Health Coaches Needed For Health Care Reform

Most of the Congressional debate for health care reform revolves around ways to extend reimbursement for sick care. However, paying for more of the same fragmented, costly care isn’t reform, it’s madness.The $2.2 trillion health care system, the costliest in the world, requires a new top-to-bottom vision, and although the 600 doctors and health professionals gathered at the Institute of Medicine’s Summit on Integrative Medicine last month didn’t agree on everything, they reached a resounding consensus about the need for Americans to change their health habits. Yet how can that best be accomplished?With a primary shift toward health promotion, disease prevention and wellness, a revamped health care system could put the brakes on the disastrous trajectory predicted for 2012, in which total health care costs would equal 20% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Providers, employers, and even insurance companies finally concede that the US would fall behind the world’s nations in every imaginable sector if one out of every dollar of our productivity went toward health care costs.For over 30 years, the National Wellness Institute has been reporting that 8 out of 10 Americans suffer from chronic ailments derived from unhealthy lifestyles: poor diet, inadequate physical activity and unmanaged stress. Yet the difficult task of behavior change has always fallen on individuals, without much support from the medical system or their doctors.In addition, cultural support has been lacking for the most at-risk populations, often minorities with higher rates of diabetes and obesity. At present, there are more obese Americans than overweight ones-an almost unthinkable statistic.Cultural support for healthy lifestyles starts with community activists demanding bike paths, public parks, safe streets, farmers’ markets, fresh food options and more from their local governments. Together with cooperation from industry, government, health care, and public health officials, pressure can be placed on developers to build environments that provide opportunities for physical activity. Teachers, parents and consumers can demand that Big Food stop advertising cheap, non-nutritious, calorie-dense, processed foods to kids and young adults. Schools can offer nutrition and PE classes again, and lunch programs can teach kids about healthy choices-and provide them!Should Your MD Get Paid to Teach Wellness?”Lose weight, stop smoking, start exercising, and cut down on your stress-and I’ll see you next year for your physical.” Everybody knows that the once-a-year admonition from your doctor rarely translates into new health habits.A new tier of health coaches can supply the support and encouragement needed for Americans to begin their journey towards maximizing personal health. Health coaches should be part of every public clinic, medical office and hospital wellness center. They should be reimbursed by insurance companies, or be part of the first-access tier of Medicare, Medicaid, private insurance companies and corporate wellness programs. Even Dr. Mehmet Oz suggested that health coaches should be considered a central part of health care reform to CNN’s medical reporter Dr. Sanjay Gupta.Instead of medical doctors expecting to be reimbursed for providing health promotion and wellness services (at rates exceeding $200/ hour), health coaches could easily provide this service at one-fifth the cost. They would also present a more friendly, accessible, peer-support approach to individuals. The specialized training of medical doctors is best directed to complex cases, whether acute or chronic.The entire continuum of care needs to be re-examined and opened up to include reimbursement for health professionals that investigate the foundational causes of chronic illness, and who understand and have specialized skills in countering the ill effects of unhealthy lifestyles-professionals such as Nurse Practitioners, Naturopathic Doctors, and Traditional Chinese Medicine doctors, Homeopathic doctors, and Chiropractors.For too long, there has been an active collusion barring the advancement of these professions by certain medical organizations with insurance companies, and the public has suffered as a result.When these allied health professionals spoke up, demanding inclusion at the reimbursement table at the Summit on Integrative Medicine, a few medical doctors such as Dean Ornish, MD, championed this democratizing of the medical landscape, but others kept insisting that their own practices could accomplish wellness services, if only they were properly reimbursed.However, reimbursement for lifestyle counseling should not have to include the major overhead encountered by medical doctors, including their clinical offices, costly tuition loans, high-tech equipment, numerous staff and billing clerks.It’s been said that the US health care system is neither healthy nor much of a system. I believe it’s always darkest before the dawn of a new era, and these dark days of an ailing system must mean the light is about to break over the horizon.Bringing health coaches into the US health care system can address the colossal “elephant in the middle of the room”-that the burden of disease and related health costs can be dramatically lowered through healthy behavioral change. Learning to move more, eat well and less, and de-stress often, is not only a prescription for a better life, it’s an Rx for US health care reform.

Saving Health Care: What Should It Look Like?

I believe the year 2011 will be pivotal in the battle for an affordable and workable Health Care system that will serve the United States. If we will face the cold hard facts and develop a clear understanding of what a model system looks like, we can enjoy better individual health and economic prosperity beyond anyone’s belief system to comprehend. This first article of the New Year will lay out what a model system looks like and subsequent articles will give more details of how we can move toward a system that really works.With an ill-conceived “Obamacare” system taking effect this year, with no benefits for three years, the time has come to change my approach from “fixing” the system to “saving” the system. It is not my style to “scare” people into action, but the fact remains, if we do not stop this “Obamanation” in total, we are destined to become a third rate country with economic problems unlike anything our citizens have ever faced. Every single citizen needs to get involved now and stay involved for years to come because there will always be those who seek power to control our lives. Look around and see the symptoms. Already we have debt our grandchildren will be paying for, unemployment at never before seen levels and forecast to continue for years, freedoms neutralized or taken from us, and what do our leaders tell us? With obvious lies they tell us we are on the right track, and it will take years to make things better (better for who?). We need to take action NOW because the longer we allow these conditions to continue, the more devastating they will be and the longer it will take to fix them.So, let’s start with a clear understanding of what a workable system looks like. First, a free enterprise health care system that constantly adjusts to market conditions will best serve everyone. In other words, get politicians and government out of the business. Never in our history has any politician/government run program of any kind ever been successful, never!Step One to better health: Un-elect politicians who claim they will provide a health care program for you.Second, each individual needs to understand they have an individual responsibility to take better care of their health. Eating properly and exercising routinely will do more to improve one’s health and reduce future health problems than any “co-pay health plan”.Step Two to better health: Purchase only “catastrophic health care plans”. Everyone needs to realize that “co-pay plans” are not really what they seem. These plans are responsible for grossly increasing costs and are nothing more than financial plans to pre-pay for medical care one may or may not need as determined by an insurance company employee. It is my opinion that eliminating these plans would reduce costs by as much as 70% almost overnight.Third, take the profit for lawyers out of the industry. Lawyers do absolutely nothing to improve health care for anyone. Lawyers are nothing more than “vultures” hovering around hospitals looking for opportunities to sue someone.Step Three to better health: Individually we must learn how to vote and elect only politicians who will support the concept of taking all of the profit for lawyers out of the industry.Fourth, everyone must assume personal responsibility for their own health. Every individual has health concerns that are specific for them and individually should be responsible for learning to deal with them. To assume one can get healthy by going to a doctor, or a hospital, or by taking drugs (of any kind), or being covered by health insurance, is living in a fantasy world, it is not going to happen. Each of us owns something that will work to improve one’s health, and that is our own body. It was marvelously created to serve each of us and the better we take care of it, the better the results.Step Four to better health: Be responsible for your own health and learn as much as you can about the relationship of good health and your body.There you have it, a look at what health care should look like and some suggestions how to achieve good health. Subsequent articles will expand on thoughts I have that I think will be helpful to everyone. But, what questions do you have? I would love to hear from you with questions about health care. You can reach me on my website, www.TheHealthCareFix.com

Alternative Medicine As An Effective Alternative to Conventional Medicine

As we progress into the twenty-first century, we have made many inroads and advances in medicine due to new discoveries in chemistry, biology, and physics. Conventional medicine, our generally accepted system of medical knowledge, is practiced almost exclusively in the United States and abroad. Using this system, medical doctors and other health professionals treat diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Conventional medicine is also known as allopathic, mainstream, modern or Western medicine.As a technically advanced society, we have become proud of our achievements in science but modern medicine has yet to solve our health problems. There are several diseases such as cancer, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and a wide variety of serious as well as chronic diseases where a cure has been pending for many, many years. Those who are suffering with incurable illnesses, are questioning the true advancement of modern medicine, and wondering, considering the modern innovations in science, if it has really made so much progress at all. We do have everyday experience of the wonders of medical science in the areas of nuclear and emergency medicine, immunology, surgery and medical testing, and certainly these systems are extremely important, but actual disease prevention and treatment for many chronic diseases is still eluding the modern medical establishment.There has existed a driving force behind alternative medicine for centuries, and the motivation has been to heal others. Although practitioners of alternative medicine and their patients are reporting effective results, there are some persons who propose that such medicine is fraudulent, and is being practiced by insufficient or under/uneducated persons. This certainly could be true is some cases, but has also been true regarding conventional medical doctors who have had their licenses revoked for negligence or incompetence.If doctors were not sexists, then there would be no need to offer seminars on how to sensitively handle a woman’s pelvic exam in a “non-sexist manner.” This type of mentality is one of many reasons women especially, and men also, are turning away from their medical doctors and enlisting the help of alternative practitioners. Michael P. Annavi, Ph.D., in his essay on allopathic authority, entitled Scraps from the Table of Allopathic Power, states that “the allopathic medical industry has created a process of invalidation that promotes the ideology that knowledge is real only if it is established within this tautological framework of European thought”.The difficulty in establishing the practices and rights of non-traditional health professionals has been thwarted for the past two centuries from those who advocate the practice of scientifically validated medicine, from the traditional medical societies, and, of course, from the medical doctors themselves. This is nothing more than systematic prejudice and racism, especially in regard to the Chinese and E. Indian medical practitioners of acupuncture and Ayurvedic medicine.Larry Altshuler, M.D., in his book Balanced Healing, states that many alternative healing methods are simply more effective than conventional treatments are for certain conditions, and many treatments have fewer side effects and potential dangerss. Throughout his book, Dr. Altshuler discusses natural treatments he has used effectively on patients for many years. A proponent of preventative and natural medicine, Dr. Altshuler explains, for example, that there is a strong correlation between diabetes and obesity. As a truly alternative medical treatment, firstly he mentions that patients should completely avoid alcohol, which is very high in sugar content. Secondly he says to eat a balanced diet, low in refined sugars, fat, and animal products, and high in plant fiber. Thirdly he recommends the vitamins, nutrients and herbs necessary for supplementation. Lastly he recommends getting acupuncture treatments.In the documentary film, The True Story of The Bridge on the River Kwai, Otto C. Schwarth, an American P.O.W., forced to work on the railway between Burma and Thailand during World War II, described how hundreds of thousands of prisoners of war, British and American, sick and dying of various diseases, were treated by a handful of physicians. In his interview, Mr. Schwarth, then in his eighties, recalled: “The Americans were forever grateful to Dutch medical doctor Henry Hecking. Dr. Hecking was born and raised in Indonesia by his grandmother who was an herbalist. He was our savior, actually, because he knew all the local herbs. Our group ended up having the lowest death rate on the line.Michael Wayne, Ph.D., author of Quantum Integral Medicine, explains in his interview with Acupuncture Today: This biomedicine (conventional medicine) has been based on a model on linear determination and reductionism – approaches that see the world in very black and white terms. This approach has gotten our selves into a lot of trouble, not only with its approach to the human body, but also with its approach to solving world problems. It is very cause-and-effect oriented and is always looking to find the one ultimate cause that created the dilemma (par. 3). Modern medical science has denied the larger picture of health and healing, being induced by corporate influence and profiteering. We are presently seeing the outcomes of such corruption and greed – like war in the Mid East in an attempt to monopolize oil reserves, global warming along with the melting of the polar ice caps, and worldwide economic collapse.It has also become an amusement of some medical doctors to criticize natural medicine and its practitioners. In an interview with an Orthopedic Surgeon in Fresno, CA (who preferred to keep his name anonymous), revealed that chiropractors are referred to, in the conservative medical world, as “pseudo-doctors.” In the early twentieth century the medical establishment fought against the profession of Chiropractic, saying that due to public welfare and protection, these types of alternative medical practitioners should not be licensed. We find that it was actually due to economic self-interest and not public welfare, or as Chiropractors state “the ermine gloves of altruism frequently conceal the brass knuckles of greed” (Whorton 138). Plainly speaking, the medical profession does not want to share its economic benefits with other medicine men. Hippocrates was also considered a heretic or “quack” of his time because the medical thinking of his day was that disease and recovery were caused or influenced by gods and demons.. Hippocrates (born 460 BC) is considered the father of Western allopathic medicine. He is credited with greatly advancing the systematic study of clinical medicine, summing up the medical knowledge of previous schools, and prescribing practices for physicians.Twentieth-century medicine has made incredible inroads of discovery including nuclear technology for diagnosis and treatment. Although conventional medicine has made a great deal of scientific advancement, many people are still suffering from chronic debilitating diseases and incurable diseases. Allopathic medicine has hundred years of research and discovery, but does not seem to be making valuable and affordable solutions as we progress into the twenty-first century. The cost of medical treatment is staggeringly high, especially for diagnostic testing and hospitals visits. Medical practitioners are concerned not only with there own economic progress, but keeping at bay those who are not deemed worthy of the title Medical Doctor or M.D. In ancient China, the doctor was not paid for their services if a person became ill. They were only compensated for keeping patrons healthy via advice on diet, nutrition and exercise. They prescribed herbal medicines, not only for illness but for preventative health as well, so it was the healthy that supported the Chinese practitioner and not the sick. Unfortunately, in our modern society, it is the sick that provide the practitioner with a healthy income.A new model of understanding in medicine needs to be incorporated into the existing allopathic model. Because of the growing popularity and effectiveness of Alternative Medicine, practitioners may eventually be given their deserved place in medical society. The incorporation of alternative medical practices into the existing model of conventional Western medicine, including the training of new medical doctors, is now called Complimentary Medicine. In order to solve our health problems, this modern paradigm for treatment in medicine must be promoted. This can only truly emerge when bias, self-interest, greed and discrimination is discarded and diverse medical knowledge is promoted and shared, not only between university trained scientists and medical doctors, but amongst alternative practitioners, philosophers, metaphysicians, and other intelligentsia of society as well. With the integration of alternative medicine with conventional medicine, we hope to see a model that focuses on health and healing, instead of illness and economic benefit. As more states license N.D.’s (naturopathic physicians), seeing them should be as commonplace as visiting your allopathic medical doctor. This could become the new ideal for medicine and health in the twenty-first century and beyond. We also look forward to the day when labels such as quack or pseudo-doctor will disappear along with other biased subjective judgments.Up to a century ago, the common person thought it was impossible to fly, but after discovering the natural laws of aerodynamics, we can routinely fly into outer space. In his film, Galileo, Bertolt Brecht’s historically depicts the life of Galileo Galilei. In the seventeenth century, Galileo, at the risk of persecution and death, proved through the study of cosmology and by using the foundation of mathematics, that the sun was the center of the heavens, and not the earth. In the same way, by using the natural ideals and foundations of medical knowledge, we will begin to make new and future discoveries in health and healing.

The Benefits of Fitness: How Exercise Helps with Mental Health

Mental health is something that is often discussed, but not always understood. It is not a single state but rather a combination of different factors. Mental health can range from how we manage stress to the balance between our rational and irrational thinking. Not everyone has perfect mental health, but with time and effort it can be improved. The positive effects of exercise on our physical wellbeing are well-documented, so much so that many now recognize the benefits of fitness on mental health as well. Athletic activities have many positive effects on your brain and general wellbeing, which is why adding some form of exercise to your weekly routine is recommended for maintaining optimum mental health. Keeping active has been scientifically proven to improve concentration, memory, learning capacity, and problem solving skills.

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Understanding Mental Health

Mental health is a broad term that refers to our psychological wellbeing. Stress, mood, and anxiety levels, as well as our ability to handle daily stressesors, are all indicators of our mental health. A mental disorder is a condition that disrupts a person’s ability to function normally. These disorders can be mild or severe, and can affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, and socioeconomic groups. There are many factors that can impact mental health. Genetics, environment, and life experiences can all contribute to how we view and manage stress, our emotional state, and our ability to cope with challenging situations.

How Exercise Helps Mental Health

Exercise is commonly associated with improvements to physical health, such as boosting the immune system and strengthening muscles. Exercise is also a great tool for improving mental health and cognition. When we exercise, our bodies produce substances called endorphins. These endorphins are chemicals that are responsible for feelings of euphoria and relaxation. When endorphins are released, they block pain receptors and have a calming effect. Exercise also helps us sleep better, another important factor in maintaining good mental health. It is important to remember that not all exercise is created equally. In order to reap the full benefits of exercise on your mental health, you need to be doing enough activity to get your heart rate up and truly break a sweat.

Exercise and Depression

Exercise has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression. This mental disorder is characterized by feelings of sadness, irritability, and a reduction in interest or pleasure in activities that were previously enjoyed. Some of the biological explanations for how exercise can help a depressed person include an increase in certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, that are known to affect mood. Physical activity also helps to regulate the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis which is the connection between physical and mental stress. By doing so, exercise combats the harmful effects of cortisol, the hormone released when we are stressed. It also increases endorphin and serotonin levels. The serotonin in particular is thought to improve mood and alleviate depression and anxiety.

Exercise and Anxiety

Another mental illness that can be alleviated with consistent exercise is anxiety. What causes anxiety varies from person to person. However, there are common themes, such as a fear of the future, or a concern for the safety and wellbeing of loved ones. Exercise is an excellent way to tackle anxiety. It’s important to note that exercise cannot cure anxiety; however, it can help to reduce its symptoms. When you are experiencing the physical symptoms of anxiety, such as a racing heart rate or dizziness, exercise can be an outlet to “let off steam”. It also releases endorphins which can help to calm you down. Exercise also improves the way your body functions, including your cardiovascular and endocrine systems. This allows you to better handle daily stressors, which can reduce anxiety.

Conclusion

Exercise and mental health go hand in hand. The benefits of fitness include increased feelings of self-love and self-worth, improved functionality, sleep quality, and a reduction in the symptoms of several mental illnesses. The most important thing to remember while trying to improve your mental health with exercise is that consistency is key. You won’t see results if you don’t make time for it. Keep track of your progress and make adjustments as needed to keep your routine healthy and effective. Above all, remember that you are worth the effort.

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