Food First, Pills Later

It happens time and time again.  A friend, or family member or blog reader shares their all too similar tale:

They’ve gone to their doctor after not feeling great and have come home with a fist full of prescriptions.  The doctor hasn’t asked about what they eat, whether or not they engage in any physical activity or what their sleep patterns are like.    It was straight from patient listing symptoms to doctor issuing pills.

Why is that step # 1?

Most recently, I was made aware of the father of a blog reader of (who is of a certain age) and was told by his doctor that because of a family history of heart disease, it would be in his best interest to take a blood thinning agent, coumadin, in order to prevent heart attack.

He was uncomfortable not doing as his doctor said, so began taking it without question, but noticed shortly thereafter that he felt a bit ‘off’.    Whereas prior to taking his prescription, he led an active life, he suddenly felt too tired to go on his morning walk, started having a bloody nose and experienced dizziness.

Fortunately, his daughter, who is Paleo and an advocate of functional medicine, had the wherewithal to take her dad to another MD, a practitioner who has a far more holistic approach and was able to wean him off the warfarin safely and take a close look at his eating plan (since he was already active, he didn’t need to make changes in that realm).

As the doctor was also Paleo, the gentleman was counseled to adopt this way of eating with an increased focus on certain foods that naturally help thin the blood, such as seafood, garlic, olive oil, vitamin E and fish oil.

The thing that is so desperate about this story is that it happens too often and the scenario above is not the norm… it’s the anomaly.  The reality is that most patients trust the doctor’s word as that of God, if you will, and continue taking more and more medications, experience more side effects- in severity and in number, take more pills to treat the side effects and often end up much sicker than they might have ever gotten if they’d have started with a good look at what they’re putting in their body in the first place.

I must include my caveat that I feel is important to add to all posts of this nature- I am not suggesting anyone stop their medications on a whim, eat some raw garlic and plan on everything being peachy keen.

Rather, if you are in a situation where you suspect you’re getting worse despite taking more and more medications, find another doctor who can help you safely make the transition to a food-based treatment.   We’ve all only got one life- why not do our  best to make it the healthiest one we can?