In many ways, we are very lucky to live in a time when certain medical conditions can be treated and even cured with the appropriate use of certain prescription medications and surgeries. In the pre-antibiotic era, for example, developing a complicated skin infection could prove lethal if the infection spread or infected a valve in the patients heart. Although people still can die of these conditions today, many more can be saved as opposed to just a few generations ago. What was for centuries a rapidly progressive and lethal heart condition such as calcific aortic valve stenosis (severe narrowing of the value leaving the heart…) now can, for the most part, be effectively managed with modern cardiac surgery and ‘give’ patients back 10, 15 or more years of living and often with an excellent quality of life. So there has been progress.
However, despite the numerous achievements of modern medicine, increasing scientific evidence is also showing that medication and surgeries do not perform well when the underlying cause of the medical condition (often chronic conditions) is a consequence of lifestyle. And the single biggest lifestyle factor is a person’s nutritional choices that they make every day. Highly processed and animal-based food diets (often termed ‘Western Diet’, ‘Standard American Diet’ (with its appropriate acronym S.A.D.) etc.) cause daily repeated injury to the body, to the blood vessels and to the DNA itself and cause tiny, often in-perceptible injury to the body until the accumulation of these repeated injuries reach a ‘critical point’ and produce symptoms. These symptoms are what modern medicine call ‘DISEASE’. But by treating the symptoms alone without considering the underlying cause of disease, our prescription medications and short-sighted surgical interventions (both of which come with often underplayed adverse effects and hidden costs to patients) which only further distract the patient and doctor from focusing on the REAL UNDERLYING CAUSE OF DISEASE. No wonder then that when these medications and surgeries are studied in large, clinical trials the benefits are not seen and the net harms are, sadly often after the fact. The majority of medical problems today (high blood pressure, high cholesterol, coronary artery disease, diabetes, obesity and it’s other related conditions and ‘never before seen’ rates of many of the ‘common’ cancers in North America…) DO NOT respond well to a pill and/or procedure approach. Patients and society needs EDUCATION not medication about the true underlying sources of most of these conditions… and the answer is in large part, the food.
The legitimate scientific literature has a growing base of solid scientific evidence showing that when patients focus on nutrition, many of their chronic diseases begin to finally stabilize and in some cases even reverse. It’s becoming more and more clear that the biggest medical problems in our society (most heart disease, most of the cancers in our society, serious and sometimes fatal side effects from medical treatments including prescription drugs for example) could be substantially reduced and in some case eliminated if the population were informed focused on optimal nutrition. And optimal nutrition, as the literature shows, is a diet high in plant-based foods, with minimal processing and low in animal products, added fats and sweeteners. Optimal nutrition will not only prevent most of these chronic conditions, use of optimal nutrition as a component of active treatment has has extremely large treatment effects on many of these conditions… some of which were felt in the past to be even incurable and inevitably progressive, such as diabetes. We now know that many of these conditions, such as Type 2 diabetes, are completely reversible within 8 weeks for those who adhere to a no added oil, whole-foods, plant-based diet. And we spend a lot of our time showing them that cooking healthy food is easy, that healthy food can be very tasty, comforting and enjoyable when you find the ‘right’ recipes and you cook them in the ‘right’ way. You don’t have to sacrifice your enjoyment of food to save your health. With proper education and instruction, you can have both!
Step #1 Education
We believe that the road to good health (as well as optimal treatment of disease, for that matter) starts with the correct information. We enjoy teaching patients and the public about what the legitimate scientific literature says about the true underlying causes of disease and how relatively simple changes in your lifestyle (especially as they related to nutrition) can deliver huge changes to your health.
Another important factor… motivation through better understanding
You can have all the ‘booksmarts’ you want but it requires a special ability and art to translate, explain, clarify (and at times add humour for added entertainment) the information contained in the (at times) confusing medical literature and popular press. For us to have our maximal impact as ‘agents of change’ we need to be able to make the complex simple, foster discussion and field questions to help deepen a person’s understanding of the issues at hand. We think this is a vital step in the process of eventually helping to support a person through their journey of change. And we know from the feedback of hundreds of people who have been successful in making those changes that we excel in this area. People have to know ‘why’ they are making an effort… why is it worthwhile to do so to help keep them motivated through the tough times and have the energy to re-commit when challenges temporarily derail their efforts. Everybody (or just about:) struggles with change to some degree. We aim to help our patients through that struggle starting with information.
The tools to succeed… health begins in the kitchen (the farmers market and/or the grocery store actually!)
Once you’re educated and motivated, you need a clearly defined path to help you ‘walk the walk’. Since nutritional choices are so central to the underlying source of so much disease and suffering, teaching people the specifics of how to cook proper food, letting them taste and enjoy these foods as well as being able to access cooking support when they try cooking it themselves are critically important ingredients to a successful lifestyle modification program.
From time to time, just about everyone ‘falls off the wagon’, loses momentum, gets confused or overwhelmed. Providing a support network available to all participants at various stages of their lifestyle education has always been a priority for us here at Williams Cardiology and Wellness Medical Centre. Through office visits and progress review sessions, Lunch and Learn Group Counselling, Monthly Cooking Classes, participating in our 10 day, Plant-based Immersion Programs and staying in touch with us thru various social media formats including our regularly updated facebook page, participants have easy access to many forms of support to help them along their journey.By standing by them with individual, group support and social medial support as well as regular cooking classes to always be providing new and exciting recipes to help people build their ‘go to’ menus that they will use as they get their healthy routine established and see more and more benefits on their health.