Let’s assume for a moment that how you look and feel is 80% diet and 20% lifestyle/exercise related. While to my knowledge there are no double-blind, longitudinal studies conducted by peer-reviewed, independent journals to back this up, I hope the wellness community will forgive me and accept such a statement as “close enough.”
Exercise aside, it’s no secret that we [humans] struggle with our diet. However, exactly how much we struggle depends almost entirely on who you ask. 75% of Americans rate our diets as “good,” “very good,” or “excellent,” yet 80% of us aren’t getting our recommended intake of fruits or vegetables – and 36% of us are obese (and rising). It should be no surprise that Nutritionists and Dietitians disagree when you ask them the same question..
What’s our current answer?
To the credit of the average American – we want to be healthy! While exact figures vary depending on your definition of supplemental healthcare spending (i.e. ‘above and beyond’ what would be medically required), it is estimated that Americans spend about $30.2 billion every year out of pocket. This includes visits to complementary practitioners, the purchase of health supplements, books and programs – all of which aim to improve our lives either physically or mentally.
That’s one hell of a business to be in!
How successful are we?
Let’s take a look at the other important health trends as our out of pocket spending on “help” has increased:
- Childhood obesity rates have tripled since 1980.
- Nearly 38% of adults are obese – and rising.
- Type II Diabetes, Hypertension, individuals with High Cholesterol (Hypercholesterolemia)
- All show a steady trend upward with no signs of slowing
- Medications available for Hypertension and Hypercholesterolemia have resulted in a net decrease in incidence of those with uncontrolled blood pressure or blood cholesterol – however each of these drugs come with a plethora of side effects.
- Although yearly deaths from cancer have decreased, overall incidences have risen.
- What’s more, the case for environmental factors such as diet and what you do for a living play much more a role than previously thought – and the case is getting stronger.
- Healthcare spending:
- The US spends more per person ($10,345) on healthcare every year than any other nation – by far. This number is expected to reach 47% GDP by 2025 – an astronomical rise – if something isn’t done beforehand
- Contrast that with Luxembourg, who for $7,764 USD per person touts the highest rated healthcare system in the world (the US doesn’t crack the top 16..)
- FYI – Luxembourg has a majority state-funded system of healthcare – which only accounted for 6.3% GDP in 2014 if you’re curious
Not to mention:
- A 2012 review from the Inspector General found that 20% of supplements make illegal claims about their ability to treat or cure disease.
- In 2015 life expectancy in the US declined for the first time since 1993.
We keep buying and buying, yet the status of our health as a country remains dire if not worse.
The evidence is overwhelming. We’re wasting our money on what are, at best, false promises.
And yet, we keep doing it..
Stated simply, health information is confusing at best, and at worst: contradictory!
Eat carbs.. Don’t eat carbs.. Eat like the cave-people did (fancy term for low carb).. Eat based on your blood type.. Eat only red fruit.. Don’t eat red fruit.. Drink bone broth.. Sell your kidneys..
What’s the one thing each of these diets has in common? The author wants it to be a best seller! Of course they sound like they work; of course the anecdotes between each chapter have people who swear they feel 20 years younger – who would buy them otherwise?
We sound f*#@ed.
Believe it or not, my point is not to scare you or to make you feel hopeless. It’s to uncover the information that doesn’t go along with what gets sold. If you spend money on healthcare solutions – they should be effective. The wellness industry should be putting out a strong, consistent message that’s safe from corporate profit-driven attacks from lobbies in Washington or from self-described health gurus with a product to sell.
Correct information is there – it’s just hidden in the mist.
What’s the answer?
I feel fortunate to be someone who now has near complete control of their health. In the past I’ve struggled with body dysmorphia, and disordered eating, but I’ve retaken the reigns and have never felt or performed better.. and I’ve learned so many important things along the way.
I haven’t purchased a supplement (including protein) in over 10 years. Save for self-experimentation, I have never subscribed to the notion of a traditional diet.
Some of the most sage advice that I’ve ever been given is that like love, knowledge grows when shared. It cannot be taken away. I want to share what I’ve learned with you:
With a little help from Sir Isaac Newton.. stay tuned