We often hear the claim that the US medical system is the best in the world. Really? For darn sure, if I’m ever in a serious accident, I hope it is here because our doctors are second to none at putting us back together. They are also skilled at helping us hang on a little longer when a disease is in crisis. However, when it comes to the promotion of health, the prevention of disease and the treatment of chronic disease, the US has a downright embarrassing record. In 2020, the United States ranks 54th in average life expectancy and is ranked shockingly low in health span, infant mortality, diabetes, heart disease, and disability. For all the continuing pressure we get to take cholesterol and blood pressure drugs, among the top 17 wealthiest countries, we have the second highest death rate from cardiovascular disease.
A huge portion of our national economic output (nearly 20%) is now spent on what we euphemistically call “health care” but it is in fact “sickness care”. Whatever you call it, the US spends 40% more per person on this care than any other nation on the planet. Those costs are not just a direct burden on families, they also add indirectly to the price of everything we buy. Yet, in spite of all that money, our citizens are still over weight and sick.
We may not be able to make an impact on national trends, but we can assure that our personal healthcare choices make sense. I believe that a logical place to start is to change our core beliefs because they in turn guide our actions. On a very basic level, we’ve been trained to think that we are healthy as long as we don’t have a diagnosis. Not so. A diagnosis is when the doctor can apply a Latin name to a pattern of symptoms or errant lab tests. However, well before that, we can be out of balance (e.g. deficient in a nutrient) and headed toward a disease. It is much better to reverse that negative trend early on rather than wait until we’ve justified an insurance billing code. Read about clues to imbalances. We’ve also been led to believed that a symptom is something we should ask the doctor to get rid of fast preferably with a highly-advertised (and probably expensive) drug. A more useful view is that a symptom is like the check engine light on your car dashboard (see meme below). It is trying to tell you something. Read about that. Sometimes, for example, like in the case of a fever, a symptom can actually be a tool the body uses to heal us.
Although the bulk of staying healthy depends on our personal responsibility, everyone can benefit from professional help to work toward a goal of staying in balance and healthy. Hmm, since mainstream medicine is reimbursed to do that and is not really trained to help with those things, what to do? This page in the Library offers some ideas. This Doctor Resources page provides help finding a health professional more attuned to normalizing function and disease prevention. The health of our mouth is an often overlooked but critical factor, so here is a page with dental information and resources.
Good luck as you enter 2023 hopefully motivated to build health from the ground up with nature’s basics.