5 Medical Miracles The Health Care Industry Doesn’t Want You To Know About
America is the most medicated civilization in the history of, well, civilization.
Nearly 70% of Americans take at least one prescription drug regularly. 50% take two. A mind blowing 1 out of every 5 Americans is on 5 or more prescriptions.
We take them for wide variety of reasons: High blood pressure (22%), High Cholesterol (11%), Pain (13%), and Depression (13%). Unbelievably, 1 out of every 4 American women between the ages of 50 and 64 is on antidepressants.
Americans like simple solutions: Take this pill and everything will be ok.
Except, here’s the thing. The prescriptions don’t make everything ok. They don’t work.
They aren’t even designed to cure anything. They’re designed to manage and control chronic conditions. They’re designed to lure us into using them everyday for the rest of our lives and lining the pockets of Health Care Executives.
And that they do. America spends a higher percentage of our income on health care than any other country, ever. And we aren’t getting our money’s worth. We’re one of the least healthy of all developed nations.
Over the last couple of years, I’ve watched my step father die from mismanaged high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease because he was counting on the prescriptions to save him and I’ve put a handful of other family members in the ground from prescription drug overdose.
The prescriptions are not just failing us, they’re flat out killing us.
And the saddest part of all is that they’re just not necessary. The chronic conditions that Americans are bankrupting themselves to manage with prescription drugs can in many cases be cured with 5 simple treatments that don’t cost a damn thing
We’d rather take a pill than turn off the TV and get up and take a walk. But getting up off the couch and getting as little as 30 minutes a day of exercise is the single best medical treatment for a whole host of chronic diseases and, just as importantly, the best prevention. Depression, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, Arthritis and counterintuitively, Fatigue.
Expending energy gives you energy.
I’ve never been a beacon of healthiness. I’ve been massively overweight for most of my life, but I’m active and healthy. I’m the healthiest morbidly obese dude you’ll ever meet. I’ve grown accustomed to going in for my annual check up and having the nurse check and recheck my blood pressure, tap on the meter, give my rotundness a quick look over and ask “Did you know your Blood Pressure is perfect?”
Another missed sale because occasionally I get up and do something.
There’s growing evidence that the obesity epidemic in America, which is either a cause or a symptom of many chronic conditions is not simply a result of the fact that we eat too much and exercise too little, but also because we eat the wrong food.
Or to be precise, because we mostly don’t eat food. We eat pre-packaged edible food-like products with little to no nutritional value. They take out all the nutrition, package it in shiny boxes and then sell us multi-vitamins to make up the difference. More pills.
What passes for food in America is actually a delivery system to feed our sugar addiction. Sugar is America’s true drug of choice.
Between sugar overload and the residual chemicals and antibiotics from processing and packaging, what we eat overloads the bacterial population of our digestive track altering the way we metabolize sugars, store fat and respond to hormonal signals that tell us when we’re full.
But real food stops this feedback loop.
Simply replacing the supersize sugar water in your Happy Meal with a glass of orange juice can put you back in balance. Even if the OJ has the same amount of calories and carbs.
Sunlight shining on your skin induces a whole host of chemical reactions that make you healthier and happier.
It stimulates the production of endorphins, melatonin and serotonin that are fundamental to our feelings of satisfaction and happiness. 30 minutes or so of sunshine a day would virtually wipe out the need for the pharmaceutical industries largest profit center – Antidepressants.
That same sense of satisfaction decreases our hunger so we’re not wolfing down cup cakes to squash our sugar jones.
90% to 95% of our vitamin D is produced by the sun shining on our skin improving our immune system, decreasing inflammation, including arthritis, lowering our blood pressure and cholesterol, preventing cavities and decreasing our risk of heart disease and many forms of cancer.
The thing is, Vitamin D in a pill form doesn’t do all of that nearly as well. Recent research indicates that the greatest benefit of sunlight is that it reacts with the vast stores of nitrogen in our skin releasing it as nitrous oxide into our blood system decreasing blood pressurea almost instantaneously and lowering our risk for heart disease dramatically.
I’m a skin cancer survivor, acutely aware of the cancer risks associated with overexposure to the sun, but heart disease kills 100 times more people than skin cancer and heart disease treatment ruins many more financially. A little sunlight will go a long way toward solving that problem, if we avoid overexposure ( AND TANNING BEDS!!)
We live in frantic, stressful world filled with a barrage of stimuli. Our bodies weren’t designed for the stress of modern living and it keeps our fight or flight response in a constant state of emergency preparedness – our hearts pump faster, our blood pressure increases, muscles tighten and tense. Meanwhile our everyday non emergency functions like digestion and immunity suffer while we wait for the next explosion of stimuli. Stress is a major factor in many chronic conditions: heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, even cancer.
And if the constant attack from the outside world weren’t stressful enough, a recent Harvard study shows that our minds wander from the present moment for almost half of our waking hours. Our brains are addicted to constant stimulation and narrative, and if they’re not getting it from the world, they’ll just make it up. We recount every altercation, missed opportunity and disappointment, remembered, anticipated or imagined, over and over and over again, keeping our stress levels high right along with our blood pressure and heart rate.
We let our resentments for the past and our worry for the future cannibalize our enjoyment of the present.
But we can stop.
Meditation can lower our dependence on prescription drugs to ward off depression and anxiety, but it also lowers blood pressure and pain response.
Perhaps even more importantly, meditation can improve our own internal immune function, at a cellular level, by switching on disease fighting genes, and at a system wide level by lowering our DEF CON 4 Fight or Flight emergency response status and letting our immune system get the resources it needs to do the its job.
We don’t need candles or prayer rugs. We don’t need to go to the mountaintop.
All we have to do is take 10, maybe 15 minute a day and train our brain to concentrate, fully and completely on the here and now.
Be aware of the breath that we take in and out.
Be still. Be here now.
Every diet book in the history of diet books encourages you to drink more water, It’s filling and it’s calorie free. Plus if you get in the habit of drinking water, you’re more likely to break the habit of drinking all the other crap that’s killing you – soda, sports drinks, booze which are all either loaded to the brim with sugar (alcohol is sugar!) or worse yet with artificial sweeteners which screw with your metabolism and satiety response.
Being even slightly dehydrated can sap your energy and keep you on the couch instead of up and moving getting the exercise your body dearly needs.
Water flushes your body of toxins, allowing your immune system to stand down from it’s constant state of emergency improving your digestive and metabolic functions so you need, that’s right, fewer pills!
Some research shows that people who drink 5 glasses of water a day cut their risk of a heart attack by 40% over those who only drink 2 glasses a day.
Drink Up, Buttercup!
Terry Lancaster is the VP of Making S#!% Happen at Instant Events Automotive Advertising, father of 3 teenage daughters and a Beer League Hockey All Star, as if there could ever be such a thing.
You can connect with Terry on FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+.