The world is focusing on fighting Covid-19, and everyone is trying hard to prevent
themselves from getting sick. If we get sick now, we may not be able to get the medical
attention needed as the medical system everywhere is severely strained. Perhaps now is the
time to zoom in on the idea of Preventive Medicine.
By preventive medicine, we do not mean that you should be taking paracetamol so that you
will not get a fever. We are referring to steps taken to try to prevent yourself from getting
sick in the first place. This may not be a concept widely considered by most, until you get
sick yourselves. This goes from flu to more serious illnesses like cardiac diseases,
autoimmune diseases, cancer and so on.
Old conventional medicine stemmed from germ theory by Louis Pasteur (1822-1895) and
Robert Koch (1843-1910) where specific germs lead to specific diseases. Our genes (DNA)
are also the key driver as to how our body will respond, and our blue print is “locked” within
the nucleus of each cell. In this scenario, organs like our brain, heart etc cannot regenerate
if damage is done. However, as a cancer survivor who has spent the last 5 years working on
rebuilding health and immunity, I can feel the real difference. I feel a lot healthier than I was
before I had cancer.
The current health system is built around this framework, and medicine and medical
research are based on this model. Medicine approved by the FDA (Hong Kong broadly
follows FDA guidelines) can only be of a chemical compound. Some pharmas use natural
compound as a starting point, but they will change its molecular structure and turn it into a
synthetic version so that a patent can be obtained and profits can be made.
From the late 90s, research has been focused on newer medical science angle which has
overturned these previous beliefs. A lot of work is done on microbiome and genetic
research (please read our previous blog on gut health). The microbiome
constitutes over 99% of genetic material. The Human Genome Project (1990-2003) is an
international research collaboration that looks at human genes and health, found that there
are only around 20,000 protein coding genes in our bodies. At the same time, they also
found a lot of non-coding Micro-RNAs that play a key role in regulation of gene expression.
More importantly, a lot of these Micro-RNAs can be found in food. This means that food is
no longer just our energy (calories) source, but they also have the ability to communicate to
cells in our body.
This major finding means that if we eat the right foods, our body will naturally be able to
regenerate itself. You may have heard of the fact that if up to 2/3 of your liver is removed, it
can grow back again in about 3 months. This is the amazing beauty of the human body. The
same concept goes for the cells that run our heart, brain etc. If we feed our body with the
right fuels, our body can self-replenish and repair damage through our stem cells.
In the next few blogs, we will focus on specific bodily functions and the right foods to fuel