*This article is comprised of my own experiences and of those who have shared personal details regarding the journey to health, as illnesses worsened while taking pharmaceuticals. This information is intended to illuminate the positive effects of proactivity in our own lifestyle. It is not meant to replace the advice of your physician. Medication is a necessary and valued commodity, in some cases. I encourage each of you to further educate yourself on any diagnosis, prognosis or prescribed medication, in addition to employing the beneficial strategy of incorporating healthy practices in your daily life. Examine your definition of “healthy.” (Photo Credits: What The Health)
After an internal debate over disclosing some personal details regarding my health, I found it necessary in bringing some things to light, all I wanted to share. Exposure, for what I hope, is the greater good. Labeled a conspiracy theorist by a few, a pessimist by others and by still others as someone who is spot on with specific beliefs about America’s health system, I have something to say to all of them. Some will scoff. Some will ponder a moment and move on with their day. Some, however, will feel scales fall from their eyes, as it will be an accurate description of aspects of their own life…details for which no one has previously had either an explanation or a solution. This raw sharing is for you, my bewildered, half-crazed, sick of being sick, humans. There is no way to fully encapsulate the angered passion I have for the information that is hidden from citizens regarding our own health. From the food we consume to the drugs we’re prescribed, we are placated as ignorant puppets. Most of us have heard of the “frog in the frying pan,” analogy. A frog hops into a hot frying pan immediately jumps out to save itself. A frog in a cold frying pan will remain, as ever so slowly, the temperature is increased, and, while the subtle changes it experiences internally will cause death, the frog will not jump out of the pan. We are the frogs sitting in the luke warm pan of Big Pharma. From the time we were first exposed to television, advertisements, billboards, magazines, the internet, displays in department stores and supermarkets, news coverage, and every form of consumerism, the programming began. Most of our physical illnesses began in cunning, asymtomatic ways. Subtly, slowly, we weren’t content with this day’s needs being amply met. We needed more. As we were taught that hard work and achievement go hand in hand, we worked. Hard. We worked at the expense of sleep, of time with family, of self care. We sacrificed “today” so that “tomorrow” we could have a better life. And, the intentions were good. They were meant to secure a comfortable future for our kids, our spouses, ourselves, all the while, the present moment, pregnant with joy and contentment, was ignored in favor of an even better tomorrow. Our health was on the decline. With all the time spent at the office, in the boardroom, on the construction site, the oil rigs, at conventions, on the road, or burning the midnight oil while your family slept and you were up for the 5th night straight, prepping the big presentation for a coveted potential account, you cut corners where you could. You didn’t make it to the gym this week, this year, even. You haven’t taken an hour for yourself in weeks…months, maybe. You don’t have time to socialize so frenzied call backs to the truly important people in your life are made from the car to mom and dad, your adult kids, your college roommate you haven’t seen in 20 years, in town for a business trip for one night, and you regrettably decline despite the sheer elation at the thought of a reunion. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. And, so it goes, day in, day out. You’ve developed a lifestyle that fully accommodates stress. Sacred time for yourself becomes a luxury abandoned and even necessary tasks are accomplished at the ‘least inconvenient’ time possible. One of the first places we cut corners and leverage our time is in the food we eat. It’s now an irrefutable fact that we’ve eaten ourselves sick. I’m not talking about being overweight. I’ve never been overweight a day in my life and Western medicine has handed me a diagnosis for a growing list of symptoms that has landed me in a very determined position of healing myself of all the results of placing my trust in the FDA and Big Pharma. (If I don’t publish an article in the next few weeks, assume someone knocked down my door and I’m in some dark cell being interrogating about to whom I’ve been talking.) I’ve been talking, alright. I’ve been talking to every sick and dying person and every healthy and recovered individual who willingly and graciously interacts with me. I’ve asked the questions no one wants to ask. I’ve read articles from silenced sources…data these experts have spent years collecting only to end up being shut down by our own FDA, the administration designed to protect us by granting their approval only after they determine something is safe for human consumption. We don’t question a fraction of what we consume. From the products we use on our bodies to the dairy, sugar and known carcinogens confusingly worded in food labels, we have succumbed to a lesser quality of life. We are ignorant to the root of our ailments and learning, instead, to live with minor discomforts and illnesses chalked up to age or heredity, unknowingly, suffering from fully preventable, reversible symptoms, leading, instead, to more serious damage to our bodies at the cellular and organic level. With unhealthy bodies and worried minds, we visit our doctor. We are questioned, probed and prodded. Blood is drawn, perhaps other tests ran that indicate the need for medicinal intervention. Here is where I will lose some of you, if I haven’t, already. While there is a place for pills for certain illnesses (I don’t know what they are) WE NEED TO STOP AUTOMATICALLY TREATING FOOD RELATED ILLNESSES WITH PHARMACEUTICALS! Patients who are healthy or dead are of no value to the world of medicine. Covering symptoms with a pill vs absolving the root cause of our health crises, both personal and nationwide, is in the best interest of those who benefit from sick people! A simple strategy for determining if Western medicine is, instead, benefitting you, the patient…ask yourself if any of your symptoms could be resolved with dietary changes, quality sleep, moderate exercise, a reduction of stress and incorporating a half hour of quiet meditation daily. If so, the hard thing becomes the easy thing when the alternative is a prescription pad guaranteeing a long list of side effects to be endured while masking a singular symptom. Does your back hurt? Are you tired much of the time? Are you experiencing chronic headaches? Does your blood sugar level continuously crash? Do you have random aches and pains that seemingly have no origin? Do you battle frequent intestinal issues? Do you catch a cold from anyone who sneezes in your direction? These symptoms ARE NOT just a part of aging! These and a plethora of other ailments keep the appointment slots of doctors full across the US. And, there’s a pill for it. For ALL of it. Why am I ranting against doctors, pills and Western medicine, in general? A few reasons. I know I’m only one of millions in my predicament. Here’s how it started: I was once scheduled for a complete hysterectomy because all tests came back negative for all causes of abdominal pain. I didn’t have a peace about this procedure. Not at all. I did some research and discovered hysterectomies are almost ALWAYS a surgery of elimination- meaning, they’ve looked into everything they think it could be, to no avail, so they’ll perform a major, invasive operation removing a woman’s uterus and ovaries TO SEE IF THAT WORKS. I’m not making this up. In the pre-op visit, I asked my surgeon, “Is there a chance this procedure won’t cure my abdominal pain?” He looked at me like I was terribly naïve and said, “Well…YES…there is always that chance. We don’t know what else it could be. There is a good possibility this will work, though.” I cancelled the surgery, twice. I was in pain but extremely skeptical. Desperate, I humbled myself and contacted a friend who loved her Eastern doctor. I’d jokingly asked her about her unconventional healthcare. She was more than happy to put me in touch with her doctor. This calm spirited, quiet soul saw me that day. She charged me $160, spent two hours with me, and told me I was allergic to gluten. That was all. She treated me for a short time, and years of pain vanished within a week. I revisited my surgeon. I asked him why I wasn’t informed that symptoms of food allergies can mimic pelvic pain. He said that wasn’t his job. Either he knew and withheld the information, or he didn’t know…in both cases, this is a major problem. I cancelled the surgery for good, as I was responding extremely well to the non-radical plan the Eastern doctor had me try. The surgeon was frustrated and belittled me for not understanding medicine or my own body. I told him I understood that by firing him, he’d lose the thousands of dollars he’d have otherwise made the following week on my unnecessary hysterectomy and he had no RIGHT to cut on my body simply because it was on his schedule. I had a dilemma. Where was I to draw the line? I would readily visit the ER for extreme acute illness, pain or injury. I would likely take any medication, as prescribed. I had one foot in each world. For brevity’s sake, I’ll simply say that I encountered several health related challenges in the coming years. I was under the care of an ethical, caring Western physician whom I trusted a great deal. She was proactive in seeking answers…she wasn’t content to ease physical pains or toss out a diagnosis and prescribe the corresponding medication. She sought the whys and whats. She relied heavily on bloodwork, energy levels as reported by me, the patient, sleep quality, nutrient intake, hydration, lowering stress levels and avoiding processed food. Her approach aligned with my beliefs, in that the body is designed to heal itself. We have an active role to play, however. To do so, we must first know what has gone wrong. So, with a diagnosis, I set about lifestyle changes to manage and eventually eliminate my symptoms. Any follow ups were brief and no further monitoring was recommended. She was truly the exception in dealing with dozens of doctors in an attempt to uncover what would eventually be diagnosed as a congenital cardiac anomaly known as SVT/AVNRT, Supraventricular tachycardia and atrioventricular nodal reentry tachycardia. In laymen’s terms, I have two AV nodal pathways. An estimated 2% of the population are born with this condition that causes the heart to race, randomly. During the worst episodes, there is little synchronicity between the two chambers. Skip ahead with me to my relocation 1200 miles from my ethical physician. I was sure I’d never find another doc like her. Between these two worlds of medicine, I found a balance. I made it my business to become as informed and knowledgeable as possible about my condition, but more, I wanted to know how to achieve and remain in a state of good health, physically, mentally and spiritually. I found that all three are equally important. When one or two are ignored, the others suffer and that neglect manifests as illness. One very basic example is the effects of stress on the body. I’d always heard, “Stress kills.” I didn’t take it to mean literally. But, literally…stress kills. The immune system is compromised under constant, long term stress, resulting in damaged neurons, robbing the body and mind of the energy necessary for cell resiliency, eventually ending in cell death. This, occurring while we are still very much alive, promotes a host of illnesses to arise from the compromised cells now unable to do their job and keep us in a state of homeostasis. That is the short version. I strongly urge you to spend time familiarizing yourself with the detriment the lack of basic care has on the physical body. I cannot overstate the importance of investigating pharmaceuticals for your personal benefit and to gain a deeper understanding of the billions big pharma stands to gain from keeping us “half-well.” As you do, it is quite impossible to go back to your long held, unchallenged belief system around the health care system into which we, as Americans, are born. You simply know too much. Because I serve as living proof of the power we possess in drastically improving our health, I am always open to sharing what I did. What worked. What didn’t. And, what I continue to do to enjoy the quality of life the doctors never said I’d have. I became willing to be wrong about everything I thought I knew. Being wrong meant there was a better way, and a better way could only serve me. I refused dogmatic, radical trends, supplements, brands and promises. I avoided odd cleanses, “grapefruit diets,” and the people who were sold on one way of doing things. I surrounded myself with a few like-minded people who believed fully in the power of the human mind in working for or against our physical and mental well-being. What I thought to be the most radical change at the time, has become a daily, enjoyable ritual. I cook. That’s it. I cook everything I eat, from whole ingredients. I buy organic produce and when I do consume meat, it’s pasture raised chicken, grass fed beef and wild caught salmon. I had skimped in this area my whole life because I’d save $30 at the checkout by buying the conventional alternatives. My thinking shifted when I weighed the cost of one trip to the hospital. When I set about this journey to manage my cardiac issues, I also had to contend with systemic inflammation. You’ll never hear this in a doctor’s office, so I’ll tell you the foods that cause chronic inflammation in the body. They are: Sugar and high fructose corn syrup, refined carbs, processed meats, “bad” oils such as vegetable oil, margarines, trans fats, etc, dairy, and, depending on your body, grains. What in the HELL was I going to EAT? I was deflated, baffled and frustrated. I felt I’d already lost the battle I was so determined to win. I looked in my pantry and as I read labels, was amazed at the foods that contained sugar. Canned goods, condiments, almond milk (they make unsweetened) whole grain bread, ‘healthy’ cereal…I had to start from scratch. Not knowing a fraction of what I thought I did, I turned to science and the research of once sick individuals who had recovered from illnesses far more serious than mine. As I learned the vital link to balancing omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, and that my brain was largely comprised of fat, I got rid of all “fat free” food items. (Side note: fat free is another way of saying, “We had to make it taste better, so we left out the fat and added sugar/salt/high fructose corn syrup…”) I learned that sitting and meditating in silence for 30 minutes daily, emptying my mind of the day’s contents has become a tool on which even many Western doctors “prescribe.” The evidence, again, was irrefutable. I learned that my all or nothing way of exercising my entire life was not what MY body needed. A dear friend said it best, “No creature in the animal kingdom sits all day and suddenly bolts for an hour and a half…they are in motion throughout the day.” It’s true. I wasn’t strong enough for my old way of CrossFit, boxing, lifting or anything that required much strength. I was able to stretch. So, I began with that. I put my yoga mat prominently on my bedroom floor and, throughout the day, evening, whenever I had the energy, I’d spend a few minutes stretching. As my food overhaul has allowed for healing beyond my expectations, I can now do body weight exercises…push ups, sit ups, yoga…whatever feels right and not so overtaxing. During my last follow up, while reviewing my blood panel, my doctor commented that the medications were working. I was elated to inform her that the only thing I was taking was fish oil. That’s it. If you’re still reading this with interest, doubt, or fear you can’t commit to the food-as-medicine switch…I humbly urge you to just begin. Begin with one meal. Whatever your illness, even if it DOES require medication, you can ONLY benefit from improving the diet that is normal, for you. If you already feel you are eating a healthy diet, dig deeper. You’re ahead of the game. Learn about triglycerides and the how very essential healthy fats are in our diets, everyday. Pick one thing, if you have the luxury of starting slowly. (I didn’t have time, I went cold turkey with all sugar, refined foods, dairy and grains.) For easing in, however, try eliminating soda, if you’re a soda drinker. Why? At any given time, the human body contains less than a TEASPOON of naturally occurring sugar! This means each time we “cheat,” and indulge in sugar laden foods and beverages, our bodies must treat this excess sugar spike as a poison and return us to our intended state, to keep us from becoming deathly ill. That, to me, is radical. And, I was that girl who ate 10 Oreos in a sitting, because I’d had a salad and grilled chicken for lunch. They balanced each other out. Not even close. If you enjoy documentaries, or can even tolerate educational media, check out some of the numerous, jaw-dropping presentations on Netflix regarding food, healing and Big Pharma. You may want to start shallow and work your way up to some fascinating programs on the role quantum physics plays in health, and how we are equipped to tap into this energy. Sound too extreme? Too much of a departure from all you’ve been taught? That’s my aim. To blow the top off the unquestioned belief system fostered in America. The FDA IS PAID OFF by pharmaceutical companies. The cycle is simple really… we eat foods that make us sick…we go to the doctor…doctor prescribes pills to mask symptoms…we never overhaul our lifestyle, ensuring the need for refills, ensuring the multi-billion dollar industry always has a supply of unwell humans with no aim of helping us to NOT need them. It should be enough to anger anyone who awakens to this simple truth. It is widely available information, the amount of time physicians spend on nutrition in medical school…less than 20 hours in a four year stint of training. I asked two doctors, first hand. One said he thought it was covered as a topic, and recalled only a couple of class periods dedicated to the role food plays on health. What DID they study? Pills. Asked in a nonthreatening way, most physicians will tell you the truth about this breakdown. As promised, I have no dogmatic system to push, no agenda, no one-size-fits-all cure. I am simply determined to spread this information as far and as wide as possible. Upon asking numerous individuals what they knew about sugar and its effects on the body, I realized we all had similar baselines for all we’ve been taught, and none of them deviate too far from the agenda pushed by the FDA and Big Pharma. Imagine that. Informed humans are healthier humans. We absolutely have the power to prevent illness, a more believable notion than reversing a disease already in progress. However, both are equally true. Your mind is a force more powerful than any pill. Harnessing that power can set the wheels of healing in motion. But, no matter what, be careful what you believe. There is a startling record of misdiagnosed cancer patients who died “believing” they had cancer. Autopsies have revealed, more times than you can imagine, the deceased was cancer free. Many have mocked the placebo effect, as blind studies tested the efficacy of drugs vs. sugar pills. In most of these studies, a portion of the patients who took the sugar pill experienced a relief of their symptoms, and many of those went on to reach full recovery. Thinking “life,” or “death,” our minds imprint upon our brain and our bodies, exactly what we repeatedly think and believe. Shake it up. Be willing to be wrong. Be willing to be well. Peace, Warriors.