Imagine that you receive a notice in the mail stating “In order to maintain your freedom of speech, you will be billed $10,000 per year.”
You would be—understandably—outraged. Freedom of speech in America is precious, something Americans have fought wars to defend. We view free speech as a basic right, no big check to write in order to maintain it. It should be free and available to everyone regardless of religion, color, political leanings, or income.
I believe that same principle should apply to health.
Being healthy means living free of common chronic health conditions such as high cholesterol, high blood sugars, acid reflux, migraine headaches, skin rashes, joint pain and hundreds of other health conditions. While such conditions are typically not catastrophic or immediately life-threatening, they are exceptionally common and consume the majority of healthcare dollars. Most money spent in healthcare is not for transplanting hearts or treating cystic fibrosis; it’s spent on much more common, though less dramatic, “diseases of lifestyle.” Think of the $23 billion spent every year on statin cholesterol drugs, or the $20 billion for stomach acid-blocking drugs, or the $11 billion for injectable inflammatory drugs. It is a trillion dollar, $10,000 per American per year burden, growing every year, and is unsustainable, now consuming an unprecedented 17.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
But there is a little known secret here. As crippling as expanding healthcare costs have become, industry insiders privately work to grow their share of the GDP pie to 19%, 20%, or more. Healthcare is a growth industry, growing at the consumers’ expense.
Healthcare is an industry that is not primarily focused on providing inexpensive, accessible solutions for individuals to achieve health; if that were true, doctor visits would consist of a detailed assessment of a person’s eating habits, lifestyle, chemical exposures, nutrient deficiencies, emotional status, and other real health issues. Just recall your last doctor visit that likely focused more on your apparent “need” for drugs, scheduling a procedure, or referring you to a specialist for more detailed assessment. Healthcare is a system created to maximize revenues to healthcare insiders. This includes doctors, hospital systems, the pharmaceutical industry, the medical device industry, and other big players, all hoping to grow their piece of the healthcare pie.
Even if a health condition has a known and proven solution that can be administered by an individual safely, inexpensively, in the comfort of her living room or kitchen, doctors and other healthcare insiders virtually never seek out or pass this information on. If a service does not generate substantial revenues to healthcare insiders, it is simply not sought nor passed onto the healthcare consumer.
The modern epidemic of type 2 diabetes is a perfect example, a largely man-made phenomenon that cannot be blamed on genetic defects, viruses, or bad luck. Despite numerous clinical studies demonstrating that dietary carbohydrate restriction dramatically improves blood sugars, even reverses diabetes all the way to non-diabetes in many, if not most, people, this information is almost never shared with the 30 million people who have been prescribed various drugs to reduce blood sugar. Watch television and you will see why: diabetes drug treatment is booming and drives the conversation. Drugs like Toujeo, Januvia, Invokana, Farxiga, and Jardiance dominate TV and print ads, dominate sales pitches of a very clever and well-trained pharmaceutical sales force, and thereby dominate the prescribing behavior of physicians. And who makes generous contributions to the American Diabetes Association that advocates liberal intake of foods that raise blood sugar, i.e., carbohydrates? Diabetes drug manufacturers such as Novo Nordisk, Sanofi, and AstraZeneca.
Studies have demonstrated that type 2 diabetes is readily reversible in many people. I have helped reverse this condition back to normal in thousands of people. I was a type 2 diabetic myself 20 years ago but do not have diabetes any longer and enjoy perfect blood sugar (and hemoglobin A1c) values. But what value do former type 2 diabetics provide to the healthcare system? None. Off drugs, with dramatically reduced risk for numerous complicating health conditions, reduced need for hospitals and procedures, former diabetics are worthless to a system interested in growing revenues.
Sickness is not the enemy of the healthcare system—healthy people are. If everyone was healthy, we would have no need for much of the for-profit healthcare system. Billion dollar hospital systems would disintegrate, seven-figure physician incomes would plummet, the bottom line of Big Pharma and medical device industries would shrivel—but their loss is your gain. We would, of course, continue to require healthcare for dealing with injuries and accidents, infectious diseases, and inherited conditions, essential functions of the healthcare system. But we would be freed of many common and chronic health conditions that dominate most healthcare activity. The resultant cost savings, not to mention freedom from the hassles and unintended adverse effects, would be considerable–not millions of dollars, but hundreds of billions of dollars.
Is such a level of health achievable without drugs or the supervision of a doctor? Yes, absolutely. I know because I’ve witnessed it countless times: people being freed of lists of prescription drugs, relieved of common health conditions such as acid reflux and migraine headaches, losing weight that was gained by following conventional nutritional advice, achieving health on a scale that they formerly thought unattainable, feeling and looking better than they have in years. And it was all achieved in spite of doctors, in spite of the misaligned motivations of a profit-driven healthcare system.
Healthcare has taken the for-profit paradigm too far, sacrificing health. This is why it is crucial that we take back individual control, taking advantage of the enormous bounty of science that has already shown us that health is a readily, cheaply, safely achievable goal, and apply the power of the coming wave of crowd wisdom facilitated by the tools of the Information Age. I call this movement Undoctored because it puts control over health back in the hands of you, not in the predatory, profiteering hands of the healthcare system.