Healthy People Make for a Healthier Planet

Dr. Mimi GuarneriMimi Guarneri, a founding board member of the American Board of Integrative Medicine® (ABOIM®) and a board-certified physician in cardiovascular disease, internal medicine, and integrative holistic medicine, believes that next to health care, climate change is one of the most critical issues facing us today. “Practitioners need to be concerned about climate change from a health care perspective because it’s changing the planet in a way that’s affecting people,” she says.

Dr. Guarneri asks us to imagine the emotional impact of climate change – for instance, how it affects communities being consumed by flooding, as in Bangladesh, or wiped out by fires, as in California, or devastated by a hurricane, as in the Bahamas. The impact is tremendous. People lose their homes, families, and livelihood. “They lose, in essence, the social determinants of health,” she says. “Their whole infrastructure is completely disrupted.”

She asks us to also consider the medical impact of climate change. In Pakistan, for example, she says, temperatures have exceeded 122 degrees Fahrenheit, and people have died in the streets from heat.

Another huge concern for Dr. Guarneri is drinking water. Drought or the inability to obtain clean drinking water has led to health problems in several countries. Consider El Salvador, she says, where among farmers, there have been alarming levels of kidney failure because of dehyrdation and the lack of clean water.

We must come to terms with the health problems wrought by pollution, Dr. Guarneri says. Fortunately, the World Health Organization has recognized that air pollution is the leading cause of stroke. Of course, pollution not only affects the air we breathe but also contaminates our drinking water. Depending on the industries in the area, heavy metals such as mercury, lead, and cadmium can run off into the drinking water. These heavy metals are linked to cardiovascular and kidney disease.

Infectious diseases are also becoming more prevalent as a result of climate change. As the tropics have grown warmer, the life cycle of the mosquito has lengthened, and more cases of vector-borne diseases such as chikungunya, Zika, West Nile, and dengue, have been reported farther north. “Vector-borne illnesses are almost commonplace now,” she says.

So, how can medical practitioners discuss the climate with their patients so that they can take control of their health and their environment? In short, Dr. Guarneri says, health professionals should advise patients that what’s good for their health is good for the planet and vice versa. “And we also have to be the change we seek,” she says. “For example, instead of driving to work and polluting the environment by adding to the particulate matter in the air, walk to work. It’s good for your health and the environment. You’ll get exercise as well as reduce your carbon footprint. If you do have to drive, drive in an electric vehicle, or use public transportation.”

She also recommends that we eat less meat and more vegetables. The agricultural industry contributes hugely to methane production. “Have one or two days a week during which you eat no meat,” she advises “A meatless Monday, for example. A diet that includes more food like salads, lentils, and so on, is not only healthier for us, it also helps to reduce the industry’s methane footprint.”

We can also avoid using plastic, Dr. Guarneri adds. “Just say no to plastic bags.” Much of the plastic we use has not been recycled but instead has become part of the debris patch floating in the Pacific Ocean, in what is called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Plastic gets into the food chain and kills off marine life and animals. Rather than using a plastic bag, opt for a cloth bag, or a box, Dr. Guarneri advises.

She points out that adults should be humbled by the actions of young people who are taking action to save our planet, which has been industrialized and materialized to an extent that’s incompatible with supporting life. Via health care systems, farmers’ markets, and community-supported agriculture, people are radically changing communities with health care models that ought to be utilized everywhere.

To learn more about Dr. Guarneri’s holistic approach to health care, which includes clean water, fresh air, and a healthy diet, contact the American Board of Physician Specialties® (ABPS). The ABOIM is a Member Board of the ABPS.

Save the Date
House of Delegates & Annual Scientific Meeting
Innovation & Overcoming Challenges
June 10-15, 2022
Patient Care Is Our Priority

Medical organizations throughout North America understand that our rigorous certification standards prove that ABPS Diplomates are capable of delivering the best patient care possible.

On October 18, 2007, President George W. Bush released Homeland Security Presidential Directive 21 (HSPD-21), calling on our nation, among other initiatives, to “collectively support and facilitate the establishment of a discipline of disaster health”. It is a great testament to the wisdom and foresight of the American Board of Physician Specialties that it immediately set to work and created, within the short span of only one year, an educational blueprint and set of certification examinations, both written and oral, for a new subspecialty of disaster medicine—and it is why I chose to be part this vital initiative and this wonderful organization. This is but one of the many innovative programs initiated by the American Board of Physician Specialties over the years, and why I am proud to support its work on behalf of our nation’s public health.

Art Cooper, MD
Disaster Medicine
When the American Board of Physician Specialties offered to host the American Board of Integrative Medicine, ABPS became a landmark organization working to move medicine into the twenty first century. Certifying physicians who have completed rigorous academic training in Integrative Medicine ensures that the field of Integrative Medicine will continue to develop academically, clinically, and professionally. The leadership of ABPS continues to impress me - they are diligent in constantly innovating to provide certifications for physicians who want to advance their careers and their areas of expertise. I am honored to be a part of this organization.

Ann Marie Chiasson, MD
Integrative Medicine
There are many ways board certification advances a physician career. ABPS Board examination verifies your accuracy, precision, and reflects your mastery of your residency training verifying your expertise. ABPS Board certification demonstrates your level of expertise beyond your practice experience, primary education degrees, and training which are necessary for insurance reimbursement and practice privilege requirements. Attaining your ABPS Board Certification will clarify your purpose, secure your practice growth, and expand into leadership positions. Board certification can serve as an indication of a physician’s commitment to medicine, beyond the minimal standards and competency of training, their measurement to quality of care, and attaining an award for excellence.

Chris Kunis MD
Internal Medicine
When I think historically, advancement in medicine and patient safety and care has been driven by the diversity of people and scientific thought. That’s what I found at the ABPS and more. For over 60 years that is just who we are. I found a physician certifying body that provides a choice and voice to all physicians ensuring that patients are always placed first.

Jerry Allison, MD
Emergency Medicine
When I decided to pursue a full time role as a physician executive it was important to me to obtain additional professional training, education and work experience. Board certification through the ABPS in Administrative Medicine is validation of my efforts and a demonstration of dedication to professional development. We need more physicians to become full time health care executives, knowing there is a board certification option in Administrative Medicine encourages physicians to take the leap from full time clinical practice to healthcare organizational leadership.

Richard Paula, MD
Administrative Medicine
The American Board of Physician Specialties has provided me with the opportunity to demonstrate mastery of internal medicine through board certification. As a hospitalist, board certification is an expected credential, and hospitals recognize the American Board of Physician Specialties (ABPS) as one of the three standard credentialling bodies for Internal Medicine. Additionally, the ABPS has helped me develop leadership skills as a Board member and Committee Chairperson. ABPS has also helped me sharpen critical thinking skills as a test question developer and reviewer. The Allopathic (MD) and Osteopathic (DO) physicians in the ABPS are lifelong learners and frequently pursue multiple board certifications. I enjoy the camaraderie of my peers in ABPS.

Loren Jay Chassels, DO
Internal Medicine