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 own."
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.
The Primal Blueprint: ... Best Price: $1.25 Buy New $4.70 (as of 12:45 EST - Details) 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.
Certain CT 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."
Should I Be Tested for... Best Price: $4.28 Buy New $17.99 (as of 04:55 EST - Details) 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.
- Dramatically 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 here…)
- 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.