FOOD IS MEDICINE
FOOD IS MEDICINE
“The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease”. Thomas Edison
Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and the long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. There is no doubt he is one of the worlds greatest inventors and his place in history is well and truly secured.
For me though, I continued to be drawn to his views on medicine. Not the medicine we are now all familiar with in terms of going to our GP and filling our medicine cupboards (yes there is now one in every home) with all of the latest pills that apparently assist with heart disease, depression, anxiety, and drug addiction. No he wasn’t talking about this kind of medicine, he was talking about food, nutrition and making sure that us as humans, we start to take better control of our minds, bodies and wellbeing.
Nine years into a Multiple Sclerosis journey I continue to be greatly perplexed with where the whole discussion around illness and wellbeing is going. I have been invited to speak at a number of International medical conventions across Europe since 2010 to share my own journey of recovery, and I have to tell you that the only conversation each of the stakeholders continued to be interested in / obsessed with, is the latest wonder drug, pill or form of medication that they all hope will make us all feel better again. When I talk about stakeholders I am talking about doctors, nurses, pharmaceutical companies, charities, and patients for the most part. I have to tell you this is an incredibly worrying trend.
In Brussels June 2013, I got an opportunity to address a room of over three hundred of the top neurologists, doctors, researchers and pharmas across Europe. I took this incredible opportunity to ask a question of the room. I was very clear in my views with regards to medication, the need for advances in this area, and the need for all of the stakeholders in the MS family to work together to achieve better outcomes for all patients. This was addressed in the first half of my talk and was well received. In the second half, I left everyone in the room in no doubt of what I feel is going wrong not only in the discussion around what is the best path for MS patients, but for medicine in general. My point was this.
It is now widely accepted by some of the worlds leading medical academics; the role food has to play in not only MS patient’s recovery but also anyone who is suffering disease and illness. If you look at the mighty work of Dr. Colin Campbell, who sets out his research for all to see in the documentary forks over knives, that by changing your diet and approach to nutrition, you can literally reverse illness. If you are not sure who Dr. Campbell is, he is an American biochemist who specializes in the effect of nutrition on long-term health. He is the Jacob Gould Schurman Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry at Cornell University. Check him out, he someone who is one of the most highly regarded doctors in his profession.
I would also draw your attention to Dr. Caldwell Blakeman Esselstyn Jr. Dr. Esselstyn is an American physician, author and former Olympic rowing champion. Esselstyn is the author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (2007), in which he argued for a low-fat, whole foods, plant-based diet that avoids all animal products, as well as reducing or avoiding soybeans, nuts, avocados and oils. The diet has been advocated by former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Both of these guys have been advocating now, along with a growing number of medical professionals, for many years that all of us must change our diet if we want to live longer, healthier, more adventurous lives.
Back to Brussels.
So my question to the room that day was this;
Why is there such a disconnect between the role conventional medicine has to play in patients lives with the tried and tested more non conventional approach patients have been using for many decades to improve their wellbeing?
Guess what …I was met with an eerie silence. They had no answer for me on this with many not interested in engaging in this type of discussion although in private some were prepared to air their own personal views on the subject matter.
It’s incredible really but the cynic in me would query as to whether big pharma wants everyone to change their diets, reduce illness and they’re to be less demand for their products. I’m not sure this would be great for the PLC’s balance sheets, shareholders, and company CEO’s. I mean forgive me for suggesting such a thing?
I think living with a very serious auto immune condition for nine years, being heavily involved with pharma, medics, working with nutritionists, studying trends, journals amongst many other things, now gives me a level of authority to speak on such matters. I feel there is so much work to do in this area, but I do for the first time see a sea change in public opinion with regards to mine and others similar views on the important role food can play in all of our wellbeing’s and recovery paths.
Most would agree that Thomas Edison was no dozer. Most would accept he was an incredibly talented inventor, ahead of his time and his work shaped the world we live in today. I’m thinking tonight as I continue to study his quote, will his greatest ever achievement be his guidance on the role of the doctor of the future? Is the penny starting to drop, the same penny that is seeing Medical doctors selling there general practices in New York and buying farms up state so they can grow crops that will assist their patients recovery from disease and illness?
I for one think Edison was onto something, and I can smell more that an air of curiosity in the air throughout many parts of the world on this subject matter.
For me, I personally gave up meat six months ago and dairy two years ago. I was also strong enough to stop my medication in April 2016. For me now my medication is food and exercise, an explosive combination. I train six times a week and enjoying my new vegan diet. I continue to get stronger and I am really looking forward to my fourth Ironman in twelve months when I compete in Ironman Dublin 70.3 in August.
I will keep you posted on my progress!!