Own Your Health

As health concerns like diabetes, ADD, food allergies, obesity, and the like continue to skyrocket across the country, it is more important than ever for Americans to take ownership of our own health. I recently watched this TED talk given by Dr. Terry Wahls, a medical doctor who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For seven years, Wahls was treated with cutting edge drugs, yet her condition continued to decline. Eventually, she found herself unable to walk or even sit up. She spent her days reclined in special a zero-gravity chair. After receiving no beneficial prescriptions from her doctors, and feeling her medical training had not adequately prepared her for her situation, Wahls turned to the Internet.

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What she found there was revolutionary in its simplicity. She discovered that what she needed to do to treat M.S. was undertake a regimen that would strengthen the mitochondria in her cells. This could be achieved by switching to a diet of leafy greens, sulfur-rich vegetables like onions, colorful fruits and vegetables, grass-fed meat and fish, and occasional organ meat and seaweed. So Wahls did just that, and within months, she was walking again. Within a year, she was riding horses. She overcame her M.S. not by taking expensive drugs with negative side effects, but simply by eating the foods her body needed.

In my own life, I've had experiences that were similar, though of course not as severe. In my early twenties, I struggled to overcome a negative body image that had left me dangerously underweight. At one point, a doctor suggested I take birth control pills in order to maintain a "regular menstrual cycle." Of course, the bleeding that happens when a woman is on birth control is not menstrual bleeding. In a packet of pills, there is a row of pills that are a different color from the rest of the pills. The woman takes those pills for one week every month, and bleeds. Those pills are sugar pills and do not contain the hormones present in the pills taken the rest of the month. So the bleeding is the result of a sudden drop in hormone levels, and has nothing to do with a woman's regular menstrual cycle. This did not trouble my doctor, however. Nor did the fact that what I really needed at that time in my life was emotional support and suggested meal plans. Instead, she prescribed a drug that played havoc with my hormones and something as fundamental as my menstrual cycle. Women do not get a real period on the pill, even if they're not taking one of the "no-period" pills, and this is something that should deeply concern us.

Photo courtesy of Ramberg Media Images

I have many friends and family members who have had similar encounters with their doctors, as do many Americans. The doctor prescribes a drug, which doesn't help or even makes things worse. They take the situation into their own hands, and they heal themselves. I'm not suggesting ignoring the advice of a physician. Physicians are, of course, highly trained, their treatments are often beneficial and their expertise may be necessary for accurate diagnosis. And certainly, there are some conditions in which drugs and other conventional treatments are needed. But many conditions can be healed through a healthy diet - just as they are caused by an unhealthy diet. In addition, many types of natural treatments are often more effective than drugs because our bodies evolved to be able to respond to what was already in our environment. Too often, we take our doctor's word as gospel, ignoring our own body wisdom. Our doctors have the degrees, but no one knows our own bodies better than ourselves. So we should listen to what the doctors say, but be sure to explore all options. If America is going to regain its health, it is crucial that we take ownership of it.