The Looming Health Care Trainwreck

“I do not believe in a fate that falls on men however they act; but I do believe in a fate that falls on them unless they act.”

Gilbert Keith Chesterton

Richard, of Free the Animal notoriety, recently posted this erudite dismantling of ADA (American Dietetic Association) group-think (in general), and more specifically, the Tatyana Kour piece that I mentioned a few days ago in this post.  Today’s offering, then, could be thought of as a continuation of that same theme.   This post is not meant to address the (multiple and extreme) failings of the ADA in particular, or government health care reform efforts as such, but will focus more so on each individual’s responsibility to “the health care cause”, and the unique place of Metabolic Syndrome within the grand scheme of things.  That said, in matters concerning the current debate raging on the Hill, and more specifically, in the Senate, I defer once more to the erudite GK Chesterton, and his observation that,

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected”.

Alright, alright – so the “Gub’mit” is a big, broad and easily bashed entity.  And I’ll admit that Gub’mint hatin’ is kinda like hunting sloth – there’s just not much sport in it.  But now that I’m on a roll, I have to add one more philosopher’s take on the subject.  These two snippets are from my man Friedrich Nietzsche, and they offer a tidy segue into what I wanted to discuss today.  In Nietzsche’s view, democracy can be explained as:

“two wolves and a lamb, voting on what to have for dinner” and “A political system calculated to make an intelligent minority subject to the will of the stupid.”

And both statements are apropos, I believe, when it comes to government involvement in health care.  Now, I’m not opposed to government’s involvement in health care in a contemporary Conservative/Progressive sense, nor do I stake any claim along mind-numbing, sound-bite, ideological lines.  There are too many competing (and symbiotic, as well) tentacles wrapped around the whole of the issue.

With that said, to the left is a sketch depiction of how I envision the make-up the black hole that is our (collectively) current health care situation, with Metabolic Syndrome smack dab in the center of the vortex.  All the blather currently taking place on the Hill will ultimately result in only shifting the vortex a smidgen left or right – momentarily deform the storm structure, as it were – until it ultimately re-organizes anew (and it most certainly will) with the same veracity as before.  The only way to permanently disable the storm is to bust-up the vortex, and TTP reader’s know very well how to accomplish that task.  The problem is that the entities fueling the storm have the same knowledge as you and I – or worse, they are truly clueless, manipulable, and in a position to serve, unknowingly as added fuel (see Richard’s post, re: the ADA).  Defeating Metabolic Syndrome is easy – TTP readers slay the beast on a daily basis.  But who stands to profit from this slaying?  No one, and that’s the crux of the problem.  Big Ag., Big Pharma, Big Oil?  Remove Metabolic Syndrome from the center of the storm, and these players’ profits are soon (and permanently) crippled.  Not only are their profits crippled, but their influence over government policy is reduced – double whammy.  The self-perpetuating, self-strengthening storm then collapses in upon itself.  A victory for health equates to an ugly bottom line for the big players, and that simply won’t do.

Surely, though, we’ll all be saved by the next, more enlightened generation, right?  Uhh, not so fast – the big boys, it seems, have beat you to the punch –

Cute, huh?  Budding little diabetics.  Or worse.

*Sigh…*

Save yourself, and save those who’ll listen and can be turned.  And stay in touch with my friend Brent Pottenger, at healthcare epistemocrat, as he explores some ingenious options for mapping our way out of this morass.

There is hope.  There is always hope.

In health,

Keith

Job Security…

“A conscience which has been bought once will be bought twice.”

Norbert Wiener

photo: Malingering. Yikes…

Disclaimer: as many of you know (or, if you didn’t before, you are hereby notified), that I work in the pharmaceutical industry; in validation, to be exact – a branch of quality control.  So I can take the following cited article in one of two ways – as a public service nightmare, or as, well – a positive indication of continuing job security – for as long as I care to stay in the game.  It’s not in my nature to be self-serving, and so my natural inclination here is deep contempt for those in “power/knowledge” positions, and pity for the masses who listen to them.

So, with “news” like this, out of Amman, Jordan, all indications are that the rest of the world is doing its damnedest to surpass us (“us” here, being the good ol’ USA) in obesity rates.  As if being drubbed math and science weren’t already enough…

According to Kenneth Thorpe, the Robert W. Woodruff Professor and Chair of the Department of Health Policy & Management, in the Rollins School of Public Health of Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, By 2018, 103 million American adults — or 43 percent of the population — will be considered obese.  I would venture to guess that the numbers for those below the age of 18 are just as gruesome.

Of course, any manner of health care reform will simply implode under the weight of disease management if these numbers hold true.  And “news” like the above-cited Jordan Times story indicate that while the US may lead the way over the cliff, the rest of the world is following, quite lemming-like, right behind.

More to follow…

In health,

Keith

Insulin Response

“Men and nations behave wisely once they have exhausted all the other alternatives.”

Abba Eban

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photo cred: DeathByBokeh

Inundate yourself with Paleo-minded information long enough, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that insulin is the consummate “bad guy” hormone.  That’s a little too simplistic a way to look at insulin, though — even for those of us who, though not trained specifically in the medical sciences, choose to enhance our lives through proper diet, exercise and well-rounded knowledge.  Insulin is, of course, critical for life and optimal health, and it’s not the hormone per se that is inherently evil, but the gross tilting of that hormone level beyond anything that the human body has evolved to handle that defines the problem.

In this clip (alternatively, you can jump to the Nov. 8th, 2009 WOD from the CrossFit home site), Robb Wolf discusses a case study in obesity, metabolic syndrome, and (though he doesn’t get into it here), the classic indicators of carbohydrate addiction.   If you’re a member of the CrossFit Journal (I highly recommend it, though I’m certainly no shill for CrossFit, nor do I fully endorse all of CrossFit’s ideologies), you can view a much larger portion of this video (over 7 minutes worth).

The take-away message here — and what we, as Paleo-minded, physical culturalists need to keep in mind — is that, within the body, insulin’s dictate (when excessively elevated) is to is promote/accelerate energy storage, maturation, reproduction and decline (death).  And from an evolutionary prospective, of course, this all makes perfect sense.  Quicker turnover equates to a more nimble and adaptive species.  In your grandma’s day, young girls matured in their later teens.  Nowadays, girls as young as 9 have reached reproductive maturity.  I’m not saying all of this can be laid at the feet of a hyper-insulin environment — there are plenty of other notable suspects lurking about in our diets — but I’d be willing to bet that an out-of-control insulin level has a big hand in this.

And just as Robb alluded to in the clip, the body can’t be fooled by artificial sweeteners.  The key is to successfully break the desire for the sweet taste (and thus eliminate the carb jonze), not placate that need by the use of artificial sweeteners — the equivalent of handing out methadone to heroin addicts.

Though we use the metaphor frequently, the body is not a simple furnace that serves solely to liberate energy from raw material.   There are complex storage and release components at work as well; hence the truth of a calorie not being a calorie.  The amount of energy contained in a calorie is, of course constant; what’s not constant is the hormonal impact that calorie source will have upon its host.  The first law of thermodynamics works fine for a closed system (the “furnace model”), but not for an open system, i.e., a living being.

In health,

Keith