Dr. Leslie Batten
Naturopathic Physician

(p) 503.860.4338 | (f) 866.561.8033

Musings: Health...the absence of disease?

It all began with a Tweet...

I tweet. I didn't understand the pull of it, how typing 140 characters would be interesting to anyone. And, if they were interested, that pretty much told me what I needed to know about Twitter-land. Who needs to be reading stuff from people with short attention spans? And then I became one of them. I am addicted.

What I love about Twitter is that there are so many people and organizations to follow. As a physician, I read tweets from doctors around the world. I also follow folks who have nothing at all to do with medicine, which can be quite entertaining.

One person I follow is a surgeon. He and I have had spirited Twitter exchanges regarding facets of naturopathic medicine but find ourselves in agreement when it comes to a fantastic ice cream joint in Portland called Salt and Straw. He visits the area on a fairly regular basis and he dreams of the olive oil ice cream. YUM. Oops...going off on a tangent!

This morning, he posted the following tweet: "Food can kill you, but it probably cannot cure you."

So, I tweeted back: "The right food can sure make you a heck of a lot healthier. And, actually, it can cure some folks of diabetes, hypertension."

To which he replied: "Food can't cure diabetes. Food can't cure hypertension."

Me: "Food choices most certainly can."

Me (again, before he could reply): "The right food can sure make you a heck of a lot healthier. And, actually, it can cure some folks of diabetes, hypertension."

Him: "Food doesn't cure diabetes. Diabetes can improve and not require meds but it is no more cured than my dog becomes a cat."

Him (again): "med free does not mean disease free. Yes improving diet, weight loss, exercise remove need for meds."

...which led to a lightbulb coming on over my head...

And that sparked an "ah-ha!" moment for me. If you find yourself diagnosed with the most common chronic conditions in our country - hypertension, stroke, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, among others - diet and exercise will go a long way in moving you back to health. And, you may no longer be saddled with any of these conditions, at least clinically-speaking.

Your blood pressure is now within normal limits (around 120/70). Your hemoglobin A1C, which measures blood sugar control over a 90- to 120-day range, matching the life of red blood cells, is also within normal limits (5 or under). You're sleeping better. You're eating fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, exercising daily, drinking water. You're doing everything right. But are you disease-free? Healthy?

...which led to a But....

There's always a "but", isn't there? And this one is a big one: what damage was done that cannot be undone because of the bad habits that got you to your chronic disease diagnosis/diagnoses?

Hypertension, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease all affect the retina (eyes). Can new veins be grown to feed the eye of needed oxygen and other nutrients? Nerve endings are destroyed by uncontrolled type 2 diabetes. Do they re-grow? Poor wound healing is also a hallmark of type 2 diabetes; does that improve? Then there are the kidneys, which filter the body's blood and are an intricate system of arteries/capillaries. What damage is done that cannot be undone?

There are two ways to look at this "but". One, you can do nothing to improve your health and the damage that has been done will continue to get worse. Two, you can do as much as you can to improve your health and stop the damage where it is, and take the steps necessary to undo as much as possible.

...and why you need me...

That's where I fit into your life. Food choices, lifestyle choices, a boost from supplements (which are, as a reminder, supplemental, not forever-after) will move you to not only the absense of clinical disease, but of overall health. Some of that damage can be repaired.

...and how we all need ice cream!

And, if you're ever in Portland and have a craving for the best ice cream on the planet, get yourself to Salt and Straw.

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Medicinal Plant (occasional post)

         What is a Naturopathic Physician?
         "I Have Cancer"
         Take Back Your Health
         The ABCs of Health
         I'll Bite
         Health...The Absence of Disease?