Every minute of news reporting I’ve watched lately has made me long for a return to hurricane coverage. I’m not kidding.
I mean, I’m glad that the hurricanes are over, and our lives are getting back to normal, but I just don’t even know how to process everything that has happened since. It’s surreal.
I remember a course I took several years ago where we studied the process of grieving – shock, denial, anger, acceptance, and so on. I thought it would be useful for helping my patients walk through the process of grieving the loss of a loved one, but I find myself walking through it daily as I watch the news. I’ve been through it all, over and over again. Each of us is processing at different stages, and each time we get over one horrifying news event, another rears up, and we start the cycle all over.
Shocked By Healthcare Costs
I’ll tell you one thing that I’ve been processing lately, and as surprising as it might sound, you could say that I’m grieving through it. I’m processing the latest round of debates over federal health care law.
I know it has to sound strange to you. It even seems strange to me.
When I was in chiropractic school in the late 1980s, I was shocked to find out how twisted and distorted healthcare had become from how it had been practiced for millennia. Now, you can make a case that there have been significant breakthroughs in medical treatment in the 20th century, but has it made us better?
If you look back through human history, you don’t see reports of obesity, tooth decay, or heart disease at any period of time (malnutrition appears at times, but that’s more of a matter of poverty). You don’t see celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Yes, surgical standards have improved since 1900, and we certainly take better care of our mental health, but have pharmaceuticals made our healthcare better?
The primary disconnect was a matter of fundamental philosophy:
- One school of thought believed that our natural state was health, and when sickness invaded, our bodies were designed to mount a self-defensive counter-attack. If it failed, you could supplement with the healing properties of roots and leaves.
- The other school of thought, which emerged in the 1920s, believed that our natural state was disease, and man’s scientific ingenuity was developing chemical compounds that could move us toward health (or at least relief from chronic symptoms).
After thousands of years of allowing our bodies and our natural environment to effect wellness, we have given ourselves over to a chemistry experiment, and the proof is in the pudding.
The Numbers Are Telling
According to a report from the California Association of Health Plans, 84% of all national healthcare spending and 99% of all Medicare spending is tied to chronic diseases, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, and Alzheimers Disease.
“Two out of five adults have at least one chronic condition, and one five adults as multiple chronic conditions.” Also, “61% of adults…are overweight or obese, at a cost of $12.8 billion per year.” Diabetes care in the U.S. costs over $132 billion per year. Cancer care costs $206 billion per year, and heart disease and stroke cost $403 billion per year.
Are you kidding me?
The Most Frustrating Part of Health Care Costs
Do you know what is the most frustrating part to me?
- It’s not watching politicians argue and bicker about how to pay for it.
- It’s not watching politicians campaign on how they will champion your health care needs (as nauseating as that is).
- It’s not that a government that can’t pay its bills keeps going deeper into debt over health care.
It’s the fact that every one of these diseases that we spend all this money on is largely preventable. Nobody HAS TO get heart disease or diabetes. Even if you have them in your family history, you don’t have to go that way.
I know I’m going to get angry letters for this, but the truth is heart disease is a lifestyle choice. Diabetes is a lifestyle choice. Arthritis is a lifestyle choice. Even some cancers can be tied to lifestyle choices. For example:
- If you choose to eat junk food and sit all day long (the Standard American Diet and sedentary lifestyle), you are putting yourself at risk of a developing heart disease in the same way that driving a car with your eyes closed puts you at risk of wrapping that car around a tree. People who eliminate refined sugars and processed foods from their diets and make a daily habit of simple exercise dramatically cut their risk of heart disease. There is a direct cause-and-effect linked to specific behaviors and health outcomes, and the choice is entirely yours.
- If you choose to smoke, you put yourself at risk of lung cancer. That’s not my opinion; that’s the cause-and-effect of putting tar in your lungs. If you really want to see me get angry, tell me about a child who got lung cancer or emphysema because their parents smoked around them. Someone made a choice and cancer was the consequence. They could have made a different choice.
- If you have a sensitivity to grains that causes hormonal imbalances that depress your mood, but you insist on eating grains, then the cause-and-effect is going to keep you in a constant state of mood management. Prozac, anyone?
You Can Change The Outcome
Here’s the point I’m getting to: you can cut your healthcare costs with some simple lifestyle choices, and the earlier you start, the better your outcomes. Now, if you have been taking medicine for twenty years for chronic diseases, you will likely have more work to do to recover your optimal health, but you can make a significant difference that will save you a fortune.
You’ve heard the expression, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” (I think Ben Franklin said it.) Maybe it would be better to say, “a grocery bag of prevention is worth a retirement savings of cure.”
I want to see people reject the lie that they are naturally sick and that “miracle-cure” medicines can give them a better life. Your body was designed to be healthy. The problem is that we have accepted chemical concoctions as substitutes for food, and our bodies are suffering the consequences. If we could just make the mental shift from “using drugs to manage our symptoms” to “removing the root problems to restore optimal health,” we would save billions on our healthcare, we might save the government from bankruptcy, and we would live longer, healthier, happier lives.
Healthcare is a matter of personal responsibility, not dependence on the government, the insurance company, or anyone else. Who is ready to step up and take responsibility for their own wellness?
Sorry (Not Sorry) For Being The Bad Guy
I know this is a hard message, but I feel like a messenger warning a village that a tidal wave is coming. The way we manage our health today is unsustainable – physically or financially. This is why we see so many seniors whose lives are wracked with chronic pain and stiffness. This is why obesity is ravaging every age group. This is a million people will learn they have early-stage diabetes this year. This is why families are bankrupted every day by out of control healthcare costs, and our governments at every level are spiraling out of control.
Celery is so much less expensive than prescription meds and has no side effects or contraindications.
Awakening starts with you and me. We can transform our lives, and if we work together, we can transform the lives of people around us. Take a few seconds to share this story on your favorite social platform. Let’s start a movement of people drawing a line in the sand and taking responsibility for their own health.
If you’re in the Naples area and you would like to someone to come alongside you and help you get started on a new life of health, I invite you to visit my office behind the YMCA on Pine Ridge Road. If you’re free tomorrow night, join me at 6:15 for our Fundamental Foods and Friends Dinner. We’ll have a surprisingly delicious and healthy meal, fun conversation with delightful people, and a deep-dive teaching on the epidemic of chronic disease in America. I am bringing in a special guest and I know you will never forget what he has to share. Bring a dish to share or $10 cash.
“At the end of your FEELINGS is NOTHING. At the end of your PRINCIPLES is a PROMISE.” — Eric Thomas