DO YOU GET IT?
My husband is a vascular surgeon. He has spent his entire career taking care of people with arteriosclerosis (hardening of the arteries). He has often expressed his frustration with his training in conventional medicine. Medical students and doctors are not adequately taught about nutrition and disease prevention. There is no emphasis on the relationship between disease and your diet. As in many areas of our society, all you have to do is follow the money. Doctors are not paid to prevent disease. Doctors are taught how to manage diseases with drugs, surgery, medical devices, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, etc. People have been indoctrinated with this notion that there is a drug or an operation for everything that ails them. The tentacles of the pharmaceutical industry in our health care system are quite obvious. Almost every time I watch TV, there is a commercial for a new drug. Surely you’ve seen Phil Mickelson promoting Enbrel for psoriatic arthritis, or any of a number of commercials for Viagra or Cialis (think two bathtubs), or ads for Humira, Eliquis, Celebrex, Chantix, and so on. Pharmaceutical companies are slated to spend over 5 billion dollars on direct-to-consumer ads this year.
Where do hospitals and doctors make their money? Think procedures: surgery, cath labs, endoscopy, imaging (ultrasound, CT scanning, MRI, nuclear medicine, PET scanning), medical devices, cancer treatment (chemotherapy, radiation therapy), pain management, and so on. Every patient is now asked if they’ve had their flu shot and are encouraged to get one. Every patient’s pain is rated on a scale of 1-10 so that they can be adequately medicated. Some people have pointed to this pain management policy as one reason we have an opioid epidemic in our country. Hospital and doctor reimbursement is tied to these policies. So instead of trying to prevent obesity, heart disease, cancer, arthritis, etc., we see our money being used on treatments that often just buy people more time: e.g. coronary stents, heart bypass surgery, joint replacement surgery, spine surgery, weight loss surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and so on.
I will leave you with one final thought. Have you ever had a nutritious meal in a hospital? Hospitals actually have dietitians who plan all of the meals for patients. In my opinion, any attempt by a hospital to help a patient get well through their diet is a pretense. Not surprisingly, they are more concerned with their bottom line. My husband does a lot carotid artery surgery. He recently showed me a picture of what a typical plaque looks like:
One of his biggest regrets is that he bought into this whole notion of treating disease rather than preventing it. But he was young and naive and this is what medical schools teach. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if patients didn’t need his services? Through our relationship, however, he has begun to understand the association between food and sickness. I know he hopes that I can do my part to educate people on living a more healthy life.