One of the unique things about having a Direct Primary Care practice is the time it allows me to spend with patients and the feedback I get from them. I also do a “meet the doc” appointment for potential patients to interview me and ask the questions that are important to them when it comes to finding a doctor.
The vast majority of patients are not interested in taking medications and make it very clear that they want to use them only as a last resort. We all seem to inherently know that it is better to eat well, have a healthy weight, and exercise regularly. And this is absolutely true! I want to emphasize the importance of a healthy lifestyle and show that the benefits of getting those three things mentioned above far outweigh the benefits of taking medicine.
The American lifestye is not so healthy
Upwards of 85-90% of what is treated in a primary care office is lifestyle-related. Over 73% of Americans are overweight!! That is just a staggering number. It is not hard to see why that is the case. First, technological advancements have made our lives more comfortable and effortless, and this is not necessarily a good thing. The level of activity in an average day for a typical American is very low. As an example of this, I would ask all of you with a watch that tracks your step how many you see on average. I am willing to bet it is less than 10,000 and for many, it is less than 7,500. Think about our ancestors from even 1 or 2 generations ago and about the amount of physical work they did in a day and we will quickly see why obesity is so prevalent.
The second factor of course is the advent of processed food and the increase in portion sizes. We eat fairly high-calorie diets, especially for a population that is not doing much physical labor. The end result of less activity and more calories is weight gain. The end result of weight gain is inflammation, high blood pressure, high blood sugars, heart disease, stroke, arthritis, and more. All diseases most people take medications for that can have side effects and cost money!
Are medications the cure?
Considering the American lifestyle, it is easy to see that in most cases medicine is just a band-aid to cover the underlying problem. They can certainly help to make the measurables, like in blood tests or on scales better, but they are not getting to the root of the problem. In contrast, getting your lifestyle in order improves the measurables and also eliminates the underlying condition making medicine unnecessary.
There is a large body of evidence that points to the benefits of losing even just 5% of your body weight with the benefits being dose-dependent, that is, the more weight you lose the better the measurables. Notice this is the first time I mentioned losing weight as a goal here as I do not want to focus too much on “going on a diet”. I want to be clear that health and fitness entail making simple daily lifestyle changes that are steady and sustainable in the long term. The goal is not to lose weight quickly but to slowly and surely make small daily changes that become a healthy lifestyle of a balanced combination of good nutrition and sufficient physical activity.
If you think you are ready to make the changes and shed your medications or feelings of fatigue or a few extra pounds let us know and we will be ready to help. We excited to help you be your healthiest and fittest self. Set up an appointment to see me and to meet with our nutrition and fitness director, Kathryn, to get on the right path.