Let food be thy medicine

According to Anton Checkhov, “Doctors are just the same as lawyers; the only difference is that lawyers merely rob you, whereas doctors rob you and kill you too.” That’s a bit harsh.

My mother used to say, “Doctors bury their mistakes.” Maybe that’s where I got my attitude. But doctors are busy, and they’re only human: they make mistakes. In fact, medical error is the sixth leading killer of Americans.

Doctors are only a part of the monster organism that comprises our healthcare system. Hospitals, pharmaceuticals and insurers all play a part, and they all work together to deliver the best healthcare money can provide, right?

I’m not so sure. Medicine is big business. And although it’s probably safe to say that people are drawn to it out of an urge to help, it’s unlikely that altruism drives the folks responsible for the bottom line.  Scandalous behavior by pharmaceutical companies isn’t unheard of. False claims have been made for medicines, and dangers covered– up with dire consequences for consumers.

Do we ever hear news from the healthcare industry about efficacious medicines provided by nature? Are medical experts paying attention to natural remedies? How does the system handle information that benefits the public, perhaps at the expense of the healthcare industry? These are questions I’ve asked myself each time I’ve read about some purported natural remedy disclaimed by the FDA.

For example, I stumbled across an article about kefir, a cultured dairy product, similar to yogurt. Back in the Caucasus Mountains, starting over a thousand years ago, everyone drank milk fermented with kefir grains, and attributed their health to the drink.

Internet research turns up health claims for kefir milk that boggle the mind. I think that some of the claims, like improvement of the digestive system, and immune system enhancement, make sense. We need good bacteria in the gut. As for tumor growth rate reduction, I hope that’s true too. Claims of a cure for insomnia convinced Jack to try it, and he wasn’t disappointed. His doctor, naturally, had suggested that he try a sleeping pill.

Science suggests that both cancer and heart disease can be prevented with nutrition and lifestyle adjustments. We know that increased consumption of fruit, vegetables, and whole grains, along with management of smoking and drinking, have proven successful in the fight against disease. Why aren’t we aware? Where’s the public campaign?

As stress has also been implicated in both heart disease and cancer, why aren’t doctors prescribing meditation, which has been proven to reduce stress? Oh, that’s right. There are drugs for stress.

Remember Hippocrates? The father of medicine? He had an amazing take on nutrition and health. He said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” I guess that wisdom isn’t in the best interests of the healthcare industry.

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About Myra

I'm retired in Costa Rica, having lived in Philly, State College, Salem Mass, and Kawagoe Japan. You might call me a career gypsy, but my last and best job was teaching English to some of the best and brightest kids in Philly. I'm new to blogging and websites, and will probably make all the mistakes there are, but now I'm sharing my writing. I moved to Costa Rica in June of 2009 with my husband Jack, my dog Buddha, and Jack's two cats, Hobbes and Noir.
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