“Human beings are designed well,” says Dr. Gus Vickery. “We are designed to have long, healthy lifespans. We should not suffer from chronic diseases and we should not have to rely on medications to stay alive.”
And yet we are beset with chronic conditions — from anxiety to ADD to diabetes and beyond. Dr. Vickery is committed to giving people and businesses the information they need to combat those conditions.
Dr. Vickery is a family physician who started his practice thirteen years ago in Asheville, North Carolina and, since then, he has brought clinics to private companies and set up innovative clinics in his region. He became a physician in order to help families and communities become healthier. But while pursuing his calling, he discovered that our healthcare system is broken. Today, he believes that people need information more than they need medication. They need to know the truth about health.
“When I found my role waylaid by pharmaceutical companies and other market forces,” he says, “I had to figure out a way to get health information into people’s hands.”
In Authentic Health, Dr. Vickery demonstrates that most of our chronic conditions are products of our habits. These illnesses are like messages from our bodies, letting us know that there’s something wrong with what we are doing. He details how we can respond to those messages and cure chronic conditions by cultivating a sense of personal purpose and then changing our habits of nutrition, mindfulness, movement, and sleep.
Authentic Health also tells a sort of medical David-and-Goliath story in which we are all David.
So who’s Goliath?
“Market forces,” Dr. Vickery says.
His book lays out how the pharmaceutical, insurance, food, media, and retail industries have compromised American healthcare in order to turn profits.
For instance, Dr. Vickery says that widespread type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty livers, obesity, chronic lethargy, and depression can all be traced back to an epidemic of unhealthy nutrition strongly influenced by the food industry.
“Food manufacturers have figured out that we can’t resist eating foods with certain concentrations of ingredients like fat, sugar, salt, and glutamate flavoring,” Dr. Vickery says. He likens the food industry to the tobacco industry, pointing out that major manufacturers bombard Americans with dozens of food-marketing cues a day and concoct nutrient-poor, high-calorie recipes that promote overeating.
Meanwhile, inflammatory media platforms from Facebook to cable news provoke fear responses in consumers. This depletes willpower and motivates people to eat more while also causing a battery of other anxiety-born illnesses.
Dr. Vickery summarizes the problem this way: “The entertainment companies are selling you a product, so they need you to keep tuning in. Social media is selling you its products too. And pharmaceutical companies and food companies are selling you their products. All of these companies employ behavioral psychologists and neuroscientists. They design products that trigger dopamine responses, prompting you to need and want them more.”
Dr. Vickery says that the healthcare system has proven too expensive and too fragmented to combat these health dangers. Most people only see a physician once a year for about fifteen or twenty minutes, and even that check up is really just designed to assess whether you’re an insurance risk.
Dr. Vickery says that even if you had more time with your family doctor, the resources you really need are probably not available: “Most doctors aren’t educated about nutrition or the role of stress in creating disease. And the money you would need to see nutritionists and counselors you’re already spending on insurance.”
But if all of these problems can be solved by simply adjusting our habits, why don’t we hear that more often?
“Because the insurance and pharmaceutical industries run our healthcare systems,” Dr. Vickery says. He explains that these are the two biggest lobbies in Washington and that they fund the lion’s share of data-collecting studies in the country.
“We are scientific,” he says, “We use data. But ultimately you have to look at who’s creating the data.”
Dr. Vickery suggests that one way we can combat these monolithic forces is by empowering business owners to bring holistic health practices to their employees.
“If you’re a business owner, you’re dealing with a health plan that’s probably just killing your bottom line,” Dr. Vickery says. “Meanwhile, your employees aren’t getting healthier — they’re getting sicker. Which means you’re getting exactly no return on your investment.”
Getting more involved in employee healthcare isn’t just good for your karma — it’s also good for your business.
For six years now, Dr. Vickery’s practice has maintained a clinic onsite at Biltmore’s eight-thousand-acre estate, which employs thousands of North Carolinians and receives millions of visitors every year. And Dr. Vickery’s clinic doesn’t just see people for bug bites and sinusitis either. His team is there to promote holistic wellness.
Every year, Dr. Vickery expands his offerings of direct care products to businesses. Business owners buy these products because they work — they help employees get healthier.
Dr. Vickery has seen overweight and obese patients lose their unhealthy excess weight in a sustainable manner without having to go on extreme diets. In these patients, he has seen near-complete and sometimes complete reversals of diabetes, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and other chronic conditions. These patients have been able to completely restore their metabolic functions and stop taking medication.
Likewise, patients struggling from conditions related to anxiety and worry have stopped feeling scared all of the time and stopped medicating. They’re able to sleep better, maintain better moods, and focus more at work.
“I think our healthcare system makes health sound complicated and difficult,” Dr. Vickery says, “but I believe that it’s actually quite simple and quite enjoyable.”
So if you’d like to help an employee, a loved one, or yourself start eating well, sleeping well, and living well, then you should check out Authentic Health. Print copies ship out on May 8th. Kindle e-books are available today.