America’s Healthcare Crisis – The Cure is on Your Plate

Nurses play a crucial role in the American healthcare system. While doctors tend to specialize on specific areas and systems of the body, like the heart or lungs, nursing focuses on the body as a whole. Kathleen M. Kirby, registered nurse and CNS Graduate, explains the holistic role of nursing in the article “Healthcare in Crisis: RN Asks What’s Food Got to Do With It?”, published by The Center for Nutrition Studies.

As Kirby explains:

“Nurses are trained to treat the emotional, mental, and spiritual aspects of their patients in addition to their physical bodies. And it is precisely because nurses identify their practice as a holistic one, that they tend to pat themselves on the back and think: ‘We have it all covered.'”

The Importance of a Holistic Approach

The key word here is holistic, and it sums up everything we promote to our clients and friends at Radová Lifestyle. Modern American healthcare tends to focus on only treating the symptoms, or a specific area of the body, with the consequence of ignoring the whole person. Holistic care seeks to find a balance between physical, emotional, and spiritual, with the belief that the body is made of independent parts that must work together as a whole to attain optimal health and wellness.

Kirby gives a great deal of credit to nurses, who are often at the forefront of patient care, tending to both physical and emotional needs. While nurses treat patients using a more holistic approach, Kirby notes that American nurses themselves are not particularly healthy, and this is indicative of a greater problem – the state of health in America.

America’s Health Problem

Modern day health problems and diseases in America largely stem from poor lifestyle choices. Kirby calls these “diseases of affluence” because they are a consequence of how we choose to live, the result of what we eat and how we treat our bodies. Diseases like breast cancer, obesity, heart disease, Type II Diabetes, and more, all of them prevalent in America, can easily be avoided with a more holistic lifestyle – the power lies within you to make smart, healthy choices.

While we make many lifestyle choices that contribute to our health, one specific factor is more influential than all of them – diet. Kirby points out that the Standard American Diet is problematic and contributes to some of the most prevalent diseases in the country.

“Specifically, Americans eat: 1) too much animal protein 2) too few vegetables and fruits 3) more fat than is healthy and 3) mostly “plant fragments,” devoid of the micronutrients and fiber that keep our bodies functioning optimally. [2]”

There is a wealth of knowledge out there, including research findings that are published in medical journals, supporting plant-based nutrition as most optimal. However, as Kirby notes, there is also a great deal of resistance to this information. The meat, dairy, and egg industries would suffer profit losses if Americans switched to a plant-based diet, therefore they do not support the idea. The American Medical Association is also resistant to facts and information, which Kirby speculates is due to their relationship with the pharmaceutical industry and their bias toward “detection and treatment over prevention.” In other words, the pharmaceutical industry profits from treating health issues, not preventing them.

Nursing’s Health Problem

Considering that the nursing discipline promotes health and disease prevention, is their body of work being neglected? Part of the problem might be that nurses themselves have been unable to prioritize their own health and wellness. The University of Maryland recently made a shocking discovery; American nurses have an obesity rate of 55%, significantly higher than the national average of American adults, which is currently at 36%. Factors contributing to the stunning obesity rate of nurses are ironically due to their profession, which commonly includes extensive work shifts, inconsistent sleep patterns, and high stress.

Shifting the Focus

Nursing is an important asset to the American healthcare system. They treat the patient as a whole, take preventative measures, and possess compassion. Nurses use a holistic approach and contribute greatly to the health and healing of those in their care. While this is all true, Kirby notes that these positive traits are not enough to solve the serious health issues that Americans face due to lifestyle.

With this in mind, how can nurses help their patients when they themselves are suffering from “diseases of affluence?” According to Kirby, food is the cure, and we must begin by taking our nutrition more seriously.
“If we want to have a real and lasting healing influence on what currently ails our population, then it is time to take a serious look at our nutrition and make that the main focus of the nursing care plan for our patients and ourselves.”

Until we reach a point where holistic health, nutrition, and prevention become a greater part of the American healthcare system, we must take matters into our own hands. Plant-based nutrition has many benefits, which we look forward to discussing with you in our future blog posts. We hope this post provided some “food for thought” that will encourage you to think more about the food you put into your body.