Doctors own the concept of medical, but not health. Medical is acute and chronic illness that can be treated with pills or procedures. Health is an everyday series of decisions we all make involving our:
- work and home environment
- harmful habits (cigarettes, alcohol, drugs, etc.)
- thoughts and feelings
- bodies (massage, acupuncture, etc.)
Of the 40,000 hours doctors spend in training, 19 hours are devoted to nutrition. We get even less training in the other factors that contribute to health. Doctors are horribly unprepared to tackle health, but do pretty well with pills and scalpels. So let’s just stop pretending doctors are experts in health.
In the medical world, we have specialists, like cardiologists, and generalists, like primary care physicians. In the health world, there are specialists like nutritionists and exercise trainers, but there is no health equivalent of a primary care physician. The health world needs a new generalist profession— someone who specializes in all things health and knows when to refer to health specialists when appropriate.
Every day, we are bombarded with new “scientific research” claiming some new health benefit. This article, I Fooled Millions Into Thinking Dark Chocolate Helps Weight Loss. Here’s How, is exactly what’s going on in this world of health “research.” Health sites, dependent on the traditional ad-driven business model of more content for content’s sake, are driving the demand for this kind of research. Combine this with the following summary of the state of scientific research from one of my favorite articles ever, Lies, Damned Lies, and Medical Science:
“Simply put, if you’re attracted to ideas that have a good chance of being wrong, and if you’re motivated to prove them right, and if you have a little wiggle room in how you assemble the evidence, you’ll probably succeed in proving wrong theories right.”
And to complete the perfect storm of health deception, easy self-publishing and almost zero cost to start what appears to be a real scientific journal that exists solely online without peer review is leading to fake scientific “journals.” If you’re a lazy journalist, you’ll accept a finding as scientific if it comes from one of these journals that publish any scientific study in exchange for a fee.
As the public becomes more and more health confused, we need a health generalist to sort through all the BS and distill it down for you and your life in the vein of Michael Pollan’s simple prescription for food:
“Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.”
I’m interested in talking with people who have the skills and experience to become a health generalist. It’s a profession that needs to exist and it blows my mind that it doesn’t. This will not be a western medical doctor. This will come from a health profession, not a medical profession. They will partner with you to create a realistic health plan for your life, figure out your motivations, and in a way that doesn’t feel like nagging, hold you accountable. If this resonates with you, shoot me an email. Let’s talk.