Dr. Mark Hyman says that self-care is the key to being a healthy human today. In fact, he says eighty percent of health conditions can be solved without a physician. The health care system puts band aids on the symptoms and doesn’t deal with the causes. “Don’t treat disease,” Hyman says. “Create health.” You can do this by taking care of yourself and solving your own health issues. You’re smarter than the healthcare system thinks you can be.
The health care system we have is very top heavy. It’s doctor- and hospital-centric instead of patient- and community-centered. And we’ve basically led people to believe that their health has to be in the hands of the health care system, that they don’t have the power to control their health, to regulate their health, to create health. And I think it’s very important for us to realize that we can do that, and we can not have to wait for the health care system to solve our health care problems.
I’m a firm believer in do-it-yourself health, that self-care is where this all starts, and that 80 percent of health conditions can be solved without a physician. In fact, those patients who are going to physicians to solve those problems are not getting results — people with migraines and irritable bowel and reflux and obesity and diabetes and high blood pressure. They’re getting medications that are band-aids on the symptoms but not really dealing with the cause.
So what I encourage people to do is not treat disease but create health, and disease goes away as a side effect of creating health. So the plans that I give people, the programs that I provide, the things that are at the foundation of functional medicine, are really pathways for people to take care of themselves and to solve their own health issues. And you can do that by finding out where your imbalances are through a series of personalized quizzes and taking a series of action steps. And there’s also a wonderful guide I have on how to work with your doctor to get what you need. What are the right tests to ask for? How do you be an empowered patient? What are the kinds of treatments available that your doctor may not know about that can help you?
At the end of the day, you’re the one who makes the decisions about what to do for you, whether to take this medication or not, whether to change your diet. Whatever you’re doing is your choice, and you have to find a physician who you can partner with. And I encourage people to ask questions, to engage their physician, to be an active patient, to be an empowered patient, to not just take everything at face value, to do your homework. It’s your body. It’s your life, and handing it over without any sense of ownership about that is not a great idea.
I want to break the guild of secrecy around medicine and diagnosis, and that’s why I write books and talk about these things, because I think we can be engaged and we can be smarter than the health care system thinks we can.
(Mark Hyman, M.D. is a practicing physician and an internationally recognized authority in the field of Functional Medicine – a revolution in 21st century medicine that provides a new road map for navigating the territory of health and illness. Dr. Hyman is the author of multiple New York Times best-sellers including The Blood Sugar Solution, The UltraMind Solution, The UltraSimple Diet, UltraMetabolism,and the weekly UltraWellness Newsletter)