Can you remember the last time you visited your doctor? As a country, we spend trillions of dollars on healthcare each year, with over 2.3 trillion spent in 2008-more than triple the 714 billion spent in 1990. As a culture, we have locked ourselves into a treat the symptom not the problem mentality. Got a cough? Straight to doc for an antibiotic. Back Pain? Take 3 Ibuprofen 4 times a day. Problem with your weight? Take this pill and try not to eat. At what point do we stop and say, maybe this approach isn’t working? Heal the problem, cure the symptom.
So you say ‘Ok Beth, I want to heal the problem-but I don’t know what it is. Try a little troubleshooting: Why is my immune system compromised to the point it can’t fight off a cold or infection? Am I ingesting the nutrients I need? Am I overstressed? Why does my back hurt? Why is my spinal integrity compromised? Why am I overweight? Am I making healthy eating choices? Are my portions too large? Am I eating at the right time? Do I eat to feel better?
The rise of chronic disease prevalence has become extremely taxing. An estimated 75% of the 2.3 trillion spent in 2008 assisted in treating chronic health issues like heart disease, cancer, stroke, obesity, and obesity related orthopedic ailments. What percentage of these expenses arose from preventable circumstances?
Don’t get me wrong, many Americans consistently make healthy lifestyle choices and still suffer from disease. Genetic predisposition and abnormality aside, many health problems individuals face can be resolved, if intervention occurs early enough. As individuals, we have to begin taking responsibility for our personal health. In 2009 a Florida woman was awarded 300 million in compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit against Philip Morris over her emphysema, at the time the largest single plaintiff award to date. Such legal decisions force us to ask ourselves, whose responsibility is it really to educate us on what is or is not healthy or harmful?
The very first study directly linking tobacco to cancer was released in 1950. Every single day we learn more and more regarding the mechanisms of disease and are now able to identify problematic behaviors leading to increased morbidity and mortality. Tanning beds, fast food, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, overeating, tobacco use, alcohol use, all have the proven potential to incur devastating results. Our own behaviors are slowing killing us. Take a stand for yourself and your children. Take a stand for change.
Before the next time you need a doc visit, rethink your strategy. I append to the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away. An apple combined with ample fruits and veggies, plenty of water, small portioned frequent meals, minimal tobacco and alcohol use, weekly cardiovascular exercise, weekly resistance training, adequate nutrition, and overall healthy lifestyle choices will help keep the doctor away. What are you waiting for? The benefits of health are yours for the taking.
~Beth Harris, CSCS
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