Tag Archives: nutrition

Nine surprising reasons U.S. healthcare costs the most, yet delivers the least (part one)

What’s lost in all this discussion about repealing the Affordable Care Act is that U.S. healthcare costs more than every other industrialized nation, yet delivers some of the worst returns. United States Comes in Last Again on Health, Compared to Other Countries (Maggie Fox, nbcnews.com, Nov. 16, 2016), “Americans still pay far more for medical care than people in other rich Western nations but have little to show for all that spending.”

Other countries handle their healthcare differently — they create less expense, but produce healthier, more productive citizens. The way our malpractice insurance system is structured, a culture that promotes unhealthy practices, processed food leading to chronic inflammation, which triggers chronic illnesses, overuse of pharmaceuticals, ignorance as to the role addiction plays, lack of functional medicine, and that it is nearly impossible to compare prices for medical treatment are some of the surprising reasons the entire U.S. economy is held hostage to its healthcare system.

Malpractice not the same in Europe
In single-payer systems such as Germany’s, doctors are not independent operators, they are employees of hospitals, and the hospitals are held accountable and the ones sued. Malpractice therefore is less onerous and less costly. “In the other countries, where doctors working in a hospital are employees, there is internal quality control,” Professor Uwe Reinhardt, Health Economist Princeton University (Frontline, Sick Around the World, How Does it Work for Doctors in These Five Countries?, pbs.org).

The Library of Congress explains further, “The causes of liability for medical malpractice under German law are similar to those encountered under the laws in the United States. German damage awards, however, are still much lower than those awarded in the United States, even though the German awards have increased in recent years.

“The German health care system provides universal access and coverage for the entire population. It is, however, a decentralized and diversified system that consists of more than 200 insurers that compete with each other to some extent,” (Library of Congress: Medical Malpractice Liability: Germany, loc.gov).

Culture of unhealth
Much of our culture subtly promotes and rewards illness and injury, which, in turn enriches pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, and law firms. Some examples:

  • Apartment buildings inches from freeways – asthma anyone?
  • Sleep treated as optional – Alzheimer’s, obesity, auto accidents… (The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington showcases the research regarding the consequences of sleep deprivation.)
  • Sugar on every corner – eating too much sugar and processed food leads to chronic inflammation of the arteries
  • Sitting nearly all waking hours — Too much sitting linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature death (Julie Corliss, Harvard Health Blog, January 22, 2015, health.harvard.edu)
  • Nutrition treated as a nice to have as opposed to disease prevention
  • Financial stress — post-2008 Sharing Economy…
  • Lack of exercise

And then there’s the job juggle. The more jobs, the more hours, the more commuting the average citizen has to endure, the more the health risk factors pile up.

Poor nutrition creates markets for high-priced pharmaceuticals
Recurrent miscarriages and the ticking of my biological clock prompted me to improve my nutrition. I have, at times, struggled with extreme eating habits since childhood. I found the help I needed to change in a support group that practiced a spiritual discipline. I knew I was an emotional eater, but I discovered that I was sugar sensitive and had an addictive response to sugar and white flour. I learned tools such as planning meals, meditation, outreach calls, and journaling that provided alternatives to overeating and helped me to change my habits.

Hundreds of individuals passed through those meetings. Some had lost 100 pounds or more and had kept the weight off for years. Many had lost 30 to 50 pounds. I used to think that the only consequence from eating too much processed food was gaining weight, but I repeatedly witnessed members sharing significant health improvements with conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and more. Many no longer needed pharmaceuticals to treat their chronic conditions. Not only had they changed their nutrition, but they had changed their attitudes and their lifestyles to make the changes stick.

Preventing heart disease with nutrition
Several cardiologists explain why magnesium and healthy eating are generally the answer to heart disease, not statin drugs.

“We know that inflammation in the artery wall is the real cause of heart disease. Simply stated, without inflammation being present in the body, there is no way that cholesterol can accumulate in the wall of the blood vessel and cause heart disease and strokes. Without sufficient magnesium in the body inflammation results and it is the inflammation that causes cholesterol to become trapped. Quote?” (“Inflammation and Pain Management with Magnesium,” last modified on Feb. 9, 2017, drsircus.com).

“There is no escaping the fact that the more we consume prepared and processed foods, the more we cause inflammation in the body. The human body cannot process, nor was it designed to consume, foods packed with sugars and soaked in omega-6 oils. Treat the inflammation and not the cholesterol (“Treat the inflammation and not the cholesterol,” July 16, 2015, drsircus.com)

I only touched on the link between how eating an abundance of processed food year after year helps to manifest chronic illnesses.

(end of part one of three parts)

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Paleo Diet Month Two

The more I study nutrition, the less I know…  In six weeks I lost approximately five pounds (five to ten to go), but more significantly my taste buds are changing, I am eating more fruits and vegetables, and I am less hungry.

Paleo Diet in a Nutshell

Dr. Cordain, a PhD in health, spills all his secrets on his website thepaleodiet.com.  His What to Eat on the Paleo Diet page tells you which food groups to eat and which ones to avoid.  In summary (85% of the time), everything except grains, dairy (eggs are the only allowed dairy), refined sugar, salt, processed foods, potatoes, and refined vegetable oils.

Lisa Rudy from Huntington Beach, California has been on the Paleo Diet 14 months and says, “I wasn’t expecting a sense of improved mental clarity.  I would say it was quite dramatic.  It was an unexpected welcome benefit.”

Rudy admits, “At first you feel like it’s a lot of work.  After a while it just becomes second nature.”

Cordain’s research is convincing, but I know too many healthy, productive, good-natured individuals who eat grains to believe that this restrictive diet is for everyone.  For those of us with sugar sensitivity, this could be a reasonable plan.

Cordain does make convincing arguments about the detrimental effect of a typical American diet in regards to:

  • Inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis
  • High content of Omega 6, which wipes out the benefits of Omega 3 such as reducing symptoms of mental disorders including depression and schizophrenia
  • Acid-base balance and how it affects calcium retention and osteoporosis
  • Insulin levels that bounce around and affect mood and energy levels

Benefits of Protein

Quoting Cordain (The Paleo Diet, revised edition 2011), “Remember, protein is your ally in weight loss and good health.  It lowers your cholesterol, improves your insulin sensitivity, speeds up your metabolism, satisfies your appetite, and helps you lose weight.”

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I never go anywhere without my mini bags of almonds…

So when my seven-year-old daughter stretched out every syllable as she moaned, “I’m hungry,” I handed her an almond packet. We were at Angel Stadium and could have bought peanuts had we not already spent our funds on a large Diet Coke for me and a giant waffle cone filled with chocolate ice cream for her.

Instead of her usual “Ew,” she begrudgingly opened the packet and cautiously peeled one of the almonds before perching it at her lips and taking the tiniest of bites. Eventually, she stopped peeling them as she made her way through most of the packet.

If only I could be tough enough to starve her into nutrition more often…

Trader Joes sells Just a Handful of Raw Almonds or Just a Handful of Roasted Almonds which contain13 packets of 1.25 ounces (35g) of almonds each. At $4.99 that works out to 30.7 cents a packet.

Nutrition at a Glance for Each Bag

Calories 200 (Carb 8g, Fat 17g incl 1.5g Sat Fat, Protein 7g)
Fiber 4g
Sugars 1g
Calcium 10%, Iron 8%, Sodium 0mg

Use Almonds to Create Quickie Mini Meals

Break or cut them up or add them whole to

• Plain Yogurt or Cottage Cheese sweetened with cut up fruit and Stevia
• Plain Yogurt or Cottage Cheese seasoned with cut up vegetables and minced garlic and crushed red pepper
• Oatmeal sweetened with cut up fruit and Stevia
• Salad

Other Uses for Almonds

• Snack
• Offering to hungry coworkers trapped into last-minute noon meetings

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Would you like an apple with that… Making In-N-Out even better

Unless my children and I are already packing produce, our trip to In-N-Out usually involves a pit stop to the grocery store—a time zapper.

Why can’t In-N-Out add more fiber and nutrition to their menu?

• Petite, crisply tart Pink Lady, Mackintosh, or Rome apples
• Refreshing salad of perfect Romaine, Butter, or Red Leaf lettuce
• Choice of fat-free Italian or Ranch salad dressing

My satisfying In-N-Out scrimp of 200 calories: protein burger (mustard instead of thousand island) and perfectly brewed iced tea with 3 wedges of fresh lemon.

My sensational In n Out splurge of 400 calories: Tingly tasty French fries

Email In-N-Out: Marketing Coordinator Christopher Thomsen, cthomsen@innout.com

By the way, Talking turkey is paying off at Carl’s Jr., (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-carls-changes-20110701,0,4142512.story)
Broadening customer base and adding more healthful items have yielded a sales boost.
Sharon Bernstein, LA Times, July 1, 2011

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