Hey! – Rob here 👋🏼
Your Daily Health Fix today is about …
The Role of Nutrition in Medical Care
You have probably heard the Ayurvedic Proverb –
“When the diet is wrong, medicine is of no use; when the diet is right, medicine is of no need.”
– and regardless of the minefield of disagreement within the nutritional space, this statement is largely regarded as wise from all sides. The science world would agree too. This review in the Lancet (Journal) for Planetary Health acknowledges that ‘dietary factors are the single leading cause of death, exacting an even greater health burden than smoking’.
Despite this, ‘the obvious need for physicians to possess, at minimum, solid foundational skills in clinical nutrition, medical education in nutrition across the globe is decidedly lacking’
Medicare vs Health Care
If you read last Thursday’s post about the funding and politics of health systems around the world, it wouldn’t be an audacious leap to draw the conclusion that our medical systems have become state sanctioned drug cartels.
Anecdotally, most doctors when asked, explain that a significant part of their education is based around understanding which drugs to prescribe for specific conditions, but very little time is spent on aiming for, or understanding how to de-prescribe. Doctors have essentially become the street dealers in the pyramid scheme of the Big Pharmaceutical industry. Over time, patients have also become conditioned to ask for a medicine to ease or cover up up symptoms rather than to expect a treatment plan tackling the root cause of a condition.
As a patient cured is a customer lost, and with the interests at play, it’s clear that in the management of chronic (and modern day) disease, the system is built around providing medication rather than optimizing for health care.
Budding Doctors want more . . .
It’s only fair to acknowledge that most medical students and young doctors pursue the field with a genuine desire to do good, to help individuals and communities to avoid disease and live a healthy and long life.
In fact, one survey of new doctors in the UK found that “Most agreed on the importance of nutrition in health (>90%) and in a doctor’s role in nutritional care (>95%) . . . Most felt their nutrition training was inadequate, with >70% reporting less than 2 hours”
Another investigation also concluded that “Despite the centrality of nutrition to healthy lifestyle, medical students are not supported to provide high-quality, effective nutrition care”.
Harvard University themselves (who have at times been highly influenced by industry) have eventually conceded to what we already know, stating that “increased nutrition education for doctors at every stage of their career can ultimately improve outcomes for individual patients, advance population health, and change the healthcare landscape for the better”.
So what can you do? . . .
While we hold out hope that there will be an overhaul in the way medical systems and doctors education are administered in order to prioritise nutrition and lifestyle factors in the prevention and reversal of disease, the best thing you can do in the meantime is refer to the Ayurvedic saying and ask yourself –
If I have an ailment, what part of my nutrition and lifestyle likely contributed to it?
AND, if you do decide to take or require a medication based treatment, it would still be prudent to ask, which parts of my diet and lifestyle are going to hinder this medication from working effectively?
If the Ayurvedic era is too ancient for you to connect with, let’s coin a phrase from more recent times and world of IT and programming – GIGO – Garbage In, Garbage out.
If you don’t put garbage into your body, you won’t get garbage out of it.
. . . That’s it for this dose,
Until the next time – Stay Motivated!💪🏼
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References . . .
Health effects of dietary risks in 195 countries, 1990–2017: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017
Nutrition in medical education: a systematic review
A global deficiency of nutrition education in physician training: the low hanging fruit in medicine remains on the vine
Time for nutrition in medical education
Nutrition in medical education: a systematic review
Policy Tools to Include Nutrition in U.S. Medical Training
Why nutrition education is inadequate in the medical curriculum: a qualitative study of students’ perspectives on barriers and strategies
Medical schools should be prioritising nutrition and lifestyle education
Nutrition Education in Medical School, Residency Training, and Practice
Doctors’ education: the invisible influence of drug company sponsorship