This will give you invaluable insight into how healthy you are or are not living. Keep track of what you are eating and drinking, how much and what type of exercising you are doing and the amount and quality of sleep you are getting.

You can measure what you are doing compared to what the authorities recommend.

1. Nutrition-the US Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services jointly come out with US Dietary Guidelines/Healthy Eating Recommendations every five years which you can find on the internet. You can also access ChooseMyPlate.gov or Nutrition.gov or some other resource you feel is reputable. Your doctor may also have a recommendation for nutritional information.

 2.Water intake-the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies recommends for the average male about 15.5 cups and the average woman about 11.5 cups daily. However, some of the water (about 20%) can come from the foods you eat and other liquids you consume. Essentially, it comes down to 6-8 glasses of 8 ounces of water per day. This can vary due to a person’s size, gender, occupation, fitness activities and/or if you are ill or pregnant.

3. Regular exercise- the Department of Health and Human Services recommends a total of 2 and ½ hours (150minutes) of aerobic exercise per week. Suggested also is a couple of days of strength workouts with push-ups, sit-ups and weights. In addition, I am a big proponent for stretching the various muscle groups in the body that you use regularly.

 4. Sleep-the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends from the ages of 26-64 getting 6-10 hours of sleep per night. For those 65 and over, it suggests from 5 or 6 up to 9 hours per night.

5. Stress – you could also note whether it was a relaxing, mildly, moderately or severely stressful day? Too many stressful days in a row can be taxing on your mind and body and detrimental to your overall health.

Food For Thought

                                                                

I was eating dinner out with some friends of mine the other night and we started talking about people and their eating habits. When looking at the dessert menu, we could not help but comment that most of the options were really very unhealthy for you. Then this thought came to my mind. Many of us seem to turn to very tasty but often unhealthy foods and drinks when we are upset and/or unhappy. If one keeps doing this for a long period of time, it can often lead to being unhealthy and that will make you unhappy which is where and why this all started. Food for thought!

 What the body needs to function optimally is relatively simple and if one fulfills these needs one can have the ability to maintain good health and reduce, minimize or completely prevent numerous discomforts and diseases from occurring in the first place. Furthermore, if one becomes ill or injured it can expedite the body’s ability to heal.

There are six essential tasks that the body needs to perform continually to survive:

  1. Take in adequate amounts of life-sustaining nutrients daily (oxygen, food and water).
  2. Absorb the oxygen, digest the food and assimilate the water for distribution into the cells.
  3. Transport the nutrients to the cells.
  4. Convert the nutrients into energy within the cells. This occurs when foods and oxygen combine within the cells using an enzyme as a catalyst.
  5. Utilize this energy for the cells to complete their individual tasks.
  6. Efficiently remove all wastes that have accumulated (both inside and outside the cells) from the body in a timely manner.

To me, being as healthy and well as you can be requires a commitment to yourself to strive continuously to do two things. First, give your body (your cells) the necessary quantity of the highest quality nutrients (food, water and oxygen) daily and second, take the supportive actions that allow the cells of the body to better utilize these nutrients. This would include making sure that you get enough quality sleep, exercise regularly and manage your stress levels as best you can.

 

Redefining Health

 

Going forward to fix the healthcare crisis in our country, I believe has to start with redefining what healthy is. Being healthy is not just the absence of disease or symptoms of disease. It is also the presence of good health, It is an ideal state of wellness in which the body operates at maximum efficiency in regards to physical and mental well-being. A condition where you feel as good as you can feel, have as much energy as you can have with the least amount of outside or medical intervention (prescription or nonprescription medications or any other medical treatment) as possible.

Furthermore, you will never know how good you can feel or how many diseases you can avoid or how much healthier you can become if you are sick or injured, unless the primary needs of the body are met. These primary needs are oxygen, food and water. The less polluted the air we breathe, the higher the quality of the foods we eat and the healthier the water we drink (insufficient quantities) the more efficient the body will work and the better it should feel.

 

I read a very informative article in a recent issue of Parade Magazine that comes with my Sunday’s Washington Post. It was entitled: “Beating Alzheimer’s” by Paula Spencer Scott. Apparently until just a few years ago, most doctors thought there was really not a lot one can do to try and delay the onset or prevent Alzheimer’s from occurring. It is amazing what a difference a few years makes. According to the article, “up to one-third of dementia cases can be delayed or prevented”.

Though genetics, gender (more women than men) and age (about one-third of adults can be afflicted by it by age 85), there are some things you can do to help yourself. These risk factors that most of us can control are: good nutrition, regular exercise, quality sleep, maintaining a healthy blood pressure and our waist size.

What I found very interesting, though not really surprising to me, is that this is another disease where there seems to be a link between it and making healthy lifestyle choices. It is also encouraging because it  not only gives us more control of our future mental health but these risk factors are the same as most serious, chronic, physical diseases such as: heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Speaking for myself, at the age of seventy-four, I can use all the help I can get.

 

Most of us need to realize that we are ultimately responsible for our own health, that the first person we should hold accountable for our health is ourselves, not our doctors, hospitals, pharmaceutical or health insurance companies.

We have to the power to get off the couch and on the treadmill, go for a walk outside, do a yoga class or strength training, go dancing or swimming. We have the power to stop playing video games and watching television late into the night and decide to get a good night’s sleep. We have the power to eat a salad instead of a grease and salt laden coronary on a bun. I am not saying we do not need our healthcare providers. On the contrary, they should always play a vital role in the management of our health but each of us needs to become primarily responsible for our own health. We need to make prevention of illness and disease a priority in our lives and our healthcare providers need to support us in this endeavor and of course be there for us if and when we get ill or injured.

 

Every year, more Americans are getting sicker at younger ages and the rates of chronic diseases/conditions like: heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, obesity amongst others are growing. Almost one-fifth of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is spent on healthcare related costs. Our current system is already unsustainable and this growing burden means costs will continue increasing. Putting more money into the system without making some fundamental changes to it won’t help.

In order to address the root cause of the problem (which is too much disease), we need to fundamentally change the nation’s approach to healthcare. We need to get away from being a reactive “sick care” system to being a proactive “preventative care” system. The best solution involves the following components:

1-each of us taking personal responsibility for our own health

2-making healthier lifestyle choices in the way we choose to live

3-providing quality, affordable healthcare to everyone

4-rewarding individuals with significant financial incentives (up to $5000 per person) for improving their health and/or living healthy lifestyles.

 

A major article appeared in the Washington post on Tuesday, March 20, 2018 entitled, “Trump unveils plan to ‘get tough’ on U.S. drug addiction”. In this article, President Trump outlines his plan on how to deal with and ultimately end the opioid epidemic that is raging throughout our country. The main thrust of his plan is to take a very aggressive and tough approach to stopping the availability of drugs in the first place. By stopping the influx of illegal drugs into our country, plus better monitoring and control of people’s access to legally prescribed opioids, this problem can be solved. Drugs addiction claimed over 64,000 lives last year the majority of whom were between the ages of 15-44, a real tragedy. The sad truth about this, is this is one health problem that should be 100% preventable.

I have recently written a book entitled, Restoring “Health” To Healthcare in which I talk about the fact that when it comes to the healthcare crisis in our country, we are always trying to fix it by focusing on the results of the crisis rather than the cause and that is why we have been unsuccessful for almost sixty years now in trying to get this serious national problem under control. The cause is disease and too much disease especially chronic diseases like: heart disease, stroke, cancer, COPD, and diabetes. Since about 70% of all these diseases are preventable by early detection and making healthier lifestyle choices, the book goes on to offer a simple plan on how to solve our healthcare crisis by getting all of us into our doctor’s offices at least once a year and for us to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices. In addition, I recommend offering significant financial incentives (up to $5000 per year) to do so.

Last year, there were approximately 1,604,671 deaths due to the above named chronic diseases.  Almost 50% of the population in the United States has at least one chronic disease and about 33% have at least two such conditions. Chronic diseases account for over 80% hospital admissions, over 90 % of prescriptions, over 75% of doctor visits and at least 75% of all healthcare costs about $3.5 trillion. It seems so evident to me that if we could prevent 70% of the diseases that afflict us, then we would not have a healthcare crisis for long. So why when it comes to presenting new bills and proposals on how to solve our healthcare crisis, we never deal with this? That is a great question and it is also the reason that almost sixty years later we are still trying to figure out how to get healthcare costs under control.

Just like getting rid of drugs is crucial in getting our drug addiction crisis under control, we have to start getting serious and more forward thinking about getting rid of or at least severely minimizing so many of us contracting diseases especially chronic ones, so we can solve our healthcare crisis once and for all.

 

 

I am a big fan of the reality television show “Shark Tank” on ABC. The stars of the show are very successful and wealthy entrepreneurs one of whom is Mr. Kevin O’Leary who is known on the show as “Mr. Wonderful”.  When he feels things are out of control or they don’t make any sense to him he will often say “Stop the madness”.  Looking over recent events concerning healthcare laws from a national and state level, I say to myself, “Stop the madness”.

Before I go on explaining myself here, I must offer the following disclaimers. My intention is not to throw any one or several groups of people under the bus be those both young and old who have serious, chronic diseases or those who are under thirty years of age and tend to be in good health nor those who are poor and do not have access to and/or cannot afford health insurance. I empathize with these people and I believe all of us should have access to affordable, quality healthcare.

 In the recent news cycles we have seen the following laws or bills proposed that would seem to undermine the Affordable Care Act (the ACA).

1-The Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act presented last week by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), which would offer less expensive, short – term health insurance plans without some of the ACA’s required mandates.

2-A few weeks ago, the department of Health and Human Services was modifying federal rules to allow individuals and businesses to purchase cheaper insurance plans with less benefits that were required under the ACA and would extend these plans from three months to a year’s duration.

3-Last month the state of Idaho announced it was allowing Blue Cross of Idaho to offer cheaper health insurance policies that do not include certain benefits that are required by the ACA.

Now this week, Senators Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Patty Murray (D-WA) have proposed a bill that would be included in the long-term spending package that Congress will vote on next week. This bill would designate $10 billion per year for the next three years to go to reimburse insurers who have funded people who have been very sick with high healthcare expenses and the poor who needed assistance to cover their co-pays and deductibles. This bill would tend to support the ACA and have the opposite effect on it, than the other three above would.

 To me all of these just shift the healthcare costs from one group of people to another. It is like getting Peter to pay Paul. What bothers me most is that neither one deals with the actual cause of our healthcare woes to begin with, which is primarily due to an uncontrolled increase in healthcare costs every year since 1960.

 To me the real crisis we face is the adherence to the belief system that accepts the absurdity the continuing to fund illness (“sick care”) is the solution to a healthy society. We know that a good seventy percent of all the diseases that many of us are afflicted with are AVOIDABLE by early detection and making some adjustments in the way we choose to live. Yet we never do anything on a national level to address this issue when it comes to making changes, modifications or regulations to existing healthcare laws or policy.

It is time to focus on the real cause of the problem. It is time to make a paradigm shift in how we look at and deal with health, illness and healthcare in this country. It is time for all of us to strive to become and stay as healthy as we can be. It is time for our healthcare system to transform itself from a “sick care” system to a proactive, “healthcare” system. That is what my book Restoring “Health” To Healthcare is all about. It offers a simple, uncomplicated plan on how this can be accomplished including financial incentives for up the $5000 for those of us who choose to improve our health.

 It is time to “STOP THE MADNESS”!

 

We have had problems with the rising costs of healthcare in our country since 1960. It seems no matter what we try to do, these costs continue to rise. Then in 2010, we had the passage of the “Affordable Care Act” or the ACA (Obamacare). While this law enabled millions of uninsured people to have health insurance, it did not stem the high costs of healthcare as they continued to rise. Here it is eight years later and we are still facing the same problems we have had all these years. There is continued debate, anxiety and concern by most of us about the state of healthcare in our country and there seems to be no consensus of what to do about it. Here are some of the most recent business transactions and healthcare law proposals/changes.

CVS, the large pharmaceutical company is going to buy Aetna Health Insurance Company.

United Healthcare Group is going to buy about three hundred healthcare clinics from Da Vita Medical.

Hospitals are morphing into large health insurance plans and health insurance companies are getting into the hospital business.

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway Group and J. P. Morgan are going to form an independent company to try and rein in healthcare costs for their employees.

Amazon is now entering the medical supply business.

Speaker Ryan spoke of getting back to dealing with entitlement reform in 2018 which could mean looking at changes in Medicare and Medicaid

In 2017, the state of California tried to pass a single payer system for everyone who lives in the state including the three million uninsured. It eventually lost traction because it would have required to raise taxes and it was tabled for the time being.

In 2017, we saw Congress successfully pass the tax reform bill which will end the unpopular mandate forcing people to buy insurance which will take effect in 2019 and is predicted to have a negative impact on the future of the ACA.

In January of 2018, the state of Idaho’s Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed an executive order that called for his state insurance department to allow insurance policy options that did not include some of the regulations required by the ACA. Blue Cross of Idaho is set to offer several plans that do just that. This is thought to be another step in undermining the ACA. While this is technically against the current healthcare law (the ACA), it remains to be seen if the Trump administration will allow it to move forward. There are reportedly several states waiting to follow in Idaho’s footsteps if it is successful in this endeavor.

The states of Arkansas, Indiana, and Kentucky have instituted changes in their Medicaid programs that will require healthy adults to work or be in job training programs to continue to get Medicaid benefits.

In October 2017, an executive order was signed by President Trump that expended the association health plans or the AHPs and also offered short-term insurance plans which would not have to include some of the essential health benefits such as maternity care, prescription drugs and mental health services. These plans are less expensive and help many people who felt priced out of the ACA’s one-size-fits-all plans. Now Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) has introduced a bill this past Wednesday called  “Improving Choices in Health Care Coverage Act” (S.2507) that would make these short-term health insurance plans permanent.

All of these changes demonstrate to me that what we currently have is still not working and we keep trying things that we hope or think might actually work. Trying to fix something that is broken is a good idea but what frustrates me is we keep focusing on making recommendations, business deals, changes and/or regulations to the different entities  that are part of the healthcare industry which I call the  providers. So after almost six decades now of going in this direction and still being faced with the same problems, you would think we might consider a different approach.

Here are some questions we need to think about. Before I list them, I want to make it perfectly clear that I believe all of us should and can have access to affordable, quality healthcare and that no one should be disqualified from getting health insurance because they have a pre-existing condition or conditions.

More and more people are getting sicker and sicker at younger and younger ages. How is this going to lead to less healthcare costs?

Many of these people have chronic diseases/conditions (such as: heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer and obesity) which accounts for at least 75% of healthcare costs? How will this lead to a reduction in healthcare costs?

All of these people will need more and more prescriptions, doctor visits, tests and procedures. How will this lead to less healthcare costs?

We already spend more than twice the average per year per person on healthcare (over $10,000 per person) than any of the other industrialized nations in the world and we are the unhealthiest of all. Why?

Our healthcare professionals are the best trained and best equipped in the world and yet we are the unhealthiest of the above referenced nations. Why?

It is time to accurately diagnose (the pun is intended) the cause of our healthcare crisis which is too much disease. It is time that the various groups that make up the providers of healthcare focus their knowledge, energy and resources on all of us (the providees).  They need to educate, empower, support and incentivize all of us to make health a priority in our lives, to take primary responsibility for our health, to emphasize the importance of making healthier lifestyle choices and being more “proactive” about our health.

I know how to do this and have put forth a simple, uncomplicated plan to accomplish this in my new book Restoring “Health” To Healthcare.