The Health Cliff Is Way More Treacherous Than Any Fiscal Politics
The drama of the “fiscal cliff” is riveting the country. Even when a political deal stops the threat of abrupt tax hikes and deep spending cuts, more battles over finances are sure to rock Congress for years to come, so the core issues will remain hot long after January 1, 2013.
While the fiscal issues are major news, the media spends little time focusing on the health cliff, which is a looming catastrophe for most Americans. You have the choice to make this most personal drama play out the way you want it to for yourself and your family. Here’s what you need to know to avoid this gloomy slide into sickness and stay on track for a lifetime of health.
What Is the Health Cliff
Whether you’ve thought about it or not, you are facing a slide down a health cliff – an expensive slide for you in every way, costing you not just money, but also time, pain, and your freedom to live as you want with energy and superb health.
The descent starts when you are first diagnosed with a chronic disease, for example hypertension, high cholesterol, diabetes, arthritis,
depression, heart disease, chronic sinusitis, headaches, asthma, back pain, a digestive system disorder, kidney disease, osteoporosis, cancer, or an autoimmune disease. Modern medicine offers drugs and surgeries to perhaps control the worst symptoms and sometimes prolong life, but offers few cures. And the drugs and surgeries themselves can be hazardous, with their own lists of dangers.
One huge problem is that chronic diseases love to keep each other company. The technical term for this is “multimorbidity,” which means you have more than one chronic disease at a time, and the number you suffer with at once will likely go up as you get older. As you accumulate these
unwanted diagnoses, you health, energy, and ability to function keep slipping down the face of the cliff.
Several recent studies indicate that the health cliff is starting earlier and becoming steeper for most Americans.
• The United Health Foundation released the 2012 America’s Health Rankings. The striking finding is that, while Americans are living longer, quality of life is severely impacted by preventable chronic illness. In a press release, the group’s medical adviser notes that “As individuals we are regressing in our health.” The release observes that obesity and diabetes are at “epidemic levels.” Life expectancy in the US is lower than in most other developed countries. A quarter of US adults take at least four prescriptions regularly!
• The American Hospital Association’s December 2012 Trendwatch shows that the rate of diabetes among those age 65 and older went from 18% in 2002 to 27% in 2010. This is an increase of 50% in just eight years! In the ten years from 2000 to 2010, the percent of seniors with two or more chronic illnesses went from 37% to 45%.
• The American Heart Association published its 2013 update on heart disease and stroke statistics. While medicine is improving its ability to rescue heart attack victims from immediately fatal consequences, an American dies of cardiovascular disease every 40 seconds.
The Health Cliff Vs. Fiscal Politics
The health cliff and a fiscal political battlefield have much in common.
• Both involve choices and trade-offs that most people find difficult. In the case of fiscal issues, it’s higher taxes vs. the continuation of government programs that millions see as critical. For the health cliff, it’s the ability to make “easy” lifestyle choices (eat animal and junk foods, skip exercise, and perhaps smoke or drink alcohol to excess) vs. the liberating experience of living pain-free, with high energy and the ability to spend time having fun instead of sitting in the doctor’s office or pharmacy.
• Both are manmade, avoidable disasters.
• Both are key issues with long-term consequences for the US as a whole and for you and your family.
At the same time, the two cliffs have stark differences.
• While your personal influence over government budgeting is quite limited, you have personal power to make choices that substantially determine your health cliff outcome.
• The fiscal cliff is a very public drama played out in Washington DC. Your lifestyle choices are private and personal, played out in your own home and workplace.
• The fiscal cliff is governed by the laws of economics, which can be influenced by human decisions and negotiations between parties. The health cliff is governed by the laws of biology, physics, and chemistry. Don’t even think about messing with mother nature. She does not negotiate or compromise. You make your choices, and the consequences predictably follow.
Staying On the Road of Health
Diet is the most important lifestyle choice determining your health. This is not to say other factors are not important. Not using tobacco or other addictive drugs is also crucial, followed by exercise, getting enough sleep, avoiding environmental toxins, and generally staying involved in life through relationships and activities. But if you are putting unhealthy foods into your body – pouring sand into your engine, is one way to think of it – the other factors are not likely to keep you off the cliff.
Overwhelming evidence shows a whole foods, plant-based diet goes far to prevent and even reverse most chronic illnesses, with no bad side effects and no cost. To educate yourself on what to eat on this diet and why it works, there are shelves full of resources. Start with The China Study, then you can advance to any of the numerous other books on whole foods, plant-based diets (including The Perfect Formula Diet).
If you prefer the drama of movies, don’t miss out on the films Forks Over Knives and Vegucated. The engaging stories of their reality stars will set you firmly on the path to health, with the cliff of pain, disability, low energy, and a life centered around costly meds just a dot behind you on the horizon.
Intrigued? Now you can use our Whole Foods Blog Finder to target informative, fun postings on whole foods, plant-based diets. Quick information at no cost!
Blog posting by Janice Stanger, Ph.D. Janice authored The Perfect Formula Diet: How to Lose Weight and Get Healthy Now With Six Kinds of Whole Foods. This book, based on over 1,000 scientific studies on nutrition and health, describes an easy whole foods diet that can prevent, and even reverse, most chronic disease. Janice is wishing you the best of health and enjoyment of life for many years to come.
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Tags: cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, fiscal cliff, Forks Over Knives, getting healthy, health cliff, Perfect Formula Diet, Plant-based nutrition, reverse chronic disease, The China Study, Vegucated, whole foods plant-based diet