Blogpost: Are Metrics Synonymous with Health

Many justifications for medical or dietary change is that they change a metric in a positive way. However, fixing one metric does not guarantee that another will not become worse.

Metrics are typically things we can measure that we assume are surrogates for improved health. A metric could be lipid numbers, weight, body mass index, blood pressure, or endothelial function. It could be HgA1C, bone density, or fractures. When it comes to cancer it could be disease free survival or tumor regression. There are subjective metrics such as energy level, depression episodes, feelings of wellbeing, or pain scale.

These all seem like positive findings. If a medication or diet reduced the HgA1c then it would seem to be a success. But what if the treatment resulted in no longevity benefit, or if there were significant side effects affecting another metric?

Weight loss seems like a good metric unless it results in an increase in cancer or heart valve defects. Lowering the HgA1C is a great goal unless it is just temporary on a non sustainable treatment like fasting. Endothelial reactivity improvement is great unless the treatment also causes heart attacks.

When we hear of new treatments or supplements that promise a great metric improvement, we need to ask at what cost to the rest of our overall health. What are the long term risks to achieve the upfront benefits.

I liken these decisions to financial planning decisions. Are you a risk taker? Do you have a long time to correct for the side effects of a treatment. Are you risk intolerant and happy with your current health status and don’t want to take the risk of additional illnesses. How long are you willing to wait to see improvements in your health. What are the potential risks you have while waiting. What are the alternatives.

Consider sitting with your overall health goals before making a decision on treating an isolated metric. Does the particular change positively affect your plan for health and wellness? Or, are you being swayed by a metric that does not result in overall health and wellness in the long run. It is our job as medical professionals to advise patients on the risks versus the benefits of potential treatments and therapies. We also need to be honest when that answer is unknown.

I have not found any compromises with overall health and wellness with an unprocessed oil free, plant based diet. It is nutrient and fiber dense generating little metabolic waste which allows the body to perform at optimal levels. We would love to help you attain your health goals. Email us at for further information. Our hearts “beet” plant strong.

  1. Reply
    Nancy Brainard

    That is a very important point you are making. Better to keep an eye on overall goals and not just focus on one metric. Thank you for the reminder. Always appreciate and enjoy your podcasts and blogs. Wish I had a community of plant eaters like you have but have to depend on YouTube videos and podcasts to help me keep motivated. 4 years now no meat or dairy. Good news is my daughter recently gave up eating meat and dairy as well. 👏

  2. Reply

    Sometimes I think we spend more time researching what kind of refrigerator to buy than we do on what we put in our bodies (food and medicine). What I love about your practice is that you are the “ALEXA” for my health questions. I can call, email or even pick your brain when we run. I always get quick, honest and thoughtful answers. Your practice and community of plant based individuals are making a huge difference in the quality of my life.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *