As a physician for the last 20 years, I have practiced in almost every health care setting imaginable.
From military clinics to hospital emergency rooms, trauma centers, and plastic surgery and primary care offices, I have seen it all. Although we have made giant leaps in our understanding of disease, speaking with thousands of patients over this time has given me a chance to observe first-hand how the “health care” system has failed most of us.
Our “health care” system, or the medical establishment, is unfortunately not truly geared towards health. It is reactive and disease-focused. It’s great at treating cancer or heart attacks but not so great at preventing illness. There is a “pill for every ill" but no real effort to find out the cause of a disease and how to eliminate it!
People are feeling let down by their doctors, their health insurance, hospitals, and pharmacies, and for good reason! In medical school, medical students spend 95% plus of their time focused on diagnosis, pathology, and determining which pharmaceutical or surgery will “fix” the disease. Unfortunately, medical professionals totally miss the boat on diagnosing the root cause and why a patient got there in the first place. Teaching doctors about nutrition, movement, exercise, and sleep is never the priority of medical education.
All of the money in health flows towards this paradigm of disease diagnosis and treatment. Most of our health insurance money is also spent along these lines, with the majority being spend in the last few years of your life. The big money is in hospitals and pharmaceuticals – two things that we should be avoiding at all costs. Very little of our health-care dollar goes towards optimizing and perfecting health, avoiding disease in the first place.
We all know the typical experience of seeing a doctor for a checkup: you wait forever in the waiting room, get some bloodwork done (maybe), spend 15 minutes with your doctor or physician's assistant, and then are told whether you are fine and can back next year or if you have a “real problem.” If you actually believe “you are fine,” you probably don’t do anything for a year except maybe trying to make it to the gym semi-regularly and eating as well as you can. We now know that chronic disease starts 20-30 years before the first symptoms develop...so, in reality, NOW is the time to start focusing on optimizing your biology, rather than putting it off until it’s too late. We need a new system that focuses on all aspects of health - diet, nutrition, sleep, detoxification, movement - and addressing all of these on a daily basis.
As many of the top CEO’s in the country get frustrated with the current system, more money is finally flowing from technology into healthcare. Amazon, Facebook, and Google all have invested 100’s of millions of dollars into “solving” aging and disease. They realize that technologies, such as machine learning and artificial intelligence, can solve problems like diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and cancer much faster and cheaper than the current system: spending billions of dollars and years trying to get FDA approval on a drug that might never work. As technology improves exponentially, so does biotechnology. This is why we are seeing rapid leaps in health and wellness right now. For example, we can now sequence an entire human genome for a few hundred dollars vs. the millions that it cost just a few years ago.
Science is on the verge of a breakthrough in longevity, and we may soon learn how to add tens, if not hundreds, of years to our lifespan with gene-editing tech like KIRSPR, stem cells, and growing new organs. The “singularity,” a term coined by futurist Ray Kurzweil, is a point in time when we learn to live one year longer, every year, due to new breakthroughs, thus reaching longevity at “escape velocity.” In this way, we can potentially add hundreds of years to our lifespan. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to benefit from this technological revolution if our bodies are broken by the time we get there.
The goal is also to expand our HEALTH SPAN - the number of years we feel vital and healthy - as quickly as we expand our lifespan. We want to think and move like we are in our 20’s for as long as possible. The only thing preventing us from achieving this expanded health span is chronic disease. The only way to eliminate chronic disease is to understand its causes and remove them from our life. We know how to do this! But it takes each and every one of us to take our health into our own hands and to stop outsourcing it to our insurance, our doctors, and our trainer. We must learn the basics, measure biomarkers of our biology, and unrelentingly develop habits that keep us at a state of optimal health.
Dr. Darshan Shah is a physician, surgeon, entrepreneur, and is considered by many to be the "Doctor of the Future." His passion is educating the public on the newest technologies in health & wellness and how to look and feel your best!