 1/2 of a boiled sweet potato depends on the size of your sweetie. Be sure to leave the skin on.
- 1/4 of an avocado
- 1 thumb sized piece of turmeric no need to take the skin off, just wash it
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 2-3 big kale or collard leaves
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
First things first. The easiest thing to do is to boil a couple of sweet potatoes, let them cool and then store them in your fridge. This way you will have a supply throughout the week.
- Rinse your potatoes, cut them into quarters and then cut each quarter into half.
- Place them into a pot, cover them by a couple of inches with water, and gently boil until you can easily pierce them with a fork, about 25 minutes.
- Let them cool and then store them in your fridge. Make sure you leave the skin on.
To make your smoothie:
- Place all of the smoothie ingredients into your blender and blend until completely creamy and smooth.
I hope that you have a fantastic week. May you gently work on taking responsibility for your health.