TED Talk: How to Fix What's Wrong with Modern Medicine - Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training

TED Talk: How to Fix What’s Wrong with Modern Medicine

written by Jae Chung

I just wanted to share with you this very cool TED talk by Dr. Mark Hyman:


One of the most surprising things he says is in the first few lines: Diseases don’t exist.

That is to say, diseases aren’t real “things.” They’re just “downstream effects or symptoms from some upstream mechanism.”

To further paraphrase: In modern medicine, we’ve gotten very good at identifying WHAT the “disease” is. But we haven’t been very good at asking WHY the disease appears in the first place. What’s the underlying cause? What’s the underlying mechanism?

For example, if you have diabetes, most doctors will simply prescribe you some diabetes medications. But the problem with this is that the medication will never, ever cure you of diabetes! Instead, the medication will slow down the disease, or relieve some of the symptoms (and we just hope the side effects aren’t severe enough to prevent you from taking your meds until you die).

Instead, Dr. Hyman says, we should be asking ourselves why this person got diabetes in the first place. What’s the ultimate cause? Instead of treating the symptoms, Dr. Hyman argues that we should figure out what the upstream mechanism is, and treat that!

In the case of (Type II) diabetes, the underlying cause is most likely a combination of genetics and lifestyle (poor diet, vitamin D deficiency, not enough sleep, not enough exercise), and maybe some other factors (environmental toxins, for example).

The cool thing is that diabetes can often be managed or even reversed if we actually make changes to these factors (eat better, exercise, sleep more, get some sunshine, throw away plastic containers that contain BPA).

I love this TED talk because I think it captures some of the things we do at IFAST.

For example, if you come in with a painfully tight hamstring, many trainers would simply say “do hamstring stretches!”

But at IFAST, we’ll give you a head-to-toe assessment. We’ll look at your whole body as a system. And we’ll ask ourselves WHY your hamstring got so tight in the first place!

  • Maybe your left hamstring is tight because your pelvis is tilted to the right, so your pelvis is always tugging on that left hamstring.
  • Maybe it’s because you wear shoes that aren’t right for you, and it’s affecting your posture and the way you walk.
  • Maybe it’s because your abs and glutes are weak, and your weight has shifted forward to compensate for that, and your hamstrings are pulling you back all the time to keep you from falling over!

In all of these cases, we’ll get to the bottom of the question, and we’ll help you fix the upstream CAUSE of your problem, instead of just treating the symptom.

Next week, I’ll share with you the story of how I suffered from debilitating foot pain for 8 long years, and how no doctor was ever able to figure out what was wrong with my feet. When I came to IFAST, Bill Hartman took one look at me and figured it out right away.

There was nothing wrong with my feet! The problem was something else entirely.

So in my case, Bill was able to figure out how to fix my “disease” by figuring out the upstream mechanism. (Stay tuned next week to figure out what it was.) 🙂

If you have any friends or family members who are dealing with a lifetime of medications, please feel free to share Dr. Hyman’s TED talk with them. And if you know someone who has a “bad back” or a “trick knee,” or keeps getting cut from the team or just can’t lose that 15 pounds even though they’re trying really hard, have them give us a call at 317-578-0998. We’ll help you figure out exactly what the root cause of your problem is, and help you fix it, too!


Jae Chung

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