Dr Dale Peterson, Building Health by Design, book, excerpt,

Building Health by Design: Adding Life to your Years and Years to your Life

Building Health by Design: Adding Life to your Years and Years to your Life

Scheduled for Release November 2010.  Click here for Pre-publication Special

Health care reform was a major focus of the first two years of Barack Obama’s presidency. The impact that the health care reform act of 2010 will have on our society remains to be seen, but one thing is certain. If you wish to optimize your health and maximize the quality and quantity of your life you must accept personal responsibility for restoring and maintaining your health. To understand why you and you alone hold the keys to true health care reform you must know what the term “health care” really means.

I would like to begin by asking you to imagine that you are traveling in a scenic area. As you reach the crest of a hill, you see before you a tragic situation. People have been inner tubing, canoeing, and rafting down a gently flowing stream unaware that around a bend in the river, a tributary changes the stream into a raging churning torrent filled with eddies, undercurrents, and rocks culminating in a roaring waterfall.

This is a disaster area! People all around are drowning. Some are being battered against the rocks and others are plunging to their death as they pass over the edge of the falls. Attempts, often desperate ones, are being made to rescue them but as you watch the scene you realize to your horror that this situation has been going on for a long time. Fully organized rescue squads are on the scene. A labyrinth of ropes, buoys and other devises to aid in the rescue effort has been established. In some ways this complicates the problems and pushes people closer to the edge of the falls. As you drive into town, you find that the rescue effort is one of the town's main industries. Rescue schools are in full operation and store after store is selling rescue equipment. The newspapers, radio stations, and television stations have reporters on permanent assignment covering the heroic rescues.

Assessing the situation you think to yourself, "this is insane . . . someone has to go upstream and tell people not to put in," but when you arrive upstream you find another town which has entire industries devoted to recreational use of the river. Stores there are selling tubes, rafts and canoes; promotional efforts encouraging people to enter the water are all around. Billboards display the joy of the float trip; radio spots and television ads have catchy jingles urging people to get on their way. It's a real carnival atmosphere!

You begin to tell people about the dangers involved in floating the river but most of them jump in anyway and when you suggest that they should at least wear a life vest, many laugh and quote local experts who have assured them that it isn't necessary and would be a waste of money.

If what I have just described sounds like a nightmare, it is. But in reality, it is an allegory of what is called the United States Health Care System. The system isn't designed to keep people well; it is designed to rescue them when they get into trouble. This country does have one of the best disease care systems in the world but far too many people are finding themselves in the midst of a medical crisis. At times, although well intentioned, the rescue system actually has unwanted side effects that make people get worse or even die.

Additionally, we don't have an active disease prevention system in this country; we have a disease promotion system. Just like the town that was tied to the industries sending the people into the river, our economy is heavily dependent upon industries that send people down the road to illness. Some of them, I think, are obvious such as the tobacco and the liquor industries, but some are not so obvious. Major food suppliers, nonalcoholic beverage industries, and manufacturers of toxic personal care items and cleaning supplies do the same. All are selling people down the river. Consider the top ten grossing items in the United States grocery stores. The grocery store is where you go to get nutritious things, right? Number 1 on the list is Marlboro cigarettes, #2 is Coca Cola Classic, #3 Pepsi Cola, #4 Kraft processed cheese, #5 Diet Coke, #6 Campbell's soup, #7 Budweiser beer, #8 Tide detergent, #9 Folger's coffee, and #10 is Winston cigarettes.

We really don't have true preventive medicine in this country. Most of what passes for prevention is really early detection. A mammogram can't prevent breast cancer, it can only help find cancers in earlier stages of development and a PSA test can't prevent prostate cancer, it can only suggest that a tumor is present. Wouldn’t you rather decrease your chances of developing a disease than simply hoping to catch it in an earlier stage?

What is called preventive medicine is really simply trying to prevent a more serious disease from developing. Treating high blood pressure with medications may help prevent strokes but why aren't we trying to prevent the high blood pressure in the first place? Lowering cholesterol levels with drugs may decrease the risk of a heart attack but wouldn't it make more sense to prevent the changes in blood vessels and LDL cholesterol that actually cause the problem?

I spent 30 years of my life working in the disease care system. I've seen incredible technical advances over that period of time. I've witnessed the advent of CAT scanners, MRIs, organ transplants, laser surgery, angioplasties, and artificial joint replacements - just to name a few. Over the years, however, I've become convinced that the answer to the health challenges faced by the vast majority of people is not high tech - it is low tech. It is simply providing the body with the basic support it needs to function properly while decreasing exposure to substances or energies that attack or break down the body's defenses.

My personal health challenges drove me to look for answers beyond those recommended in standard medical textbooks and mainstream medical journals. As my personal health improved I felt compelled to share what I had learned with those seeking my assistance in dealing with their health challenges.

I whispered a prayer. “God, if you will teach me how to help people truly get well rather than just treat symptoms I will look at anything and everything no matter how strange it sounds to my medically trained ears. If, after careful study, I am confident that it cannot cause any harm and I can, to my personal satisfaction, understand the mechanism by which it produces results I will offer it to those seeking my help.”

For nearly two decades I have been asking the question, “What else is out there I don’t know about?” For nearly two decades I have been finding answers. It has been, and continues to be, a grand and glorious adventure. I invite you to join me in that adventure by not only reading about the answers I have found, but taking steps to implement them in your own life. I invite you to engage in true health care reform.