Nuts, olive oil and vegetables are the best heart medicine ( too many prescriptions cause massive waste and harm the public).
It may be hard to believe, but poor diet now contributes to more disease and death than physical inactivity, smoking and alcohol combined (according to The Lancet). We have been guzzling sugar, refined carbohydrates and industrial vegetable oils as never before, with devastating consequences for public health. The combined costs of type 2 diabetes and obesity to the NHS and UK economy exceed £20 billion.
The good news, though, is that relatively simple changes in diet can rapidly reduce your risk of disease. As I tell my heart patients, adopting a Mediterranean diet after a heart attack is a more powerful life-saving tool than taking aspirin, statins or even heart stents.
It’s time to wind back the harms of too much medicine and prescribe a little more food. Four tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil daily, a handful of nuts, lots of vegetables and quitting sugar are just some of the daily prescriptions of a documentary film I’ve just made. The Big Fat Fix shows how simple lifestyle changes can have a dramatic impact.
The GP David Unwin, for instance, has managed to save £45,000 in diabetes medications through a simple message to patients: cut out the sugar and other refined carbohydrates from your diet and your blood glucose levels will improve. If this was adopted across all GP practices in England it could save £423 million in diabetes medications alone.
The brutal fact is that the increasing burden of chronic disease will not be solved by even more conventional medicine. Sir Bruce Keogh, the medical director of NHS England, has pointed out that one in seven NHS treatments (including operations) should never have been carried out in the first place. A “more medicine is better” culture lies at the heart of this, exacerbated by financial incentives within the system to prescribe more drugs and carry out more procedures.
The harms of over-medication are now colossal. According to Peter Gotzsche, the co-founder of the Cochrane collaboration, prescription drugs are actually the third most common cause of death across the world after heart disease and cancer. A billion NHS prescriptions are handed out every year.
It’s an appalling waste. But what should concern us most is the considerable harm to the public.
Dr Aseem Malhotra is a London-based cardiologist and advisor to the National Obesity Forum.
This article originally appeared in the Times newspaper on Friday July 22nd, see original link here: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/nuts-olive-oil-and-vegetables-are-the-best-heart-medicine-6kr6xgbzj
Full news story on parliament premiere of The Big Fat Fix in the Times reported by Katie Gibbons: http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/prescribe-nuts-not-pills-urge-doctors-089rtr6xv
Download The Big Fat Fix here:
Credit: The Times