Will mainstream doctors ever deliver health to their patients? Will family practice and internal medicine doctors and specialists, rather than be just dispensers of prescription drugs and procedures, ever deliver a message of health? Will they shift their focus to nutrition, nutrient deficiencies, sleep quality and duration and architecture, hormonal balance, and the microbiome?
In my view, no, at least not in the foreseeable future. Despite the expanding knowledge base and tools available to us to restore health, achieve weight loss, and reverse the conditions that allow hundreds of health conditions, mainstream physicians remain oblivious preferring, for instance, antibiotics over enhancing the immune system, costly and toxic biological agents over identifying and removing the cause of autoimmune diseases, cholesterol reduction over reversing the lipoprotein, metabolic, and lifestyle factors that lead to coronary disease.
But why? Why will your mainstream doctor never embrace the flood of new information and tools becoming available for personal empowerment in health?
Easy: Because there’s no money in it. If your ophthalmologist makes $2 million per year by loading his schedule with eye injections for macular degeneration that achieve almost no benefit, he is not going to refocus on maintaining eye health. If the orthopedic surgeon’s fees for hip replacement are $3000 and he/she can perform two or three per day, what incentive is there to show people how to maintain hip health? If the annual $700,000 income of a gastroenterologist is propped up by scheduling 10 endoscopies and colonoscopies per day, why would he waste his time talking to you about restoring your microbiome or cleaning up your diet?
Combine this flawed system with the pressures introduced by health care insurers who benefit by limiting face-to-face interactions and introducing “quality control” behavioral criteria (e.g., everyone with chest pain must take a statin drug and aspirin), and it virtually ensures that health does not come from the healthcare system.
The healthcare system is fundamentally flawed and mainstream doctors will not abandon the system that enriches them. I emphasize this so that you quit waiting and hoping that your doctor(s) will suddenly become your advocate, your partner in health, someone who empowers and supports you in your efforts to restore or maintain health. There are occasional exceptions, of course, but that sort of relationship is much more likely to come from a naturopath, integrative health, or functional medicine practitioner. Yes, you want a competent orthopedist to repair your knee if damaged in a motor vehicle accident or a capable neurosurgeon to evacuate your subdural hematoma. But do not expect an informed and comprehensive conversation about joint or brain health.
The ultimate arbiter of health is really YOU. It’s you who determines whether or not to put that poisonous piece of grain in your mouth, whether to down that 12-ounce can of Coca Cola, or address your vitamin D deficiency. And, as I’ve said often, the health that you obtain through your own efforts, perhaps with a little benign guidance from an empowering practitioner, is dramatically SUPERIOR to the health that the mainstream doctor would provide. Taking Lipitor, move more and eat less, everything in moderation are not roadmaps for health.