Updated: Mar 1, 2022
I always find it interesting when patients tell me they don't "believe" in meds, yet they do absolutely nothing to not need them. Modern medical advances and pharmaceuticals are among the main reasons that we live longer lives while having unhealthy lifestyles. I wish modern medicine and lifestyle medicine would get married and have children, so we could bridge the gap between them, instead of seeing them in a divisive and polarized way. It doesn't always have to be one or the other. We should be fighting together towards a common goal.
I do understand wanting to take a more "natural" approach, and personally, I would rather modify my lifestyle than take meds, even if not all doctors or patients would agree. What I can't comprehend though is people choosing “natural” only when it suits them, while eating "unnatural" and highly processed food day after day, meal after meal. Have the big food corporations won? Or did we just give up?
Without meds, letting nature run its course in today's food environment would mean having drastically shorter lifespans due to chronic illnesses caused mainly by our lifestyle choices. Is that what people mean by taking a "natural" approach, because in this case, “natural” is likely going to kill you 10-15 years earlier than necessary, while making sure your last few years of existence are filled with frequent visits to my office. In the modern world, it’s next to impossible to avoid coming into contact with processed crap, but that doesn't mean you have to put it in your body.
What if I told you to choose between cholesterol medication and fried chicken? What if I told you that you could get 10 extra years of quality living, but in exchange you would have to change your lifestyle? Would you rather live healthy well into your nineties without fast food, or would you rather die next to your Big Mac in your seventies? What price would you be willing to pay to get more time with your children, your grandchildren or to make something special out the finite time you have on this Earth?
I'll always remember that patient telling me he didn't believe in my "chemicals", while holding a diet Pepsi in one hand and a pack of cigarettes in his shirt pocket. Let's call him Joe. I think all doctors have a Joe in their practice. God forbid I'd ever call Joe a hypocrite. Welcome to the profession of medicine, where hypocrisy reigns supreme.
Most people choose the fried chicken. If you're reading this post, you probably aren't one of them, or you're contemplating change. I’ve seen people who’d rather burn out young than fade away old. I’m not one of them. To me, the phrase “live like there’s no tomorrow“ is an irresponsible way to live your life, knowing that there will likely be many tomorrows and chances are that you’ll live long enough to suffer the consequences of the choices you’ve made prior. You could also choose to celebrate life's glories with other things than junk food. Everyday I see people suffer needlessly from conditions that they brought upon themselves. Don't get me wrong, many patients are just unlucky, simply victims of their circumstances. Others lack health education, but some were asking for it, unaware that chronic disease doesn't care about your beliefs or values.
The thing is, with chronic diseases, they don’t kill you quickly. They take decades. For the first 10-20 years, you can manage them, but then they really start to weigh you down. I truly believe that health is like investing in RRSP’s, or in your 401K. You invest when you’re young so you can benefit when you’re retired. The same goes for health. The time you take to invest in your health in your thirties and forties will likely determine the way you live your life in your sixties and seventies.
Now, I don’t want to make it seem