April 1st 2019, 21:31
The health geeks among us will be very familiar with the terms Big Pharma, Big Food and Big Ag. For many, when we use these terms, we are not dismissing all parts of the industries that produce licensed pharmaceuticals, the foods on our supermarket shelves or the agricultural products that many of us rely on.
What the terms highlight are those elements of each of these business models that work against the public interest or the environment, on which we are ultimately dependent.
March 1st 2019, 14:19
What if most of the effort expended in healthcare was actually spent on keeping people healthy rather than managing the sick? What if we could abandon the health wars between different factions in medicine, with everyone sharing a holistic view of human health, in a system built on sound scientific principles that puts the individual—not particular industries or medical specialties—right at the center?
What if the fifth biggest employer in the world, the UK's National Health Service (NHS), instead of facing bankruptcy, only needed to handle half of its current disease burden? It could get on with doing what it does best: treating people with acute conditions and life-threatening, infectious and other late-stage diseases.
February 4th 2019, 14:44
What's happened to healthcare over the last half century or so? Those of us who're a little older might remember the kindly gaze of the family doctor, listening carefully while you spoke about your concern. Then there'd be the comprehensive physical exam—the cold of the stethoscope, the tightening of the blood pressure cuff, maybe being asked to lie on the exam table.
In ancient health traditions like Ayurveda or traditional Chinese medicine, the patient was even more central to the process. All sorts of indicators, today either overlooked or not understood, were examined—the condition of the iris of the eyes, pulse, tongue, lymph and fascia, to name a few.
January 1st 2019, 15:06
Government authorities responsible for food safety—whether it's the Food and Drug Administration in the US, the Food Standards Agency in the UK, Health Canada or the Therapeutic Goods Administration in Australia—are legally required to label specific allergens, referred to as 'legal allergens' to reflect this obligation.
Although we're actually exposed to hundreds or thousands of possible allergens in our food on a daily basis, there are only eight to 14 'legal allergens,' depending on which country you're in.
December 5th 2018, 15:29
It's hopefully not a case of wishful thinking that another big fat nail has been driven into the coffin of the system that's been issuing faulty nutritional advice to the public for years. The advice hasn't been just slightly wrong—it's been killing people prematurely.
It's also at the heart (excuse the pun) of the preventable chronic disease spiral that includes cardiovascular disease, obesity and type 2 diabetes. Not only have these conditions unnecessarily harmed millions of families, they've also brought Western healthcare systems close to the breaking point. You heard it: unnecessarily.
November 1st 2018, 11:57
It's clear in most walks of life that science is the new religion. This doesn't mean people have stopped believing in God—or in a God of some form. It's more that so many of us now 'believe in science.'
More than this , countries and economies are fueled by it, and technology is selected because of it.
September 26th 2018, 11:38
It was with great interest that I accepted an invitation to speak at a conference at the Royal Society of Medicine in London last July controversially titled New Horizons in Water Science: Evidence for Homeopathy. Organized by the British Homeopathic Association, the one-day conference brought together some of the brightest minds in the field to discuss the current state of scientific knowledge on possible mechanisms underpinning homeopathy's claimed or proven effects.
I was humbled to be speaking alongside Nobel laureates Luc Montagnier and Brian Josephson, Dr Jerry Pollack, and two Russian professors, Vladimir Voeikov and Alexander Konovalov—all authorities on various aspects of the science of water. As a specialist in sustainability, I outlined a vision for transforming health and health management by applying sustainability principles.
September 4th 2018, 16:51
Imagine you're an insurance company. You're worried about covering the costs of people who get sick relatively young, then die slowly and expensively. You not only have to foot the bill for medical expenses, you have to pay out life insurance to the family once the client passes on.
July 31st 2018, 14:13
Being exposed to bugs early in life could help prevent cancer, says Rob Verkerk
July 10th 2018, 16:47
When a paper in a major mainstream journal comes out against omega-3 fish oils, my eyebrows rise. Especially when the paper says they have no protective effect against heart attacks and other forms of heart disease—the Western world's biggest killers and massive money spinners for Big Pharma—as a new meta-analysis (pooled analysis) published in JAMA Cardiology concluded.1
April 23rd 2018, 15:34
When it comes to sustainable healthcare, the West could learn from the East
March 27th 2018, 11:51
Mutated genes don't automatically lead to cancer, says Rob Verkerk
Angelina Jolie is the pin-up woman for an entire new industry centered around cancer prevention (see page 20). Just like Jolie, you can find out if you have mutations in one or both of the genes that most affect your chances of getting breast cancer (BRCA1 and BRCA2) and decide whether you want to undergo preventative surgery to slash your risk. If you have the 'faulty' genes, you'll consult with a new-fangled 'genetic oncologist' and may well be persuaded to kiss your breasts, ovaries and fallopian tubes goodbye.
February 28th 2018, 15:34
Big Food corporations are increasingly buying out the top natural-food players
January 25th 2018, 17:39
Technology has drastically altered the lives of most humans on the planet. Infant mortality has plummeted, with most babies in the developed world now surviving birth and their early years. Agricultural and food technology makes sure more people are fed than we ever thought possible. And when we start to ail in later life, technology gives us a better chance of staying alive.
December 21st 2017, 14:01
You've probably heard about Big Pharma's patent cliff in the early part of this decade—when the patents of huge blockbuster drugs like Lipitor, Plavix and Singulair expired. The effect was a precipitous drop in sales. But the decline in use of these drugs didn't send disease rates skyrocketing, because people tend not to suffer from Lipitor, Plavix or Singulair deficiency diseases.
November 21st 2017, 11:15
I am writing this column some 40,000 feet above Indonesia, bound from Sydney, Australia, to London. After a tight schedule of meetings following the second annual Lifestyle Medicine Australasia conference, I presented on the subject of healthcare sustainability.
October 25th 2017, 15:36
The terms 'public health' and 'consumer protection,' as used by governments, are among the biggest misnomers of all time. Governments and Big Business love telling us just how hard they're working to protect our health and our interests. Well, they're lying to us.
September 26th 2017, 11:07
We've been fed multiple mistruths about the safety of the vaccine, says Rob Verkerk
With people losing faith in pharmaceutical drugs as the primary mechanism for managing health, drug companies are doing their best to expand their portfolios with vaccines.
August 29th 2017, 19:12
I recently had the pleasure of meeting Dr Michel Poulain in Guernsey, a small island off the coast of northern France that is a self-governing British crown dependency. Poulain was there to talk about his groundbreaking work with National Geographic writer and bestselling author Dan Buettner. Over the last decade or so, they’ve famously identified five communities around the world that are extraordinarily long-lived—as well as being healthy and happy. Poulain and Buettner refer to these communities as ‘blue zones,’ named as such because blue happened to be the color of Poulain’s pen when he was locating centenarians in the first ‘blue zone’ community in Sardinia back in the 1990s.
When I met Poulain, an astrophysicist turned demographer, he was still working his way through the registry data in Guernsey. His preliminary view, based on the data he’d already reviewed, suggested it was unlikely that Guernsey would make the grade as a blue zone—at least for now. But the island state could follow, in time, the lead set by the five existing blue zone communities: Sardinia (Italy), Okinawa (Japan), Ikaras (Greece), Nicoya (Costa Rica) and the Seventh-Day Adventist community of Linda Loma, California.
This mission could be catalyzed by Guernsey’s tight-knit, 64,000-strong population and a nationwide desire to achieve this status after the launch earlier this year of the visionary ‘Journey to 100’ project, which brought Poulain to the island in the first place.
Poulain and Buettner identified nine criteria that these communities have in common. Plant-based diets with little or no processed food and consistent moderate physical activity are just two of them. Possibly even more important are factors like purpose in life, a sense of community and family values being prioritized over other concerns.
These are ideas that are increasingly absent from urban dwellers in the industrial West.
The social cohesiveness of the blue zone communities is particularly interesting. They’re not experimenting with gene therapy or anti-aging medicines, let alone cosmetic surgery. And they certainly have no obsession with social media followers. Yet, by sharing vital information about healthy living among each other, they do better than most of us despite our being surrounded by all sorts of information technology, health experts and gurus.
Does this mean that those of us outside blue zone communities are locked out of the human potential they offer?
Based on the most recently available statistics, just seven countries have average lifespans at birth that exceed 80 years, these being Switzerland, Iceland, Sweden, Japan, Spain, Australia and Norway. England just misses the cut at 79.3, and the USA, which spends more money on healthcare than any other country, languishes down in 23rd place, with an average life expectancy at birth of just 76 years.
In defiance of our countries’ average lifespan or health status, many of us know people who are doing far better than average. That includes people in their 80s or 90s who are entirely drug free, lead fully independent lives, are active for most of the day, still prefer to walk or ride a bike than jump in a car or bus and, above all, continue enjoying life and being part of contemporary society. At the extreme end of this variance are the real outliers—individuals who meet all, or almost all, of the attributes of the five recognized blue zone communities.
Few of us are interested in a long life if it’s not a happy one. Most of us don’t want to spend the last one-third of our lives riddled with chronic, degenerative diseases or dementia—yet this is an increasingly common prospect in the industrialized West. Over 50 percent of people in the West are on ‘polypharmacy’—using four or more prescribed medicines. And the drugs being used to treat specific conditions don’t actually cure them but simply treat the symptoms. The conditions then worsen, and as more drugs are brought on board, more are needed both to treat related conditions and to try to lessen the side-effects. A downward health spiral is then inevitable.
Creating societies where human beings are able to sustain themselves naturally should be a priority given the mayhem that will ensue in the coming years if we don’t get on top of the ballooning costs of healthcare and the burden of chronic diseases. Human beings, like all living things, have exquisite capacities to self-heal. What is needed, as Poulain and Buettner discovered from the blue zone communities, is the right environment to allow this to happen.
Look around you to see what you can learn from those who appear to be winning in the efforts to maintain their health. Look at what really makes them tick, at their attitudes, their social connections, their priorities in life—as well as how, what and when they eat, sleep and move.
Chances are, the information you could learn from these people in your community—those who form part of your local ‘blue microzone’—will be more useful to your long-term health and well-being than any disease prevention suggestions you’re likely to get from your time-challenged physician
July 21st 2017, 12:17
The key is building a parallel system of preventative care, says Rob Verkerk