The Big Missing Element In Health Care Reform

Dear Friends,

Want to know what’s wrong with the health care debate? It isn’t about getting well. It’s about making sure you have insurance for when you get sick.

Do you see what’s missing? They aren’t talking about ways for you to get healthy and stay that way.

I try to keep my political views out of my newsletter so don’t worry– this isn’t going to be about where I stand on various health bills now being debated –

Instead, it’s going to be about something else– something important that tends to get neglected in the discussions about who is going to pay for insurance, what is going to be covered and how much it’s going to cost.

And it’s something I think virtually all of us can agree on.

Which is this: It’s a really good idea to stay out of the medical system.

Think about it: what if you never (or almost never) had to go to the doctor? What if you never saw the inside of a hospital? What if the number of prescription medications you were taking was.. let’s see… none? What if you didn’t need that cholesterol-lowering medication because you weren’t at risk for heart disease in the first place?

No matter where I (or any other health expert) stands on any major issue, that stand can pretty much be guaranteed to alienate at least half the audience. And health newsletters like this, especially from the “alternative” or “integrative” point of view, should be about bringing people together for a common goal, not dividing them. And of course that goal is optimal health and vitality.

Even in the “diet wars” when we had Atkins on one side and Ornish on the other, it was still possible to find some common ground. Both believed sugar was really bad and both believed vegetables were really good. At least that’s a start!

So this newsletter isn’t going to be about where I stand on the various health care bills now being debated.

What if you never got sick?

OK maybe that’s a bit utopian. But it’s a nice place to aim for.

My tennis teacher always says that when you hit the ball, you need to have a target. You may not always hit it, but if you aim for it, you’ve got a much better chance of at least getting the ball in the court. Maybe we can’t have perfect, doctor-free, medicine-free health at all times in our lives. But if that was our “Bulls Eye” we’d probably be a lot better off than we are now.

One of the findings I’m most fond of quoting in seminars and workshops is this, from the long-running Nurses Health Study. Researchers at Harvard, following over 100,000 women for over 30 years found that five simple behaviors or lifestyle choices could reduce heart disease by 83%. (Remember, there isn’t a drug on the planet that can do that.)

The five behaviors?

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Maintain a healthy body weight
  3. Eat a Mediterranean type diet (i.e. more fish, vegetables, nuts, beans, fruits, omega-3’s)
  4. If you drink drink moderately
  5. Exercise every day (or at least 5 times a week)

To that I’d add my own 9 recommendations:

  1. Spend time with friends and/or family
  2. Give back
  3. Find a way to lower stress
  4. Spend time outdoors
  5. Sleep
  6. Get some sun
  7. Take high-quality supplements (like the brands on this website)
  8. Spend time with animals
  9. Love

Maybe we can’t always hit that bullseye and do everything on that list- but it sure is a great place to aim for.