Top 10 Favorite Posts of the Past 5 Years

Insight Writer has finally reached its five year anniversary. That makes me pretty happy. I slowed down my writing a lot in the past year for various reasons and so I don’t necessarily have a top 10 for the past year. But this is even better because I get to list my favorite posts instead and why I like them. If you are interested here are the past four years worth of Top 10′s…

2008-2009
2009-2010
2010-2011
2011-2012

Jeremy’s Top 10 Favorite Posts:

1. How To Overcome Our 3 Biggest Enemies in Life – I’m not listing these in any order but this is definitely one of my top three favorites. I like it because it was one of my first posts back in October 2008 and it definitely helped to define what this blog would become. I wrote about topics all over the board before I finally narrowed it down to the three I focus on today which are health, wealth, and happiness.

2. 9 Easy Ways to Get A Life – This is another early post that helped define what I was trying to make Insight Writer into. I was also trying to copy the more successful blogs by adding photos and making lists. I quickly tired of searching for the appropriate photos and only made lists when it seemed appropriate for clarity not long after that. It took a couple months but I finally settled into my own writing style.

3. What we all know about health, but don’t do. – Snarky title, simple and straight to the point, well received, and gave my website a lot of traffic. Also had a great concept that you need to go read about. ;-) I love this one because it was a strong idea that came together really well and people loved it.

4. Do You Think You Are Always Right? – I had a very personal reason for writing this one and it illustrates perhaps what I do best, which is make people think. It’s definitely worth thinking about.

5. How To Give Great Hugs & Handshakes – I like this one because it is just old fashioned wisdom that we need to be reminded of sometimes. It’s not your normal article you find on the internet either and I do like it for that uniqueness.

6. How To Live Like You Were Dying – This just might be another top 3 post. I have a hard time ranking these but this one easily stands out above the rest. It has it all. It’s really personal, it hits home for a lot of people, and I believe it has a lot of wisdom in it even as my older self reads it now.

7. Rethinking My Blog – I almost feel that this should be listed separately, but I’m listing it here anyhow because it is important. This post marks a big turn in how I felt about my blog and how it was helping people in general. Right after this I started my Personal Finance Challenge and my Better Health Challenge. The whole entire goal was to write small articles that could eventually be made into book chapters. And I wrote 52 of them for each week of the year, and as a personal writing challenge to myself. This is a landmark post for me and that is why it is one of my favorites.

8. The Best Morning Exercise Routine – I have to give some credit to this one particular post because it got me almost half of all my traffic for a long time. Somehow a lot of people linked to it, and Google ranked me high for search terms similar to the title. Because of this I started learning more about “SEO” (Search Engine Optimization) and specifically tried to get another page ranked. The article I worked on was called the Best Weight Lifting Routine and it came in second for most visited page on Insight Writer. I proved that I could effectively do SEO and dropped it all together after that because it is tedious boring work and my web traffic was growing regardless of it. But like all things you have to keep working at it to make it work in the long run. In any case, these two articles are really helpful for people who want to get started working out, but don’t know how. I hope they have helped a lot of people over the years.

9. Money is NOT the Answer – I’ll finish the top 10 with my favorite personal finance article, which is this one, and one of my favorites from the unfinished better health challenge. If you learn one and only one thing about money and from my personal finance challenge it is that money doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. Money isn’t even real, it just represents something else. It represents work, the value of your product or service, and how much people are willing to pay for it. That is it. Some people work really hard and make no money, and others work very little and make a ton of money. Most of the world’s problems and your own personal problems don’t require much if any money to solve. Another one to think about.

10. What Exactly is Health? – One of my strongest held beliefs is that a problem well defined is a problem well solved. Most of the reason we can’t solve our problems is because we haven’t defined them well enough yet. This matters more in health then practically anything else. A doctor that can’t define, or diagnose, your problem, can’t really fix your problem either. Modern medicine mostly serves to treat the symptom rather then the underlying cause. Define the cause well enough and you should be able to fix it. As with my example with personal finance this is the one and only thing you really need to learn about health, and perhaps life in general. Define the problem well, and the cure is close at hand.

After five years of writing I have written 337 posts, and those posts have received almost 2,000 comments on them. All told I have had over 200,000 pageviews. It seems like a big number, but is still relatively small when you consider the amount of pages people are viewing everyday on the internet.

My hope is that all this writing practice turns into some awesome books that will really help positively change people’s lives. I know books have changed my own life, and I always figured I would be a published author one day. Writing takes a lot more work then you realize which is probably why a lot of people hated it in school. I loved it because I always had a knack for writing, probably because I read so much.

At the end of the day, I just hope I can pass on some of the knowledge I gained that has so drastically improved my life. I read far and wide, including some stuff people would never read, and that is why I try to write in a simple format and enough to the point that people can take something away from it.

So here is to the past 5 years and I hope the next 5 years is even better!

Posted in Blogging, Diet & Exercise, Personal Development, Personal Finance, Personal Health, Top Content Tagged |

We Are A Pile Of Microorganisms

The spelling of that word even looks weird. Microorganisms. These are all the tiny little creatures living on and inside of us. There are ten times as many microorganism cells as there are human cells in our body. Pretty amazing if you ask me.

The real question is how all these little guys affect us. And the answer is in more ways then we can imagine!

The next few articles will talk about how microorganisms affect us both in a positive and negative way, and how we can use them to improve our health. This will kind of be a mini-series within the larger Better Health Challenge.

This article is just to get you to realize that these microorganisms affect everything! They primarily work in the digestive system of our bodies to help digest food and that is where the fun begins. From that point, just by slightly changing the overall environment of the gut we can start having all kinds of issues. Hormonal imbalances, insomnia, infections, weight gain, weight loss, energy levels, mood swings, chronic disease, etc. If something good or bad is happening to us these microorganisms almost certainly play a role in it.

Current science is discovering that the overall microbial environment in your body may play a larger role then even genetics in what kind of diseases you develop, including the big ones, cancer and heart disease.

There are many things you can do to help improve your overall health that involve the little critters in your body. Something as simple as eating yogurt helps favorably improve the environment in your gut by promoting growth of beneficial bacteria. And something as simple as using antibacterial soap on a regular basis can actually leave you more susceptible to things such as the common cold.

This topic deserves quite a few articles to cover, but as for now I found a fun little video created by NPR that helps illustrate this idea…

This is our 39th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged |

You Still Need a Calorie Deficit

You know what I am talking about. The old rule that you need to burn more calories then you eat. It seems that a lot of health advice has gotten away from this general principal because of the latest research coming out that shows how creating a calorie deficit doesn’t necessary help you lose fat, and even more importantly, it can be downright unhealthy.

While this may be true we shouldn’t necessarily throw this idea away all together. Weight Watchers certainly has their success stories so there must be something to calorie counting even if it doesn’t work for everyone.

And that’s just it. Not everything works for everyone. One of my goals when I first started writing about health and created the Better Health Challenge was to try and boil everything down into the simplest of terms and exercises and have it work for everyone. A tried and true method that would work for everyone. I quickly learned that certain things don’t work for certain people. Calorie counting for one, works for some people, and not others.

I have a certain way of thinking about calorie counting that doesn’t necessarily ask you to count calories, but before I explain that I wanted to restate some of the principals that pretty much apply to everyone.

1. You should desire to lose fat, not weight – I can’t restate this enough. Every health writer or scientist knows that the goal should always be to lose excess fat, and not necessarily overall body weight. Losing 10 pounds of fat, and gaining 10 pounds of muscle will make you look drastically different, and you will feel better and perform better too.

2. Calorie counting can easily lead to obsession – Plenty of people start calorie counting and become obsessed with it. It becomes its own goal. And people tend to feel much more in control when they do it, even when things are out of control. This is the biggest argument against calorie counting and it makes a lot of sense. Too many people go down this path.

3. We burn more calories at rest then we do exercising – Think about it. In a 24 hour day how much do you exercise and how much do you rest? Some of the most intense exercises only burn 300-500 calories an hour. In a given day though, even at rest, you will burn around 2000 calories depending on your height, weight, sex, etc. Exercise isn’t really going to help you create a big deficit, especially when you consider that working out that hard makes you really hungry! Then you just eat more to compensate for burning all those calories. There is more to the story…

But we still have to create a calorie deficit. This may seem counter-intuitive, but follow along. We exercise not necessarily to create a calorie deficit, but to activate the hormones in our body that burn fat!

Different exercises stimulate our hormones in different ways, but just about any moderate exercise is better then no exercise. Running marathons may seem like a great way to lose weight, but they are a huge time sink and you often end up with bad knees or other problems because of it.

I am a big fan of weight lifting because I can get huge benefits from it for only an hour or two of working out a week. Weight lifting stimulates all the right hormones to help you lose fat, and as a bonus weight lifting also stimulates hormones that help you build stronger bones.

Just plain old walking has huge benefits too. Walking for a decent distance or for a certain time stimulates all the hormones that running does, plus it is much more relaxing and saves you from any joint problems down the road.

That is the calories out part of the equation, but what about the calories in part of the equation?

This one is super simple and I hope you agree. Just make sure you have a high level of protein and fiber in your diet!

Protein helps you feel full much better than carbohydrates and fat do. It also helps you maintain muscle mass. And with more muscle mass comes the increased ability to burn calories.

Fiber also helps you feel and really aids in digestion. It slows food digestion down which has two benefits. The first one is that fiber helps keep your blood sugar from spiking. When we eat foods that we digest very rapidly it spikes our blood sugar which in turn spikes insulin. Insulin is the primary hormone that causes our bodies to store fat. If we include plenty of fiber in our diet then we shouldn’t have to worry to much about that. Also since fiber slows our digestion it also enables us to absorb more nutrients then we normally would be able to from our food.

So there you go. A whole article about calorie counting without a single bit of math involved. If you simply add weight lifting and walking to your exercise routine, and focus on increasing your protein and fiber intake (mainly by eating more meat and veggies), most of the reasons we calorie count should take care of themselves. You might not see much weight loss, but you should start to see a shrinking waist line, and ultimately a loss of fat, and a gain in muscle that makes you look and feel awesome!

This is our 38th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged , , , |

Quick Update on the status of Insight Writer

In the past year I have posted a grand total of four articles to Insight Writer. I am actually disappointed that I have lost the passion for writing on this blog. I am also disappointed that all of my book projects are on hold simply because I have no passion for them right now.

I have no promises for the future either. I recently had a fellow blogger, Armen Shirvanian, contact me and ask me about what I am up to and my plans for the website. Well I would like to finish what I started.

1. Finish the last 15 or so articles in the Personal Health Challenge.
2. Start and finish 52 articles for the Personal Development Series. This would technically be the third and last 52 article series that started with the Personal Finance Challenge.

This website has always been focused on how to be healthy, wealthy, and wise. And as Armen so kindly put it, I have always been focused on helping people, rather then writing top 10 articles that will attract visitors and help increase my rankings.

In the past two years my website has gone from 10,000 visitors a month, to 5,000 visitors a month, to just over 1,000 visitors per month, mostly because I have lost all my Google traffic. Lack of writing, lack of new incoming links, new Google updates, WordPress software exploits, and my general lack of attention to this website have all contributed to me losing all that traffic. So be it.

At the very least I will slowly but surely write all of the articles I mentioned above even if it takes years. 67 in total. Maybe just the act of writing again will bring about a renewed passion. And perhaps I will finally write a book to put all the concepts and collected wisdom of Insight Writer together in an easy to read format.

For anyone reading this, thanks for subscribing, and continuing to read Insight Writer. I hope you are getting at least as much out of it as I put into it. Thank you!

Posted in Blogging, Interesting Things

The Desire to Be Healthy

For awhile now I have been procrastinating on something I really desire to do. I have been putting off writing my first book on Personal Finance. Many of you are doing something similar with your fat loss goal, or other life goal you have.

Why do we do it? We say we want something then we don’t take the necessary actions to do it. A lot of it comes down to how strong our desire is, but even if we have a strong desire sometimes we still don’t accomplish what we say we want to do.

I know at least for me writing my book it has a lot to do with the fact that I want it to be perfect and I don’t think I can make it perfect. It seems so hard, such an impossible task, that I don’t even really start on it. Well I did start on it, but then I let minor frustrations get in the way of finishing it. Has that happened to you? You have started on a dieting plan, but some minor frustrations got in the way of you sticking with it?

Or maybe you are like me in another way? You started a daily habit of writing and kept at it for over a year, but you slowly let that habit get away from you. You lost interest. Except for you it was a strong interest in eating healthy and exercising, and you saw great results, but you just lost interest.

Both of these things can and do happen to anyone. You think to yourself, “It doesn’t matter what I eat, or if I just sit around all day, it won’t matter”, or something like, “I just don’t have the time or energy to eat right and exercise like I should.”

When you have a strong goal sometimes it seems hard to accomplish it, and maintain it once you got it, but there are a number of things you can do to make it easier.

1. Slowly develop the daily habit.

When you have an established habit it makes it all the easier to maintain it. Developing the habit can be hard, especially in the beginning. But each tiny success adds to future success. Each amount of discipline you can muster in a given day, adds to your future self-discipline. Learn to have that perseverance.

2. Gain support from similar people.

Having a good support group is key. These could be family or friends. What is even better though is being in a group doing exactly what you are wanting to do. Why do you think the people on the show The Biggest Loser are so successful? Cause each and every person there is DEDICATED to helping them lose weight. The trainers are dedicated to it, their friends and families are usually supportive, and they support each other. And for the most part, they don’t want the other people to do better then them! They are looking to win, and watching other people do it inspires them to do the hard work of losing all that weight that took them years to put on. Find some people dedicated to your same goals and you will be helped immensely by it.

3. Focus on the outcomes, not the setbacks.

No matter how hard you try you will always have setbacks. Things always pop up in life that prevents us from going as far and as fast as we want to. The key is to never let those things slow your momentum down to a stop. You can always keep going, in small ways, even in the worst of conditions. And through it all, remember what the outcome will be. For me, I know that writing a book is a personal accomplishment few people will achieve. And my hope is that the books I write will help a lot of people with what they are struggling with. For you, I hope you focus on all the weight you will lose, or how healthy you will be. How much energy you will have, how great you will look, and how wonderful you will feel. Imagine that and make it real!

I know the desire is there otherwise you wouldn’t have taken the time to read this. Yet no amount of reading will accomplish your goal for you. You have to take what you learn and apply it to make it happen. The hardest part is doing the world required the reach your goals. Increasing your desire to the point where you just have to achieve it! The choice is yours my friends.

This is our 37th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health

How The Body Actually Loses Fat

The most important thing we can do to become and stay healthy is to learn how keep excess fat out of our bodies. We already know that excess fat is the primary contributor to our poor health. And we all know that eating in excess is the primary way we gain fat, but most people don’t know exactly how we lose fat.

Sure you probably know that by eating less and exercising more you will lose fat, but it isn’t quite that straight forward. Fat gain and loss are highly regulated processes that we have for our survival, and losing fat is acting against our own bodies survival instincts if we don’t do it right.

There are actually two types of fat in our bodies: White Adipose Tissue (WAT) and Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT). WAT is the main type of fat we are trying to get rid of. It is primarily formed of triglycerides and is a great source of energy in out time of need. It is also not metabolically active which means it does not use energy at all.

Brown Adipose Tissue (BAT) has a much higher number of mitochondria (the power house of the cell that uses energy) then WAT cells and also has a special protein that allows it burn energy in a non-efficient manner. This means that BAT cells produce heat instead of energy in a form of non shivering thermogenesis.

Brown Adipose Tissue research is still coming out, but it looks as if exposing yourself to slightly cool temperatures (just cooler then what you are used to without shivering), will help stimulate the growth of this tissue and help improve your ability to lose fat as it uses up a lot of fat to keep you warmer.

While that is good to know, it probably isn’t as important as knowing how we reduce the size of our White Adipose Tissue cells. Fat loss is primarily a hormonal action with the main hormones being epinephrine (adrenaline), norepinephrine, ghrelin, growth hormone, and testosterone.

Through a series of chemical interactions these hormones cause fat to be split apart into triglycerides (fatty acids) that are then deposited into the blood stream and taken to the cells that need energy the most. So anything that helps to increase the hormones above will theoretically also increase fat loss.

It is also good to know what causes us to gain fat in the first place. Primarily the hormone insulin is responsible for helping to transport nutrients into cells (in this case fatty acids into fat cells). An increased blood glucose level is one of the causes of increased insulin so anything that reduces overall blood glucose levels should help reduce insulin as well.

One of the most effective strategies to lower blood glucose levels is to limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat. Carbs significantly increase your blood glucose level because they are so rapidly absorbed, and thereby cause your insulin to spike when you do. This isn’t always a bad thing. If you have just recently exercised then this will rapidly restore the level of glycogen (a polysaccharide or complex sugar) in your muscles. If you haven’t recently exercised and therefore have used up your muscle glycogen your body will begin storing the excess energy as fat.

All forms of exercise increase the amount of hormones listed above that help contribute to fat loss. Weight lifting however, increases growth hormone and testosterone more than any other exercise making it the preferred exercise for fat loss.

One final way to lose fat is to selectively fast for periods of time to allow the body time to metabolize fat. This is best accomplished by intermittent fasting or eating within a window of time. In other words, fasting for 18 or more hours and eating in a 6 hour window (1pm-7pm). This allows for maximum fat burning ability, but the effects wear off over time. To get the benefits without the downsides it is recommended that you have a “carb refeeding” once a week where you eat a ton of food to “up-regulate” your fat burning hormones.

To put it all together the best way to lose fat is to:

1. Keep blood glucose levels down by limiting carbohydrates, especially highly refined foods such as bread, pasta, etc.
2. Fast on a regular basis to allow for maximum fat burning time (the simple rule is that when your body runs low on energy from food it must burn fat).
3. Include a carb refeeding time at least once a week so that your fat burning hormones don’t permanently “down-regulate”. (Fast for too long though and your body adjusts itself to compensate.)
4. Try to eat the bulk of your calories and carbs after a workout, not before.
5. Include weight lifting in any exercise program you do. (Bodyweight squats count as weight lifting for instance)

These are the basics. There are obviously whole books on the subject but you only need to know a few things to understand how fat loss works. And if you follow the five things listed above you will be well ahead of most people when it comes to both knowing about fat loss and actually losing the fat you want to lose.

This is our 36th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged , |

Grazing vs. Gorging (Food Timing Strategies)

Three square meals a day is the right way to go, isn’t it? At least that is what most of us have been brought up with. The BBC recently published an article called “Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner: Have we always eaten them?” It is an interesting read, but the truth is that we haven’t always eaten them, and for a long time people really only ate one meal a day.

And we come to the modern era where we have almost limitless food choices. We have a large variety of types, textures, qualities, and quantities. And we can practically have food at any time of the day. While convenient, this abundance of food has certainly contributed to the additional layers of fat on our bodies.

So is there an optimal eating strategy? Could food timing have as big an effect, or a bigger effect, then the amount of calories we consume? And science continues to say the answer to this question is yes.

First there is the “grazing” strategy which is a meal plan revolving around eating approximately six meals per day, all of which only have about 200-300 calories. The idea behind this was that eating more often would stoke the calorie burning fires and you would burn off more calories during the day. Science has recently proven that this simply isn’t true. (Source)

The real reason to eat six meals a day is to help control hunger and cravings. By allowing yourself to have small snacks during the day you can help alleviate the hunger pangs that would normally cause you to overeat when it does come time to finally have a meal. Some people do still overeat with this strategy, but with proper planning you can always have the appropriately sized snacks available when you need them.

A more recent food trend is what I would call “gorging”. This is basically where you go long periods without food and possibly only eat one meal a day, but that one meal continues all your calories and nutrients for the day.

This trend has become popular along with other trends such as the Paleo Diet, “ancestral health”, and intermittent fasting. While the research is slowly but surely coming to support it, the results speak for themselves. People are getting super lean with this eating strategy.

While both eating strategies seem to work for helping people lose weight, neither is full proof. You can still overeat either way, and what works well for one person doesn’t always work for someone else. You should experiment, keep good notes on the effects, and decide which works best for you.

Personally I have always been a big fan of eating breakfast, but I switched to only eating two big meals a day (sometimes one), and it seems to be working for me. I’ve been slowly losing some fat and gaining some muscle from my workouts. I also have much better energy levels after giving up high carbohydrate breakfasts.

If you research “intermittent fasting” you will soon discover some of the health benefits associated with it. One article that explains it really well is “Ready, Set, Fast” over at The Art of Manliness website. He also provided links to all the National Institutes of Health studies on the health benefits of fasting including lowered blood pressure, better cholesterol numbers, controlling blood sugar, etc.

So do a little research, do a little experimentation, and see what works best for you!

This is our 35th challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged , , , |

What is a Healthy Diet?

Recently I have been challenged on what I believe to be a healthy diet. After all my research I thought I was getting everything dialed in. I knew what foods to eat and what not to eat. I knew how much to eat to eat. I knew when to eat. I knew where to eat.

I knew who I wanted to eat with. And I knew why I was eating…

I thought all my questions were practically answered. Then I realized that their are general guidelines that we can all follow when we eat, but there was no formula that applied to everyone.

Genetics are weird. They make us do weird things. Or should I say they make our body do weird things.

Let me get to the point…

I have thought for a long time that eating meat is great for you. That it is healthy and practically needed in our diet. The protein and fat you get from meat is better than any other plant source. And meat tastes great. Yet there are some people that are allergic to meat and apparently aren’t able to eat it without suffering consequences like acne, lethargy, etc.

The solution that works for some people, even most people, doesn’t work for everyone.

The above statement might seem like common sense to some people, but not to a scientific minded individual looking for a solution that can work for everyone.

So what is a healthy diet? It is the diet that works for you.

It is a diet where you feel energetic most of the time. It is a diet that doesn’t cause you to hold onto excess fat. It is a diet that helps prevents most or all of the diseases of modern civilization. And it is a diet that makes you happy. Because if you don’t love what you eat then you probably aren’t going to eat it for long.

So how do we get there?

After all my research I would say most people are half way there to begin with. Very few people eat junk food all day everyday and get away with it for long. They eventually have to listen to what their body is screaming at them. “Give me real food!”

The key is to remove some of the worst villains from your diet (trans fats, refined carbs, etc.) and add some of the better heroes in your diet (vegetables, wild caught fish, grass fed meat, etc.) Remove a few here, add a few there, and pretty soon your diet looks amazing.

That is what a healthy diet looks like. Less and less bad things over time. More good things added over time. And the results will speak for themselves.

This is our 34rd challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged , , |

Top 10 Posts From Insight Writer: 2011-2012

Time again for the 4th annual Top 10 from Insight Writer. Hard to believe we are going on 4 whole years. Lots of ups and downs. Recently Google hit my pageviews pretty hard with their “Panda Update”, but I’m sure things will pick back up again soon. Google always changes things to help me or hurt me, and it comes out even in the long run… Regardless, for those that are wondering Insight Writer topped out over 100,000 page views last year so I am pretty happy!

So here are the past three years worth of Top 10′s…

2008-2009
2009-2010
2010-2011

And without further adieu here are my top posts sorted by traffic for the 2011-2012 year!

1. How to Boost Testosterone Naturally
2. The Personal Finance Challenge Series
3. The Personal Health Challenge Series
4. On Being House Poor
5. How To Live To Be a Centenarian
6. Chronic Inflammation is the Real Killer
7. 10 Stubborn Exercise Myths That Won’t Die
8. The Benefits of Fasting
9. Drink Mostly Water
10. Focus on Fat Loss, Not Weight Loss

Honorable Mentions:

1. The Metabolism Myth
2. Minimize Your Stuff
3. Weight Lifting and Workload

Well there you have it. Another year down! It’s no surprise both my challenge series have a lot of pageviews as people go back and forth between articles. What is a surprise is just how many people are searching for things like how to boost testosterone naturally. Go figure…

I always like to think about how these Top 10 every year really reflect the most important topics and situations in our lives. I hope I can keep hitting the nail on the head with the articles I write. Off to the next topic…

Cheers,
Jeremy

Posted in Blogging, Diet & Exercise, Interesting Things, Personal Development, Personal Finance, Personal Health, Top Content Tagged |

How Should We Cut Health Care Costs?

With a presidential election coming up it is hard to avoid hearing about the issue of rising health care costs and what politicians are planning, or not planning, on doing about it. I figured it was worth sharing some of my thoughts on the matter and the best research I have found so that you can make your own decision.

Before we get into any details I must stress that I am talking from the perspective of a U.S. citizen talking about the U.S. Health Care system as it stands in 2012. I am also talking from the perspective of someone who believes that the U.S. has one of the best, if not the best, healthcare system in the world. And by best I mean has some of the best patient outcomes, regardless of price in the world.

I specifically use the word price as well because I think to a certain degree you get what you pay for. You want the best healthcare, you have to pay for it. On the flip side, I do believe that some of the best treatment methods also cost the least.

When looking at healthcare costs you have to look at a number of things. The administrative cost, hospital costs, doctor costs, equipment costs, drug costs, etc. For the most part nearly all these things have very competitive market based prices that can’t really be lowered without sacrificing quality.

Some of the biggest costs in the medical systems are paid for new drugs and new technologies, all of which are optional for the doctor and patient to choose. While these contribute to overall costs in the medical field I don’t think anyone wants to sacrifice our research and development.

Perhaps one of the biggest costs of the medical industry is misdiagnosis. Doctors aren’t perfect, and I won’t even begin to try and say how they can get better at diagnosis. What I will say is that some tests and procedures are very expensive and oftentimes unnecessary in diagnosing a problem.

For instance, one doctor did a scan on the shoulders of perfectly healthy baseball pitchers and found that nearly 90% had abnormal cartilage and tendons that many doctors would have recommended surgery on. Sports Medicine Said to Overuse M.R.I.’s Remember that these are people with no injuries and no pain.

That is one example among many where expensive procedures are used that end up costing everyone more in rising insurance and Medicare costs. We really need to find a way to discourage both doctors and patients from doing unnecessary procedures.

At the end of the day though, whatever laws get passed, I think we all need to focus on preventive medicine.

Here is a list of the Top 10 most expensive conditions to treat

“Heart disease, cancer, mental disorders, trauma-related disorders (anxiety and stress), osteoarthritis, asthma, hypertension, diabetes, back problems, and hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol).” While not all of these are preventable, there are many risk factors for each and every one of these conditions that we can lower and eliminate altogether.

Did you know that if we could get people to stop using tobacco so much we would limit cancer deaths by 22% a year? (Source: World Health Organization)

Besides mental disorders and trauma-related disorders nearly all the rest are easily and successfully treated and prevented with good dietary interventions. Yet for some reason we keep using expensive procedures and tests that may or may not help us in the long run.

No one wants to admit it, but to lower health care costs we need to move toward a value based system. In other words, what will give me the most effect for my dollar. What will be more cost effective in the long run? Spending money and time on getting the best possible food in my diet, or suffering through test after test and procedure after procedure to ultimately realize this was all preventable in the first place? The choice is yours.

This is our 33rd challenge in The Personal Health Challenge Series…

Posted in Diet & Exercise, Personal Health Tagged , , |