HEALTHY BITE | At What Point in Medical Education Did Your Practitioners Curiosity Kick In

Welcome to another Healthy Bite. In this episode, I want to discuss certainty and curiosity. It is something we all love in this life. As health practitioners, when others are putting their lives and health in your hands, we are drawn to that certainty because we're still human. We want to be certain about what we're telling our patients is right or not. So there's natural scepticism there, but it's the curiosity which hopefully drives progress, and I think it's an exciting part of health care to be on.

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At What Point in Medical Education Did Your Practitioners Curiosity Kick In

Now, this week we explored why we get sick, and if you haven’t had a chance to listen to it, I would strongly recommend that you come and have a listen to the episode I have just done with Sarah Myhill. Dr Sarah Myhill is a medical practitioner, she’s based in Wales in the UK. I first was introduced to her through my association with the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine.

Last year, we, at the beginning of the pandemic, held the Global Online Conference, which attracted over 800 people, had over 70 speakers from all around the world and participants from 22 different countries and the theme was “Environmental & Viral Disruptors: Rising to the Challenge| Reducing the Risk | and Future Proofing Humanity.

Discussion about boosting Immune Function

You will also notice that if you’re a regular listener, the podcast that we are always trying to focus on issues around immune function, boosting immune function, and I refer back to some of the wonderful discussions I’ve had with some practitioners that I have had the honour of sharing an editorial board position with for an international news service called the Ortho Molecular News Service, which I would also recommend to you as a wonderful resource and I have invited several guests on from there — Dr Richard Cheng, Dr Thomas Levy, Dr Andrew Saul, Dr Carolyn Dean, Professor Michael Gonzalez, Professor Ian Brighthope, who also happens to be the founding president of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental Medicine board

Is that all over a mouthful? But the point about it is that they were all focussed on improving immune function and I think it’s one of the challenges always really, but in particular in these last year or two to boost immune function. So this week’s episode was really getting down to a very fundamental level called Why We Get Sick and How to Maintain Good Health. 

Study the diseases and how to manage it

Now it’s… if you’re also a regular listener to this podcast, you’ll know I love drawing connections with different people that I speak to, and I’ll mention this other conversation I had recently with a Professor of Psychology, Julia Rucklidge

Now, Julia Rucklidge said to me when we were talking about how the science of medicine is practised, how modern medicine is practised, she said, “Look, you know, for medical practitioners, for health practitioners, there needs to be a balance. We need to explore. We need to be both sceptical, but we also need to be curious.” and when I thought about that, I thought, “How curious? When does that curiosity kick in for many medical practitioners?” and I came to realise that depending on when you thought you were really starting to study your profession, that’s when you really took it seriously. 

For many doctors, many dentists as well, it wasn’t until we got into studying disease and how to manage it that we thought we were really being doctors or dentists.

The medical degree varies anywhere from four to six years. But let’s say there is a five-year degree and the first from about third year in any undergraduate degree, you start to study pathology and you also study how to fix those diseases. 

Are those diseases inflammatory? Are they an infection? Are they cancer? They are the three basic questions one asks oneself in pathology, and according to those answers, then you look for solutions as to how best to manage it, and you’ll notice I’m using the word ‘manage’ because that is really something that I think is a problem with our health care system. 

That is it’s not really a health care system, it’s a chronic disease management system. And it has become that way because so many in the profession and it’s supported in all the journals, in all the professional organisations, in all the regulatory bodies, it is that supported. Find out what the disease is, study pathology, and then work out how to manage it.

How to deal with Chronic Disease

In Dentistry, that’s all about how to repair broken down teeth or how to reverse diseases, but essentially in medicine, it’s about how to deal with chronic disease and often the solution is either pharmacological, surgical, or another intervention by another specialist practitioner.

Here’s the thing, when we all studied, when we all did our degrees that gave us our qualifications, we all studied basic science is about how the human body works and that was the study of anatomy, physiology, how the body actually… how all its different systems work together, how does the digestive system work with the respiratory system, what effect does that have on the immune system, and so on. Physiology is all about the study of how the body works together.

And then we also studied histology, which was the study of a cell or the different types of cells that there were throughout the body. You know, the nucleus within the cell, all the different organelles within the cell, there are things like mitochondria, which produce energy, ribosomes, which produce proteins, you will understand the significance of that because so many of the vaccines now are using this novel technology of putting mRNA or DNA. 

DNA is the double helix. mRNA is the single helix. So if you unravel a DNA molecule, you will end up with the RNA molecule and you put that into a human cell and that human cell starts to produce proteins, which the body mounts an immune response to. So they are ribosomes. You have a whole lot of other organelles. I won’t bore you with all the details there, but there is a whole science about the study of cells.

And then if you want to work out how processes occur, then you have to study biochemistry because every single cell in your body from the moment of conception to the moment you die is going through trillions of biochemical processes to keep the physiology of your body working optimally. 

When that doesn’t work, you get sick and sick means you end up with what is now referred to as chronic degenerative diseases. In fact, there’s another word that’s put in front of that preventable chronic degenerative diseases like heart disease, cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and these are significant problems.

Just to put that in perspective, if you are a regular listener, you will have heard me say that in heart disease, we’ve become so familiar with daily death rates and how many deaths have occurred in the pandemic, etc. I think the numbers up to six, five or six million. But here’s the thing. Every single day, year on year, there are 50000 deaths globally from cardiovascular disease. About 18 million people a year die from this preventable chronic degenerative disease. 

Cancer, the second biggest killer, kills around 10 or 11 million people a year, which equates to 27000 people a day dying of cancer. Diabetes. About I think the number is something like four and a half million people die from diabetes, typically the preventable Type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance diabetes. 

It used to be called late-onset diabetes, but now children are suffering from Type 2 diabetes. Four and a half million people a year die from diabetes. That equates to about 10000 people a day, dying globally.

Autoimmune Conditions

You can see these issues of disease are significant. Autoimmune conditions, it’s now up to 100 different autoimmune conditions. That’s the body attacking itself and depending on your genetic predisposition, when the body attacks itself, it may manifest itself like a neurological condition like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis. Your genes may predispose you to digestive problems like coeliac disease, ulcerative colitis. Crohn’s disease. 

Your genes may predispose you to your joints being the weak link, in which case you’ll end up with rheumatoid arthritis, your weak link, maybe thyroid, so you may end up with underactive or overactive thyroid and we talk about that in this week’s episode with Sarah Myhill. The point I’m making is that these are all diseases that are said to be chronic, preventable, chronic degenerative diseases.

How to stay healthy

How do we get sick? Well, if we bothered, as a profession, to go back and not start our curiosity about how to improve ourselves professionally by studying diseases in the pharmacological and interventions which go with managing the disease, but if we cast our minds back, maybe to the beginning about degrees where we studied anatomy, physiology, biochemistry, histology, microbiology, the study of microbes that was always all about those pathogenic or disease-causing bacteria. 

But we know now that the vast majority of bacteria are so critically important to our health and that’s true whether we’re talking about the oral microbiome, the gut microbiome, the microbiome on our skin. Actually, interestingly, the microbiome in the soils, all have a lot in common. The more diverse, the more resilient. The more resilient, the healthier you will be. It’s when we get an imbalance, and that’s true of what goes on in each and every cell.

My point is why do we get sick and should we not, as a profession, be curious about all that causes disease and work out, perhaps why people get sick and then we’ll have a better chance of actually making them well, rather than just managing chronic disease, which comes with all sorts of problems. 

When you start taking a reductionist view of disease, for example, you might go to the doctor and you might have an inflammation. Well, rather than explore on a cellular level why you are having inflammation, you might be given an anti-inflammatory. Well, the anti-inflammatory may have an effect on your gut and your stomach, and you may start to get reflux or heartburn or indigestion. 

You go back to the doctor and they give you another prescription for antacid or a protein pump inhibitor (PPI). On some of the biggest drugs, sellers like Nexium are proton pump inhibitors. The problem with that is by reducing the acid in your stomach. It’s acidic for a reason to kill bacteria as you ingest them with your food, but also to help you break down your proteins and your nutrients. 

When you are on protein pump inhibitors for a long period of time, which you were on because you were on an anti-inflammatory which caused you to reflux, heartburn and indigestion, now you are also predisposed to osteoporosis or you’re more prone to infections, which could be giving it meaning you get either for the infections antibiotics, which in turn affects the gut microbiome. And so we go on.

With each drug, another problem arises, whereas if we took the step back to first or second-year undergraduate studies and bothered to explore why we get sick, then we would be delivering a much better health care system and that’s why this podcast is here for you to explore things about why you might get sick. 

Sarah says in this podcast, one thing she always recommends is for people to go back to nature. And we’ve said this many times before on this podcast: As the world we live in becomes more complex, the solutions, I believe, are remarkably simple and that means going back to basics. Anyway, I would recommend you listen to the podcast this week with Sarah Myhill: Why We Get Sick and How to Stay Healthy. I hope this finds you well. Until next time.


This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.