Doctor’s Tip: Regarding health, what do we want? |

Doctor’s Tip: Regarding health, what do we want?

Dr. Greg Feinsinger
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Here’s what most people want when it comes to their health:

• Live to a ripe old age.

• Have a good quality of life until hours or at most days before they die, rather than the slow downhill course so many Americans have starting in their 60s or even 50s.

• Have mobility and an intact brain until they die.

• Maintain their independence versus being institutionalized in a nursing home or assisted living.

What do most people die from in this country? In order of frequency, the top three causes of death are:

1. Cardiovascular disease (heart attacks and strokes, caused by atherosclerosis).

2. Cancer.

3. Iatrogenic causes (doctor- and hospital-caused such as side effects from pharmaceuticals, medication errors, errors in diagnosis): A Johns Hopkins University study earlier this year found that more than 250,000 deaths a year were caused by mistakes by the American health care system.

What are the main causes of disability?

1. Strokes.

2. Complications of diabetes such as blindness, amputations or neuropathy (painful feet and legs).

3. Mobility problems, often related to obesity.

Lifestyle modification, particularly daily exercise and plant-based, whole foods, moderately low-fat nutrition have been shown to prevent most of the chronic diseases from which Americans suffer and die: obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis, dementia including Alzheimer’s and many forms of cancer. This lifestyle modification has also been shown to reverse many of these conditions if already present.

The goal of these columns is to empower people to take control of their own health destiny. Of course there are no 100 percent guarantees in life. A recent cartoon in the New Yorker magazine had a drawing of a gravestone with the inscription “I can’t believe I ate all that kale for nothing.” But if you want to live a long life of good quality, it would be wise to stack the deck in your favor. As Kim Williams, M.D., current president of the American College of Cardiology said when asked why he went plant-based, “I don’t mind dying so much but I don’t want it to be my fault.”

Plant-based nutrition can be tasty. Some good cookbooks are:

• “The Oh She Glows Cookbook.”

• “Isa Does It.”

• “Thug Cookbook” (caution, there’s some bad language in this one, but my wife says it’s a good cookbook).

The first Monday of every month, I give a free PowerPoint presentation about the science behind plant-based nutrition from 7-8:30 p.m. in the board room of the Third Street Center in Carbondale.

Dr. Feinsinger, who retired from Glenwood Medical Associates after 42 years as a family physician, now has a nonprofit Center For Prevention and Treatment of Disease Through Nutrition. He is available for free consultations about heart attack prevention and any other medical concerns. Call 970-379-5718 for an appointment. For questions about his columns, email him at

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