“Preventive medicine” almost sounds like an oxymoron if you think about it. If disease is successfully prevented you shouldn’t need medicine. Nonetheless, the term “preventive medicine” persists in the conventional medical world, despite the distinct lack of preventative efforts in most conventional medical offices. But what exactly do they mean when they talk about “preventive medicine”, anyway?
Let’s start with some basic definitions:
Prevention. noun: 1. The action of stopping something from happening or arising
Medicine. noun: 1. The science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disease (in technical use often taken to exclude surgery). 2. A compound or preparation used for the treatment or prevention of disease, esp. a drug or drugs taken by mouth.
Preventive Medicine- Four levels
Primary Prevention– Measures taken to prevent disease
Secondary Prevention– Measures taken to diagnose and treat disease in it’s early stages before it causes significant morbidity
Tertiary Prevention– Methods to reduce negative impact of existent disease by restoring function and reducing disease-related complications.
Quaternary Prevention– Methods to mitigate or avoid results of unnecessary or excessive interventions in the health system
The disconnect here is because there are four distinct definitions of preventive medicine, but in most medical offices only three of them consume 99.9% of your time with the doctor. What most doctors call “preventive medicine” is actually what I would consider early detection; mammograms, colonoscopies, dental x-rays, cervical cancer screenings. Even prescribing statin drugs for high cholesterol is considered “preventive medicine”! I don’t know about you, but I think the fact that someone has high cholesterol in the first place means that something wasn’t prevented.
This is what prevention really is:
1. Eating right. Seriously. By “eating right” I don’t mean getting diet soda or whole wheat pasta. I mean eating tons of vegetables. Veggies, good quality meats, fruit, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, and maybe some grains and legumes if you can tolerate them. Paleo is a great place to start.
2. Exercising. The key is to find something you genuinely love to do- that’s the only way you’ll stick with it. For me, it’s rowing, running with my dogs, yoga, hiking, and TRX exercises with friends. Gyms just don’t do it for me! I find them boring and usually icky.
3. Getting enough sleep. This is hugely, crazy important for far too many reasons to write about here.
4. Getting a few minutes of sunshine every day… if you’re in a climate where that is possible, that is!
5. Taking time to relax. This is so, so important in today’s hectic world.
6. Loving yourself, being grateful, and reflecting on all the good things in your life.
7. Getting adjusted. Regular chiropractic adjustments go a long way to keep your body in tip-top shape.
8. Addressing symptoms when they start and not waiting for full-blown disease. The caveat here is that you’ll need to find a doctor who will acknowledge that your symptoms are a problem in the absence of full-blown disease and help you understand and correct them. This is harder than it sounds- in my experience most doctors will brush off symptoms until they are so blatant that a diagnosis can be made and a medication can be dispensed. Functional medicine doctors such as myself are generally more able to help in such situations.
Chose to prevent disease every day,
If you or somebody you know is interested in working with a functional medicine doctor please call my office at (919) 238-4094 and see if we are the right fit for you. Infinity Holistic Healthcare is located in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, part of the Raleigh-Durham “triangle” area.