Andrew Weil, MD

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It is broken beyond repair. In essence, we don't have a health care system. We have a disease management system and it's very dysfunctional and what's said is that the great majority of that disease is preventable, because is related to the lifestyles, choices of how people live.

Unless we can shift that vast enterprise of disease management and direction of health promotion and prevention, and figure out how to make that pay, I don't see we can do. I think we are going down. Integrated medicine, is the medicine of the future. It's the medicine people wanted the medicine more and more doctors want to practice.

It's first of all medicine that focuses on the body's innate mechanism of healing. Secondly, it looks at patients as whole persons. So, not just physical bodies. It also looks at all aspects of lifestyles and try to [XX] diseases and illness. And it places great emphasis on the relationship between the practitioner and the patients which is seen as crucial to the healing process.

And then we're going to use any treatments that work as long as they don't cause harm. So the first part of the solution is shifting this whole enterprising direction of health promotion and disease prevention and that is yes it focus on lifestyle and understanding how lifestyle choices impact health.

But, there's a very practical issue there which is that how does a society encourage people to make better rather than worse choices in lifestyle. That's doesn't have any easy answer. For instance, you have our government on one hand telling people to eat more fruits and vegetables and on the other hand through which is a program for Federal subsides to agriculture, making the most unhealthy foods cheapest and most available.

We've got things really out of alignment there. I think if we are going to have a healthier society, governments, individuals and private sectors all have to pull together in the same direction. This is not solely a matter of individual choice. At the moment, I think lots of things are stacked against people making better choices.

The only way this is going to change, I think is through education, through a raising of consciousness, through enough people getting aroused to [XX] about these issues. To start at grass root movements that changes the balance of political power. I see people who are well. Who come to me for preventable lifestyle counseling.

I can look at their family history. And maybe in the near future we'll look at their genome as well. Their personal history. We spot areas of risks. We look at the life styles choices that they're making and we tell them how to treat that in a better direction. There is actually very little of that on to date, mainly because it's not paid for.

You know, that as much as we talk about prevention, that's not where we put our money. And the practical obstacle to making changes here is priorities of reimbursement. That what insurance pays for is for procedure, for diagnostic test for giving drugs. It does not for pay for doctors, sit with the patient and talk to them about how you eat or teach them on breathing exercise, to relax or give them advice about exercise that is just not paid for.

If I could summarize everything I know about nutrition in one sentences, just stop eating refined processed and manufacture foods it's that easy. That is what changed drastically in my lifetime. I grew up in the late 1940's, 1950's and my family always sat down to two meals a day that were cooked room scratch.

Diet first then I would say physical activity. There is overwhelming scientific evidence for the health benefits of regular physical activity throughout life. That doesn't mean, working out with personal trainers, running marathons, that means moving your body and I'm more and more convinced that the best form of physical activity is call functional exercise, which is using the body in the way it was designed for.

So that's walking, lifting, carrying, you know, that's what people have done throughout history. That's what people do in societies where no health is much better than ours. Third I would say is yes, I think everyone needs to learn and practice some methods of neutralizing harmful effects of stress.

Yes, there is an enormous shortage of common sense and medicine today. But, this is I say this is the medicine that people want. But I think the great promise today is that it is the medicine that's cost effective. And I think it is really the solution to the health care crisis.

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