About 75% of the $250 billion in annual healthcare costs in Canada is from chronic diseases that can often be reversed or prevented by a healthy lifestyle.
Putting money and effort into helping citizens make healthy decisions will reduce the total costs of medicare.
Dean Ornish is a professor medicine at University of California, San Francisco and the founder of the Preventive Medicine Research Institute. He is an authority on reversing chronic disease with a healthy lifestyle. His article appeared in the New York Times on Sept 23, 2012.
He notes that patients with severe coronary artery disease can reverse their disease with moderate exercise, stress management techniques and eating mostly plant based meals.
This prevention program improves blood flow and reduces inflammation which matters because chronic inflammation is an underlying cause of heart disease and many forms of cancer.
Dr Ornish has found that this program may stop, slow or reverse the progression of early stage prostate cancer, as well as reverse the progression of type II diabetes.
Dr Ornish has also found that this prevention program changed gene expression in over 500 genes in just 3 months. The program turns on genes that protect against disease and turns off genes that promote cancer and inflammation.
The ideal diet is low in both sugar and refined carbohydrates and low in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as using only small amounts of red meat and very little processed foods.
Patients on fast food or Atkins type diets have elevated levels of bad inflammation shown by increased levels of C-reactive protein (CRP) which is a measure of chronic inflammation.
One of my patients was 6 feet tall and weighed about 315 pounds. He had eaten mostly fast foods for about 3 years. He got no exercise. His CRP was 80. A normal CRP should be under 2. With six months of eating real food, his CRP went down to about 20.
The conclusion is crystal clear. Let’s ramp up prevention to help all of our brothers and sisters and to stop the escalating healthcare cost crisis in Canada.