Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Magic Health Potion: Does It Exist?

In short, NO. Absolutely, without a doubt, NO.

I know in our Western culture, where we want everything in microwave fashion, it is ingrained in us to find the quick and easy way to health and wellness. I see people seeking it out all the time, and no matter what good evidence they hear to the contrary, they often continue to search for it. I could sit down and spell out exactly why Eating Well, Moving Well, Thinking Well and Resting Well is the formula for optimum health right in front of them, and it would all make sense, but the minute a quick solution is bandied about, it seems inherent in our nature that we grab onto it.

I don't know why that is. I know when I hear about such products, I am initially hopeful. But within a few minutes of thinking about it, without even researching it further, I know innately in my heart that it's probably just like one of the other many different products I've seen come down the pipe over my 2 decades of being in the wellness business. And most likely its popularity will peak, and then fade, especially if/when health issues come about related to this miracle product as so often happens.

My heart actually breaks for people that want it so badly to be the magic formula for them. I want optimum health for everyone: me, my family and our society so badly I want to scream when I hear someone promoting a product as the answer to our ills. Our society makes it so easy to slip into this mindset that "for every ill there is a pill". Think about this, does health really come in a pill? Is the solution for health and wellness wrapped up in a tiny drink or capsule? We all know in our heart that it doesn't come that way. Even with the supplements I take and promote, I know they don't create good health by themselves. It comes from taking care of our body with good nutrition, movement, rest and right thinking. There is no other way, period.

Often many of these products promote themselves as natural. This is particularly true in the weight loss realm. However, simple research often shows that though the products are natural, they contain things that can be harmful, particularly stimulants. Ma Huang was one that was used in the last decade, now there is one being used called "guarana". Stimulants such as these increase your heart rate, can cause palpitations and raise blood pressure when used in products to help with weight loss. Yes people WILL lose weight on them. And yes they can become skinny, but they can become skinny and have a heart palpitations, anxiety, or heart attacks. Look back on the product from the early/mid 90's called Formula 1. It was a weight loss products, sold in multilevel marketing form and was quite the rage. I remember many patients of mine trying to get me to promote it since it was "natural". Later when heart issues occurred in many of those taking the product, it went away, thought it's made an appearance again in something of a new form I hear.

Stimulants also "stimulate" one's adrenals. That can lead to adrenal fatigue or burnout, and more health issues with weight gain in the long run. Additionally, once someone loses weight on a product, if they stop taking the product they will gain the weight back, so they are essentially on the product for life (which by the way never happens in my experience, people always stop taking the product at some point,and sadly, but predictably, the weight returns).

Beyond that, I am really on a mission to get people to understand that weight loss doesn't mean health. Think about it. Anorexic people are not healthy. Starving people in 3rd world countries are not healthy. Unfortunately our society thinks thin is equivalent to health, and it's just not so. One can lose weight, but still have stress issues that lead to a heart attack. One can exercise perfectly but still not get enough good rest and end up with ill health. So the goal should never be "weight loss". It should be optimum health, and pursuing that will usually lead to weight loss. And some of them cause such rapid weight loss that it is not considered healthy. 2-3 pounds/week is optimum weight loss, more than that can be dangerous to your health.

My friends, please, please know there is no magic formula for health and well being. If all you want is weight loss, there are products that can help you lose weight. Knowing what I know, and having been around as long as I have been, I cannot and will not endorse them at all. If you are going to use them, you need to be aware of their side effects, and think long and hard about what your goal really should be, not what society says it should be.

Until next time...Be Well!
Dr. Bruce

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