Food Is Not Your Enemy

The Problem With Those Pills

“May cause nausea and vomiting, headaches, cancer, depression, risk of suicide, increased risk of heart attack or stroke …”

Sound familiar? It seems that every drug advertised on TV these days includes a disturbingly long list of possible side effects. While children frolic with dogs and women hula hoop in slow motion on the beach and men fly kites while hugging their wives, we’re told how these pills may, unfortunately, kill a certain number of us.

The pharmaceutical industry banks on the idea that people would rather, for instance, continue to eat unhealthy, high-calorie junk foods and take a pill to solve their reflux or high cholesterol or high blood pressure than making changes to their diet or lifestyle. And the companies are largely right in this assumption–if you can pop a pill, many of us think, why bother doing anything different? Pills are just so easy.

But the important thing to remember is that pills don’t solve the root causes of many of our health problems–they merely suppress symptoms. Let’s take headaches. Sometimes, regular headaches can be caused by a lack of magnesium in the diet. Taking a pill to get rid of the headache pain does not address this deficiency. And by not addressing this deficiency, other problems, like poor bone health, can arise. Now, look at cholesterol. High cholesterol is often caused by poor diet. If you take a prescription statin drug but continue to eat the same way you always have, your body will still suffer–that diet may lead you to become overweight (if you aren’t already), which then leads to increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many other chronic diseases. Your cholesterol numbers may have improved, but you’re not a whole lot healthier. And you may not be so happy to hear that the FDA just linked statin drugs like Lipitor and Crestor to risk of memory loss.

So instead of looking to solve everything through pills, try taking a look at what can be improved in your life. That chronic gastritis may be the result of an overly stressful job–that’s exactly what I realized many years ago, which led me to seek out a new job and allowed me to toss aside the Prilosec prescription. Your insomnia may be due to lack of exercise, or too much alcohol in the evening, or that third cup of coffee you have each day, or also, an overly stressful job. Make some adjustments in any of these areas and you may no longer need the Ambien.

If you take greater ownership over your own health, you won’t have to put yourself at the mercy of the drug-makers. And that means a whole lot fewer possible side effects.