Benjamin Franklin once said that “an ounce of Power of Prevention is worth a pound of cure,” yet just a few hundred years later the majority of Americans are not finding consistent, long-term success in lifestyle habits that promote the prevention of disease.
This can be a bit confusing at first glance since we have more Power of Prevention screenings, exams, and tools than ever before. So why the discrepancy? Why do we have more preventative screenings than any time in history and yet our nation as a whole is in the midst of a massive health crisis?
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) reveals, based on several studies, that screening tests often do not lead to earlier diagnosis of disease and often result in overdiagnosis, as well as over treatment, which can have detrimental consequences on both our physical and mental health.
While health care costs in the United States are more than double the average spent by other industrialized nations and account for 18 percent of the U.S. GDP, America ranks 24th out of 30 among these countries on life expectancy.
While we can appreciate the availability of Power of Prevention healthcare screenings, these tests do not reveal the overall health of an individual nor do they prompt lifestyle change until an issue is already at hand.
Keep in mind that what we commonly consider “preventative tests” are actually diagnostic tests, meaning they reveal an already developed issue (a diagnosis) but are not actually preventing that issue from occurring. So what does it take to prevent chronic diseases that are prevalent and now considered commonplace in our country?
True Power of Prevention begins long before a disease is able to be diagnosed.
According to Dr. David Katz, it is estimated that healthy lifestyle changes have the potential to decrease the chronic disease burden in the U.S. by as much as 80 percent.
These are diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, hypertension, cancer, and a myriad of digestive disorders —those which were previously considered the “diseases of kings” because of their common occurrence among the wealthiest in society.
These were the individuals who were wealthy enough to frequently consume rich foods in the forms of fatty animal products and sugary desserts. Commoners, on the other hand, who were physically active and consumed more plant foods in their agricultural society, did not experience these diseases at anywhere near the same rate.
How do we reverse current diseases and prevent future occurrences?
- For starters, consider your most frequent health complaint and ask yourself: “Why do I have ____ in the first place?” Of course, not everything is directly linked to diet, but most ailments are linked to and can be dramatically improved through our diets. For instance, if you have acid reflux (simply a digestive disease in which stomach acid or bile irritates the food pipe lining) wouldn’t it be easier, and more enjoyable long-term, if you targeted what was leading to such an acidic environment within your digestive system rather than suppressing it with antacids?
- Say good-bye to processed foods – They are essentially void of the nutrients your body desperately needs to prevent and reverse disease and instead flood your body with ingredients that damage cells.
- Move towards more whole foods and focus on eating a plant-based diet. If you’re uncertain of where to begin, consider allowing me to aid you in beginning to pursue a healthier diet one step at a time. I meet with clients in the Raleigh area or via FaceTime and phone consults for those out of the area. You could also read a book based on sound, evidence-based research, such as The End of Dieting by Joel Fuhrman, M.D., and select two simple changes to implement each week.
Regardless of where you find yourself today, remember, the body has beautiful self-healing abilities. Where you are today doesn’t need to be where you are in the future.