Lifestyle Medicine: Treating the Causes of Disease

[Music] though I was trained as a general practitioner my chosen specialty is lifestyle medicine yes most of the reasons people go to see their doctors is for diseases that could have been prevented but lifestyle medicine is not just about preventing chronic diseases but also about treating them and not just treating the disease it’s treating the causes of disease if people just did for simple things not smoking exercising half our day eating a diet that emphasizes whole plant foods and not becoming obese that may prevent most cases of diabetes and heart attacks half of strokes and 1/3 of cancers even modest changes may be more effective in reducing cardiovascular disease high blood pressure heart failure stroke cancer diabetes and all cause mortality than almost any other medical intervention the key differences between conventional medicine and lifestyle medicine is instead of just treating risk factors we treat the underlying causes of disease as described in this landmark editorial see typically doctors treat risk factors for disease so just giving a lifetime’s worth of medications to lower high blood pressure elevated blood sugar high cholesterol but think about it high blood pressure is just a symptom of disease dysfunctional arteries yes you can artificially lower blood pressure with drugs but that’s not treating the underlying cause which often comes down to things like diet and exercise the penicillin of lifestyle medicine disregarding the underlying cause and treating only risk factors it’s someone like mopping up the floor around an overflowing sink instead of just turning off the faucet which is why medications usually have to be taken for a lifetime if a floor is flooded as a result of a dripping tap it is of little use to mop up around the floor unless the tap is turned off the water from the tap resident represents the cost of disease the flooded floor the disease is filling up our hospital beds you get medical students learn far more about methods of floor mopping than about turn off taps and doctors who are specialists and mops and brushes can earn infinitely more money than those dedicated to shutting off taps and the drug companies are more than happy to sell rolls of paper towels so patients can buy a new roll every day for the rest of their lives paraphrasing Ogden Nash modern medicine is making great progress but just headed in the wrong direction preventive medicine is frankly bad for business when the underlying lifestyle causes our addressed patients often are able to stop taking medication or avoid surgery we spend billions cracking people’s chests open but it only really does it actually prolong anyone’s life in contrast how about wiping out at least 90 percent of heart disease think about it heart disease accounts for more premature deaths than any other illness and is almost completely preventable simply by changing diet and lifestyle those same changes can prevent a reverse many other chronic diseases as well the same dietary changes so why don’t more doctors do it well one reason is doctors don’t get paid to do it and for no one profits from lifestyle medicine so it’s not part of medical education or practice presently physicians lack training and financial incentives so they continue to do what they know how to do prescribe medication and perform surgery after Dean Warren has proved you could reverse our number one cause of death heart disease open up artists without drugs without surgery just for the plant-based diet another little healthy lifestyle changes he thought that his studies would have a meaningful effect on the practice of mainstream cardiology after all a cure for our number one killer but he admits he was mistaken physician reimbursement he realized is much more powerful determinants of medical practice than research reimbursement more than research salary over science wealth versus health not a very flattering portrayal of the healing profession but hey if doctors won’t do it without getting paid let’s get them paid so dr. Ornish went to Washington arguing that look if we train and pay for doctors to learn how to help patients address the real cause of disease with lifestyle medicine not just treat disease risk factors we could save trillions and that’s just talking heart disease diabetes prostate and breast cancer to take back your health act was introduced in the US Senate to induce doctors to learn and practice lifestyle medicine not only because it works better but here’s the critical factor physicians will be paid to do it the bill died just like the millions of Americans will continue to do with reversible chronic diseases [Music] you