The Power of Prevention
(How to Avoid HSA Account - Draining
Medical Expenses as You Age)
August 25, 2007
Vol. 3, Issue 6
A majority of medical expenditures in this country pay for treatment of chronic conditions that are mostly preventable. Unfortunately, most people dont take their health seriously until after they get sick. Simply by eating well and exercising, you can avoid the medical conditions and expenses that affect the majority of Americans, allowing the money in your HSA to continue growing tax-free.
Only You Can Prevent Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes
Most of us go through our lives stuck in our lifestyle patterns, with no idea of the power we have to positively influence our own health. And so by the time we're in our 40's most of us are on at least one regular medication. By the time we're in our 60's over 85% of all Americans have at least one degenerative disease. And by the time we are in our 70's we're dead.
But in fact, a majority of the diseases people suffer from as they age are almost totally preventable.
- Cancer: Researchers from the National Cancer Institute believe that 80-95% of all cancer cases are due to environmental and lifestyle causes, and are thus preventable. Diet may be involved in at least half of all cancers, and one third of all cancers are linked to obesity.
- Dementia: Mark Houston, M.D., Medical Director at Hypertension and Vascular Biology Institute at Saint Thomas Hospital and Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, estimates that 95% of all dementia is preventable with a lifestyle approach.
- Heart disease: Numerous studies indicate that 90% - 99% of all heart disease may be preventable.
- Diabetes: One of the nation's most renowned health researchers, Harvard University's Walter Willet, has estimated that 92% of type-2 diabetes is preventable.
How to Eat
Probably the very most important factor that can positively affect the health of most people is changing the way they eat. There are many, mostly conflicting theories about what kind of diet is the healthiest. In my opinion, the only one that really makes sense is to eat according to the way we evolved to eat.
The idea of "Paleolithic Nutrition" was first published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1985 in an article by Dr. S. Boyd Eaton. Since then it has been popularized by Loren Cordain, Ph.D., in his book, The Paleo Diet, and studied by nutritional scientists all over the world. The premise is simple: Our genes determine our nutritional needs.
For over 2.5 million years, humans evolved as hunter-gatherers, and the selective pressures of their lifestyle and diet determined the genes that we have today. Our genetic make-up is exquisitely tuned to function best on the foods that we evolved to eat.
A mere 500 generations ago the Agricultural Revolution brought sudden and dramatic change to our diets, and the changes are continuing to this day. But our genes haven't managed to keep pace with the change.
Today approximately 2/3 of the foods we eat were those never encountered by our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The result is high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and a host of other ills that we should not have to suffer.
While most of us do not have access to large wild game and wild-harvested organic foods, the more closely we can mimic the foods that our ancestors ate the better health we will have. So simply base your meals around a lot of fruits and vegetables, along with some lean protein.
You could start by eating eggs and cantaloupe for breakfast. Lunch could consist of a large salad with grilled chicken. For dinner have some wild salmon, asparagus, and salad. Finish off the meal with a big bowl of fresh blueberries. More information can be found at www.ThePaleoDiet.com.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for them, but who wants to spend an hour jogging everyday. (A lot of people do, but I just don't have the time or desire to go out jogging for an hour every day). What does work to give you the maximum benefit for the least amount of time is exercise with intensity.
So if it's okay with your doctor, go out and exercise like you mean it. Run wind sprints, lift weights, and exert yourself. And get it done in 30 minutes or less. Combined with the right diet, this kind of exercise will get the most results for the least effort. You will gain more muscle and lose more fat than if you were going out for long slow jogs, and you'll feel great!
HSA for America Additional Benefit: Optimal Health Coaching
There are of course other factors that affect your health, including stress, sleep, clean air and water, and even genetics. But there's nothing you can do that will have more impact than eating a good diet and being active.
Most of us already realize this; we just have a difficult time with implementation. But imagine if you had a personal coach who could help you set goals and keep you accountable. Large corporations have discovered that if they can help their employees better manage their own health, they can save loads of money on future medical expenses. The same thing is of course true for individuals, but until now hiring a personal health coach has been something reserved for elite athletes and Hollywood movie stars.
After several years of looking at how we could help our readers access affordable health coaching, we have finally found a service that provides coaching at a very affordable price. Now you can get personal one-on-one telephone coaching from the comfort of your own home. Whether you want to lose weight, stick to your exercise program, or improve your diet, it will be much easier to do if you have someone who can advise, motivate, and keep you on track.
Stay healthy, and let the money in your HSA continue to grow tax-free. To read more about this service, visit our Additional Benefits page and scroll to the Optimal Health Coaching link at the bottom.
P.S. - Stay healthy and your HSA can grow to a large amount. Your diet is probably the single most important factor determining your long-term health, but there's a lot of confusion about what food is "healthy," and what is not. Next month I'll share some facts that may shock you, and cause you to reconsider how you feed yourself.
Note: In addition to being president of HSA for America, Wiley Long has a master's degree in Human Nutrition and Exercise Science, and is editor of The Paleo Diet Newsletter. He is passionate about helping people stay healthy and avoid the preventable diseases of aging.