As I watch
the health care bill debate debacle tumble down the rat-hole of
Congress, I have to shake my head at how absurd this has all become.
The final version — in almost any iteration now — will surely bankrupt
us in time. If you thought the bank bailout was excessive, wait
until you see this final tab. And the bill will likely wind up such
a twisted compromise that few of the major stakeholders (Reps, Dems,
Docs, Insurers and patients) will be pleased. In fact, I'm guessing
very few people will be truly positively impacted by it (except,
ironically, those who have no coverage and could care less about
taking care of themselves). Many of the rest of us will be hugely
affected by it for years to come. Taxes and premiums will rise for
the healthy among us who can pay (and even for many of those who
can't). The saddest part of all is that in a free-market economy,
a bill like this ought to be entirely unnecessary, but for the fact
that it is built upon that huge house of cards that consists of
the faulty assumptions we as a nation seem to have made about personal
responsibility and accountability. Having said all that, this post
is not about ragging on ObamaCare. There are others far more qualified
than I to do so. This is about the message that the universe is
offering up to all of us as a result of this fiasco. That message
is clear and concise: "When it comes to health, you're on your
As one of my
readers at Mark's Daily
Apple put it the other day, the problem isn't lack of health
insurance, it's lack of health. If our collective diseases of civilization
continue to mount as they appear to be doing, if the majority of
us are headed toward near-certain serious degenerative disease as
we are led to believe, then absolutely no insurance program or government
aid will be able to pay for it. So isn't it interesting that when
you parse the morbidity and mortality tables at the CDC, you come
to this frank realization: over 80% of the health problems we face
in this country are preventable and/or curable, and are largely
related to diet and/or exercise and/or stress. An overwhelming majority
of conditions like type 2 diabetes, obesity, metabolic syndrome,
gastrointestinal issues, pulmonary problems, heart disease, arthritis,
depression, and many forms of cancer have a strong correlation with
diet, exercise and stress. That means they can be prevented or even
cured with the right combination of lifestyle adjustments, and,
in most cases, if approached properly, with little or no medication
or surgical intervention. The medical community might have you believe
that "it's not your fault," or "it's genetic and
there's little you can do — and we now have a test to prove it,"
or "the only way to control this is to medicate or operate
on it." But that's their job. That's how they drum up business.
The truth is: Maybe we're not really that sick. Maybe most
of what ails us are actually temporary conditions that can be fixed
without medical involvement, without expensive testing and without
costly surgical or pharmacological intervention. Sure, if you have
a traumatic accident or a serious infection, your best bet is probably
the high-tech US medical complex, but maybe all that the other 90%
of us need is a low-tech solution. Hey, save a trillion here and
a trillion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money.
There is significant research that suggests that many current diagnostic
tests are a waste
of time and money, often produce false positives and false negatives,
and create undue stress.
Scans, mammograms, PSA tests, neonatal ultrasounds and most
cholesterol tests (those that don't give you a figure for small,
dense LDL) are but a few examples of tests that can cost a lot of
money but are now being shown to not significantly improve outcomes.
In fact, many knowledgeable doctors are now suggesting that if you
believe a test will somehow indicate you need to make a lifestyle
change (i.e. you need to get your weight down, your BP down, your
BG under control, or your lipids under control) then why even pay
for that test to tell you what you need to do if it's in your best
interest to do so ANYWAY. I guess for those who aren't willing to
take responsibility, the answer is "Hey, when diabetes drugs
can keep me alive — albeit miserable — there's no incentive for
me to stop eating pie."
Numbers and wavy lines on a test result are just that: numbers and
wavy lines. And our reliance on these numbers and these expensive
tests to guide our lifestyle decisions places us squarely at the mercy
of pharmaceutical companies and the health insurance industry. It
becomes a dysfunctional cycle of individuals refusing to take responsibility
for their own health, insurance and drug execs taking advantage of
that irresponsibility, and those same individuals complaining about
their weight, their hospital bills, the drugs' side effects, and the
awful diet their doctor put them on. Blame the insurance companies
all you want, but they're simply chasing the bottom line. It's time
that individuals begin to value their own personal bottom line — their
health. Just about every day, I get emails from people who made this
realization, who decided to cut out the middlemen and take responsibility
for their health by making a few simple lifestyle changes. From the
obese diabetic who got off insulin and dropped eighty pounds in the
process to the mother with chronic gastrointestinal distress who no
longer keeps a toilet at arm's length, people are making incredible,
almost miraculous transformations. Ask ten average people to tell
you about their most recent medical experience, and nine will have
some horror story for you. If it's not the massive bill, it's the
doctor. If it's not the obscenely long wait, it's the battery of unnecessary
tests they felt compelled to pay for or the inappropriate medication
they were prescribed. Ask ten average people who decided to bypass
all that nonsense and truly take control of their health about their
last experience, and ten will be positive. They aren't paying hospital
bills, taking pharmaceutical cocktails, or waiting for results. Instead,
they're turning heads, getting compliments, and feeling better than
they have in years, and they're doing it without relying on the traditional,
high-tech medical industry.
To divest yourself
from the traditional medical community, here are eight low-tech
steps you can take starting TODAY:
- Walk a lot.
You don't even need to run. Understand that it's not about burning
calories. It's about the movement itself and the subtle changes
walking (or easy cycling or swimming or any other low-level aerobic
movement) bring about in gene expression.
- Lift weights
twice a week for 30 minutes. Forget those admonitions about hour-long
workouts and several days a week. Research shows you can optimize
strength and health on as little as two short workouts a week.
reduce or eliminate sugars and grains. These two elements of the
Standard American diet are responsible for most of the ills that
befall society. This includes whole grains (read more about why
- Cut out
trans and hydrogenated fats. These are the "frankenfats"
that interfere with our cells' optimal operation. Replace them
with healthy fats like Omega 3s, monounsaturated fats and even
certain saturated fats.
- Don't smoke.
43,000,000 Americans still smoke, even though we've known for
50 years that smoking is a proximate cause of lung cancer and
a litany of other maladies.
- Limit alcohol
intake. If you must, a little once in a while won't kill you.
More than that increases your risk for illness.
- Get sunlight
or take a vitamin D supplement. Vitamin D is essential to maintaining
a strong immune system. The medical establishment's admonition
to shun the sun may be largely responsible for the "epidemic"
of lowered immunity that opens the door to many serious illnesses.
- Ask your
doctor to justify why. If you do see a doctor and s/he advises
treatment, ask why. Keep asking until you get an answer that satisfies
you — or get a second opinion. If you are unable to fully evaluate
all this, find a smart patient advocate to ask for you.
When you take
responsibility for anything, especially your health, you begin to
value that thing. You take pride. You have a personal incentive
to do a good job. It's true for your work, and it's even truer for
your health. For more details on using effective, effortless lifestyle
changes to take back control of your health and longevity, get Mark
Sisson's new book, The
Primal Blueprint. If you buy
it on Amazon today, you'll also get $100 worth of free gifts.
Learn how here.