Are Medical Doctors Experts on Nutrition? Make sure you are getting evidence-based advice not just a personal opinion 06/18/12

It has become readily apparent that the foods we choose to eat, the exercise we perform, the carcinogens we are exposed to, and the supplements we take, are the most important factors that determine how long we will live, how healthfully we will live, and our risk of developing many degenerative diseases – from heart disease to cancer to Alzheimer’s disease etc. Although genetic inheritance plays a role in disease risk, studies show that for most degenerative diseases diet and lifestyle behaviors are the most significant contributing factors in most cases.

 

So, it is astonishing to me that in this day and age the most elite medical schools in North America continue to teach a curriculum to medical students, which is almost completely devoid of any substantive nutrition, exercise physiology and/or evidence-based supplementation course. I am surprised for two reasons:

  1. Most members of society now know that diet affects their health, nearly 7 out of 10 adults take supplements and many people have fitness club memberships or home exercise equipment, and thus, expect their MD to have in-depth knowledge in these critical areas of health management.
  2. The scientific evidence illustrates clearly that these lifestyle factors are the most important determinants of long-term health, and are equally important, in many cases, in the management and/or reversal of various common health conditions

Who Should You Trust With This Aspect of Health Management

As someone who has spent over 30 years teaching chiropractic students and chiropractors evidence-based courses in the use of nutrition, exercise and supplementation (to prevent and help manage chronic degenerative diseases), I will assert that the chiropractors I have taught over these many years have a much better grasp of this subject matter, and its importance, than do most medical practitioners. The bottom line is that most medical doctors are not experts in nutrition and supplementation as they impact disease prevention and management. I have trained many chiropractors to use my free online Nutrition Assessment (www.naturalhealthtest.com) as a reliable way to assess the patient’s nutrition, exercise and supplementation needs, based on current evidence. I believe it should be an adjunct to every annual medical examination as well.

 

The Medical Curriculum Reveals All

I took the liberty of outlining the medical curriculum at one of North America’s top rated medical schools. The full course curriculum is listed below. You will note that during the four year program there is one class (a full day) that is formally devoted to the topic of nutrition (see Interdisciplinary Medicine). Here is the full curriculum:

 

Scientific Basis of Medicine: this course covers genetics, immunology, infectious diseases, microbiology, pathophysiology, general and systemic pathology, pharmacology, psychiatry, and medical psychology

Medical Decision Making – focus is on computer literacy skills, writing and presentation skills, critical evaluation of the literature, study design, biostatistics, epidemiology, issues related to diagnosis and the ordering and interpretation of clinical tests, decision analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and decision psychology

Problem-based Learning – involving critical thinking and application, and integration of the sciences (biological, behavioral and social) basic to medicine.

Patient, Physician and Society – involving an integrated, biopsychosocial perspective of patient care, as well as ethics and human values, public health, and health policy

Introduction to Clinical Clerkship – focus is on how to apply principles that they have already learned to date in clinical situations.

Interdisciplinary Medicine: the class meets once per month for a full day, with one lecture on each of the following subjects:

  • Advanced Physical Diagnosis
  • Nutrition Skills
  • Health Law
  • Complementary and Alternative Medicine
  • Geriatric Medicine
  • Palliative Medicine
  • IDM Grand Rounds
  • Career Development
  • Medical Decision Making/Evidence-based Medicine
  • Difficult Conversations: Advanced Communication Skills
  • Ethical Legal and Social Implications of Medicine
  • Practice-Based Learning and Quality Improvement
  • Patient Physician Society III: Professional Perspectives.

Patient, Physician and Society – course covers health economics, teaching skills, and professional perspectives.

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