The best, yet least discussed, solution to healthcare

posted by Russ, December 23 in politics with tags , , , ,

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With all of this raging healthcare debate lately, it seems that the focus (besides the cost I mean) is on medical care and fixing people. While I of course think each person has a right to have affordable medical coverage, I also think the priorities of our health care system (now and in the future regardless of what Congress comes up with) are wholly messed up. We all know that the majority of the money in the system is spent on curing and healing those who are not well. But what you don’t hear very often is the word “prevention”.

Sure, in some ways you do, as in don’t smoke, exercise daily, eat from the major food groups. But if you go to the doctor with high blood pressure, or any of the many issues related to obesity, the doctor doesn’t ask how often you eat fast food and how many servings of vegetables you eat daily. And though the course of action may be to lose weight or to change diet, it’s usually left at that with no further specifics. And quite possibly that option is skipped over in favor of some sort of pill or medicine.

Everything about healthcare is about fixing health problems. This whole health care debacle would be mostly a non-issue if people would just start taking responsibility for preventing these problems before they manifest themselves. I think that a portion of the money poured into health care should be about health education, and furthermore, I think the government should shift its focus from medicine and curing diseases to preventing them through diet. Start some incentives for organic farming, and tighten up the rules on commercial farming, especially when it comes to what goes into the food that people eat that they think is healthy. A nice salad covered in pesticides? No thanks. A pork chop or steak filled with antibiotics and artificial growth hormones? Not for me.

There are many theories about healthcare, and we’ve all heard the one about how it’s most profitable for the industry if people keep getting sick. But regardless of how much it’s true or not, the fact remains that over half of the money spent in the health care system is for treating people who are sick with preventable diseases, including heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and even certain cancers.

As proof, I use myself. Growing up and even through college I have always eaten a fairly balanced diet. I use that statement loosely, but even when the quality was low and I was eating crap like fish sticks and chicken patties, I still ate side salads, fruits, and vegetables. And on occasion I also ate fast food, or out at restaurants. My health was standard, though nothing to make note of, and like everyone I got sick a couple times per year.

But then a few years ago, I started getting very interested in organic foods, and additionally I started educating myself about the benefits of raw fruits and vegetables, as well as learning the truths about the Standard American Diet. I made a considerable shift, changing my habits to a point where I can confidently say that I now eat probably 50-75% whole and organic foods, and my intake of fruits and vegetables is way above average. I still do undesirable things like eat out at restaurants, I still have vices and eat crap (though NO FAST FOOD), I still drink alcohol fairly regularly (in moderation), I still hit happy hour for an app now and again, and I still eat red meat, though much less frequently than in the past (probably less than once per week).

But my point is, since I’ve made this shift to primarily organic and dramatically increased my vegetable intake, I don’t get sick any more. I haven’t had a true head cold in a couple years, and I survive all of the office sicknesses that go around. Even through this time of flu paranoia and the winter colds and sniffles, I have remained healthy.

I’m not making any guarantees about my long term health, but I can say that without a doubt, making a substantial (though not extreme) change to my diet, while still enjoying my vices, I’ve significantly improved my health. (As a side note, and probably more suited to another article, this diet shift over several years (including a month long stint of raw eating) cleared me of some mild but sometimes painful acne that had plagued me for nearly 15 years.)

This simple thing, diet, is what could change our entire health care system, and save the government millions of dollars. Support and promote organic fruits and vegetables, whole foods, and educate people about the poisons that they take in daily by eating a crappy diet with no balance. It would save billions of dollars and lives … though the drug companies wouldn’t be very happy.

Originally posted on Wednesday, December 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 PM .

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