| 03.20.2018

In defense of the ‘health nut’


There’s a Birkenstock-wearing, yoga-practicing, organic food-buying liberal in your life, and you’ve probably pedantically labeled them “health nuts” or “granolas” from time-to-time.These people, shopping at places like Whole Foods, or the Moscow Food Co-op, perusing organic produce with little concern for its additional cost, work with two assumptions radical to most Americans. If we eat less poison, we’ll feel better. If we eat more good stuff, we’ll feel even better.
Obesity is the condition most associated with poor diet. While avoiding excessive weight and its co-morbidities qualifies as a fringe benefit, that’s not the only goal of the Whole Foods “health nut.” Differing from the average American, these people know the best way to stay healthy is taking precautions and maintaining a proper diet and thus avoiding the doctor altogether.
Western medicine stands peerless in terms of curing the sick and lengthening lives. That does not mean health care in 2013 is without significant flaws in protocol and success rates.
CNN’s Doctor Sanjay Gupta made news this week with his estimate that a third of all cancer treatments use ineffective drugs due to flawed diagnosis procedures. If Dr. Gupta is close to accurate, how much comfort will you feel knowing the richest country in the world has a 33 percent chance of giving your loved one a faulty prescription treating the wrong disorder, but delivering guaranteed side effects like neuropathy, chemo brain and death?
Cancer is not the sole source of unneeded harm via contemporary medicine. In 1998, the Journal of the American Medicine Association published a study estimating 106,000 people die each year from the euphemistically put “adverse reactions” to properly prescribed and correctly administered medications. That’s not abuse, addiction or prescription fraud, but following doctor’s orders and dying anyway.
Time is not correcting this issue. Throughout 2009, the Drug Abuse Warning Network cited 2.28 million cases of those “adverse reactions” to properly prescribed and correctly administered medications severe enough to require emergency room treatment.
The answer to this issue is not tossing your prescriptions and adopting veganism. Most Americans suffer from illnesses of lifestyle. Our usual culprits of overindulgence wear on the body and manufacture reasons for pharmaceutical use. The “health nuts” have this figured out, and simply decide they won’t give themselves conditions they don’t have to.
They take numerous small steps, such as choosing raw vegetables over deep-fried death, or organic foods over processed foods. These decisions, over extended periods of time, help the body in precisely the opposite way excess drinking and fast food eventually weaken your constitution.
There’s no one thing anyone must do to avoid the pharmaceutical cycle of taking medications for an issue, then another drug for the side effects of the first without accompanying lifestyle changes. It’s thousands of repeated steps that start out as a choice and evolve into habit. Discipline is the only silver bullet.
Brian Marceau can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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