Saturday, December 23, 2006

What is your philosphy of health?

Is health better achieved through manipulating biology or behavior?

I always read my Wash U alumni mag (did my PT grad degree there) with a bit of a skeptical eye. Lots of bragging about the medical school and research on the cellular level vs. information about more practical arts and interventions. This latest issue had two items that caught my eye.

The first was a short blurb on current research by Jeff Gordon, Ph.D and his lab, and how they study the types of bacteria in the guts of special mice, to see if the different bacteria types absorb more or fewer calories from various foods. You know, we can't possibly be the fattest, sickest culture in the world just because of the poor choices we make. It must be the bacteria in our guts. Hmmmm....

The second blurb was on an alum, Allison Slade, who is now the principal at a charter school in the Chicago public school system. The school, Namaste Charter School, was founded in 2004 by a group of teachers who wanted to use fitness and nutrition "as an avenue to higher student achievement." In my mind, this woman and these people get it right. The kids have a "walking school bus" that brings them to school, a 15 minute "Morning Movements" class every day, and ONE HOUR of physical education every day. The teachers incorporate movement into every academic discipline and the school has a full time parent coordinator that works with parents on healthy living--cooking, nutrition, exercise. Every Friday there is a "Family Breakfast" that brings in most families for a nutritious breakfast and a workshop on a health or fitness topic.

Check out their academic philosophy and daily schedule here.

Now, which method, manipulating our biology or changing our behavior, will in the long run, bring about health to more people?


IndianCowboy said...

What a great post. The schlock coming out of 'biomedical science' and the philosophy of many doctors sickens and saddens me.

As a medical student, I find myself constantly bombarded by the pill and procedure crowd, to treat 'illnesses' that people caused through their own behavior, many of which were hardly even around a generation or two ago.

I'm glad to see people like you in the health professions taking a stand against it all.

The Iron Maven said...

Thank you so much for your comment, Indian Cowboy. I hope you, as an MD, work hard to combat this mindset and educate your patients and colleagues. We do benefit from science, but we also need to focus on our behavior and our environment