CHAPTER 1: An introduction to health management

CHAPTER 1: An introduction to health management

All information below has been acquired from the book “Polar Bears and humming birds: A medical guide to weight-loss” by medical obesity specialist Dr H. Rensburg.

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An introduction to health management: Prospective nutrition

Most health and/or medical practitioners are disease professionals. They aim only to cure a patient of disease but very rarely do they prevent the disease from occurring in the first place. This is known as retrospective health practice. Conversely, disease prevention, or PROspective medicine or nutrition, is the science of how to keep disease away a.k.a disease prevention. With obesity on the increase, we need healthcare professionals that can continuously keep the fat weight away and, in doing so, set the individual on a trajectory of a long and healthy lifestyle. 

The role of disease specialists and obesity

Obesity is classified as medical disease. However, until it manifests into a severe or life-threatening illness, it is not treated as much of a threat. If a person’s arteries are 90% blocked angina symptoms will occur. But if they are only 40% blocked, are you healthy or sick? If a person is obese with no immediate medical symptoms, are they healthy or sick? Most professionals only deal with illness/disease when a client is unable to function in every day conditions, but up until that point the client is by no means in a state of good health. They may, for arguments sake, be in a state of “disease limbo”. When illness manifests the disease professionals will provide a list of treatments, procedures and advice to get the client back to a state of “no disease manifestation”. And then what?  They do not necessarily provide prevention treatment to ensure the disease doesn’t return. It’s like rescuing someone from a fire, dressing their wounds, calming them down, only to throw them back into the fire when they are healed. 

The science of health

Health professionals study the science of longevity and the measures to be taken to prevent disease from occurring in the first place. There are 2 factors that contribute to disease: The hosts’ resistance to disease (genetics) and the environment (food, pollution, stress etc). Genetics cannot be changed and knowing your induvial susceptibility to disease will make you more informed as to your capabilities and limitations. The environment, however, is a factor that we can control. And it is this factor that health specialists vigorously need to manage to stave off ill health. Note that is it a constant, daily challenge to stay in good health, one that requires dedication, focus and commitment whilst the rewards are truly priceless. It is this forward thinking and health planning that is known as prospective medicine/treatment and, as the saying goes, “prevention is better than the cure”.

What is normal?

It is very wise to ask the question “what is normal and truly healthy for me?” So much confusion has arisen from the media, lack of basic scientific understanding and social conflict that most individuals are at a loss as to what is truly fitting for their sex and age group in terms of fat weight. But what is normal?

If a blood test was taken from the community and an average established and your results fall outside of those averages, you would conclude that you are sick. Do the same test on a diseased population and the “normal” becomes something entirely different. In most Western countries we are already compared to a diseased population in comparison to those of China and Japan for example. You may think your fat weight percentage is normal but it is not because “normal” has been determined for an unhealthy population.

To conclude

What we are left with are health and disease specialists: when you are sick you need a disease specialist, when you are recovered you need a health specialist. However, knowing everything about disease does not mean you know everything about health, and vice versa. These two fields should work together and not against one another. A person who has been in a car accident does not need a naturopath or dietician; they need the emergency room. Yet being obese does not always require a gastric bypass and most probably will come right with a good diet and exercise. 

Take-home message

  1. Disease specialist only focus on removing disease symptoms
  2. Obesity is a disease that may show no adverse medical symptoms
  3. Health specialist are concerned with disease prevention and longevity. Through diet this is known as Prospective nutrition
  4. What is considered “normal” by today’s standards may be based on incorrect statistics 

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