Preventative healthcare. It is vitally important, but unfortunately something that most of us do not take advantage of in our daily lives. It is a philosophy that doesn’t just pertain to our own health, but really is applicable to almost everything. In many cases, we do more in regards to ‘preventative maintenance’ for our cars, or yard or even our computers than what we do for ourselves. Why is that? Either way, it is something that needs to change not only just for ourselves, but for also for others in our lives.
Our bodies, I believe, were designed to really live forever. They are incredible machines, capable of regeneration, healing and recovery on many levels. Surely, we can’t believe that God only created these bodies to last only 60-80 years, right? Especially after seeing everything else he has created. They are perfectly operating machines, capable of so much, but yet the overall survival time of that body is really up to us. It is much the same as a vehicle. We might know of a friend that owns a 1980’s or 1990’s model vehicle, or older, that is actually still on the road and in immaculate condition, functioning perfectly. Then, we have friends that can’t seem to get a vehicle to last more than 4-5 years, even when it is purchased brand new. It is about preventative maintenance and this is something we fully participate in on some level.
As a veterinarian, I have to admit that I was not trained in preventative healthcare. We were more or less instructed to be mechanics, knowledgeable and capable of ‘fixing’ problems when they developed. Honestly, I didn’t even see the value in a proper diet as we were more instructed to implement that ‘corrective’ diet when problems arose, targeting the health condition on hand. This perspective changed after the first decade of my private practice career, but that change only arose after I became the patient.
Like many others, I suffered from high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and the effects of stress. I ate poorly, often restricted to fast food due to my constant schedule of appointments and patient load. I was aware of my health ailments and was instructed by my doctors to take various medications and change my lifestyle, but it never took root. After all, why should it? I, as a veterinary physician, was not impressed with the importance of this methodology in my training, so why should I take it seriously? We were trained that medications were the answer….and to only treat when problems arose.
This is what is termed a more ‘reactive’ approach to health than a ‘proactive’ one.
Now, my ignorance eventually caught up with me. I suffered cardiac disturbances, anxiety related problems and eventually cancer. In reality, they are all connected, just a matter of progression. To be honest, my own father passed away, actually in front of me, from a massive cardiac event at the age of 42. One would think this would be enough of a wake up call for anyone, moving forward in life, but it was more of a scare tactic or fear of what could be. We were never really instructed about prevention, but more so just told as kids growing up that this could be us one day. Sure, we were advised to monitor our cholesterol, stress levels and other parameters, but nothing was really impressed upon us when it came to true preventative healthcare.
I became that patient in 2006, looking at things from a hospital bed perspective. Things had changed and I had a wake up call, which many cancer patients actually note. One can view cancer or any disease as a curse or a blessing. I do believe that the perspective that one takes in that situation, often dictates the outcome. In reality, we are not victims of anything, but really actually create the condition or the circumstances. I believe that we have that power within us and in regards to any circumstance, we have a choice, which includes our health status.
In the years that followed my own personal recovery, I changed, not only as a person, but as a healthcare provider. Instead of seeing that disease or health condition as a curse, I viewed them as a blessing. I began to look deeper at each of the problems that afflicted me, making connections, seeing contributors and therefore seeing chances to make changes. What I can say is that we have a choice, and more often than not, the decisions we make either impact us positively or negatively. I also began to look at these conditions differently in my veterinary patients, seeing the disease, but looking for better ways to manage it from a whole health perspective. More often than not, my clients resisted and just wanted medications. Most were not interested in other therapies or even dietary changes.
A very high percentage of health conditions, ranging from allergies to diabetes, cardiovascular disease and yes, even cancer are tied into improperly functioning cells on some level. In actuality, we age and eventually die due to improper cellular function. Looking deeper, the actual causes of this cellular dysfunction, no matter what the health condition, is usually tied back to oxidative stress damage and the process of inflammation. Many understand this, while unfortunately, many others do not.
When it comes to preventative maintenance for your vehicle or even home HVAC unit, we do not have to understand the details as to how that piece of machinery works, but it is a good idea to know the basics or at least follow the advice of another. In those cases, we change our oil usually between 3,000-6,000 miles, following recommendations and even rotating tires or changing the air filter as needed. When it comes to our HVAC system, we often have tune ups performed by trained professionals or at the least, hopefully, change our air filters quarterly. By doing this, it extends the life of that equipment.
Why do we do this? The answer is quite simple. We do this because it is by far cheaper to do preventative maintenance than it is to replace that vehicle or our home air conditioner unit. It really boils down to money.
That is a tough pill to swallow, but let’s just accept that and go with it. If we then look at healthcare, it too is about money. Many people age gracefully, with few or far between health ailments, but there are many, many others that struggle each month to afford the multiple medications they are taking. The sad part there is that a high percentage of that second group still suffer health problems and a reduced quality of life, despite the thousands spent each month on pills.
What’s the solution? Simply put, understand the body on at least a basic level and learn how to take better care of it. This often not only at least improves quality of life, but can even extend life, not to mention potentially reduce your outlay in medical care expenses.
Intervene and Take Charge of Your Health
As a veterinarian and researcher, and pursuer of health, I can tell you that simply put, most health ailments are preventable. Even in cases of hereditary problems, more often than not, oxidative cellular damage and inflammation are still involved. These are two processes that can be and should be more readily controlled in our lives. Through doing this, one can not only improve the quality of your life, by improving cellular function, reducing daily aches and pains and enhancing cellular function, but some research indicates that potentially we can even extend our lives.
I am reminded of a little old lady that frequented our veterinary facility with her pets. She was a ‘Southern Belle’ and often came in to our clinic in her dress with full hat. The part that didn’t fit her appearance was the fact that she was a chain smoker, often putting out her cigarette at our front door, then putting in place of it, a big ‘chew’ of tobacco. It was an odd picture, to be honest. An elderly lady in her southern dress, spitting into a plastic cup in our clinic lobby. Despite how odd this appeared, I had to inquire further, as she had to be in her late 80’s in age, but still drove to our office and was as ornery as a Pit Bull.
As a veterinary physician, these bad habits of hers didn’t equate to her age or apparent good health. Something didn’t add up, as one would expect at least a slight cough with the persistent smoking, but to the naked eye, she looked in good health, not even complaining of joint pain or demonstrating a bad back. I had to inquire and eventually did. This older lady told me she had smoked since she was in her early teens, BUT, and here is the big ‘but’, she didn’t eat any food except that which she raised or grew herself. After all, she was the daughter of a farmer and the food she had always consumed, was home grown.
I have always held the philosophy that on a basic level, the presence of disease equates to ‘too much bad and not enough good.’ This can equate to a person that smokes excessively, while not eating well or exercising, but also pertains to the individual working too much under constant stress. Looking at how most diseases are tied in with inflammation and oxidative stress damage, we can see that through our diet, environment, attitude and even lifestyle, we can create too much bad. We can create that cellular damage. More often than not, we are creating this cellular damage, then not properly feeding or fueling our bodies to aid in the ability to fight and recover. We don’t exercise enough and we more often than not, do not eat properly. If this is the case, how can we possibly expect this miraculous body to maintain? In reality, it is a miracle to see most bodies tolerate the amount of damage which we inflict upon them, trudging on from day to day, despite the poor diet and overall healthcare that we provide for it. If the body is able to continue on despite our poor level of preventative healthcare, can you imagine what it could possibly do if we actually followed the USER’S MANUAL?
In most cases, one would say they never got a ‘user’s manual’ and I would not argue with this. After all, if your physician or veterinarian is not more conscious of the benefits of preventative healthcare…why should you? Well, the truth is that really there is only one person in charge of your body and that is you. We like to depend on others to tell us what is right, but at least in this case, we need to listen to our ‘gut’ instinct to guide us. Honestly, most people know that they should get more exercise. More people know that eating fast food or high sugar snacks are not a good idea. We know this information. We really don’t need a physician or anyone else to tell us this, but yet, we continue down that path. This is why many cancer patients proclaim that their disease was a blessing, because it ‘woke’ them up, made them actually aware of what they already knew and implement changes.
Now, veterinary medicine and human medicine are not that much different. One of the biggest differences is that our veterinary patients bite or kick and generally don’t carry a medical insurance card in their wallet. Above and beyond this, most disease conditions are rather similar, in their origin and presentation with some minor variations of course.
One of the biggest things I can tell you is that we have to look at disease origins, seek root causes that made that person or animal more susceptible to contracting that condition. In most, if we dig deep enough, we can find the origins, however, despite finding these origins, the outcome is really further dependent on the level of disease progression and patient willingness. Even if the condition has progressed, I feel that many people can benefit on some level or at least this is what I have experienced in veterinary medicine.
Even if we just overlook the ‘disease’ origin, hopefully we can see or realize the relative imbalance between ‘good and bad’ in our life. The good news is that through diet and proper herb usage, we can change, improve our lives, our health and help to counteract those ‘bad’ things in our lives. Diet and herb usage are often overlooked or not given the credit that they deserve. In many cases, herbs are seen as taboo or even just a fad, which is disheartening. Through nutrition, via foods and herbs, we can not only provide nutrients to aid our body to heal, but many of these herbs actually have proven medicinal benefits. It is up to us, in most cases, to utilize what is available to us.
The Root & Origins
After my personal diagnosis, I began to dig deep into my health condition. I wasn’t originally trained in research nor really was trained to decipher the medical jargon used in those research papers, but over time, one learns. I began to dig into the process of cancer, learning more about cellular changes, signaling and what seemed to make a patient more susceptible. In learning about this process, I made a huge discovery and that was the tie in with the inflammatory process with cancer. Almost every form of cancer I looked at was linked back to the inflammatory process, which then changed cellular signaling, cell replication, function and survival on some level. In fact, when we look at herbs and cancer research, we find that many are beneficial due to their ability to either impact this inflammatory process or enhance cellular survival due to antioxidant support. Plain and simple, really.
Then, as I began to explore other health conditions from diabetes to allergies or even Alzheimer’s, we find a similar pattern of events, once again linking in the connection with uncontrolled inflammation in the body. It is a fact and something that research has shown us for quite some time. In reality, disease is a matter of progression of the chronic inflammatory status of that patient. Often the higher the level, the more serious the disease or more numerous the health ailments.
When we look at today’s medical or even veterinary world, often this process of inflammation is overlooked or in some it is managed but on a restricted level. Some medications do in fact help to regulate the inflammatory process, but it is a side effect really, more so than the main intention of the drug. If we look at aspirin, we know it helps with inflammation as we take it for headaches, but yet it has many more abilities and can even reduce the risk of some cancers by up to 20% or more. This is due to impacting the inflammatory process.
Despite all of this knowledge, we are limited when it comes to medications as many have their side effects not to mention cost. In reality, the inflammatory process is much more complex than what these medications can manage, so even with their use, our hands are tied. This is where we must seek other options, not only for the management of current health conditions but for preventative healthcare. We all experience inflammation on some level and ultimately, if that process is uncontrolled, we will experience the negative effects. What better reason to implement a proactive approach with some preventative healthcare strategies?
This is where it falls upon us, as individuals, to recognize the problem and make changes. Some are rather simple, such as diet modification and routine exercise. A high majority of human health ailments are associated with metabolic syndrome events, due to an overweight body condition, which actually triggers a higher level of inflammation and the reason why these individuals are more prone to health problems. We need to take charge of our own health, be our own advocate and take advantage of what is available to us.
Now, taking a proactive approach is great but with this must come a certain level of knowledge. For instance, we cannot say that asparagus is good for us, but only eat one shoot. Even with something like vitamin D3, which deficiencies are rampant and tied in with a multitude of health ailments, we cannot assume that taking 400 or 500 IU per day is sufficient, when in most studies they are consuming 3,000 or more IU of Vitamin D 3 daily. The same goes for Vitamin C, which again has shown tremendous value in preventative healthcare and disease modification. We can’t just eat one orange and feel we are sufficiently covered. In some, that may be the case, due to other sources or decreased nutrient drains on the body, but in most that dose will fall between 1,000 – 10,000 mg per day. Even in the case of Curcumin, one of the most heavily researched herbs, we must understand dosing. Most supplements are only providing 400 mg of Curcumin when actually in clinical studies, they have used up to 10,000 mg to achieve patient benefits. We must do our own research, understand the value of these herbs or food sources and most importantly understand the demand volume needed to impact health. In today’s world, I think the amount of ‘bad’ being pumped into the body, far outweighs the ‘good’, so actually most are overly deficient in many nutrients. It is great to see someone be their own advocate, and better if they truly understand proper dosing for preventative healthcare, which of course can vary from patient to patient.
The bottom line here is that there are options for preventative healthcare. Prevention of disease should be our goal, which unfortunately is not something of high priority in the medical or veterinary communities. Our bodies need fuel, in the form of food, but not just any food…good food with herbs that can potentially impact health on a higher level. In my veterinary patients, and even in my own personal family, I have found that by taking this preventative healthcare approach, not only is quality of life improved, but so is the reduction in use of medications and even doctor visits, as the patients are much healthier overall. It is a choice that we make every day.
Many view the use of diet and/or herbs as ‘alternative therapy’, which is a term I really despise to be honest. Considering the state of our health, as a nation, as a world, we have to step back and ask how far has the world of medicine really brought us? Is it really the answer? What are we missing and since when did a proper diet and use of herbs that have been used for centuries, actually become an ‘alternative’? I ask an alternative to what? Shouldn’t diet and health be actually the first thing implemented, even in conjunction with standard therapies? I think it should, but so many cancer patients actually succumb to nutrient deprivation and actual starvation than they do their cancer. This is a fact.
By taking this approach to preventative healthcare, there is no guarantee against disease development, but in most, we just do better overall. We feel better, require less, have more energy and recovery time is improved. We may not be able to reverse that disease or ‘cure’ it, but really what disease is ever truly cured? I know of only a rare few to be honest.
We can make a conscious choice to proactive or reactive. Which one do you choose?
This is what we are about at Nouvelle Research, Inc. Promoting health!
All my best,
Tom Schell, D.V.M.
Nouvelle Research, Inc.