As a physician the number of people I see suffering with depression, obesity, diabetes, anxiety, heart disease, autoimmune conditions – and much more – is staggering. Beyond sad, I get angry when I think about it – because these are all preventable problems. But disease prevention is not something we’re typically taught in medical training.
We live in a world where too often, profit trumps human and planetary health. This skewed motivation drives nearly every industry on the planet – including Big Agra, Big Food, and Big Pharma – all of which have a BIG IMPACT on our health.
Modern medicine is not exempt. It also operates as an industry, and though most primary care physicians are not personally driven by the profit motive, they are held captive by a system that does not value prevention. Physicians are given neither the time nor reimbursement by the medical system to focus on truly preventative medicine, and even if we were…physicians don’t always know where to start. We were just not taught those skills. In my 7 years of continuous medical education I received exactly 50 minutes of education on nutrition, and had ZERO classes on stress reduction, promoting healthy lifestyle, and exercise.
Yet chronic diseases are lifestyle-diseases!
To make matters worse, Big Pharma perpetuates a drug model of prevention and solution through its significant influence on medical education, research, political lobbying, and advertising.
Ultimately we are paying the price with our health.
Our Lives Depend on a Health Revolution!
In the US, 1 in 3 Americans is already obese. This number is now expected to reach nearly 50% by 2030.
The number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase 10 times by 2020 – and then double again by 2030.
“Western” health problems are now also the greatest killer-diseases globally due to western influences. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), death from chronic diseases now accounts for double the number of deaths from all infectious diseases (including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria), AND maternal and perinatal conditions, AND nutritional deficiencies COMBINED!
While practicing medicine in Haiti in 2012, I saw this with my own eyes. Visiting the prosthetics lab, I learned that most of the amputations in Haiti were not due to injuries from the earthquake or motor vehicle accidents, as I’d assumed, but from untreated diabetes!
Some of the saddest news is that diseases that were previously only seen in adults are now becoming rampant in our kids – diabetes being one of the most prevalent – and preventable. This current generation of children is the first in history to have a predicted life expectancy lower than their parents!
The overwhelming economic burden of obesity-related health care costs is already crippling our health care system, and when you account for the eventual lost productivity of those who are ill, the impact on society is devastating! Furthermore, the industries and practices that negatively impact human health affect the planet which in turn has an impact on human health. We’re all connected in this web of life, and when one facet is damaged it becomes a vicious cycle for us all!
Being Healthy IS Revolutionary
Solutions are quite within reach – and it is our choice whether to grab them. We may have previously been brainwashed into believing that we need the products of the very industries that perpetuate or profit from our sickness, but with the choices and information available to us now, we cannot make any more excuses.
It’s time to Take Back Our Health! Every healthy lifestyle choice we make is another vote for a healthier world. Being Healthy is Revolutionary. We have the power to make changes happen!
Here are 7 of the most important steps you can take as a health revolutionary. I challenge you to take them all on at once, or take the next 7 months to integrate these changes into your life, one each month. I’ll be right here with you, doing them, too! There are many links below to help you get started.
Have fun with this. Changing the world can be a great party if we do it together!
7 Ways to Join the Health Revolution RIGHT NOW!
Eating healthy is not just great for you; it is a powerful way to vote for social change with your fork! How to do it?
- Eat all natural, whole foods in the least possible processed possible forms, organic when you can. These foods are better for you and the environment.
- Cook at home more. Have meals with friends and family. Good food and community lead to health.
- Cut out the white flour, sugar, sodas and transfats. These are the biggest culprits in disease promotion.
Vote with Your Wallet
You work hard to earn your money. Why give it to companies that are making us sick? While you may think you have no power to make a change in the world given the overwhelming scope and size of the problems we face, YOU DO! We each have the power to make SHIfT HAPPEN. It’s called economics, baby! BIG BIZ knows what the trends are and they don’t wanna’ be left behind. What you purchase, where, and from whom is part of the economic loop that governs trends. So vote with your money:
- Purchase “green” whenever you can
- Purchase from local and small vendors when possible
- Prioritize companies – from your clothing to your household goods to your foods and body and health products – that have “green” values, that are ecologically and socially conscious, and maybe even give more than they take!
Be a Trendsetter!
Sometimes you’re the only one at an office lunch or parent group making the healthy food or lifestyle choice. That can be a little uncomfortable. But I promise you, you’re really not alone (see #7), and you’re setting a powerful example for your friends and colleagues. Health can be contagious! Set the trend even if it’s going against the grain. Your planet thanks you!
Live a Non-toxic Life
The average American woman puts 15 different potentially toxic chemicals on her face every morning. And that’s just a fraction of the exposures to toxic chemicals, including heavy metals like lead and mercury, that we experience daily. American babies are born with over 300 environmental contaminants detectable in their umbilical cord’s blood at birth. Most of the fish in our oceans have too much mercury to be eaten safely anymore. And we know that exposure to plastics in food packaging and water bottles can disrupt our gynecologic health and our fertility! Choose environmentally friendly products, from your cosmetics to household cleaners to food packaging, even to your furniture and kid’s toys.
Take Responsibility for Your Health
When we’re healthy we don’t contribute to the profits of the medical system because we don’t need it as much! What’s more, we cut down on the amount of pharmaceuticals that are dumped into the environment – which is so significant that in some rivers and lakes, male fish are turning female just from exposure to water contaminated by birth control pill waste. Antibiotics in the meat industry account for most of the antibiotic resistance in the world, which is a global health crisis (not to mention the impact on our gut flora!).
Simple health steps:
- Get healthy habits: Eat well, exercise more, reduce stress, spend more time in nature
- Surround yourself with inspiring people who also happen to make you laugh regularly!
- Learn about safe, natural and effective alternatives to common – and often unnecessary and harmful – pharmaceuticals
- Find health care providers that are part of the health revolution!
Live Sanely in an Insane World
Life can be stressful, demanding, and distracting. When we’re stressed and distracted we often don’t make the best choices for our health. Learning to be mindful – which means living from a place of self-awareness – increases conscientious decision-making. Conscientious decision-making is what this is all about. The healthier our personal decisions, the healthier our world. Being mindful means slowing down enough to say: Do I need to (eat this junk, buy this cosmetic, use this product, etc.) right now or ever? Being mindful of our habits and patterns allows us to change them. It’s a crucial practice for health revolutionaries. When we feel great we make the best health choices for ourselves. How do you get more mindful and make better life choices? Try working with a life coach. It could be truly revolutionary for you!
Find (or create) Your Tribe
Working together is more fun, and research shows it’s the best way to get healthy, lose weight, and free ourselves of old and unhealthy habits. You are definitely not alone in wanting to help make your life – and the world – better. The revolution is growing (even if it’s not being televised!) in the form of web-tribes like this one, community action groups, and organizations dedicated to making change in areas like clean, green living, healthy food, new ways of thinking, raising our kids, birthing, even cosmetics. The web truly is worldwide so wherever you are, you can find a tribe, grow a tribe, get connected. Here are a few ideas:
And of course, stay tuned here as you JOIN ME in creating a tribe of health revolutionaries. Vote “YES” for health in the comments below, and if you are inspired, share how you practice being a health revolutionary in your life.
In solidarity for health,