Most of my posts on this website are intended to sketch a non-drug approach to medical problems. But it should be kept in mind that rarely does a week go by that I do not write a prescription so I am not against drugs. I am against their use for problems that are best treated by the body’s own capacity to heal. One of my little aphorisms is: The Body Wants to Heal. Now if you have strep pneumoniae you better take antibiotics and as soon as possible so the injunction that the body wants to heal has to be properly understood.
One of the points I am trying to make in this website is that most forms of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and risk for these are best NOT treated with drugs. The alternative to no drugs is not ‘nothing.’
The only meaningful alternative is a very different lifestyle. In this post I want to tell you, in my experience, the methodology necessary to cure these problems. Half measures don’t work unless it is very early in the progression of the problem. If you can give up your life, live on lichen and become a monk do so; that seems to work. If that is not your cup of tea then science is your best ally.
Let me explain what I mean. When I tell you to improve heart rate variability and to lower inflammation and to increase insulin sensitivity and so on you must know, you must be told that you do not know and cannot know that you have done this unless you measure it; both at baseline and at several points along the way. Without this kind of data you cannot know you are on the right track. Losing some weight and sleeping better are good signs but such markers are not a substitute for precise measurement, the subjective cannot properly guide the calibration of your behavior. The rechecking of markers is the only way to insure that you are not only ‘eating right and exercising’ but are actually getting healthier. I have a lecture I hope to post soon titled “Fitness is not health” where I go into this in detail. This is a hard lesson to learn. Higher, faster, stronger, or the bodybulder’s version, ‘bigger, faster, stronger’ is not a guarantee of health. Some of the very behavior and diet that lead to fat loss can actually be bad for you; can make osteoporosis, coronary artery disease or diabetes worse. Did you get that? Worse. Feel better, be sicker. Maybe not today but inevitably.
So you must become a scientist and do science.
Example: Develop an hypothesis…I have insulin resistance. Check your hypothesis…get blood tests for insulin, fasting glucose and A1c. Hmmmm…don’t have diabetes but my insulin is in the high end of normal or even higher. Gotta change this because it leads to all of the diseases we associate with diabetes without the diabetes. Change your diet to lower insulin effects of diet…glucose gets worse but insulin drops. You may be on to something. OK, start exercising. Did the cortisol level go up or the growth hormone level go down…might be training too hard or too often. You will need to train at a level and frequency that increases insulin receptor sensitivity but does not make it worse.
You will need to work with a physician in your area who will order your tests and work with you to understand them. He is very unlikely to know much about insulin resistance, the kind of diet that helps and the precise exercise that you should be doing: that is, more than the ‘exercise; it is good for you’ kind of advice. In some states you can order tests yourself. This is a learning process.
It is worth it, it is your life and do not forget a duty to others is a duty to self. You owe it to yourself and others to be as healthy as your genetics, money and time will allow. Oh, yes, and your Will. Actually your money, time and genetics are not as important as your informed Will to be healthy. Will it, it is not magic, Will it and it will be so.