I got the idea for this blog when one of my patients told me that he had just had his physical and the doctor said he was very healthy. He was very happy about this.
I told him this was great and then I started thinking to myself…how does the doctor know that he is healthy? He had no complaints? His heart rate was good? His blood work did not show any off the chart numbers? He told the doctor he felt good? How did his doctor know that he was healthy, really?
I remember learning in chiropractic school that health is not merely the absence of disease. How is this so? How can we maximize our knowledge of what is going on inside our bodies? Can we even see what is going on in our bodies? Is there a simple and validated way to analyze your chronic oxidative stress? Does anyone check to really see what is happening in our bodies before diseases strike?
Can our doctors tell us the likelihood of what ailment(s) we’ll get as we get older? Is diet/nutrition an important focus and indicator of long-term health?
These are all things that I was thinking about (yes, I’m a fast thinker!) when my patient was telling me that he was healthy.
After reading about 200 medical studies in the last month or two on carotenoids, antioxidants, free radicals, chronic oxidative stress, and diseases related to the aforementioned topics, I now feel as though most of us really have no idea what is going on inside our bodies, and I’m including doctors in this discussion. I mean, really, do we even know what antioxidants are and how many diseases are linked to having low levels of them? We are confident that a wellness checkup with blood work tells us that we are healthy. However, we might have tremendous chronic oxidative stress and have no idea. Like high cholesterol, we don’t feel it until we have a problem, so why bother checking, right? In reality, we might really not be that healthy at all…however, how would we ever know this? Unfortunately, usually not until it is far too late.
For example, let’s say a gentleman has a family history of cancer and/or heart disease, is a bit overweight, doesn’t exercise too much, and has a poor nutritional profile. He tans a good amount to maintain good skin coloring. He goes to his doctor and his heart rate and blood work are within normal limits…slightly elevated cholesterol…he requires a small dose of medication for slightly elevated blood pressure and for the cholesterol. Does this person qualify as being healthy? Do we assume that the medications to lower the blood pressure and cholesterol qualify as helping to make the person healthier? Does that blood work really help us to figure out what to do to stay healthy or does it only tell us when a disease process has set in? (examples…liver enzymes up, homocysteine high, loss of kidney function, etc…)
The longer I am in practice, the easier it is for me to see who is really healthy and who is not. Can I see it from the outside? I wish! I can, however, figure out a lot of things by how people act and how they live their lives. The choices they make, what they put in their mouth, their exercise patterns, how they maintain their bodies…heck, even if they come to me for care and if they do their part to remain healthy.
I am finding more and more that there are very few indicators that tell us if we are healthy or not. I’d much prefer a urine MDA test (for free radicals), an isoprostane test, or a Skin Carotenoid Scan to many conventional tests that are supposed to tell us if we are healthy or not. To evaluate if we are eating the right things and if we are truly healthy, does ‘feeling good’ justify us saying we’re healthy? (BTW, the Skin Carotenoid Scan is the least invasive and takes only 90 seconds…it has been studied to match the results of the other, more invasive tests)
Oh, by the way, the gentlemen who was told by his doctor that he was healthy scored a 16,000 on the Skin Carotenoid Scan…one of the lowest scores possible. Now, would we still consider him to be healthy? If so, how? Are we to believe that perhaps living most of one’s life with virtually no carotenoid/antioxidant protection means that we are healthy? Oh yeah, all those studies clearly say ‘NO’! For the record, nobody has ever died from high cholesterol…only from oxidated cholesterol…that’s how the darn stuff gets plaqued on your arteries, from oxidative/free radical damage!
Let’s look at the facts: 80% of physicians recommend supplements of some kind. This is a nice gesture, but how do they know what to recommend? A nurse friend of mine told me that her doctors recommend what the CDC guidelines are…including the RDA…really? So, in-taking just enough Vitamin C to prevent Scurvy is a good recommendation for you and your children?
Doctor in Latin means ‘teacher‘. It is the doctor’s job, be he/she a medical doctor, chiropractor, or other doctor to make available to patients the best quality products possible based on the most scientific data available. Is recommending a random store shelf supplement/vitamin really the best way to go? Any science on those products? Uh…no. With all the knowledge (and studies) available, now is the time as a patient to demand the best you can get and your healthcare provider should be able to help you.
I have a vested interest in this topic. I am an insulin dependent diabetic and have been one for over 32 years. I have always been amazed that about half of diabetics die from heart disease…why is this so? Can a diabetic keep great glycosylated hemoglobin (A1C) numbers (long term indicators of blood sugar numbers) and be safe? I think I now know the truth about my disease.
Chronic oxidative stress from ever fluctuating blood sugars places tremendous stress on the body. Years and years of abuse, even with tightly controlled diabetes, must take its tool. That oxidative stress, in the form of free radical damage, eventually damages the valves of the heart to a point that the heart fails. This is quite scary. What if a diabetic were to take steps to reduce oxidative stress through diet and supplementation? What if endocrinologists who specialize in diabetes (or any other condition with links to chronic oxidative stress) checked for oxidative stress and had their patients take actions to prevent eventual damage? I am willing to bet that the percentage of diabetic deaths due to heart disease would drop….and dramatically. I also believe that one simple test, the Skin Carotenoid Scan, can help us determine how aggressive we need to be to get our carotenoid/antioxidant level up.
At a minimum, please read the following two simple studies and call us to get a Skin Carotenoid Scan to see if you have good protection against chronic oxidative stress…do you have cellular protection, or are you just ‘healthy’ without ever knowing? This is not meant to be a scare tactic…but, do we keep wanting to wait until we are sick before we act to take care of ourselves or do we want to be proactive to give our bodies the best chance at warding off many disease processes that all those studies discuss?
Thank you for your time.