Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Controlling Health Care Costs

This is a letter I wrote to Public Citizen recently. Public Citizen has been pushing for a single payer system as a far more efficient way to take care of our health care needs:

Dear Public Citizen,

I agree that a single payer health care system makes a great deal more sense than preserving the profits of the health insurance and drug industries, but whatever the system, we will never get health care costs under control until we break the control that the drug industry has on our medical education system. The teaching of nutrition as a healing art has been deliberately removed from the education of our health professionals, thanks to an accreditation system that focuses on diagnosis and drug treatment. Yet a truly well nourished body that is free of toxins has a remarkable ability to heal itself.

There are a growing number of doctors who are learning to guide their patients toward healing with nutrition, herbs and supplements and detoxification (see list below), freeing them of the poor health and financial burden of chronic disease, though they must pay for these therapies, which are rarely covered by insurance. Unfortunately these doctors are often attacked by medical boards and blackballed by their fellow professionals because health professionals are taught to view these therapies with great skepticism (Trust Us, We're Experts!).

I reviewed my nutrition textbooks and found that each has a section on 'food fallacies.' I was appalled at the mis-information in those chapters - so even dietitians have been brainwashed in these matters. Even worse, some of the common dietary advice given is based on poor and misinterpreted science, such as the advice to avoid saturated fats and cholesterol, which the food industry has exploited to convince the public to use unsaturated vegetable oils that we now realize contribute to inflammation, an underlying cause of many health problems (The Oiling of America).

These problems are complex, as they involve not only the drug industry, but also the food and agriculture industries that supply us with poor quality, over-processed foods that contribute to poor health (and damage the environment in the process). But we will never solve these problems if we do not understand them. I urge Public Citizen to become acquainted with these issues, as they are all intertwined - health care reform, organic farmers producing quality food and carbon sequestration, advertising of unhealthy products, even Wall Street money-makers. There are many links to useful information and commentary on my website.

Kris Johnson, retired dietitian

American Holistic Medical Association

International College of Integrative Medicine

The Institute for Functional Medicine

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fat be not proud

It seems like there are item daily in the newspaper that I'd like to respond to. Here's a recent letter to The Blade responding to a Blade editorial called 'Fat be not proud' (4th letter down the page)

While it's true that obesity is a major and growing health problem in our country, Congress and industry certainly need to share the blame. Agricultural subsidies support the growing of far too much wheat, corn and soybeans than we need, while our food industry turns them into the heavily advertised processed foods that line our grocery store shelves, foods that are stripped of essential vitamins and mineral that contribute to good health and laced with processed vegetable oils that undermine our health. Then our health authorities have provoked fat phobia, telling us to eat less fat and cholesterol, more fiber, and exercise more - none of which has proved particularly effective for successful weight loss. In Good Calorie, Bad Calories, Gary Taubes traces the research showing that the carb foods we're advised to eat are the very foods that contribute to weight gain, diabetes, and all the associated health problems. Cutting calories by trying to eat a low fat diet while avoiding high carb foods leaves you hungry and unhappy. My advice - avoid processed foods, limit carbs, overcome your fat phobia, eat natural whole foods, including meat, butter and eggs from pasture raised animals - the foods our ancestors ate without being plagued by diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Let's put our unemployed back to work doing the wonderfully satisfying job of raising high quality fruits, vegetables, grains and pastured animals on well managed organic farms that can be very bit as productive as our present commercial agriculture, while supporting, rather than undermining our health, our communities and the environment.

Kris Johnson, retired dietitian

There's more on my Website if you want to pursue these issues:

Carb Issues

Planning Healthy Meals

Justice and Agriculture Issues