Ah, nutrition advice. First, it was lots of carbs, no fat. Then it was lots of fat, no carbs. The “8 cups of water every day” recommendation decreased, the concern about salt increased, vitamins were dismissed but Omega 3 supplements weren’t, and while spinach is healthy, it’s not as healthy as organic.
Nutrition and medical advice knowledge fluctuates, as we know.
But a new book released last summer, written by Dr. Ty Vincent, a 2002 graduate of the University of Washington School of Medicine, takes on common “medical myths” to help readers live healthier lifestyles.
“Thinking Outside the Pill Box” busts common medical thinking on nutrition, exercise and wellness, using an integrative medicine-and-conventional medicine-combination approach.
“Part of our fundamental problems is that medical education is geared toward the pharmaceutical companies and not geared to understanding what causes illness and promotes health,” Vincent said. “What we’ve taught impairs doctors’ ability to think for themselves and see what’s going on with their patients.”
Vincent has an outpatient clinic in Wasilla, Alaska. He also speaks at integrative medical conferences and in the areas of hormone therapies and immune therapies.
“You don’t need to have dairy products and calcium supplements. What you really need is vitamin D to absorb the calcium — then you’ll be fine,” Vincent said of one myth. “Our culture will tell you to do lots of aerobic activity, but that’s very inefficient for losing weight. Most people have more time to do high-intensity, interval training 10 to 15 minutes, which is much better than aerobics. People who want to run a marathon need to run, but if you have a car, you don’t need to run 26 miles.”
Conventional medicine often focuses on fixing the symptoms, rather than preventing the causes, Vincent said. America has a failing medical-education system that leads patients to even worse health conditions by taking medications that only provide temporary relief, he explained.
But Vincent is all about continual and progressive learning. He never has “the” answer, he said, because he’s always reading and learning more and revising ideas he had just the day before. While other doctors are content at solely adhering to what medical school teaches, Vincent said, he goes beyond the boundaries to prove things for himself. Once a book or paper gets into print, it’s already outdated, he said.
“I did a lot of research for the book and found out things I didn’t know or things I knew that were wrong, which is always good,” he said. “My practice changes all the time by learning new things and refining what I did. You have to be adaptable.”
Vincent acknowledges his approach may be an outlier in conventional medicine, with his myth-debunking even challenging guidelines of the American Heart Association.
“But I consider myself to be an integrative physician, and in the integrative realm, thousands of people believe the way I do.”
A dynamic duo
Conventional medical doctors applaud his approach, as well.
Dr. Cora Collette Breuner, professor of adolescent medicine and practicing physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, said conventional medicine and integrative medicine aren’t mutually exclusive.
“Conventional medicine doesn’t say chiropractors and acupunctures are necessarily a bad thing. There’s a whole movement on incorporating different therapies. For me, this is really important,” she said. “As a professor at the University of Washington and involved in the Academy of Pediatrics, I try to incorporate integrative medicine that’s in the system.
Still, Breuner doesn’t have blind faith in alternative medicine and is opposed to therapies that can be dangerous.
It’s key for health-care providers — both conventional and non-conventional — to communicate with each other about a patient’s health-care plan, she said: “We get into trouble when we don’t have communication between practitioners.”
Helping his patients, himself
Vincent began writing the book as a smaller-scale attempt to help his patients.
“My patients were telling me the same complaints over and over again, and at first, I thought I’d write a handbook I could give to them,” he said. “But as I started working on the outline, over the years I expanded it and figured it was probably worth making available for the general public.
“My goal was never to become an author,” he said.
But with his medical career and six children, how did Vincent have time to write a book?
“I got up at 5 a.m. for the past three years and worked on the book before anyone else got up,” he said. When traveling for conferences, he wrote on the plane rides and in the hotels, too.
“But I tried to not let it interfere with home time,” he added.
The book took Vincent three and a half years to write.
In the future, Vincent hopes to write about autoimmune diseases, for which he developed treatment. He also plans to write about how to raise healthy children in relation to environmental problems.
“Thinking Outside the Pill Box,” by Dr. Ty Vincent. Hardcover, 848 pages, by AuthorHouse.
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