Friday, February 9, 2018

Nutrition and Health: Connecting the dots

The way allopathic medicine works is that, when you are stuck at a red light, they will sell you a hammer to knock out the red light and after the accident they will offer to patch you up and send you the bill for that too.
(Reinoud Fentener van Vlissingen, MD, psychiatrist at Rotterdam, Holland, ca. 1965)
[Author's note: A more up-to-date version of this article now appears here.]

Into Pharmageddon

I grew up with often lengthy debates at the dinner table in our home in Rotterdam, Holland between my father and various medical colleagues about the complete bankruptcy of the Western medical model, also known as allopathic medicine. At other times, my father regaled us with stories of the various bribery attempts of the pharmaceutical industry to get him to prescribe their wares, which he steadfastly refused. He was offended by the innate corruption of that industry, often clearly at the expense of the Hippocratic oath: "Do no harm." Nevertheless, big pharma won, for now, but today the blow back is worse than ever.
The overuse of anti-biotics was a frequent topic of conversation, and I can't believe that 50 years later nothing has been done about it, except the concern has now made it to TV. At least it has become part of the public dialogue.

We are now living the apogee of the allopathic model and pharmageddon, where the final concept of medicine is symptom suppression and "a pill for every ill." Not only can it not explain the proven healing of many alternative modalities, it is a failure in dealing with such basic things as heart disease (see Esselstyn), diabetes (see Barnard), and cancer, or, as T. Colin Campbell recently said: The war on cancer simply has failed.
Seen in that light, the opioid crisis is merely the logical end result of the pharmaceutical approach to medicine. In actual fact, the numbers are small: 42,000 deaths in 2016, or about 115 a day. Heart disease, which is completely reversible and preventable with a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, killed 630,000 in 2016, or 1,726 people per day, but somehow that is business as usual and not any kind of a national crisis.
The bottom line is that the pharmaceutical industry, ever since drugs have been allowed to be advertised on national TV, has done an end-run around doctors, and makes them into pill pushers and not materially different from the illegal variety of drug pushers. It all revolves around the paradigm of a pill for every ill and symptom suppression. Meanwhile, medical science is hopelessly obsolete as long as it remains stuck in a Newtonian concept which puts the body first, and considers the mind an epiphenomenon of the body, the absurd concept that was ridiculed effectively a long time ago by sci-fi writer Terry Bisson in his piece on "Meat that thinks."
Allopathy is much like the drunk who is searching for the keys he lost under the streetlight and tells the passing policeman he is looking where there is light, and is completely dumbfounded when the policeman asks him logically, but where did you lose them? There is a brilliant documentary on the dysfuncition of the medical system: Escape Fire. Recommended! 

Whole Foods Plant-Based Nutrition to the Rescue

Vegetable to the rescue, from fill your plate.org

Dr. Esselstyn talks of "pharmageddon." In 2017, the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) hosted a conference where 700 physicians committed themselves publicly to the new model of "prevention over pills". In Holland, which has a single payer model that definitely does reduce the paperwork for doctors and is generally more efficient, doctors are leaving mainstream medicine in droves to practice "real medicine," in one form or another. Dutch author Jan Willem van Aalst published a fascinating book (In Dutch for now) about a whole new approach to medicine, in which he resolutely puts the patient in charge, which of course they always were, but which tends to get lost in the shuffle in our industrial medical model that is focused on symptom suppression. The book takes the form of an encyclopedia of healing modalities. His work is deeply grounded in the work of quantum physicist Amit Goswami and his book The Quantum Doctor.

Here in the US, a revolutionary change within medicine is taking form in many ways, but perhaps most importantly through the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). Lifestyle Medicine is becoming the new specialty for any medical professional who understands the implication of the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet, and how it produces a natural nutritional abundance, in which the idea of nutritional supplements is completely moot, and probably 75% of prescription and over-the-counter medicines are furthermore unnecessary (think of a world without ant-acids or statin drugs, baby aspirin and a 75% reduction in insulin needs). The soon-to-be-released documentary Code Blue puts it all in perspective, following on the heels of Forks over Knives and What the Health and PlantPure Nation.

Patient-centric Medicine

There is only one form of patient-centric medicine, and that is the realization that the mind of the patient is the healer, which follows directly from Goswami's work The Quantum Doctor. The health insurance industry has it's own pretend "patient-centered healthcare," which is just a more effective way of delivering care and billing you. In fact, their model sets patients up to keep chasing their tail in a maze of "specialists," all operating within a Newtonian model of our reality that cannot possibly provide he answer. When all else fails, diseases are then called "psychosomatic."

Note: Early Encounters with the Medical Paradigm

At approximately age 13 or 14, I had an interesting conversation with my father, who was musing out loud about psychosomatic illness as if only some illnesses were psychosomatic. (With the benefit of hindsight, I now understand that "psychosomatic," is a typical term that betrays the failure of the mechanistic, Newtonian model of allopathic medicine to grasp the nature of illness and disease.)
Upon his remark about psychosomatic illness, I asked my father a simple question:
"But are there any other?" [than psychosomatic illnesses or diseases]
After a few moments of reflection, he answered:
"You may have a point."

While, needless to say, I had not fully grasped the insights of Amit Goswami of why the quantum model simply implies that the body is in consciousness (the mind) and not the other way around, I was reasonably familiar with the fundamentals of quantum mechanics at that age. In fact, I wrote an essay on nuclear genetics at age twelve that won me a prize, a book by the nuclear physicist Carl Friedrich von Weizs├Ącker. It seems that indeed, I intuited the paradigm that is now explained so clearly by Goswami, which implies that it is the mind of the patient that is the healer, and doctors are only incidental to that, at best a help, at worst a hindrance. Reading Goswami today was an Aha! Erlebnis for me, finally connecting the dots on why this is so.

The concepts of The Quantum Doctor hark back on millennia of spiritual tradition saying the same thing. It is simply about who we are, and the realization that it is the mind of the patient that is the healer, quite in line with the work of Mary Baker Eddy. The doctor or other medical professional then plays the role of a subject matter expert who temporarily knows more and helps facilitate the healing. The doctor/patient relationship becomes a growth opportunity for both and doctor and patient are co-equal in that relationship and not codependent, as is the case in the dysfunctional allopathic medicine model. The reason the doctor/patient relationship is so totally dysfunctional today is because it is based on the patient deferring to the expertise of a doctor who operates within a mechanistic, Newtonian paradigm that is of necessity totally hit or miss in explaining or diagnosing his disease.
The experience with Whole Foods Plant-Based (#WFPB) nutrition shows that time and again, people are getting off of sometimes hands full of medications completely, while in other cases they can substantially reduce their dosage of medications. In other words, nutrition is the first step and it firmly puts the patient in the drivers seat: first get your vital stats as healthy as you can get them on your own, and the reversal for many diseases can be quite rapid. Except in acute conditions, any other form of intervention is pointless unless overall health is addressed first and the body is enabled to heal itself.

Amit Goswami on Quantum Physics, Consciousness and Health

The upshot of the #WFPB nutritional regime is simply that the single biggest thing patients can do for themselves is improve their diet, and not just by tinkering in the margin with any number of "diets" that are marginally better than the so-called Standard American Diet (SAD), which is a total nutritional disaster. Most so-called diets amount to little else than somebody's pet theory of what diet should be, with little or no peer-reviewed science to back it up.
The Whole Foods, Plant-Based nutritional paradigm is in fact a radically new paradigm for nutritional science as a whole, and it is solidly rooted in the work of T. Colin Campbell that was first published in his book The China Study, which recently saw an updated, 2017 version. It was followed by his book Whole, which reframes nutritionial science altogether. In the meantime, a whole avalanche of related information has resulted, including the clinical work of a growing list of physicians, including Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr, Neal Barnard, John McDougall, Dean Ornish, Michael Greger, Robert Ostfeld, Saray Stancic, and many others. One after the other will tell you that no drug in the world ever made such order-of-magnitude differences as the Whole Foods Plant-Based diet. Or, as Dr. Robert Ostfeld frequently says, patients frequently come to his office in tears to thank him for how rapidly they are making progress, which never happens for a prescription of statin drugs.

These new insights place the patient central in the healing process, which of course they always were. Step one is the realization that the mind of the patient is the healer and the healing modalities offered are merely a way of empowering the patient. The patient's will now moves center stage, including all our innate self-destructive tendencies that form the blocks to healing. Consequently, the new healing paradigm of true integrative medicine will have to include all viable healing modalities, including psychotherapy. In the process and in-line with what Amit Goswami has developed in the Quantum Doctor, the field of medicine has to move from Newtonian physics, which is the mechanistic paradigm of allopathic medicine to the paradigm of quantum physics, which makes it clear that of necessity the body is in the mind, and the mind is in charge at which point any healing modality that works for you is valid.
In the context of a conversation about these issues, someone asked me why it should take this long for our society to fully accept and embrace the implications of quantum mechanics in medicine. I responded with a question: "How long did it take the Vatican to embrace the heliocentric model?" and I added the observation that what else is the AMA today, but the keeper of socially embedded paradigm, like the Catholic Church was in the Middle Ages? The book on Rockefeller's Medicine Men (see bibliography) should make that much clear.

The New Healthcare Model

Recently, I wrote about the merger of Aetna and CVS under the title of  The Worst of Sick-care Under One Roof and used the opportunity to point out that, when seen by the clear light of economic logic, the healthcare system is sinking under its own weight since it creates an economic incentive to provide more treatment and as long as we focus on the treatment of disease and not on health, we are creating the runaway nightmare that is now called the healthcare crisis. In the public dialogue, so far, nobody is addressing the real heart of the crisis.

My main suggestion in that article was that the Personal Care Physician should evolve in to a personal healthcare coach and a subject matter expert who is on retainer to the patient, and organized with their own mutual society. The effect of the solution would be that your personal physician is beholden to you and only to you, and is your go-to expert in terms of any treatment you may ever need, to select appropriate healing modalities. Based on the numbers, a 65% reduction of healthcare costs can eventually be realized based on diet alone, and the remaining 35% should become the domain of catastrophic health insurance that kicks in to complement your #WFPB diet and your supervision by your own PCP. It would be an approximation to the traditional Chinese model where you paid your doctor while you were healthy and stopped paying him when you were sick.
The fundamental assumptions for this back-of-the-envelope calculation of the economics of this paradigm change in health and nutrition are taken from the documentary Code Blue. The fundamental insight is that 86% of healthcare spending is on treatments for diseases of affluence that are all capable, in varying degrees, of being prevented or reversed with a Whole Foods, Plant-based lifestyle. Therefore, over time, as our society begins to implement this transition more and more, it is proposed that we can reduce that 86% of total healthcare spending by 75% as a result of a shift towards a better diet and lifestyle, in line with the precepts of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. If so, we will reduce total healthcare spending by 65% which will solve our healthcare "crisis," and make the American economy competitive once more, all else being equal.

Two Birds with One Stone: the Environment

The transition towards a vegan lifestyle is the biggest single thing we as a society can do for solving our environmental problems. A growing list of official reports speak to this, and generally the conclusion is that vegans are 14 times less resource intensive than meat eaters.

From the cover of the book Meatonomics:
Meatonomics is the first book to add up the huge “externalized” costs that the animal food system imposes on taxpayers, animals and the environment, and it finds these costs total about $414 billion yearly. With yearly retail sales of around $250 billion, that means that for every $1 of product they sell, meat and dairy producers impose almost $2 in hidden costs on the rest of us.  But if producers were forced to internalize these costs, a $4 Big Mac would cost about $11.

Conclusions: Connecting the dots

Here are the steps to the new paradigm:
  1. #WFPB nutrtion is the largest single thing the patient can do for their own health and wellness, and with it, the annual physical moves towards an assessment of health first, not a mere screening for illness. Most importantly, it empowers the patient to be in charge of their health. The key driver is the first ever evidence based nutritional paradigm being #WFPB, paired up with the clinical experience with a growing number of disease models, some of which were alluded to above.
  2. Taking responsibility for your health also points in the direction that the human will is central, and that realization leads directly to the new paradigm of Quantum Healing and the Quantum Doctor. Ergo, Lifestyle Medicine, which is now focused on diet and exercise alone, must of necessity evolve towards quantum medicine. The role of the primary physician must be first as a health/nutrition coach, and second as a subject matter expert on the full complement of healing modalities where intervention or treatment in any form is called for.
In both areas we now have a fortuitous meeting of theory and practice.
  • In the case of #WFPB the experience with plant-based nutrition by a number of physicians in different fields, found their theoretical foundation in the research work of T. Colin Campbell. 
  • In the field of alternative medicine and various attempts at a model for integrative medicine, real progress was not possible until these efforts met up with the concepts of the Quantum Doctor to provide the theoretical foundation and the model for a comprehensive understanding of the meaning of integrative medicine.
The Quantum Doctor provides a logical and sound explanation as to why the allopathic model repeatedly falls short - because it is based on an obsolete and simplistic model of the human experience. More importantly, the Quantum Doctor also provides a satisfactory explanation why many alternative healing modalities can work, when the traditional allopathic model has no explanation for them. Obviously, this new paradigm for medicine perfectly complements the implications of the #WFPB model: the patient must take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
The final payoff is that besides simply solving the healthcare crisis, the path to the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet also solves our environmental crisis at the same time, since vegans provably are 14x less resource intensive than meat-eaters.

Bibliography

Note: The following might be considered the seminal books that can help the reader understand the parallel paradigm changes that are now going on in the areas of medicine and nutrition. I include the book Meatonomics because it provides good documentation of how our mistaken nutritional paradigm of prioritizing (animal) protein is absolutely woven into our society and extracts value because of its seriously distorted economics. Thomas S. Kuhn's classic, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, even if you once read it, is worth rereading by way of a refresher to understand just how deeply these paradigms are embedded in everything in our society, and how painful the change can be.
  • Ivan Illych, Limits to Medicine: Medical Nemesis: The Expropriation of Health 
  • E. Richard Brown, Rockefeller Medicine Men: Medicine and Capitalism in America
  • T. Colin Campbell, The China Study, revised and expanded edition (2017)
  • T. Colin Campbell, Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition
  • Amit Goswami,   The Quantum Doctor: A Quantum Physicist Explains The Healing Power of Integral Medicine
  • David Robinson Simon: Meatonomics: How the Rigged Economics of Meat and Dairy Make You Consume Too Much and How to Eat Better, Live Longer and Spend Smarter
  • Thomas S. Kuhn: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

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