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Health Revolution

By Dr. Victor Gong, Medical Director of 75th St. & 126th St. Medical, Ocean Pines Medical & Doctors Weight Control & Wellness centers, Ocean City, MD.

Your health may be at risk if you believe the current medical and food industry myths that assert that you do not need extra vitamins and minerals if you eat properly (what is commonly called a balanced diet). For decades, this has also been the position of the U.S. Food and Drug administration (FDA), which appears to have had an antagonism to dietary supplements since early in its history.

As of 1995, the FDA does not even allow supplement manufactures to use in their sales literature quotes from other governmental agencies (such as the USDA/US. Department of Agriculture) or from medical research, even if the quotation accurately and favorably portrays the value of a dietary supplement. THis is a political, not a scientific, position. If you accept this inaccurate information, you will probably be left in an average state of poor health. This is the condition in which the average person lives. You will have the "average" profile of frequent colds and other infections, headaches, fatigue, gum disease, menstrual disturbances, anxiety, poor sleep, obesity and accelerated aging, leading to early heart disease or common cancers and premature death. You do not have to accept this situation.

Before you get the wrong impression, you should understand that supplements are a part of a healthy diet. I recommend that this be mainly vegetarian with some lean meats, whole foods, without added sugars, white flour, white rice, artificial colors or flavors, preservatives, margarine or other hydrogenated oils, and very little of any added oil or fat.

Total health also requires that you be physically active. Since most people lead relatively sedentary lives, an exercise program is essential. Begin an aerobic fitness program, such as brisk walking, cycling or running, with some stretching or yoga. Try to participate in these activities for at least 30 to 40 minutes, no fewer than three or four times per week. It is a good idea to work up a mild sweat but not to get out of breath (if you get out of breath, the exercise is not aerobic).

Coping with stress is another essential part of total health. In addition to other problems of modern life, most people are under some degree of stress. Stress is our level of reactivity to variations from a perfect environment, whether internal or external. Stressors are the environment variables that lead us to experience stress. A stress-management program of visualization, breathing or mediation, self-regulation, and biofeedback are one of a number of relaxation methods that will continue to both prevent disease and treat it. (Preventative medicine is great, but if you haven't managed to prevent everything bad, it is good to know that preventive medicine also works in the treatment of many medical conditions.) Wellness and good health are a product of lifestyle behaviors, a good balanced diet, a reduction in stress, and high potency supplements. The goal of modern wellness medicine should be to not only promote a longer life but a stronger one. Longevity without a sound mind and body makes little sense.

Diagnoses Versus Optimal Health

A diagnosis is just a name given to a recognized collection of symptoms. If your particular collection of symptoms does not fit a known pattern, they cannot be diagnosed (but that does not mean that you don't have health problems). Many doctors assume that if you do not have a clear diagnosis your symptoms are not real or that they are "all in your head." Or they may think the situation is not serious enough to require treatment. (“Come back when it gets worse, and we'll see what we can do.”) This was the case with Premenstrual Syndrome before it was recognized pattern, and it is the case today with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, which has only recently become accepted by physicians as a "legitimate" health problem. The lack of a diagnosis does not mean you are in optimal health.

If you look hard enough, most symptoms have an underlying cause rooted in altered biochemistry and physiology. Often, these causes are related to nutrients. Most of these symptoms can be relieved without drugs or surgery, but not all of them. Knowing the difference is an important part of holistic medicine.

Is it Natural To Take Supplements?

You may be thinking that it is not "natural" to take supplements. In some ways this is true, but our food supply is not as rich in nutrients that are proven to be valuable for enhancing health, as well as treating and preventing illness. They are usually extra amounts of substances that we all need (except the herbs), and unlike drugs, they work by enhancing normal metabolic functions or protecting us from environmental stressors. We do not live in a natural environment. Also, everything natural is not necessarily healthy or beneficial to humans. For example, earthquakes, floods and syphilis are all "natural," but they are not desirable. Supplements can help you resist unavoidable negative influences, both natural and unnatural.

The most common view of preventive medicine is that it involves things that you shouldn't do; smoke, drink excessive alcohol, take drugs, overeat. These negatives are an essential but incomplete approach to prevention. A more positive view is that of being an active participant in your own health-promotion program. Supplementing your diet is one way to actively promote your own wellness, create vitality and enhance longevity. Dietary supplements have worked for many people for many years. Take my word for it, they can work for you too.

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