By Dr. Mercola
If your physician is overweight or obese, does it make him or her less able to give you sound medical advice?
Logically, you would say no, yet a new study published in the International Journal of Obesity1 found that excess body weight impacts patients’ views of their physician.
When a physician was perceived to be overweight or obese, patients viewed him or her as less credible and trustworthy, and they were less inclined to follow the given medical advice.
This bias may not be fair; as mentioned, body weight obviously has little bearing on a physician’s ability to practice medicine. However, are such reservations justifiable?
It is most unfortunate that the vast majority of physicians who finish medical school are not highly motivated to follow truly healthy lifestyles, but more or less succumb to the powerful brainwashing influence of Big Pharma in their curriculum.
Research Shows Healthier Doctors Have Healthier Patients
You probably wouldn’t knowingly take driving lessons from an instructor who had carelessly totaled his car. Likewise, you may be less inclined to accept health advice from someone you perceive to be unhealthy.
An overweight physician may still be healthy but is likely to be perceived as less so than a physician who is fit. According to the recent study, overweight physicians were less trusted by both normal weight and overweight patients alike. The study’s lead author told the New York Times:2
“The bias against overweight people is so socially accepted that despite all the doctor’s training and expertise, it can jeopardize the doctor’s ability to have a conversation about health care with the patient.”
It’s a harsh finding, but there may be some reason to seek out the healthiest physicians. Separate research has shown, in fact, that healthier physicians tend to have healthier patients.3
Unfortunately, that particular study used practices like mammography and annual vaccinations, which are poor measures of true health as the markers, finding that patients whose physicians were compliant with these practices were more likely to have undergone these procedures themselves.
This suggests that other preventive measures practiced by physicians, such as healthful eating and exercise, may also transfer over to patients as well.
So the secret to finding the best health care provider for you may lie in seeking someone who is like-minded, more inclined to use natural therapies and lifestyle strategies before medicine, if that is important to you, as well as someone who practices what they preach. The study’s author noted:4
“It’s human nature. People usually preach what they practice. Personal adoption of a practice suggests that the doctors are sufficiently convinced of the importance of the intervention that they are motivated enough to even do it themselves, and perhaps they’ve figured out how to overcome access barriers that can enable patients, as well.”
Healthy Personal Behaviors Improve Physicians’ Credibility
Research has shown not only that physicians with healthy lifestyles are more likely to discuss such practices with their patients, but also that talking about these healthful personal habits improves their credibility and ability to motivate their patients to do the same.5 The correlation was so strong that researchers concluded:
“Educational institutions should consider encouraging health professionals-in-training to practice and demonstrate healthy personal lifestyles.”
Another study similarly found that healthy physicians can help motivate positive change for entire communities, noting:6
“Physician-directed interventions that advance these [health] principles are most effective when directed by clinicians who regularly participate in such healthy behaviors themselves.”
What does this mean for you? Choosing a physician shouldn’t only be about credentials and educational background but also about their personal lifestyle choices. Does your physician exercise? Does he or she embrace healthy eating habits and stress-reduction techniques? If so there’s a good chance these positive habits will get passed on to you.
You Don’t Need a Doctor to Learn How to Take Control of Your Health
It may be especially motivating to have your physician tell you to eat more vegetables or get more exercise, but you don’t need a physician to learn some of the most important variables to reaching optimal health.
The vast majority of deaths in wealthier countries like our own are due to chronic, not acute, disease. And most chronic diseases, including cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and obesity, are largely preventable with simple lifestyle changes. Even infectious diseases like the flu can often be warded off by a healthy way of life.
The added bonus to this is that the healthier you are, the less you will need to rely on conventional medical care, which is a leading cause of death. So while it’s a good idea to choose a doctor who leads a healthy lifestyle, it’s even better to lead one yourself! So what does a "healthy lifestyle" entail?
- Proper Food Choices
For a comprehensive guide on which foods to eat and which to avoid, see my nutrition plan. It's available for free, and is perhaps one of the most comprehensive and all-inclusive guides on a healthy lifestyle out there. Generally speaking, you should be looking to focus your diet on whole, ideally organic, unprocessed foods that come from healthy, sustainable, ideally local sources.
For the best nutrition and health benefits, you will want to eat the majority of your food raw. Nearly as important as knowing which foods to eat more of is knowing which foods to avoid, and topping the list is fructose. Sugar, and fructose in particular, can have a multitude of toxic effects when consumed in excess, not the least of which is insulin resistance, a major cause of accelerated aging and a crucial factor in driving virtually all chronic disease.
For most people (although there are clearly individual differences), a diet high in healthful fats (as high as 50-70 percent of the calories you eat), moderate amounts of high-quality protein, which is far less than the average amount most people eat, with the bulk of carbohydrates coming from high-nutrient, low-carbohydrate vegetables and very little carbohydrates from grains and sugars, will set you on the right track toward health.
- Comprehensive Exercise Program, including High-Intensity Exercise
Even if you're eating the healthiest diet in the world, you still need to exercise to reach the highest levels of health, and you need to be exercising effectively, which means including not only core-strengthening exercises, strength training, and stretching but also high-intensity activities into your rotation. High-intensity interval-type training like Peak Fitness boosts human growth hormone (HGH) production, which is essential for optimal health, strength and vigor.
- Stress Reduction and Positive Thinking
You cannot be optimally healthy if you avoid addressing the emotional component of your health and longevity, as your emotional state plays a role in nearly every physical disease -- from heart disease and depression to arthritis and cancer. Effective coping mechanisms are a major longevity-promoting factor in part because stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day. Meditation, prayer, energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), social support and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium.
- Optimize Vitamin D with Proper Sun Exposure
We have long known that it is best to get your vitamin D from appropriate sun exposure during times when UVB rays are present. Vitamin D plays an important role in preventing numerous illnesses ranging from cancer to the flu.
The important factor when it comes to vitamin D is your serum level, which should ideally be between 50-70 ng/ml year-round.
Sun exposure, or failing that, a safe tanning bed is the preferred method for optimizing vitamin D levels, but a vitamin D3 supplement can be used when necessary. Most adults need about 8,000 IU's of vitamin D a day to achieve serum levels above 40 ng/ml, which is still just below the minimum recommended serum level of 50 ng/ml.
Be aware that if you take supplemental vitamin D, you also need to make sure you're getting enough vitamin K2, as these two nutrients work in tandem to ensure calcium is distributed into the proper areas in your body.
- High-Quality Animal-Based Omega-3 Fats
Animal-based omega-3 fat like krill oil is a strong factor in helping people live longer, and some experts believe that it may be one reason why the Japanese are the longest lived race on the planet.
- Avoid as Many Chemicals, Toxins, and Pollutants as Possible
This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.