Club NoMed

“Hello, long time no see!” I said.

I had not seen Eddie for a long time, not since the 25th reunion. He had changed, but had not all of them? He still had his hair, but he was a lot bigger than I remember him. There was a paunch, and he seemed laboured in his movements.

“How are things with you?” I asked.

“Well, I can’t complain. All the normal problems that you can expect when you get beyond 60. But it is all under control. I’m taking medication for it. But you’re looking good!”

“Well, I do my best to keep healthy.” I said.

“You know, it was easy to recognise you because you don’t look much different than when we started at work,” he said, catching his breath a little.

“Yes”, I replied, “I’m about the same weight as a was those days. So what medication are you taking?”

Statins for Cholesterol

Eddie replied, “Well, I take statins for my cholesterol.”

“What’s wrong with your cholesterol?”

“It’s too high, so the Doc recommended that I took them to prevent me getting a heart attack”.

“What do you mean it’s too high?” I asked.

“The doctor just says that it’s too high and I have to do something about it. He told me that having high cholesterol was a cause of heart attacks, and if I took these, I would reduce the risk.”

“I am not too sure about that.” I replied, “Cholesterol is produced naturally in the body, and you need it to function normally.”

Doctor’s Advice

Eddie continued, “The Doc says that if I take the statins, and stop eating fat, especially saturated fat, like in meat, then it would further reduce the risk.”.

“Have you noticed anything since you been taking these?”

“Funny you should say that. I have begun to wonder whether I’m getting Alzheimer’s, because of my brain feels a bit foggy. I also get some muscle pains,”

I thought to myself that it was shocking how people blindly follow authority. Patients believe every word the doctors say, and doctors believe everything they read in research papers and information from the drug companies, it seems.

“So, what do you eat these days?” I asked Eddie.

Keep taking the tablets

“While cutting down on fats was a problem, because I stopped having butter and cream and eating the fat off of the meat years ago when I switched to low-fat stuff like margarine. I like eating bread although I have to be careful it doesn’t give me acid indigestion. But that’s no problem either because taken some tablets to stop the reflux.”

“I’ve also started to put on weight in the last few years, but I guess that’s natural. I mean, it’s normal to put on about a pound a year, isn’t it?” Eddie asked.

“Well, you have to watch that weight gain, in my opinion. You may be heading for type II diabetes”.

“Funny you should say that. After a year or so taking statins, I went to the doctors and he told me that I have type II diabetes. So I am taking some tablets for that as well.”

“Aren’t you fed up with taking all these pills?”

When you age, you take pills

“Well, it’s a fact of life. When you get older, you to take a lot of pills to stay alive. Everyone around here takes lots pills. If we didn’t have the pills, will be dying earlier. So it stands to reason that we should keep taking the pills”.

“I’m a member of Club No Med.”

“Club no Med.? Is that a club for older swingers?”

“No!” I laughed. “It means that I am not on any medication.”

“So you live with your illnesses?”

“As far as I know, I don’t have any illnesses.”

“What you mean you have no illnesses? You are the same age as I am, so you must have some of these things. Is it all that healthy natural living in Scandinavia that keeps you away from the doctor’s?”

“I’m not sure about Scandinavia bit. There are quite a few people on medication there, too. There are obese people as well. But I do think people are better informed about their health choices.”

You pay your taxes, you take your medicine

Eddie said, “But I mean if you have a national health service which you’ve paid the tax for, and get pills or something to sort you out, isn’t it best just to go there and get the prescription?”

“Yes, that would be the easy way out. Not having to think about it, or do something actively about your health.” Just a touch of sarcasm in my voice.

“You can’t do anything about your health, can you? I mean, it’s all in your genes, isn’t it? If sickness and death come, you can’t do much about it. Your number is up.”

” I beg to differ on that point,” said I

I had not eaten breakfast that morning, but now it was approaching lunchtime, I felt like having something to eat. So I took out a bag of coconut pieces. I offered one to Eddie.

It’s full of fat!

“No thanks,! I’m not eating that. It’s full of fat!”.

Eddie reached for his backpack and took out some food.

He said, “I get very hungry if I don’t have a snack. But I’ve got some healthy stuff here.” He produced a banana, some orange juice, and one of those muesli bars. I must admit, I raised my eyebrows.

I could not help myself from commenting, “Full of sugar, that lot.”.

“No, it’s not. It’s full of fruit and fibre. Good stuff!”.

Whatever, I thought to myself. What a disaster it was for my fellow countrymen. Such a contrast to visiting a country like Sweden. Not that everybody is super thin and healthy in Sweden, but they do seem to be able to look after themselves better. Perhaps it’s because they have inverted the food pyramid a couple of years back. Or perhaps it’s because they have low carb sections in the supermarkets.

7 million on statins in the UK

In the UK, a nation where 7 million people are prescribed statins, out of a population of 60 million, looking around me, all I saw were obese, and unhealthy-looking people. It is appalling. Have statins reduced the risk of heart attacks in the UK? There is no doubt that there are fewer deaths from heart attacks.

Survival rates are better. There are fewer transfats in the diet, and people are smoking less.

I believe that better education to encourage people to change your lifestyle would be a far more effective way of preventing heart attacks. Along with the acceptance by health professionals that cholesterol is not the cause, but an indicator, and that they accept the latest research, which shows the real reason.

Are illness and sickness really an act of God? Philosophically, I suppose the answer is yes. But I would like to believe that by taking responsibility for my health and trying to understand the physiology according to the latest research, that I could do something about it.

Join Club NoMed today – it’s free!

I am very proud not to be taking medications. I’m sure that if I went to my doctor, she would find something or another for which I should be taking medications. But my blood pressure is normal; my pulse is low, my BMI is 22.5, I am physically active, I sleep well, I think clearly, Beyond the age of 45, the best benchmark one can have is to feel as if you are 45. But my benchmark is also to be a member of Club No Med after the age of 45.

Adopt, Adapt, Adept

I saw this graphic on a Tweet today from Jamie Scott:

“Some health professionals are also confused – they have to discard the old nutrition is dietary dogmas that they learned at college, took to heart and have been preaching to decades and take on board the latest advances in nutrition science based on high-quality evidence from randomised controlled trials (RCTs) And epidemiological studies published in leading peer-reviewed journals.”

The point is that we should not be confrontational with nutritionists and other health professionals, but rather educate them as to the current state-of-the-art.

Adopt, Adapt, Adept

We have a mantra at Sakharoff.com: Adopt, Adapt and be Adept. Through this, we have the possibility to create a revolution in health care.

One of the questions I want to put to the responsible citizens of the world is how they expect to be treated in old age? Do they want to be such a burden on society and indirectly on children? Do they expect to have the care that they will require when they have a bouquet of lifestyle diseases? When there are simply not enough resources to go around?

Adopt a new lifestyle

What is so difficult about learning a new lifestyle? Is it because that the dogmas that have been in place for the last 40 years or so embedded in people’s psyche that they cannot possibly think of changing? Is it because we are under so much stress in our daily lives are that we take on bad habits just to be able to keep up?

The High Cost of Chronic Disease

Perhaps it is a combination of all these things. If one accepts that lifestyle diseases all have this more or less the same root causes, then you can start assessing the cost to society. It has been said that each Alzheimer’s patient in the United Kingdom costs the National Health Service some £32,250 a year[1]. I wonder what the figures are for heart disease, asthma and diabetes? In Denmark asthma is considered to be the source of many million lost working days every year.

By taking on the education and adopting the lifestyle changes, it would be possible to save nations a lot of money. In Denmark, the equivalent National Health Service is responsible for about 10.4% of GDP[2]. Of that, we can attribute some 12% to the cost of medicine[3]. (However, these numbers are substantially higher in the US.)

The Danish government has introduced a system to deal with the high cost of medicine, whereby copy medication is preferred over the original. The joke about this is that each copy medicine has its colour code and this means with older patients; they become very confused about the dosage and which medicine to take.

Yes, it is true people are getting older and living longer. But we must seriously look at the quality of life and the availability of care for older citizens. In non-Western countries, there has been a tradition of the sons and daughters to look after their parents when they get old. Unfortunately, with the migration to Europe, this aspect of traditional life is being discarded. Then you have the awful situation of older citizens, who do not necessarily have the language skills in the new country, having to be cared for by the welfare state.

Reduce Doctors’ Workload

I’m sure that family doctors have a very high workload in dealing with chronic diseases among the population. I sincerely hope that they would welcome a way of reducing this workload. It would be far more effective if the doctors were responsible for educating the citizens instead of medicating the citizens.

Is it fair to expect citizens of all intellectual abilities to learn how to take responsibility for their health? In this country, as well as most countries I would think, citizens are obliged to understand every law, especially tax laws. “Ignorance of the law is no defence”. Learning new habits as to how to live healthily is no more difficult than, say, understanding the law required to drive a vehicle. Yet most people learn how to drive.

We did it with smoking…

Governments have been quite successful, although not entirely so, in persuading people not to smoke. It has been estimated that one unit of currency spent on prevention of smoking saves 10,000 units of currency in treatment later in life. With smoking, governments were dealing with a highly addictive substance and a very strong industry.

I think public opinion should be developed to allow governments to take on Big Agri, Big Pharma, and Big Food. The problem of sugar addiction remains. No eyebrows are raised today when someone eats cakes or put sugar in their tea or coffee, or consume massive portions of carbohydrates and seemingly incessant eating. Indeed, the advice has been to snack regularly.

Today, not many people would light up a cigarette in a home or an office, because the customs have changed, bolstered by legislation, which means that people have to go outside to smoke. What’s more, it is an antisocial habit – yes, because smoking directly affects other people around. Of course, eating yourself fat does not have the same effect on others. Not directly in any case. In the long term, there is a devastating effect. In countries like the United States, the burden of health may land on the family and developing chronic diseases can seriously damage your wealth. In Western Europe, the state has a responsibility of providing health care universally. But who is the state? Regarding finance, it is the citizens having to pay tax. It is the hospitals who have to divert resources to pay for medication, very often cutting down on nursing – the function that is required to heal people, in the case of acute illness.

So it should be quite clear that the current path is unsustainable. Nations will drown in health care costs. Something has to be done, and has to be done now!

[1] https://www.alzheimers.org.uk/info/20091/what_we_think/146/financial_cost_of_dementia

[2] http://www.sum.dk/Sundhed/Sundhedsvaesnet/Sundhedsoekonomi/Sundhedsvaesenet_i_tal_og_fakta.aspx

[3] http://cww.dk/media/PDF/2015_06_Sundhedssektoren_II.pdf