Health care costs in the United States exceeded an incredible 1.4 trillion dollars in 2001. This number is staggering. That means we are spending in excess of $5,000 for each person in this country. Imagine a family of four. The health care costs for that family would be over $20,000 per year.
This 1.4 trillion dollar expense represents over 13% of the gross national product of this country. Of that amount, an incredible 140 billion dollars is spent yearly on prescription drugs. If health care costs continue to soar at the same pace (up 8% from 2000) the system will ultimately collapse as we are starting to see. This is being driven by our increasing reliance on hospitals, doctors and medicine. It has created “an epidemic of sick people and disease.”
May I suggest a reasonably simple solution to the epidemic and maybe the only solution to this health care crisis. It involves every individual being proactive and taking their health into their own hands.
Obesity in this country has reached epidemic proportions. It is estimated by the government that approximately 127 million Americans are overweight, with 60 million being obese and 9 million being severely obese.
A few weeks ago I did a blog post discussing what is known as Body Mass Index (BMI). An individual with a BMI of 25 or greater is considered overweight, obese being 30 or greater and severely obese, 40 or greater. The ideal BMI for longevity purposes and ideal health is 19 – 22.
It is further estimated that in the last 30 years, obesity has increased about 50% in this country. Obesity leads to a host of illnesses. Obese patients are much more likely to suffer with hypertension, degenerative arthritis, cancer, diabetes and heart disease, just to name a few.
The latest statistics from the American Diabetes Association indicate that there are presently 17 million known or yet to be diagnosed diabetics in this country. It is safe to assume that the vast majority of them are overweight. It has been estimated that up to 90 % of diabetes can be reversed with proper diet and weight loss. Imagine the health cost savings if over a period of time the number of diabetics were to decrease from 17 million to say 4 or 5 million.
Controlling your blood sugar may also save your brain. In an article published this week in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers reported that middle aged and elderly people with high blood sugar actually had shrinkage of their brain (a smaller hippocampus) which is involved in storing recent memory.
In this study, 30 non-diabetic middle aged and elderly patients were given several memory tests. They were then tested to see how quickly they metabolized blood sugar after a meal and then went through MR scanning to measure the size of their hippocampus. Those individuals who seemed outwardly healthy, but metabolized their blood sugar more slowly had impairment of memory and a smaller hippocampus.
There may be literally tens of millions of elderly individuals with impaired glucose metabolism which may actually be causing memory impairment significant enough to harm their quality of life – although not diagnosed as being Alzheimer’s Disease. As a neurologist, this article certainly got my attention. The best way to improve glucose metabolism is exercise, maintain a low carb diet and to take chromemate.
So let’s all pitch in to solve this health care crisis. Check your BMI and if it is 23 or greater, now is the time to start changing your diet, exercising and taking effective nutritional supplements. Improving your health by managing your weight and supplementing your diet may help reduce the incidence of disease and illness, thus reducing the costs for health care and necessity for prescription drugs.
I have written on several occasions about the safety and efficacy of the Atkins diet with some modifications:
- replace pork and beef with seafood, nuts, soy and laegumes for a healthier protein source
- use olive oil, fish oil and flax oil for healthy fats
I have become a true believer in this diet. Although it may seem like an impossible task, to give up simple carbohydrates, but it can and should be done. And it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune either.
The Atkins diet or other Ketogenic diets are recommended. Choose from low carb pastas, candy, snack chips, shakes, food bars and more.
Along with the Atkins program, I believe it is extremely important to exercise on a regular basis. Check with your doctor to be sure that there is no problem starting an exercise program. It can be as simple as calling up a friend and start walking for a few minutes every day.
Even with a proper diet, it is quite clear that we do not get the adequate nutrients from the Standard American Diet (SAD). Nutritional supplementation with powerful antioxidants can help to improve immune function and maintain healthy heart and organ function.
Chromium plays an important role in weight management and energy production. It helps insulin metabolize fat, turn protein into muscle and convert sugar into energy. Chromium-activated insulin increases the amount of blood sugar available for energy production nearly twenty-fold. The ideal dose for supplementation is 200 – 400 mcg per day.
So join me in taking a stand against the health care crisis in the United States. Take your health into your own hands, by managing your weight and reducing your risk for illness and disease. Supplement your diet with nutrients and antioxidants to help increase your energy and improve your immune function. Your health will feel the positive effects and so will the health care crisis.
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