Putting the Care into Health Care
Food as Medicine and Medicine as Food
I love food. I love real food. Food that is fresh from the fields, bought at a Farmer’s Market; food that is raw and crunchy; food that is slightly cooked and not dripping in some ugly fat. My family and friends used to call me a “health nut,” “the granola queen,” and I’m sure a few other choice names. But now, what I have been doing for 40 years of my adult life is suddenly in vogue.
The medical profession that used to scoff at my diet is not starting to eschew those things I always knew to stay away from—sodas, processed carbohydrates, refined sugar and bad fats. Well back then, good or bad fats, who knew the difference? Long before Dr. Dean Ornish was writing books about diet and the correlation between that and heart disease, I was listening to my chiropractor, who was telling me to juice vegetables a few times a week, stick with steamed and not fried and only eat lean protein.
It’s Not Health Care if There is No Health and No Care
Fast forward today. We live in one of the richest countries in the world with one of the worst health care systems in the world and here is why: first of all, the “health” in health care system is not true. We have a sick care system. We focus on drugs or surgeries to alleviate symptoms but do not address the source or cause of sickness. That’s where people like Dr. Ornish have done such a great job—he espouses and has proven that heart disease can be reversed with diet and exercise. In other words, treat the source.
Secondly, the “care” in health care system is not really there. Too much high-tech stuff does not make us a healthier nation it just makes us more expensive one. Where modern medicine with all its high-tech stuff shines, is in emergency medicine. If you are in a horrible accident, a good emergency room can save your life. Unfortunately emergency rooms are all to often being used for out-of-control disease and sickness because the people who populate them could not afford to get care at the onset of symptoms. An emergency room is a very expensive way to treat the flu.
And third, the “system” in health care system is broken beyond belief. Doctors are paid by the procedure. The more they find that’s “wrong” with you, the more they can charge. The almighty diagnosis code that is used for billing may not reflect your state of health at all, but without one, no insurance payment. And if your income is based on reimbursement by an insurance company, those prices go way up in the hopes that the insurance company will pay at least a portion.
The Affordable Care Act is a misnomer. Everyone who has health insurance watched their premiums go up at the onset of this bill. As a self-employed small businesswoman, my premiums with a 5,000.00 deductible per person are about 1,600.00 per month out-of-pocket. Add to that the 5,000.00 that need to be met before my insurance ever kicks in and I am paying close to 20K a year for a service I will probably not use but am required to have by law. Help, I am driving off a cliff of unsustainability.
Solutions Are Not Rocket Science
Meanwhile, back at that good diet that I have kept for the past 40 years—there is a real solution in well care. Well care is: 1. Teaching patients to eat correctly in a way that supports and sustains health. 2. Teaching patients to exercise and making exercise facilities easily available. (Safeway did this and saved millions of dollars in health care costs, plus their employees are happier and healthier.) 3. Teaching patients some form of mind/body practice to alleviate stress, either meditation, yoga or biofeedback. Stress is the precursor to many disease processes.
Government incentives for well care would cost far less than government incentives for the incorrectly named “health care” insurance. Doctors become gatekeepers rather than the M.D. standing for medical deity, and patients become empowered to create and maintain health.
4. Open up prescription drugs from Canada. No they are not tainted. Canada is not a third world country, and their version of FDA is every bit as good as ours. But we are not allowed drugs from Canada because they would be cheaper. Big Pharma would make less money if you got your drugs from Canada, and big Pharma wants to keep you sick and on expensive medication, a great deal of which is really bad for you! 5. Allow health care premiums to pay for nutrients. There are some great Chiropractors, Naturopaths and Acupuncturists that utilize herbs and nutritional supplements, many of which can replace costly drugs with bad side effects.
There is so much that we could be doing to make our country healthy that would be much more cost-effective than insurance mandates, expensive drugs and high-tech procedures that half the time don’t work. But with the bozos in Washington I don’t believe we will get there, which leaves all of us responsible for educating ourselves about the benefits of diet, exercise and mind/body practices. It’s not rocket science; it’s just fresh, real food and some common sense!