From the end of medicine and a healthy life

Status: 01/28/2022 3:50 p.m.

Biologist and science journalist Peter Spork is convinced that modern medicine in the future will focus on maintaining health from the start.

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11 minutes

by Peter Spurk

do you wear a mask Are you vaccinated? Do you keep your distance? The corona pandemic has changed us and our lives from top to bottom. The idea of ​​prevention has become commonplace. We are constantly doing something or not doing something else in order not to get sick and to protect the health of others. We try to stay ahead of the infection.

Peter Spork © Thomas Duffé Photo: Thomas Duffé

Peter Spork has written the new book “Measuring Life”.

We trust the findings of science. This was able to measure that FFP2 masks ward off corona viruses and aerosols are expelled through ventilation. She even managed to develop a safe and effective vaccine in an incredibly short time. And she was able to use models to predict how the pandemic is likely to change if politicians decide to take certain contact restriction measures — or not.

Real health medicine should always be one step ahead of suffering

We act completely differently from what we usually do. If we are healthy, we avoid doctors. We don’t care much about this condition, which is not at all the opposite of the disease, but a process of adaptation to life. Diseases are part of life. Our health must therefore also allow us to cope well with chronic diseases or aging. And that is why real health medicine should always be one step ahead of suffering, infection, neglect, pandemic, loneliness. You should know what is imminent.

Medicine today, however, is primarily responsible for the therapy of disease and the treatment of symptoms, not the maintenance of health. It makes sense that our healthcare system – which is actually a sickness system – pays doctors and hospitals primarily when they are supposed to cure us. Prevention is much less important. It is mankind’s dream to prevent diseases before they occur.

Unlock the system of life

Nothing motivates science more than making life and the environment predictable. As early as the 16th century, astronomy succeeded in measuring the orbits of the planets with such precision and in predicting them by differential equations that it was able to project itself into the future. From then on, humanity knew when Jupiter, Venus or Saturn would appear in which part of the sky. The system of celestial bodies has been understood using physics and mathematics. There were algorithms that could describe how the planets changed over time.

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What a wonderful idea it is to do the same thing with biology, with the system of life. It would be the end of medicine as we know it today. Because doctors could act with foresight, along with many other professional groups, such as psychologists, midwives, physiotherapists, nutritionists, and exercise counselors, they could ensure that we lead healthy lives.

If an imbalance arises in the system of life, then a small precise intervention, adapted only to this person in his particular environment and with his very personal experiences, can take place. This can be specific medication, psychological coaching, a change in diet or sleep, or an exercise program. Already, the biological system of this person would be reinforced and the disease would be prevented even before it could develop.

Of course, this is a utopia. We are still far from it. Human life is far more complex than the orbits of the planets. There should be so many interconnected connections, external and internal networks and hidden patterns – it will always remain impossible to describe life in its entirety. Moreover, the vast majority of diseases are much more complicated than infections like Covid-19.

Basic biological research – a task of the century

When it comes to the common diseases of society and civilization, ailments and symptoms like high blood pressure, allergies, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer or just plain back pain, science generally knows neither their true causes nor the context of their emergence in the web of life.

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But basic biological research is meticulously elucidating the molecular structures of biology, genes, epigenetic switches, proteins, messenger substances and their function. It is a task of the century. At the same time, she begins to better understand the networks that connect cells, organs, hormones, a person’s nervous system and even the bacteria that live in the gut. And with psychology, but also with the social and cultural sciences and ecology, he discovers where the interfaces are located between the network of our biology and the networks of our environment.

This new way of thinking is already being implemented in Louisville, Kentucky, for example: there, the health data of the test subjects were evaluated and the roads were then specifically closed to truck traffic or parks were were created to improve air quality in difficult places. The number of asthma attacks then fell to a quarter.

In another study, researchers used artificial intelligence to assess the blood sugar response of 800 people to nearly 50,000 meals and snacks. Finally, they developed a surprisingly powerful algorithm for personalized nutritional advice.

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NDR culture | Thoughts at the time | 01/29/2022 | 13:00 ‘O clock

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