Reforming American Health Care Through Preventive Medicine
The central vision of Preventive Medicine must be to keep patients healthy by effectively changing unhealthy lifestyles to avoid treatment requiring ailments. As a consequence, many fewer patients become sick or admitted into the hospital with expensive illnesses. This emphasis on prevention in public health care policy has the potential to produce better health for Americans as well as to offer tremendous health care savings, and a new optimism relieving pressure on current governmental economic programs.
Obviously, such a significant shift in focus to change attitudes and practices requires strong leadership. This focus on prevention and on the concept of a Natural Human Design is rational, encouraging, and effective, because it is the conduct of our life which defines our diseases. For example, the structure of the human mouth and digestive tract suggest strongly that we are designed to be predominately vegetarian creatures. Our technologically developed culture creates a bounty of meat, dairy products, sweets, and fats - and, as a direct consequence, 10 nun skin fold thicknesses, hypertension, coronary artery disease, and cancer.
In fact, virtually all our major diseases are associated with Five Basic Errors:
- The consumption of smoke and pollutants through the respiratory system. The human body was designed to breathe clean air and not to ingest smoke, drugs or industrial pollution.
- The consumption of alcohol, colas and caffeine. The human body is designed to drink clean water and not to indulge in an excess of stimulants or depressants.
- The dietary consumption of an abundance of fats, animal proteins, and sweets. The human body is designed to eat an 80+% high fiber, whole grain, vegetable, bean and fruit diet with small amounts of fish, nuts and seeds.
- The neglect of exercise. The human body is designed to be lean and muscular, with clear lines of definition produced from hours of moderately hard physical work.
- Unrealistic expectations about life. Life is difficult and we must accept those difficulties. We must be encouraged to deal with our problerns, but we must not have unrealistic expectations for attaining success or avoiding failure. Unrealistic expectations lead directly to stress and, indirectly, to illness.
Although avoiding these errors necessitates a considerable change in the American lifestyle, the potential benefits can be estimated from the fact that such diseases as diverticuiitis, kidney failure, dialysis, gallstones, diabetes, osteoporosis, hypertension, coronary artery disease, stroke, and numerous cancers, including breast, uterine, prostate and colon cancer, are and can be publically viewed as virtually preventable.
What percentage of the health care budget could be saved if we prevented 90% - or even 50% or even 25%-of these major illnesses? Yet a program with the central vision on prevention is not a pie in the sky idea, but a concrete goal which could be implemented gradually, which has the potential to stop much human waste and suffering, and which would involve patients in their own health care.
Examples of some rather simple steps that would help and start to implement this Unified Theory of Health and Disease:
- Promoting the 5 Basic Errors concept and virtual preventability of diseases by affecting grant money flow and medical school curricula.
- Vegetarian whole foods entrees (10-20% fat without dairy products, white flour products, sugars or corn syrup) should be recommended as a valid choice among others for the WIC and school lunch programs, Meals on Wheels, hospital, public and government employee restaurant menus.
- Federal programs for training in healthy vegetarian (10-20% fat) cooking be instituted.
- Body fat content and simplified exercise testing should be measured with suggested guidelines for virtually all federal, state and local government employees and function as model for private employers. The goal is less than 15% body fat for men and 20% for women.
- More trials of antidepressant and acupuncture use for smoking-alcohol-drug cessation.
- Funding research for the nutritional approach to multiple diseases prevention based on a whole foods, vegetarian, low calorie program.
- Seeking to define the safest level of alcohol-coffee-soft drink intake, likely 4 or less shot equivalents for alcohol or four 6-ounce glasses-cups or less of coffee-regular tea-soft drinks per week.
As a means of encouraging physicians to stress prevention as well as efficient treatment, it should be a federal recommendation that the bills of patients in any hospital be furnished (and not just be available) on a weekly basis to the responsible medical staff as well as to requesting patients or next of kin. Secondly, that the top 20% of cost-generating physicians in each field be notified of their status.
The Medical Speakers Association, Summer 1994
Special Article presented by:
H. Robert Silverstein, MD