With the cost of health care, health insurance, deductibles, and copays going through the roof, getting sick has become financially hazardous. Although we can't fully control our fate, we can sway the odds in our favor so that we need the health care system as little as possibleâ€”more than 75 percent of health care costs are devoted to chronic conditions, including heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, and arthritis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) boils down the sorry state of American health and the burden on our health care system into some startling statistics:
- Chronic diseases cause 7 in 10 deaths each year in the United States.
- Almost half of all adults live with at least one chronic illness, significantly limiting daily activities in some.
- The numbers of youth with a chronic health condition has more than tripled since the 1960s.
- Less than a quarter of Americans eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
- More than one-third of Americans fail to meet minimum recommendations for physical activity.
Many chronic conditions can be prevented or managed through diet and lifestyle changes and functional medicine approaches. It's better to invest a little up front in preventive medicine approaches than a whole lot later when a health problem has passed the point of no return.
Your diet determines your health. The most profound and fundamental way to avoid needing health care is to pay attention to your diet. Although we are surrounded by convenient, affordable, and tasty fast-food choices, indulging in them regularly paves a path to developing a chronic disease. Focusing on a whole foods, plant-based diet that is free of processed foods and sweets is a good beginning.
Determine your food sensitivities and eliminate those foods. Many people unknowingly eat foods daily that cause inflammation in their body and brain. Inflammation underlies today's most common chronic diseases: heart disease, obesity, arthritis, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and more. The most common inflammatory foods are gluten, dairy, various grains, soy, eggs, night shades (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, etc.). Cyrex Labs offers the most cutting-edge and complete food sensitivity testing today.
Heal your gut. Hippocrates said all disease begins in the gut and modern research is increasingly proving that to be true. Many people unknowingly have inflamed and permeable, or leaky, guts. A leaky gut means undigested foods and pathogens can escape into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation in the body and brain. Studies have shown links between poor gut health and mood and mental disorders, systemic inflammatory diseases, autoimmune disease, and other chronic disorders.
Identify and manage your autoimmunity. Autoimmunity means the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys body tissue. This is a chaotic inflammatory scenario that often causes troubling or debilitating chronic symptoms and can progressively worsen until it becomes a serious disease. The health care system will not diagnose or treat an autoimmune condition until it has reached the end stages. This is because they do not have a model of treatment for managing autoimmunity, only for suppressing symptoms. Fortunately, today you can run a test that screens for two dozen of the most common autoimmune reactions and learn how to manage your autoimmunity and prevent it from progressing through functional medicine approaches.
Exercise regularly. Exercise has been shown to be a magic bullet when it comes to preventing chronic disease. It's ideal if you can work in both aerobic and strength training, but just do whatever it takes to move your body regularly.
For more advice on how to avoid needing conventional health care, contact my office.