Tag Archives: Michael Pollen

The Health Care Debate

The health care debate is a hot political topic right now in the United States. Some say we must have free health care available to all because medical care is too expensive for most people. A serious illness can cause bankruptcy. Others say that we can’t afford health care as a nation, and the current health care bill mandates that we all buy insurance, whether we want to or not, thus taking away our freedom of choice.

Both sides have some good points. We need change. But there are other issues that impact our health care quality and expenses that are rarely discussed by the media and in debates.

For example, The standard medical treatments offered in the US is allopathic medicine, which gives you three options: diagnostic tests, drugs and surgery. Those are your only options. Sometimes these are life saving, especially in traumatic injuries. Allopathic medicine shines in heroic, life saving procedures.

But today, most of our illnesses are chronic conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease and arthritis. These conditions don’t go away with pills or surgery. The best our doctors can do is manage the disease with drugs. We don’t really heal, we just manage symptoms so we can get by. Often our quality of life is diminished, and we can have drug side effects, which leads to more drugs to deal with the side effects!

The current health care bill mandates allopathic treatments. But what about alternative medicine? There are many ways to treat the body besides drugs and surgery: herbal healing, chiropractic, energy medicine, homeopathics, vitamin therapy, acupuncture, naturopathy, massage therapy, hypnosis, dietary therapy, mind- body healing, flower essences, and more.

Many people are willing to pay for these natural treatments, out of their own pockets, with no insurance reimbursement. I know, I am one of them! I have always been attracted to natural remedies. I love plants and nature and I feel their healing potential for balance, harmony and wholeness. I’m a whole foods chef. Homepathics, energy medicine and herbs work for me.

With the health care mandates, will I be forced to pay for allopathic screenings, even though I don’t need radiation diagnostics, drugs or surgery? I am convinced that for my body, these remedies can be dangerous. I have a big question mark here, as natural medicine is not addressed at all in the health care bill. It is assumed that we all want allopathic care. Not so!

Another issue rarely addressed is how the quality of our food supply is contributing to the majority of our illnesses.

According to health researcher and best selling author Michael Pollen, 75% of our health care expenses are spent on chronic illnesses, and that’s our true health care crisis. Chronic illnesses caused by poor diet is what is bankrupting the country.

If we want to have true health, we must clean up our food supply. Poor quality foods contributes to diabetes, cancer and heat disease. Today the average grocery store is full of processed foods, genetically modified ingredients in processed foods, MSG, aspartame and other excitotoxins, and hormone filled meat and dairy. And so-called diet foods often are the worst offenders!

Processed foods make us sick and fat, so then we go to the the doctor to get drugs for all our symptoms caused by our poor food choices.

The current US food policy subsidizes corn and soy, which are in almost all fast foods and processed foods as soy lecithin, corn oil, high fructose corn syrup, soy oil, isolated soy protein, and other ingredients from soy and corn. Making processed foods with corn and soy is cheap. So we have the case where a McDonalds burger is cheaper than fresh vegetables. No wonder we are fat!

If we happen to have enough money, we can choose fresh foods, organic food and farmers markets. But not everyone has access to fresh foods, and organics is expensive. Food policy must be changed to encourage fresh food, and we need urban gardens. Fortunately some people are waking up to the importance of fresh food, and some organizations are creating urban gardens and teaching children about where food comes from.

So to truly have a healthy country and affordable health care, we need a new food policy, access to good quality foods, more farmers markets, and the freedom to choose natural remedies.

Fortunately, most of us can buy fresh produce at the grocery, and we can learn from doctors who support natural medicine and are raising awareness about food and natural remedies. We can learn from Dr. Andrew Weil, Dr. Mehmet Oz and Dr. Joseph Mercola. We can research to make informed choices and eat well. It takes some effort and personal research, but we can choose a healthy lifestyle.

The way it is now, the health care debates are leaving out the most important health care issues: food policy, food quality, access to healthy foods, and natural medicines! It is time to look at these issues and broaden the health care discussion.