Q. What is a chronic disease?
According to the National Health Council as of 7/29/14, chronic diseases are generally ongoing diseases that last more than three months. These infirmities affect approximately 133 million Americans, representing more than 40% of the total population of this country.2 By 2020, that number is projected to grow to an estimated 157 million, with 81 million having multiple conditions.3 Unfortunately, the medical industry is not going to reduce the burden of chronic disease. People must create their own health, the best health possible.
Despite the largest most expensive and most intrusive medical system in the world more and more people are living with not just one chronic illness, such as diabetes, heart disease or depression, but with two or more conditions. Almost a third of the population is now living with multiple chronic conditions.6
In 2009, 7 out of 10 deaths in the U.S. are due to chronic diseases. Heart disease, cancer and stroke account for more than half of all deaths each year.7
Q. What type of doctor are you? What’s your specialty?
I am trained as an internal medicine physician and have been board certified since 1996. An internal medicine doctor is a primary care physician that specializes in the management of adult diseases including diabetes, heart disease, metabolic syndrome, COPD, auto immune diseases, alzheimer and strokes. I also have extensive public health experience and expert knowledge in diet and fitness.
Q. What does it mean to get at the root cause of disease?
Typically, when someone presents to their primary doctors office with a high sugar, cholesterol or blood pressure marker (evidence or symptoms of chronic disease), the first step is to have a medication prescribed that will work on getting that marker back within normal limits. This has been the accepted method of treating the symptoms of chronic disease. However, treating symptoms and disease markers does not necessarily cure the problem. In fact, studies show that the disease typically progresses regardless if the markers have been kept within normal limits. Disability and sickness are expected to progress if unhealthy lifestyle choices continue. Our approach is different than traditional medical care in that disability and disease is addressed head-on, reversing the causes and not ignoring or suppressing the body’s signals of distress. Instead of masking the symptoms with medications, we ask, why is this person having this symptom in the first place? Sometimes, medications are needed and Dr. Harpe is very qualified to discern when they are necessary and when they are not. Our goal is to improve people’s quality of life.
Q. How is a Natural diet, or Naturvore diet different than other diet plans?
Natural eating, or Naturvore eating, is simply a way of life rather than a short term diet or fad. This eating plan is made up of natural foods as they were meant to be eaten, rather than processed or manufactured into food products. It includes fruits, vegetables, fermented and cultured foods, fish, naturally raised lean meats and eggs, beans, roots, herbs and spices and healthy fats such as MUFA’s and Omega 3’s. The diet is nutrient dense and very healing to the body, providing antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, fiber and all the nutrition our bodies crave. It is also an anti inflammatory diet, creating homeostasis in your body rather than metabolic chaos. There is no counting of points or calories, because the quality of the food is what is important. There are many foods that you can eat all you want of, we call these freebies. It also controls for blood sugar spikes through balancing food groups in a way that optimizes metabolism and stabilizes blood sugar. The plan is easy, can be individualized according to your unique needs, and is very satisfying. You never need to feel deprived or hungry! It is very different from our highly inflammatory Standard American Diet (SAD), which is high in unhealthy saturated fats, Omega 6’s and made up primarily of manufactured and processed, high calorie-grain rich foods, we find lining the grocery store shelves.
Q. What is your book, Naturvore Power, Transcending Industrial Food and Medicine about?
Naturvore Power is about my journey as a man and as a physician, wherein I reclaim my natural power over my health. It provides a unique overview of the challenges we Americans face with regard to obesity and health. Speaking from experience, I convey a sense of urgency and desperation to our current health situation, while illuminating the interplay between our culture and our physical nature. One half of the book details the problems I see and have experienced as a physician, and the second half of my book provides the solutions that have worked for me and thousands of my patients. It provides practical ways of reclaiming and sustaining health that are simple and yet very effective. I want people to understand that they are the most powerful health agent in their life, much more powerful than a medical system will ever be. In the book and my practice, I aim to lift people up and empower them to reclaim their health. With this, I hope to help them stop the unnecessary suffering in their lives due to obesity and chronic disease.
Q. What is the economic impact of chronic diseases? How have your patients benefitted from getting off medications?
According to the National Health Council, more than 75% of all health care costs result from chronic conditions.9 Four of the five most expensive health conditions (based on total health care spending in a given year in the United States) are chronic conditions – heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, and pulmonary conditions.
A 2007 study reported that seven chronic diseases – cancer, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, heart disease, pulmonary conditions, and mental illness – have a total impact on the economy of $1.3 trillion annually. By the year 2023, this number is projected to increase to $4.2 trillion in treatment costs and lost economic output.
These facts from the National Health Council are impressive, but it is more impressive to see first hand how the financial burden of prescriptions and chronic disease effects peoples lives. I have many patients that have become healthier by implementing the Naturvore Principles into their lives, and consequently have been able to reduce or get off costly medications. For retired folks on limited incomes, this has been like getting a pay raise! It is just another perk to getting healthier along with the health benefits they experience such as more energy, a leaner more functional body and better quality of life.
References: National Health Council as of 7/29/14 http://www.nationalhealthcouncil.org/sites/default/files/NHC_Files/Pdf_Files/AboutChronicDisease.pdf