Taking Back the Meaning of Prevention

Taking Back the Meaning of Prevention

Jun 16, 2011

I expect I’m not the only one who has experienced some frustration with the common use of the word “prevention” as related to health matters.

With burgeoning lifestyle-related diseases and the explosion in so called “health care costs” (disease-care costs?) that accompany this situation, with thousands of studies showing the efficacy of safe, natural alternatives to those lifestyle faux-pas, one would think the issue of prevention would be in the forefront of thought, policy, investment and action.

And it is.

The only problem is that so many continue to think about today’s problems through the lens of yesterday’s concepts, beliefs and convictions. Accordingly, we hear of ‘prevention’ alright, but typically this means more high-tech screening, more expensive tests, more “just in case” medication, even when such interventions have been shown to have limited or even negative effect. As in the case of excessive X-rays and CT scans, or “preventative’ drugs with multiple side-effects, the processes themselves can be dangerous, burdening the body with cumulative and complicating effects.

Meanwhile, the genuine “prevention tree” is laden with fruit that is scarcely ever noticed, let alone picked. On the lower branches are so much excellent information, both established and quite recent, on diet and lifestyle. I read recently a suggestion that just supplying adequate Vitamin D to the populace at about $10 per month per person could eliminate perhaps 30-40% of the health care budget!

Even if a statement like that were to prove only partially true, there are many other nutrients with similarly proven value in the prevention of chronic (read ‘painful, miserable, destructive and expensive’) illness. These include what we often call ‘vitamins’ such as the B complex, C, D, K. It includes Omega 6 fatty acids, accessible protein, enzymes, probiotics, essential minerals and more. Virtually every chronic illness we know of today has shown significant relatedness to simple nutrient deficiency.

Beyond the nutrients we are often missing in our diets, there are other substances now well recognized as either toxic or terribly burdensome to our bodies, substances such as refined sugars, refined flour, hydrogenated fats, chemical food additives and coloring, artificial sweeteners. Easily eliminated from the diet, here is an immediate gold mine of true prevention.

And what about the toxic substances already stored in our cells, either through poor decisions in the past or just as an effect of living in a world where water, air and earth are increasingly laced with the poisonous byproducts of modern society? Again, there are many means of effective detoxification and purification, easily and inexpensively available to us, particularly through enlightened health professionals.

Many of us work very hard to ameliorate the effects of chronic disease. It needs to be done, and there are a variety of ways to approach it, often with less trauma and toxicity than the usual methods involve. My hat is off to those who welcome these conditions and work tirelessly to bring their patients back to a reasonable balance of health. I suspect, however, that there is a greater volume of service we can provide in the field of true prevention – changing the terrain before disease becomes ingrained and the body is compromised beyond help.

This to me is an area for some really creative thought. Are we upstream providers or downstream providers? Are we chasing symptoms or establishing clear causes of health? Are we setting the stage for long, healthy lives or are we simply battling the downstream effects of ignorance and misapplication? Inevitably both will be part of what we do, but surely we can see the value of working diligently on the upstream side – preventive diet and lifestyle basics, adequate nutritional supplementation and detoxification, prenatal preparation, innovative community education…these are areas where we as professional natural health care providers can be community leaders. It is the area where we have the greatest leverage, and ultimately the greatest satisfaction.

Most of us got into this field to make a difference, and the tools are readily available to allow us to do just that. Competent natural health practitioners should be the busiest, most in-demand people alive! What a huge need there is for those who can correlate this information and make it sensibly available to those who need it. And who doesn’t? In many ways, our profession is the best kept secret in modern society! Let’s strategize together to get the secret out, for everyone’s sake!

Grant Clarke, Energetix


  1. Yes — I’m so glad someone else is talking about this. I am incensed by the medical monopoly’s take on prevention. It is so “white bread” — it’s embarrassing. Good news is that more and more of the public do not resonate with medical prevention — they perceive that there are deeper layers and that is why more and more people are coming to see us — and bringing their families. And on that note, I am deepening my approach to preventative health. Though seemingly unrelated, I am finding that balancing hormones in people with a multitude of other problems — one form of prevention — may actually cause them a disservice, especially if the hormonal products “work” well. They feel better and think they’re done. Certainly feeling better is important, but sometimes the disease path is not changed and so the patient goes on blindly until something else hits. I’m just noticing deeper levels to attain at this time — and when is it really my business to go deeper? How to present the prospect of nutritional detective work, healing, balancing — without instilling fear. That is what I don’t like about prevention in the medical world. Subject for another discussion.

  2. Excellent thoughts! I agree, it can be so frustrating at times seeing all the so called “preventative” tests promoted, while true lifestyle change & non-toxic remedies are ignored, in spite of their demonstrated efficacy without side effects! Thank you for the great info. I’ll be sharing with my clients! ;)

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