Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Live from FEI 2013: Cheese + Rice: Continued …

David Agus, M.D. and author of “The End of Illness”

The pebble in the pond effect from David’s speech was worth noting. The people this writer talked to after his speech proclaimed it as both inspiring and a bit scary. A few people even considered getting up to walk around after his comparison between sitting for five hours equaling smoking a pack and a quarter of cigarettes per day. David’s impact was tremendous.

As we sit here at a conference for even more than 5 hours total.

He set us all up with a discussion around metrics, because he always goes back to the data for proof of point. He asked us, how do we measure wellness? Is it living longer? Or is it feeling better now? Sometimes we sacrifice one for the other.

David concluded with the metric of getting back to an era when we “die of old age” instead of diseases. The age is 83, if we live that long then the healthcare systems don’t take extreme measures to keep us alive. This also matches up nicely with the fact that we spend 60% of our healthcare costs on the last two years of our lives. Hard subject area, but David dropped us into it with noteworthy bedside manner.  

Then, in a beautiful act of humility, he admitted to the mistakes of all doctors including his own. “Eat margarine, not butter” and all the other misdirection’s by the medical doctor industry was his example for us. 

From here, he went deep into the idea of movement. In a study of bus drivers versus bus ticket takers, the ticket takers had less heart disease and cancer. The drivers sit all day, the ticket takers walk around all day. This is when the room took a collective breath in and considered standing up. David would serve himself well with a dramatic stop and asking for the audience to stand up for the next five minutes. Then he connected it back to his most famous patient, Steve Jobs and his habit of taking a walk with people instead of meeting in conference rooms. And, if you’re curious about how this was also a negotiation technique by Steve Jobs, you should ask.

Then, if we call started our day chewing the bark of the willow tree, we would live longer and have less illness. And, if you don’t have a willow tree, a baby aspirin is the modern day replacement. Yes, a baby aspirin a day. You can bet the sales of baby aspirin in Boston, Ma just had a small boost. And, if you take the flu shot each year, you reduce the stress on your heart of the flu and reduce your chance of heart disease.

Now, David went whale hunting. Vitamins are good for you and they equal longer life, right? WRONG! He showed numerous studies around vitamins and how they actually increased death rates. He also pointed is finger at the vitamin D craze going on currently with a current measurement of over 75% of individuals having low vitamin D and how 26% of people who took vitamin D had bone fractures.

If you believe vitamins are good for you because we don’t get them from our food today, you’re wrong. If you still hold onto your “one a day” vitamin, this should cause some doubt. If you always forget, this should remove some guilt.

Last, he went into the next frontier. This writer had heard of this movement, but David’s confirmation was confidence building. The next frontier is the bacteria in our gut. We have 10x more bacteria in our body than we have cells. Take a moment to think about that fact. The micobiome project is where you should be looking if you seek nourishment from the future potential to understand the human body.

These are the three items this writer took away from David.
  1. Take one baby aspirin per day, no questions.
  2.  Get up and walk around more than you sit each day.
  3. Get rid of the vitamins in your life.
  4. Think about how your bacteria situation could change.
  5. We need leadership in national healthcare issues. This writer is voting for David Agus. 

Thank you for taking the time to read and consider our perspective.

Aaron Keller
Managing Principal

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