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The Ignorance of the Medical Community about Exercise and Nutrition by Matthew Romans

Regardless of what your personal stance is on what role (if any) the government should play in medical care/health insurance, I think most of us can agree that the system is currently in turmoil. It can be a challenge to get in touch with your primary doctor, you may have to wait long periods of time to get essential services and tests, and there are often bureaucratic hoops to jump through with your insurance carrier. As Dr. Doug McGuff, author of "Body by Science" and co-author of "The Primal Prescription" says, "you do not want to be in the belly of that beast." To make matters worse, most in the medical community are, for reasons discussed below, either ignorant or apathetic on the subjects of exercise and nutrition. Having a solid grasp on these two subjects would go a long way toward promoting health and preventing disease, yet most doctors don't have the first clue. How can this be?

As many will tell you, being a doctor is not the glamorous job some may think it is. After four years of undergraduate study, four years of medical school, and (depending on their field of specialty) three to seven years of residency, most doctors start their professional careers saddled with tremendous debt. Doctors often put in long hours in dangerous conditions doing work that goes unrecognized. With all of the new regulations of the past several years, the increased non-medical demands on a doctor's time (paperwork, dealing with insurance companies, etc.) make it very challenging for them to keep up with new developments that occur in their own field of specialty, let alone learn about proper exercise and nutrition.

To paraphrase Dr. Ken Berry, board-certified physician and author of "Lies My Doctor Told Me", what is taught in medical schools about nutrition is minimal at best. The majority of the mainstream medical community still believes in the "cholesterol hypothesis" which states that consumption of fat leads to elevated levels of cholesterol, which in turn causes heart disease (if you want to know why this is patently false, read "The Great Cholesterol Con" by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick). Most doctors still subscribe to the traditional low-fat, grain-based Western diet that makes up the bulk of the USDA food pyramid. This has been standard operating procedure since the late 1960s. Unfortunately, the rate of adult-onset diabetes, obesity, certain forms of cancer, and other "diseases of modern civilization" have increased significantly in that time. Rather than recommend a more ancestrally appropriate nutritional approach, the typical answer of the mainstream medical community is to prescribe medication. Unfortunately, this treats the symptoms rather than the underlying problem and creates a whole host of unintended consequences in the form of side effects.

Most doctors know even less about proper exercise; Dr. McGuff, who is an emergency room physician and owner of an exercise studio, has talked about this at length over the years. Since the mainstream medical community generally doesn't understand the principles of safe, slow motion strength training (the kind we instruct at Total Results), they are unlikely to recommend it to their patients. Doctors pay exorbitant amounts for their liability insurance, and they must constantly worry about lawsuits. They are likely to prescribe a walking program, and since walking is an activity of daily living they cannot be sued if you happen to get injured. My experience has been that discussing our philosophy of exercise with doctors is a challenge. I've been talked down to, dismissed, and have encountered attitudes of superiority when trying to explain to them what we do. Having gone through the rigors of medical school, residency, and years in their practice, many older doctors exhibit what author Dr. Carol Dweck calls a "fixed mindset." This means that they feel that they have done all the learning that they need and are not open to new ideas or opposing points of view.

What should you do?

Be your own advocate; do your own research and learn everything you can. Be skeptical; don't just accept the status quo. While we tend to mythologize doctors because of all their years of schooling and their white coats, they are not infallible. Find a physician that is willing to take the time to talk to you, and not just rush off to see the next patient. Ask your doctor what they do to further their education: do they read medical journals and regularly attend conferences/symposiums? What else do they read that is outside of their field? Seek out a doctor that will explore alternative ideas, research things thoroughly, and has a willingness to continue their education. If your current doctor is not willing to do those things, it's time to find a new doctor.

Eat an ancestrally-appropriate diet that is primarily made up of single-ingredient whole foods, with an adequate amount of protein and a large percentage of healthy fats. Finally, it's important that you perform one or two brief, but high-intensity, strength training workouts per week in the ideal exercise environment at Total Results. This will enable you to maximize your genetic blueprint in minimum time, protect against injury, help you slow down the effects of aging, and also keep your immune system functioning at a high level. At Total Results, we have what Dr. Dweck calls the "growth mindset", meaning that our commitment to education and improvement never stop. We will continue to pass the knowledge we have acquired along to you.

Posted March 11, 2019 by Tim Rankin