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

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