The 7 Lifestyle Conditions Creating America’s #1 Crisis
by Mitch Mally, DC
America and Americans are going bankrupt due to healthcare—or dare I say lack of caring for our health. If we don’t do something about this, we are all going to suffer the consequences, and we will be leaving a financial debt to our children that will require every penny of taxes just to pay the interest.
The good news is that there are solutions, and each one of us can do something to reduce our risk of bankrupting ourselves and our country. In fact, when you think about it, it’s really very simple: The ultimate solution to America’s healthcare crisis is to have more people be less sick, and the only way to do that is to have more people choose better health through better living.
It’s very common for clients to tell me that they suffer from a variety of pains, including chronic headaches, neck pain, back pain, shoulder pain, leg pain—and much more. Usually, they have gone to their primary medical doctor, who has prescribed a combination of physical therapy, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatories. Perhaps the pain went away temporarily; but it always comes back sooner or later, because they haven’t addressed the underlying cause.
In many cases, as a result of pain, people stop exercising and start gaining weight. This starts a cascade of problems, including depression, high blood pressure, increased cholesterol, and an increased risk of a variety of preventable diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress-related conditions, and much more. It’s very common when people stop exercising and gain weight that they have poorer eating habits, not better. They will often start smoking or pick up other bad habits—and so the cycle continues. In addition, it’s common that the cycle affects the entire family, as we can see childhood obesity has become an American epidemic primarily because of our lifestyles and lifestyle choices.
America spends more trillions of dollars per year on what we call healthcare, which in fact is really “sick care.” Most of our healthcare dollars are spent treating lifestyle-related chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, stress-related conditions, chronic pain, and adverse drug reactions. In fact, I believe these the seven conditions are causing Americas number-one crisis.
Let’s take a brief look at some of those health challenges here:
Heart disease is by far the most expensive and most common lifestyle-related disease. Heart disease (also referred to as “cardiovascular disease”) is a blanket term that describes a family of conditions affecting the heart and circulatory system, including hypertension (also known as high blood pressure), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm, and congestive heart failure. Essentially, any condition that interferes with the normal flow of blood falls under the umbrella of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular diseases are often referred to as “silent killers,” as they typically progress unnoticed in the body for years before they are discovered. About one in four deaths in the U.S. each year is from cardiovascular disease. Heart disease costs the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars per year in medical expenses and lost productivity and is responsible for millions of hospitalizations each year.
Cancer is currently the second-leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2016, about 1.7 million cases of cancer were diagnosed. According to the World Health Organization, the number of new cancer cases worldwide is expected to increase by about 70% over the next 20 years—partly because more nations are adopting unhealthy Western habits (including high body mass index, low fruit and vegetable intake, lack of physical activity, tobacco use, and alcohol use).
Cancer is a disease where cells of the body reproduce abnormally, creating an excessive growth of mutated cells that, over time, interfere with normal body function. Wherever the body is weakened by stress, toxins, poor nutrition, or lack of exercise, cancer has a better chance of getting a foothold. It’s true that some people have a genetic predisposition to certain types of cancer (particularly breast cancer), but the single most important factor that determines whether someone will develop cancer is lifestyle.
Diabetes. Almost everyone knows someone who has diabetes. In fact, almost 13% of people in the U.S. have this serious, lifelong condition.
Diabetes is a condition that occurs when the body has lost its ability to regulate the levels of glucose (sugar) in the bloodstream. This is usually due to some interruption in the production of insulin, the hormone that lowers blood sugar levels. Your ability to regulate glucose is vital to the functioning of your entire body and affects your overall health and wellbeing. Diabetes can be deadly—more than 75,000 people die each year from diabetes.
Chronic pain. Think about pain as the primary way your body lets you know that something is wrong and needs your attention. Chronic pain persists for a long time (more than three to six months) and may recur without any identifiable reason. Many adults suffer from chronic pain and classify it as merely a result of aging.
The most common types of chronic pain are arthritis-type pain of the joints, neck and back pain, and headaches—many of which are preventable and/or can be managed with proper lifestyle modifications and improved lifestyle habits.
Obesity is a chronic condition of carrying excessive body fat that frequently results in a significant impairment of health. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in the U.S. has become the greatest health crisis of our time, affecting more Americans than any other condition—38% of adults 20 and older and 21% of adolescents 12 to 19 in 2014. Since 1980, obesity rates have more than doubled worldwide. The World Obesity Federation projects that by 2025, 2.7 billion adults worldwide will be overweight, and 177 million adults will be severely obese and in need of treatment.
In most cases, obesity is a lifestyle disease, primarily due to lack of activity and poor eating habits. While it is true that some people have a genetic predisposition to weight gain, this is a very small percentage. For most of us, being overweight is simply a sign that we are not living optimally, in accordance with physiological design—that we need to turn our attention to what we eat and how much movement we create in our lives.
Those who are obese suffer 30% to 50% more health problems than smokers or problem drinkers. What would happen if we were able to reduce our risk of preventable diseases and save thousands of dollars every year that would otherwise go toward treating illnesses we could have prevented? What would our community be like if we had more people less sick? How much healthier and happier would you and your family be if you had more energy, greater vitality, and more money saved by staying well?
I have written this commentary as one of hope, because it is time for healthcare professionals to work together to put both the “health” and the “care” back into health care. Hundreds of my colleagues and I are taking a stand to do the right thing, to share our knowledge and passion to help people live a greater quality of life. What I want you to know is that if you choose to discover wellness—the ultimate solution to America’s healthcare crisis—you will discover that staying healthy can make you rich.
About the Author
Dr. Mitch Mally is a 1981 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic. You can learn more about Dr. Mally by visiting his website fromthedeskofdrmitchmally.com.