A few months ago, I spoke with a diabetic and obese man, just over 50 years old. He voiced his displeasure with both the health and weight problems. He saw a news piece about resveratrol, a substance found in grapes that is believed to aid weight loss and lower blood sugar. He was interested in taking resveratrol pills although not confident and wanted my opinion. I recommended starting a low carb diet, a method that has been shown to reduce blood sugar and body fat through several studies (like here, for example). I also recommended strength training, even just once a week for 20 minutes, as it would improve insulin sensitivity and physical appearance. We finished up by getting the information of a low carb doctor in his area who could supervise the diet and alter medications as needed.
The result: he went with resveratrol and no diet or strength training. Recently, he stopped taking the pills due to lack of any progress. Unfortunately, the man is a microcosm for the mindset of most people. Most people are generally unwilling to try something that is new, not in their comfort zones, and something that may take more effort, especially when there is a pill that promises to hide the symptoms without any changes to lifestyle. Symptoms and the cause of the disease, however, are not the same. Treating symptoms is just a simple way to mask the condition and put off the problem. It's no different than avoiding the room in your house that needs to be painted, instead of just painting the room and eliminating that stress altogether. In addition, as someone once told me:
- People are not obese due to a deficiency of a weight loss pill.
- People are not diabetic due to a deficiency of a blood sugar pill.
(Feel free to plug in your own disease and related medication in the previous phrases).
Other examples of masking symptoms are going for massages and taking up meditation for stress management when a change to your commute or work hours would eliminate the stress altogether. Now, sometimes these sources are temporary and necessary (i.e. moving, changing jobs), but when it comes to health, why not just attack the source?
The following video was recently posted on Tom Naughton's blog. It's a hilarious satire on the magic pill-over-diet-and-exercise world that we live in. Enjoy: