....The zombie apocalypse is coming. I'm sure of it.
In my world, the zombies are not undead creatures that turn up overnight and eat brains. They are the relentless overflow of chronically sick patients that hospitals are no longer large enough to accommodate. I can imagine it now - streets full of moaning people, sick from their type II diabetes and demented from Alzheimer's, with nothing that "modern" medicine can offer them and no hospital beds to put them in. Half-blind from diabetic retinopathy, these zombies will stumble through the cities. Their oozing, infected, numb feet will slowly rot off because there won't be any antibiotics left that cover even the most "routine" infections. Doctors will be left to fight whatever fires they can. We'll just hose the streets down with statins, metformin and ACE inhibitors and see what sticks.
I know that sounds far-fetched, but I haven't seen one piece of evidence that suggests we aren't heading in that direction. I can safely say that we just don't understand the diseases we're treating as well as we think we do. I could tell you that we have good evidence which suggests that high carbohydrate intake and low blood lipids (fat and cholesterol) are highly predictive of dementia, but very few of my medical colleagues would believe me.
I know that we need to practise medicine based on hard scientific evidence, but I sometimes find it strange that we examine huge databases like those from the Nurses and Health Professionals studies to try and extract what particular food is causing what disease. Can we eat eggs? What about red meat? Is dairy OK? Whole grains must be good because the American Heart Association says they are.
While individual associations (eggs and prostate cancer, coffee and dementia, high fructose corn syrup and everything) are very informative and worth examining, it all boils down to one thing. We eat shit food and we sit around too much. The problem is that everyone "knows" this, but rates of obesity and metabolic syndrome are still increasing. I certainly have no interest in forcing people towards a particular lifestyle, and you are free to do whatever you like, of course. However, if that's the case, it's going to take a complete breakdown of health services like the one I've described above in order for people take notice.
I think I have a good idea of how we should eat and exercise, but I do also believe that people need to find their own balance. We only have one life after all, and I don't want you to spend it eating celery all day, I promise.
However, why not take a few days where you eat only real food and you walk to work. What's "real food"? If it has "ingredients" in it already doesn't count as real food. I promise that it's not that hard. If you don't feel better already after a week, we can go down to McDonald's together for a burger and an insulin prescription.
1. Yaffe K, Blackwell T, Whitmer RA, Krueger K, Barrett Connor E. Glycosylated hemoglobin level and development of mild cognitive impairment or dementia in older women. J Nutr Health Aging. 2006 Jul-Aug;10(4):293-5.
2. Elias PK, Elias MF, D'Agostino RB, Sullivan LM, Wolf PA. Serum cholesterol and cognitive performance in the Framingham Heart Study. Psychosom Med. 2005 Jan-Feb;67(1):24-30.