Bermuda is experiencing epidemic proportions of chronic disease. We boast the highest rates of cancer, heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and obesity per capita in the world.
In the twenty first century with numerous drugs on the market for every disease known to humankind and new drugs being manufactured and fast tracked weekly, Bermudians are sinking deeper into ill health. Prescription drugs, along with surgery and diagnostic testing, are equivalent to placing band aids on gaping wounds when addressing these chronic disease conditions.
So many in our community place all faith in allopathic approaches to health and healing, but the truth is each year the numbers keep rising. Many of those who live with these preexisting conditions are beset with side effects as they tread the hamster wheel of adjustments in medications, partnered with new medications, more diagnostic testing, repeat doctor and hospital visits, and no way out of remaining on prescription medications for life.
New diagnostic testing facilities and pharmacies are opening on the island every year, yet relief from these chronic disease conditions does not appear to be on the decline. When accessing the situation with a think-outside-of-the-box approach, it is evident that lifestyle changes, along with implementing proper nutrition and an exercise regime, is still the most cost effective way of preventing and reversing most chronic diseases.
These simple yet least used approaches often offer less long term pain and suffering along with reduced health care costs. So the question arises again and again, “When do we take responsibility for our own health?”
Unfortunately, medical students are only required to have approximately 25 hours of nutritional education during their four years of undergraduate medical school. So when you ask your physician about a more natural approach to dealing with your chronic degenerative disease condition, often times they are unable to enter into a conversation that will lead to nutritional suggestions.
Explanations such as, there is no natural approach, or there are no other options available other than prescription medications is the usual response.
According to data collected from the US National Library of Medicine, medical students receive on average 21 – 25 contact hours of nutritional education during undergraduate medical school. Only 30 percent of medical schools require a separate course on nutrition. In 2017, Dr. David Eisenberg, adjunct associate professor of nutrition at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, confirmed that one fifth of US medical schools are required to take a nutrition course.
Dr. Eisenberg said “The fact that less than 20 percent of medical schools have a single required course in nutrition is a scandal. It’s outrageous. It’s obscene.”
The truth is many of our local healthcare practitioners are living with the same chronic degenerative diseases as the patients they see on a daily basis. Little emphases is placed on the importance of diet, nutrition, lifestyle changes and exercise even for our healthcare professionals. ScienceDirect, a database of scientific and medical research, concludes numerous studies confirming the reversal and prevention in connection with nutrition and chronic degenerative diseases.
The popular Mediterranean diet is associated with a lower incidence of mortality and chronic disease states such as cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Bermudians must take more responsibility when it comes to improving their health. Ask what options are available outside of the hamster wheel of drugs, diagnostic testing, repeat doctor visits, and surgery. Find a physician that is willing to work with you and allow you to employ integrative approaches to health while being monitored by that physician.
There are a few doctors in our local healthcare system willing to work with patients who choose an alternative approach to health. It is sad to see the increasing numbers of children living with what used to be adult chronic diseases. Bermudian children as young as twelve and fourteen years old are now being diagnosed with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and Type 2 diabetes. These statistics were unheard of 15 to 20 years ago.
The mindset of our community has moved more toward the nutrition deficient foods found in the typical Western diet. Large portions of high carb, deep fried, genetically modified processed foods have replaced a balanced diet due to the availability of fast foods on island. The popular complaint is “I am too tired to cook, or preparing a home cooked meal is far too time consuming for me.”
As a result, chronic degenerative diseases are devouring our population. It does not help that many of us live in a stressful environment with financial pressures and social and family issues, along with jobs that feel like a ball and chain around the ankle.
We need to look within instead of looking to others to fix a problem only we have the solution to. Why wait until it is too late and the doctor’s annual physical reveals that you have now become one of the thousands of Bermudians living with a chronic degenerative disease. Start with small dietary changes and work your way up to a more balanced diet.
There is no way our healthcare system can sustain the influx of chronic disease cases in our community on an annual basis without some type of dietary intervention. At the end of the day, we can choose to be a part of the healthcare problem or we can become the solution by making changes one step at a time toward improving our health.