THE FUTURE OF THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM MUST BE PEOPLE-DRIVEN
The current state of the healthcare system does not support people, it recruits patients. Because of the connections between consumerism and healthcare, systems are not in place to support people in preventing or at least reducing the risk of chronic disease. It is truly up to people to learn to advocate for their own healthcare choices, beginning with simple and incremental steps that increase the chances of optimizing health. My work is to provide access to useful research and actionable incremental behavior change so people may align with their own health management and better collaborate with healthcare providers.
SMALL & INCREMENTAL CHANGES IN OUR BEHAVIOR CAN IMPROVE THE QUALITY OF OUR LIFE AND REDUCE THE RISK OF CHRONIC DISEASE.
Lifestyle changes can be overwhelming, but when activated in small and incremental revisions in our behavior, we can see big improvements. A collection of digestible research, Optimizing Your Health reduces the resistance to a lifestyle change by decreasing fear and rigidity through education and hard facts. Of course, the recommendations in the book are not a guarantee that all diseases will be prevented, but it does transform the perspective on health scares, and how to increase the probability of successful health outcomes. By connecting the relationship between the hard research and how to apply it to daily choices, we can reduce the risk or at least postpone the onset or impact of chronic disease.
TURNING THE HEALTHCARE SHIP AROUND, ONE STUDY AT A TIME.
I believe that it is possible to turn the ship around from authoritative medicine to collaboration between doctors and (people) patients. I also believe that we can transform confusion and fear into education, and transform health scares into health care. It was only after diving into over 200 (?) peer-reviewed research studies that I began to better understand my own story (*content) and begin drafting Optimizing Your Health. Since then, it has become a comprehensive volume to begin the journey of adopting new behaviors to repattern our lifestyle choices into healthier ones.
FEAR IS NOT GOOD FOR THE IMMUNE SYSTEM.
What we don’t know about our bodies can often lead us into states of fear and cause us to make poor lifestyle choices. Anxiety about what could be happening often can overshadow the actions to prevent the very chronic conditions that scare us in the first place. My goal is to transform fear of the known and unknown into actionable steps through health education. The education I provide is from combing, translating, and connecting the dots from research to behavior change for optimal health outcomes. That way, we can advocate for ourselves while we build new patterns of behavior to dissolve or delay the onset of chronic disease.
SPECIALTIES HAVE REPLACED THE WHOLE
We live in a world of systems where medical specialties have replaced a more holistic approach. While that makes sense for the medical system to function in a consumer-based society, treatments are administered for a specific symptom with negative impacts to the whole body. Nothing acts alone. Everything is synergistic The replication of laser-focusing at the expense of the whole has landed us compartmentalization in our care. While some are very lucky to receive holistic care from teams of general practitioners and specialists, many are silo’d in the care of specialists. Sure, we look for medication interactions, and our sophisticated records systems keep us safe, but there is an opportunity to advocate for us to be safe and healthier.
PEOPLE, NOT PATIENTS.
I believe in advocating for people to avoid ever becoming patients. When people become patients, they often lose their personhood within the healthcare system. The word patient comes from the latin patientem which means "bearing, supporting, suffering, enduring, permitting”. To be patient implies that one is “capable of enduring misfortune, suffering, etc., without complaint.” When we become a patient, there is an implied experience of impending conditions that cause us to seek treatment in the first place. When we begin to look at patients as people, we immediately turn the tides of perception, humanizing the one who is impacted the most in healthcare: the person.
In this lucidly written book, Emily Gold Mears provides a roadmap for individuals to understand their own bodies and enact different behaviors and regimens to achieve good health and wellness. She does not use jargon or patronize the reader but rather explains concepts clearly and succinctly while pointing to additional resources, including clinical trials and reputable research studies. The penultimate chapter on using to evidence to understand science and medicine is especially helpful in elucidating the potential as well as limitations of different types of clinical investigation. If only all people were as proactive, data-driven, rigorous, and scientifically curious as Gold Mears! With this book, she gives readers an opportunity to be so and to work (it definitely takes work, as she shows!) toward greater health.
Aaron F. Mertz Ph.D.
Director, Aspen Institute Science & Society Program
Emily Gold Mears offers the public an extraordinary gift. The current pandemic has reminded us all in graphic and compelling ways that we have ultimate responsibility for our own health. For best outcomes with our medical professional partners, we must nonetheless navigate enormous amounts of information from seemingly infinite origins, often contradictory and confusing. As a citizen scientist and unbiased advocate for responsible, effective, evidenced-based healthcare, Ms. Gold Mears provides a framework for us to make the most well-informed medical decisions. She translates primary source cutting-edge clinical research into clear protocols for action. As a psychiatrist focusing on epigenetics and brain health, I hope every patient with whom I consult will utilize this excellent comprehensive resource. They would be able to engage in more meaningful dialogue and ask better questions to the desired end of truly optimizing their health and well-being. I further hope the public more generally will do the same, ultimately elevating the common good.
Ronnie S. Stangler, MD.
Clinical Professor Emerita, University of Washington, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Founder, Genome Advisory
Emily Gold Mears has written a truly approachable guide that seeks to make sense out of the torrent of sometime contradictory novel information that is emerging around age-old topics like diet, exercise, and sleep while exploring cutting-edge research and its health implications in areas like the genome and the microbiome. Throughout, she brings a distinctive voice filled with curiosity and humility, leavened by personal stories that humanize the science she is summarizing and that illuminate the fundamental human desire to help us all live longer, healthier, and happier lives.
Robert C. Green, M.D., M.P.H
Professor of Medicine (Genetics), Director, Genomes2People Research Program/Preventive Genomics Clinic/Population Precision Health at Ariadne Labs, Mass General Brigham, Broad Institute, Ariadne Labs, Harvard Medical School