Oh, honey, pass me a cold gin martini.
I’m deeply, truly anxious over the health care crisis in the US, a problem that exists on a federal level—-too much money thrown at too few results—and, often, on a personal level, too much food thrown at people who are too little exercised.
But there are two down-to-earth solutions.
Veggies…can’t get more down-to-earth…
Sneakers, also literally down to earth.
Well, maybe I’d better explain or better yet, let Doctors Deepak Chopra, Dean Ornish, Rustum Roy and Andrew Weil explain it for me. These four champions of holistic lifestyles once nailed their views to the cathedral door in a Wall Street Journal article claiming that so-called alternative, holistic medicine was now mainstream and it was the drug-reliant, surgery-happy establishment medicine that is questionable today.
OK, they were more diplomatic—and they really are for integrating mainstream medicine that works with alternative modes that work and so am I. But they and other experts today are making a strong case for preventing illness in the first place through lifestyle changes such as a good diet—that’s the veggie part—
—and exercise—hence the sneakers.
Still, people have trouble believing that such simple affordable things can keep them out of the hospital and out of medical trouble, but it’s true. As the four experts say: “The evidence is mounting that diet and lifestyle are the best cures for our worst afflictions.” And one of their goals is to move the US medical system from disease care to real health care and disease prevention. It’s cheaper, safer and it works. What else could we ask for?
The High Cost of Staying Stuck Where We Are
So why are Americans coughing up almost $100,000 for each coronary bypass procedure to the combined tune of 44 billion dollars a year? And why do we pay close to $50,000 for each angioplasty to the combined cost of 60 billion a year?
Because we don’t believe simple prevention works? Because lifestyle change takes a little thought? It is, after all, easier to open a package of chips than to steam veggies—easier to push buttons on the remote than to push oneself to walk.
I don’t know all the blocks to good health behaviors, but thanks to recent studies, I do know what doesn’t work, at least when it comes to heart health.
(Prepare to be surprised.)
What doesn’t work are expensive, invasive operations on the cardio system. Here are the facts as published in the New England Journal of Medicine and summarized by the four health professionals in their Wall Street Journal article: Angioplasties and stents “do not prolong life or even prevent heart attacks in stable patients (i.e., the 95% of people who receive them). Coronary bypass surgery prolongs life in less than 3% of patients who receive it.”’
Wow. We don’t get what we are paying for.
So I think it’s time to stop the stupid behavior, especially mine own. For me now, it’s 45 minutes a day walking……
….and 5 to 9 servings of fruit and veggies, no matter how many faces Cranky Pants makes about plants on his plate. (Tip: if you have juice for breakfast and heap your cereal with 1/2 cup each of 2 kinds of fruit—think berries and bananas—you have 3 servings in the bag before lunch.)
And, looking at the future high costs of Medicare and the fact the Feds are broke, I ask myself what will happen when taxpayers begin to wonder why they should subsidize older people with bad lifestyles who incur high medical expenses through Medicare. It is time to bypass the bypass lifestyle—which now relies on surgeries and drugs to make up for our foolishness. Certainly, as noted above, heavy medical hitters such as Chopra, Ornish, Roy and Weil think it’s time for a sea change in how we think about health. Let’s preserve and foster health rather than fixing it after a series of bad lifestyle choices.
So it’s veggies and sneakers. And as the sign below says: Give peas a chance.
PS…Please see below about the new direction of my columns….
Alert & Action:
August 31 will be my last column in the Union newspaper. Instead, I will be writing here about all aspects of growing older, not just health. So if you want to keep on reading my columns, you can check http://www.geezerdiary every week or just google the words geezer diary. Or, easiest, you can subscribe and have a column emailed to you every week with my best wishes and thanks.
Just go to the home page of this blog, scroll down the right hand side and click on subscribe. Tell a friend if you like it.
Natch, I do not sell or share your info. Maybe I’ll think up some way to use it myself, but I doubt it. Thanks.
Mel Walsh, Geezerina
Last and sadly, Rustum Roy, scientist and champion of integrative medicine whose writing was mentioned above, died this week at age 86. Thank you, Dr. Roy, for your contributions to our thinking about the pathways to health.