Monday, April 26, 2010

5 Steps That Might Save Your Healthcare

We've been hearing about it and CNN did an excellent report on it. The rising rate of healthcare in the USA has gotten extremely out-of-control. Ok, we've heard about the $27,000 single dose of a drug, the $200 pill. The special report revealed one family's tragic battle with cancer then facing a $4300 bill for a four day hospital stay. The list of expenses included items as low as $100,000 for treatment of stroke/year to $125,000 for heart disease/year, to $175,000 for year's in-house treatment for Alzheimer's .

Americans with healthcare concerns have now started to combine their vacations by including surgeries in other countries to reduce the burden of healthcare costs.

These top diseases mentioned earlier in the list are either all preventable or their burden of load to overall expense could be lowered by a Total Healthcare Package(THP). The THP is not too different in principal than a health insurances' total comprehensive care program , but goes further by blending it with the practitioners idea of Wholistic Care. It means that practitioners refrain from sub-compartementalizing their view of medicine and accept the realization that "a person's health is still within the same body"! This is what was not mentioned in the 2010 healthcare legislation. This 2nd portion is the "practical" application.

What this means is that health isn't based on "degrees of sickness" anymore , but rather ranges of wellness through making health not merely a part of your lifestyle but a part of your total life, sun up to sun down.

It means that Fitness, Nutritional Support(Nutritional Supplements), Prevention Education, Behavior Motivation, Wellness have to be utilized in unisom. The special area of Nutritional Supplements is gravely under-utilized and has been highly made suspect even when it was born out of two highly respected disciplines, medical biochemistry and botany.These 5 key points must be somehow a part of a persons home life, leisure life, work hours, and those times in- between.

These key 5 points are essential to reducing and preventing chronic and acute disease and their costs. Numerous public health statistics as well as clinical trials have shown overwhelmingly that changes and modifications of one's eating, activity, self-imagery, being informed and more aware of health can enact reduced healthcare costs based on a person becoming more responsible for his or her own health.

But, how does a country of over 300,000,000 effect this change in lifestyle as almost like a single unit. It can not be done easily or quickly, but it can be done reasonably. Why do I say that? Because the National Institutes of Health( N.I.H) intramurally and extramurally as well as the CDC, HHS(Health & Human Services), PHS(Public Health Service), World Health Organization, several colleges and universities, Wall Street(insurance companies) , Madison Avenue(advertising agencies) and several food and drug corporations have already done the research to prove that THP could work and are constantly sampling the population in real time to show it's daily effects.

If a consensus is met on standards of "wellness" stemming from these 5 key points of THP ; it could reduce healthcare cost directly and indirectly by reducing "The Mother of All Diseases", obesity! The real fight is fought at the belt line ; where the primary line of defense has to be placed.

We started this blog taking a look at the reported costs of "treating" disease. The real question auditors , acturaries and cost valuators need to be asking is "what is the cost of implementing prevention"!

Learn more about the 5 points of THP at

Dr. Marcus Wells MD, MPH is a past Clinical Associate at the National Institutes of Health/National Heart, Lung, & Blood Institute. He served in the HHS(Health &Human Services), the PHS(Public Health Services), and the Commissioned Corp. Dr. Wells also holds a Master's in Public Health from Emory University.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

"Boning Up" with Supplements

Many of us already do not get the adequate amount of RDA of nutritional supplements even when food is made available to us. Either from under-nutrition or poor nutritional sources.Because of this and other multiple causes , poor bone health is recurrent in our country. We use the musculo-skeletal system to perform in all activities we participate in. Muscles attached to bones to help you walk or lift something from those muscles in the heart and gut are affected. Bones are needed to keep us centered with gravity and keep our internal organs in place and protect us from harmful impacts we encounter. Cartilage in ligaments, joints and are also articulate to this system.

But, what helps maintain strong bones , cartilage, joints and muscles? We've all been told to drink plenty of milk and eat lots of cheese when we were growing up. In those days the pastuerization process was all that was needed to keep the diary supply healthy. Unfortunately the fats and sometimes sugars as well as genetic modification, antibiotics and growth hormones introduced into diary products have become an issue to one's health. So, what are other healthier choices we can still select or consider selecting to maintain strong bones today?

According to the American Association of Orthopeodic Surgeons(AAOS) more than 27 million Americans have osteoarthritis, a sort of wear and tear destruction of cartilage with pain and aches in the bones and joints.

Ground substance that is made up of chondroitin sulfate(CS) and glucosamine(GA) help build up cartilage and make up a matrix for bone to be made as well. These two substance are made in the human body and are necessary for bone production. As the matrix or ground substance is worn down before repair, osteoarthritis can occur. Inflammation, bone spicules, and a compromised blood supply may lead to pain and swelling.

But scientific studies are looking seriously how these two necessary substances , CS and GA can also be utilized as supplements . Anecdotally , it looks like the things that nature makes "does make a difference" and knows best. The nationally acclaimed GAIT study(Glucosamine/Chrondoitin Intervention Trial) revealed significant relief from pain with these two supplements were used. They also proved they were at least as effective as ibuprofen (NSAID).

Another natural product which is produced from a sulfur source such as the antioxidant glutathione is MSM . When MSM, GA, CS are taken in combination wonderful results occur. It would appear they are as effective as the COX2 and NSAID drugs !

But, the most abundant mineral in the human body , calcium is still very important as well in building strong bones. It helps in muscle and blood vessel contraction. Be aware , however , that some foods do leach out calcium that have high amounts of oxalic acid like spinach and collard greens. Other foods such as those containing phytic acids in grains can reduce the absorption of calcium. High protein diets that are high in red meat concentration can increase the excretion of calcium as well.

Phosphorous is another element that is very essential in playing a role in buidling strong bones and teeth. Along with calcium several other elements such as boron and magnesium help build up bone and teeth.

Soy is partiucularly unique because it contains several products in it that protect and stengthen bone. Soy has isoflavones that are so strong that they are nearly equivalent to the drug ipriflavone in treating women in Europe with osteoporosis. The

Osteoporosis , due to poor mineral deposits in bone for post-menopausal women of European decent is especially problematic. Those with low melanin deposits in the dermis may be threatened by this problem as well , however, to a lesser extent. This makes them more prone to fractures with minor falls.

Estrogen helps maintain bone support for women when still in the period of time while still menstruating. However at menopause, that protection begins to fail. As a result women have taken to using synthetic estrogens and progesterone which are noted to be implicated in not only heart disease , but cancer and blood clots! Phystoestrogens found in soy may be a healthy alternative!

A pharmaceutical alternative was the drug Fosomax. unforutnately a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that in a longterm study(5 years) with over 14,000 women ; 662 still obtained hip fractures. What does this mean. The "jury" is still out , but doctors are asking their patients who take the drug to take a "durg holiday" from the drug.

Exercise builds strong bones and has to become a daily part of a person's regimen as well as foods that contain calcium. Alternatives to lacto-proteins(diary products) such as soy , tempeh, tofu, edamame , and sardines, have to be taken more seriously.

But, what happens when you do have aches and pains from wear and tear disease? Do you have to be relegated to only COX2 inhibitors or NSAIDs? These drugs have gained greater scrutiny as drug alerts have been issued on some. Even a NSAID can have effects on the gut to cause ulcers, bleeding and kidney effects.

Keep your kidneys functioning be aware that calcium metabolism and the activation of vitamin D, the vitamin that gives strength to bone and maturation is tied critically to the kidneys and your skin. The parathyroid gland which secretes Parathormone and the C follicular cells of that gland which secrete Calcitonin are also important to keep in check.

Know , that there is an ingredient in cayenne pepper called capcaicin that seems to reduce joint aches and pains as well as pain on top of the skin . amazingly studies are showing that it helps reduce high blood pressure, cholesterol and the stickiness of platelets that cause clot formation. The world reknown medical journal The Lancet has spoken to this critically.

The Ancient Indian Auyrvedic remedies are another alternative source to look at and after over 5000 years may be showing promise here in the west as well.

To Learn more about how to maintain your health and keep a healthy lifestyle go to the web

Dr. Marcus Wells is a previous Clinical Associate at the National Institutes of Health at the National Heart , Lung & Blood Institute(NIH/NHLBI). Dr. Wells served in the Health and Human Services(HHS), the Public Health Service(PHS), and Commissioned Corp. Dr. Wells holds a Master's in Public Health from Emory University.