Would you say people care more about health today than in the past?
I’m very glad to see there’s been a change in people and that they understand that science alone is not enough for our health. Fifty years ago people died of infections, and then people said, “If only there were antibiotics.” Now we’re at a different level, where we want to be aware of how to protect our bodies and live well.
Can we have an example from a specific health field?
Let’s look at the field of addiction. People eat too much, but we shouldn’t just tell them “Don’t eat.” Instead, we should tell them we love them and they’re important to us, so it’s important to us that they take care of themselves. It’s that way with addiction to smoking, too. You have to make people understand why we don’t want them to suffer from harmful addictions, not just tell them it’s forbidden. Also, when we talk about health in general terms, we have to know how to do it, since the subject bores people. It’s much better to tell them what can make them more beautiful [and] smarter….
What is the toughest medical problem we are dealing with today?
People aren’t connected anymore. People don’t connect with each other. People don’t make eye contact. That only prevents us from developing well. Connection is what defines us and our lives. For example, obesity is a symptom of loneliness. Stress causes us to make wrong choices. A rich country is a healthy country.
Is there a food you won’t give up?
I’m very fond of ice cream, especially pistachio and chocolate. Luckily, I also like to eat raw vegetables, especially cauliflower. It’s the winning combination, to eat things you like that are also healthy.
What are you careful about?
Eight hours of sleep. That’s a must. Any night that you go to sleep before midnight helps stabilize your circulatory system. It helps your creativity and alertness. I go to bed at 10 o’clock every night and wake up feeling like new at a quarter to six in the morning.
It sounds like you know how to deal with many things, but it’s reasonable to assume there’s something you have difficulty with.
The toughest thing for me is to lose a patient. You develop techniques for dealing with it, but you never really get over it.
How do you give yourself encouragement?
I talk with my wife. She’s always there to listen to me.
At the time of the 9/11 attacks, were you afraid of how Muslims might be treated in the United States.
I was worried that people might connect all the Muslims in the United States with the nineteen people who committed the attacks, but the result was very different. The Americans learned a lot more about Islam. It was much more comfortable for them to talk and debate about religion and the way to respect Islam in various countries. With time, the general result was that America has a better understanding of the Muslim faith, and tolerance there has only increased.
Do you have a way to cure the sicknesses here in the Middle East, to resolve the conflict, or teach us how to do it?
The word “medicine” has the meaning of healing. The word “doctor” has the meaning of teaching. So my choice is to intervene to heal by teaching wisdom. I believe that all the professions have an obligation to talk about civil subjects of great importance to help societies in times of turmoil. I also think that medicine has always been successful at crossing every geopolitical and religious border.
(Israel Hayom via JNS)
Full disclosure: Dr. Miriam and Sheldon Adelson own the company that is the primary shareholder of Israel Hayom, whose English-language content is distributed exclusively by JNS.org.