Almost all medical professionals agree that obesity, and its
damaging affects on our bodies, is the major health problem in our
society today. However, obesity is not the only illness impacted by
what you eat and how much you eat. “…almost every major medical
condition you can think of is either caused or affected in some way by
what you eat.” Physician, Isadore Rosenfeld, Clinical Professor of
Medicine at New York Hospital/Cornell Medical Center and attending
physician at both the New York Hospital and Memorial Sloan-Kettering
Cancer Center, wrote those words in his book, “Doctor, What Should I
Eat?” His book addresses the food factors contributing to, or the
healing of, over 65 diseases ranging from acne to yeast infections.
What you eat, how much you eat, when you eat, how well you burn up
what you eat and how effectively you rid yourself of the waste created
by that burning, all can affect your physical, mental and emotional
state. When was the last time you looked at your grocery cart to see
what poisons you are feeding your family? When have you looked at
your grocer and asked for medicinal foods? When has your family
doctor taken you to the supermarket and shown you which foods to buy
and how to read labels? Sound preposterous? Not to Dr. Rosenfeld.
In answer to such questions, Rosenfeld goes on to write, “But does
your doctor give you prescriptions to bring to your pharmacist
[grocer] specifying what drugs you need and how to take them? You bet!
That’s what doctors do best. They give you medication–and they
should–because many drugs are lifesaving. However, that’s not
enough. Proper medical care should also include advice about the
right foods to eat to help you prevent illness as well as to help cure
it. There should be no contest or confrontation between diet and
medication; it is not a matter of either/or. Too many nutrition
enthusiasts and holistic practitioners decry the use of pharmacologic
agents, while `traditional’ doctors don’t pay enough attention to the
importance of your diet.
Practically all psychological disorders are influenced by what you
eat. Anxiety, depression, thinking disorders, sexual disorders, sleep
disorders, eating disorders, and an array of classical “mental”
disorders are affected by what you put into your stomach. Many times,
the cure for such disorders lies right under your nose…your mouth.
Have you ever taken a course in nutritional medicine? In all
probability, neither has your doctor.
Nutrition is a required course in only 25 percent of medical
schools. It remains an elective in the rest. Rosenfeld goes on to
say, “…that’s not enough to really get into the subject or to
impress future doctors with its [nutritional medicine’s] importance.
So over the years, the medical establishment has left the matter of
diet to health food enthusiasts, many of whom they view as `nuts.'”
Even those physicians who are aware of the impact of food on our
health, rarely provide nutritional guidance because according to Dr.
Rosenfeld, “the `system” punishes them for doing so. “…You won’t
even find a place on your insurance claim form to record the time
spent by your doctor explaining the importance of lifestyle, exercise,
weight loss, alcohol and substance abuse, birth control—and
nutrition.” But doctors are paid well by insurance companies for
taking a few moments to lance a boil or remove a cinder from your eye.
Every one of the past 6 Surgeons General of the U.S. has reported
that 85 percent of the illnesses for which we seek medical treatment
“are lifestyle-related.” According to the Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, 75 percent of all cancers are preventable; 85 percent
of cardiovascular disease is preventable; obesity accounts for over 60
percent of our health problems; and the primary factors in 8 out of
the 10 top killers of both men and women in the U.S. is “poor
diet/exercise.” How do we, as health professionals, treat your
lifestyle? We can’t! Only you can modify what you eat, how much you
eat, and whether or not you move your body.
Rosenfeld concludes: “I am an `establishment’ physician, and I use
every effective medication at my disposal to treat the sick. …I
focus on nutrition to help you work with your doctor, with a
nutritionist if necessary, and maybe even with your grocer, to make
sure that what you eat is good for you.”
In the recent “health-care” bill, there is a provision for insurance
companies to pay for “preventative health care.” Now, we have no
excuses for remaining ignorant about what foods prevent illnesses.
Not only can we prevent the onset of a lot of problems, we can also
strongly affect our healing and overall wellness. Probably the best
way to address the “health-care crisis” in America, is for each of us
to take full responsibility for staying well. And when we do become
sick, learn what foods we might eat and what physician-prescribed
medications to take, which maximize our chances of healing quickly.
Dr. Thomas is a licensed psychologist, author, speaker, and life
coach. He serves on the faculty of the International University of
Professional Studies. He recently co-authored (with Patrick Williams)
the book: “Total Life Coaching: 50+ Life Lessons, Skills and
Techniques for Enhancing Your Practice…and Your Life!” (W.W. Norton
2005) It is available at your local bookstore or on Amazon.com.
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