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palm desert chiropracticRecent headlines report:

Alarming stories like these have become all too common. Medical mishaps may seem infrequent, but they happen with frightening regularity.

According to a 2016 British Medical Journal paper,

“Of the total of 323,993 deaths among patients who experienced one or more PSIs* from 2000 through 2002, 263,864, or 81%, of these deaths were potentially attributable to the patient safety incident(s).”

*PSI (patient safety incidents) are potentially avoidable safety events that represent opportunities for improvement in the delivery of care

making medical errors the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., ahead of only cardiovascular disease and cancer.

coachella valley chiropractic - medical mistakesIn 2000, Mary Wakefield, Director of the Center for Health Policy Research and Ethics at George Mason University, in her address to the United States Congress on the Quality of Healthcare in America, reported that 98,000 people die yearly as a result of medical errors, making medical mistakes at that time the eighth leading cause of death in the country. In nearly twenty-five years, medical mistakes have not only not been prevented but have increased more than two-and-a-half times their 2000 numbers.

Although many groups have been working to solve this ever-increasing problem, I would like to offer the most crystal clear yet overlooked solution: Stay out of the American medical system as much as you possibly can!

Please take a few minutes to digest this seemingly outlandish advice; I know it sounds severe. But once you heighten your awareness, you will realize it may be the most valuable guidance you have ever received. At the very least, it could save your life, but more importantly, it can significantly improve your health and wellness.

For nearly a century, people have been led to believe that to stay healthy, they would need to combat illness with one drug or another. They have been taught that they are susceptible to a multitude of stressors, which can negatively affect their health, most notably microorganisms (viruses and bacteria). The modern medical philosophy on human health is that people are so vulnerable to microbes/germs, physiological breakdown, or unlucky genetics that they need a constant influx of medications in their bloodstream to preserve their health. Anybody visiting their doctor for any symptom at all will generally walk away with a drug.

Without a doubt, both prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) medication can be helpful, so it is not my intention to vilify all drugs. However, the overuse and downright abuse of medication in this country are partially to blame for the unacceptable rate of morbidity and mortality due to medical errors.

We now know very well that numerous deaths are caused by both adverse drug reactions and drugs being wrongly prescribed to patients. So I must ask: Does the problem lie with the doctors making the mistakes, or is the problem inherent in a system that freely prescribes medications for even the most minor ailments? The problem is likely more profound than that, as it is rooted in the Western ideology of a quick fix for every health woe.

In 2024, the United States ranked 35th when assessing the healthiest nations in the world: Thirty-fifth, despite being the most technologically advanced country in the world and spending more than any other nation on healthcare. For all the money spent annually ($12,555 per capita), the U.S. can only manage to rank 35th worldwide? Does this make sense to anybody? Until we realize that our reliance on drugs and surgeries to maintain human health is not just costly but also foolish, will we ever see our rankings improve?

Good Health

rancho mirage chiropractor - optimal health

The only way to ensure good health is by making healthy lifestyle choices. Eight of the ten leading causes of death (aside from those caused iatrogenically) are predominantly due to people’s lifestyle choices. Heart disease, cancer, accidents, stroke, pulmonary diseases, diabetes, nephritis, and chronic liver disease/cirrhosis are all linked to behavioral choices and living conditions.

The National Institutes of Health’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports

“each year there are more than 178,000 deaths (approximately 120,000 male deaths and 59,000 female deaths) attributable to excessive alcohol use, making alcohol one of the leading preventable causes of death in the United States, behind tobacco, poor diet and physical inactivity, and illegal drugs.”

The American Heart Association states that

“≈60% of premature deaths could be attributed to unhealthy lifestyle factors, including smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, physical inactivity, poor diet, and obesity…Adherence to 5 low-risk lifestyle-related factors (never smoking, a healthy weight, regular physical activity, a healthy diet, and moderate alcohol consumption) could prolong life expectancy at age 50 years by 14.0 and 12.2 years for female and male US adults compared with individuals who adopted zero low-risk lifestyle factors.”

With these facts so evident, isn’t it a wonder that so much money is spent combating the effects of faulty habits rather than teaching good ones?

If you value good health, you will be delighted to know that practicing healthy habits can help you achieve your highest level of health. (Editor’s Note: this differs from person to person and may not apply to everyone, particularly those in the later stages of chronic disease). One must place thought and action into six fundamental areas to achieve and maintain optimal health. I call these areas The Six Keys to Optimal Health. If you pay regular attention to these six key areas, it will be almost impossible not to enjoy improved health and vitality.

Key 1 – Diet and Nutrition

beverly hills chiropractic - nutritionThe first key is diet and nutrition, “You are what you eat.” The body depends on various nutrients in their proper proportions to function properly. Vitamins, minerals, probiotics, protein, and antioxidants are all paramount, but quantity is also of the utmost importance. Too much or too little of any one nutrient can lead to ill health.

Despite our thorough knowledge of the subject, malnutrition is still the cause of many of today’s disorders. One reason for this is society’s obsession with processed foods. These foods do not provide the nutrients needed for a healthy diet and are often laden with sugar.

Junk food sales continue to grow despite increased prices due to inflation. According to a March 2024 article in Forbes:

“In industrialized countries, over 50% of calories come from ultra-processed foods. Study after study links overconsumption of UPF’s like breakfast cereals, soft drinks, hot dogs, French fries, frozen pizza and snack chips to non-communicable diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, colorectal and breast cancer, obesity, depression and all-cause mortality. UPF’s are often high in salt, sugar and fat and are quite likely addictive. They are priced cheaper per serving than minimally processed and whole foods. They make up at least $485 billion of the $1 trillion U.S. grocery industry, or close to 50 cents of every dollar spent at checkout.”

Processed foods are not optimal in providing the proper nutrition for your body or mind.


In addition to getting proper nutrition for your body through food, it is also essential to remain adequately hydrated. Many people are not. Several disorders are directly related to poor hydration, like heat injury, urinary and kidney problems, seizures, and low blood volume shock (hypovolemic shock). Suffice it to say that drinking water is right up there with breathing—your life depends on it. A good rule to follow is to drink as much in ounces as half your weight in pounds. So if you weigh 150 lbs., drink 75 ounces (~2 liters) daily. If this sounds overwhelming, then start with half that and build upward.

The bottom line is to watch what you eat regularly. Whole, natural foods are better than canned, frozen, or processed foods. I also believe hormone-free meats are ideal (check your local health-conscious supermarkets), and I prefer buying organic over conventional produce. But even if those options are unavailable, conventional will do just fine as long as you eat mostly the whole, natural variety. I also believe that everyone can benefit from vitamin and mineral supplementation. Each individual will indeed differ in what he or she needs, but a good multivitamin is a good start. Consult a holistic doctor or nutritionist to determine which vitamins are right for you.

Key 2 – Exercise and Physical Fitness

The next key area involves exercise and physical fitness. Once again, the importance of this crucial area has been extensively studied and well-understood for decades, thanks primarily to the practices of bodybuilding and yoga. The fitness industry has exploded in the U.S. due largely to increased public awareness of the importance of regular exercise. Health clubs are now as plentiful as supermarkets in many regions, and yoga studios seem to be everywhere.

Without listing every benefit of a regular physical fitness program, some notables are increased cardiovascular function, enhanced sexual function, and better mental health. Do not take this lightly. If regular physical fitness can dramatically improve every aspect of your health, why aren’t you doing it? The good news is that the number of people who regularly exercise increases every year. However, if you are not exercising regularly at this time in your life, start today. It only takes that first step to create a habit that will almost immediately make you feel better.

Key 3 – Rest and Recuperation

beverly hills chiropractic - rest and recuperationThe third key concerns rest and recuperation, or quite simply sleep. Sleep is one of those activities, like breathing, that we often take for granted. Most people put very little thought into it, but I cannot stress enough the importance of proper rest.

During a typical sleep cycle, many crucial functions are carried out, from cell regeneration to memory storage. Without sleep, then, these vital processes cannot proceed normally, which can lead to premature aging and degeneration of various organs and systems. Therefore, if you sacrifice your sleep to participate in less important activities, then you will slowly but surely damage your health.

If you realize that being well-rested enhances every activity you love, you will be more likely to set aside time to carry out this vital function. And if you are interested in looking your beautiful best, get eight hours of sleep nightly. Proteins needed for muscle, skin, hair, and nails are all regenerated during sleep. This process is called anabolism and is far more critical than any external cosmetic product or procedure people spend millions of dollars on yearly.

One of the most important things you can do is develop a regular sleep pattern—same time and length every night. Erratic schedules are probably the most common cause of sleep disorders. By cultivating regular sleep habits, you guarantee significant restful sleep on a nightly basis. Do not rob the sandman; you will pay the price in decreased health and premature aging over time.

Key 4 – Mental and Emotional Well-Being

beverly hills chiropractic - mental healthThe fourth key is related to mental and emotional well-being. Although there has been a long-standing debate over mind-body duality, most healthcare experts will find it hard to discount the importance of the mind in healing and an individual’s overall health.

There are numerous ways in which your mental disposition can affect your health. You need not be clinically depressed to suffer the ill effects of your mental state. Merely partaking in negative self-talk such as self-judgment, comparisons, jealousy, and even bad-mouthing others, your mental state has an enormous impact on your health.

Mental health is not always easy to understand, however, nor is it easy to master. If you find yourself suffering from a problematic mental or emotional state, take action to address it. Whether that means seeking help from a trained professional or support group, reading self-help books, or adjusting your perception of a particular situation, do not simply sit back and do nothing. Seek out potential solutions, as mental burdens can and will take their toll.

Medications to combat “stress” or “anxiety” are some of the most over-prescribed in Western society. There is no quick fix for any problem. Many mental issues result from convoluted perceptions of our current reality and how we wish things to be. When reality and our desires do not match, we feel pain.

Antidepressants prevent people from feeling and experiencing this pain, which accompanies all challenging moments in life, and they can act as an obstacle to growth (it’s called “emotional blunting”). We should probably call it anti-evolution medication, as many people on long-term psychoactive drugs get “stuck” in their own quagmire. Many long-term antidepressant takers believe they need the meds to cope, but what they are ultimately doing is shutting off their emotional responses and thus failing to learn from them.

According to research at the University of Cambridge:

“The team found that participants taking [antidepressants] were less likely to use the positive and negative feedback to guide their learning of the task compared with participants on placebo. This suggests that the drug affected their sensitivity to the rewards and their ability to respond accordingly.”

Some people indeed turn to antidepressants to help them through trying times, but far too many people use them to keep from feeling those difficult emotions we all face in our lives. Even those who genuinely need antidepressants during a crisis must eventually wean off or risk dependency.

Key 5 – Toxin Avoidance

The next key to observe and master is toxin avoidance: limiting the amount of toxic substances you put into your body. Toxins are poisons that damage your tissues when taken in large quantities or repeatedly over time.

Many substances can act as toxins. Some of the more obvious ones are tobacco, alcohol, smog, pesticides, household chemicals, lead, and asbestos. Other less obvious ones, but nonetheless harmful, are prescription and OTC medications. Even large quantities of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D can damage healthy tissue, while some herbs used medicinally can be toxic to the liver.

west hollywood chiropractor - toxic drugs

It is important to understand that what one does occasionally is unlikely to have dire consequences on one’s health. The “occasional” drink or smoke is not really that big a deal and can even have some positive mental effects, like relaxation or pleasure.

Unfortunately, though, these same substances can become toxic when used regularly. Smoking a pack of cigarettes per day, using ibuprofen daily for weeks, months, or years to ease pain, or taking antidepressants regularly to “cope” can all damage the body and its tissues over time. As a result, degenerative and chronic diseases like heart disease, liver failure, emphysema, and cancer can result.

It is in the best interests of your health to understand the risks of whatever you put into your body. Everyone knows the dangers of smoking, but how many are fully aware of the risks inherent in prescription drugs? A common misperception is that if something comes from a doctor, then it must be safe. This idea often leads to indiscriminate use of the drug. All medication has side effects, and it is toxic to the body in high doses or with repeated use. Most doctors will not take the time to inform you of these side effects.

Be informed about what you are taking. You can find information on most drugs (both prescription and recreational) on the web. Read the list of side effects that come with each medication. You may be shocked. Please do not leave it to anyone else to tell you about these effects, and do not take chances. As I said earlier, most diseases directly result from our lifestyle choices. Choose wisely, and you will live longer and healthier as a result.

Key 6 – Regular Body Work

palm desert chiropractic - massageThe sixth and final key is receiving regular bodywork. Chiropractic is the most comprehensive of all bodywork disciplines, as it affects the joints, bones, muscles, ligaments, blood vessels, and nerve tissue. Yet massage, acupuncture, and spa therapies (facials, scrubs, wraps) all have beneficial effects.

Not only does regular bodywork feel good, but it also ensures your physical (musculoskeletal) parts are functioning properly. The theory behind chiropractic is that misalignments in the spine (subluxations) interfere with proper nerve function. Correcting them allows the nervous system to work optimally as the master control of the entire body.

Without a properly functioning nervous system, organs are put under stress as they receive distorted signals from the brain. This situation is similar to a damaged computer chip. In this scenario, programs run haphazardly, if they run at all, which makes them useless, as they can no longer perform their functions as intended.

Every system, organ, and cell depends on the nervous system. Would you leave your precision automobile without its electrical system running optimally? Most people who care about their fine-tuned machinery would not. Then why not afford the same care to your body?

Massage therapy can also remove the stress that builds in muscle tissue. It helps increase blood and lymphatic circulation, preventing fluid stagnation that can lead to varicose veins and blood clots.

In the End

Pay attention to your body, and you will ensure its proper physiological functioning. By following the Six Keys to Optimal Health, you stand the greatest chance of keeping yourself healthy and out of the medical crisis system. Modern medicine is the ultimate care for “sick” and dying people, but it does very little to optimize health. Along with the mistakes inherent in medical care, you risk becoming just another news headline if you use the system for anything more than crisis care. By following the six keys, your chances of getting sick decrease exponentially. Fall into the system, however, and you stand a greater chance of becoming one of the quarter million who die every year from medical mistakes. Why risk it? Do the right things, and you won’t have to.

*Originally posted 2004

**If you want the definitive guide to healthy life-enhancing behaviors, pick up a copy of The Six Keys to Optimal Health today.