According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015. From 1999 to 2015, the number of opioid overdoses quadrupled. In New Jersey, the number of opioid overdose deaths increased by 16.4 percent from 2014 to 2015. The vast majority of these cases resulted from the abuse of legally prescribed drugs, not illegal heroin.
To truly understand why we have an opioid epidemic here in New Jersey and across the country, we need to look at the history behind it. When you look at the history, these frightening statistics start to make sense. Continue reading
In an earlier post, I discussed why the conversation about health care reform needs to change. We need to talk less about health insurance and more about making people healthier. We need to prioritize proactive disease prevention rather than reactive disease treatment if we’re ever going to reverse the chronic illness epidemic in our country and get costs under control.
1) Create a New Layer of Health Care
I discussed this in my last post about health care reform. In addition to the emergency and traumatic care layer and the fragmented layer of specialists, we need a layer that focuses on preventing and reversing chronic illness.
Board certified functional medicine practitioners would help people get to the root cause of their problems, provide the education required to make better health decisions, and develop individualized plans to restore and maintain health and wellness. Continue reading
You can’t live without your liver. The liver sits below your rib cage to the right of your abdomen and has the critical job of ridding the human body of toxic substances.
Liver disease can be genetic. It can also be caused by viral infections caused by Hepatitis A, B and C, and by overuse of pain killers like acetaminophen. Most people associate liver disease with alcoholism, which causes scarring and cirrhosis of the liver.
Fortunately, the liver is one of the few organs in the body that can replace damaged tissue with new cells instead of just scar tissue. Of course, if the liver continues to be overwhelmed by toxic substances, like alcohol and fast food, it won’t be able to repair itself. Continue reading
In a recent post, I talked about how “text neck” is becoming an epidemic in our country. More and more people spend hours each day with their head down, staring at their smartphones and tablets. The farther you tilt your head forward, the more strain you create on your neck.
Text neck is just one example of how poor ergonomics and posture can lead to musculoskeletal pain and tension, which most commonly occur around the base of the skull, the temples, the upper shoulders, between the shoulder blades, and the lower back.
This is the result of what we call mechanical distortion in the human body. As Nobel Prize winner Roger Sperry said, the more mechanically distorted a person is, the less energy is available for thinking, metabolism, and healing. Continue reading
It happened again in Washington.
After spending seven years pointing fingers and the past few weeks trying to craft legislation that would appease various political factions, our elected officials failed in their attempt at “health care reform.” That’s in quotes because the American Health Care Act, much like the Affordable Care Act, had little to do with reforming health care. It had everything to do with reforming health insurance.
Think about who was involved in this process – politicians, health insurance executives, big pharma, and plenty of lobbyists.
Where were the doctors and researchers? Did anyone bother to mention the chronic illness epidemic that’s responsible for seven in 10 deaths each year and 86 percent of our nation’s health care costs? Continue reading
PBS recently debuted a documentary titled “Alzheimer’s: Every Minute Counts.” The documentary includes some sobering statistics and realities about Alzheimer’s disease, which has become one of the most serious public health issues affecting our country.
For people with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers and families, it’s not just an illness. It’s a crisis. Consider the numbers as laid out in an article from Mercola.com:
- The number of people affected by Alzheimer’s is expected to triple by 2050.
- Every 33 seconds, someone in our country will develop Alzheimer’s disease.
- The costs to care for those with Alzheimer’s are forecast to exceed $1.1 trillion by 2050.
- Though 5.2 million of 5.4 million Americans with Alzheimer’s are age 65 and older, 200,000 people have younger-onset Alzheimer’s.
If you see “organic” in a product label, there’s a good chance it’s not organic. If you see “natural” in a product label, there’s an excellent chance it’s anything but natural.
These are just a couple of issues that the Federal Trade Commission seems to have on its radar as a crackdown on bogus marketing claims may finally be underway. In 2016, false advertising suits challenged marketing claims made my makers of oatmeal, fruit juices, deli meat and other products, according to Advertising Age.
In fact, Quaker Oats was sued when pesticides were found in its oatmeal even though it was marketed as “100% natural.” The lawsuit says the claim was false and misleading. Gee, you think so? Continue reading
Food manufacturers have been using genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, for years. A GMO is a plant, animal or other organism that had its genes modified in a science lab, typically by having the genes from another organism’s DNA artificially forced into it. This is usually done to make crops resistant to herbicides and pests and enable crops to produce their own pesticide.
More than 35 countries have banned genetically modified crops and more than 60 countries require GMO labeling on food products. The U.S. finally got around to requiring GMO labeling in 2016. Sadly, the vast majority of crops grown in our country are GMOs and are present in most processed foods. Soy, corn, cotton, canola and sugar beets are common examples of genetically modified crops.
There is no health benefit, but GMOs have been linked to infertility, immune problems and gastrointestinal issues. Actually, the Alliance for Natural Health recently reported that studies have shown that GMOs with Monsanto’s Roundup could eat holes in your stomach. By the way, this product has also been linked to liver and kidney problems, fertility issues, tumors, fatigue, paralysis and allergic reactions. Continue reading
When I hear big food manufacturers and lobbyists deflecting responsibility for the chronic disease epidemic around the world, I’m often reminded of childish playground conflicts. You know, the almost instinctive responses from kids when they’re busted for doing something they know is wrong.
I didn’t do it! It wasn’t my fault! He started it! She made me do it!
With kids, it can be kind of funny, at least when nobody gets hurt and the damage isn’t too severe. After all, kids will go to great lengths to avoid punishment, whether that means blaming someone else or trying not to get caught altogether.
When billion-dollar food companies play the blame game as a way to run up profits by selling unhealthy products that make people sick, there’s nothing funny about it. It’s tragic. Continue reading
Next time you walk outside or down the hall at work, notice how many people are hunched over while they walk or sit, or even when they’re carrying on a conversation. If you were to go to a college campus or high school, you would probably find most kids with their heads down.
It’s not that everyone is trying to hide or slouching because they’re sad. They’re just obsessed with the smartphones, tablets and other gadgets that they just received as holiday gifts.
They’re emailing, texting, chatting, posting on social media, playing video games, checking the weather, getting caught up on the news, and doing everything else that mobile applications make it possible to do from the palm of their hand.
Here’s the problem. When you tilt your head forward, you increase the gravitational pull on a delicate area of the spine. The more you tilt your head forward, the heavier the load, and the more strain you put on your neck and the muscles that support it. Continue reading
Did you know the term “New Year’s Resolution” is actually in the dictionary?
According to Merriam-Webster, a New Year’s Resolution is a promise to do something differently in the new year.
The MacMillan Dictionary is a bit more specific. It says a New Year’s Resolution is a decision that you make on the first day of the year about the things that you intend to do or stop doing during that year.
There are a ton of surveys about top New Year’s Resolutions, mostly from companies trying to peddle their products and services. But the most popular resolutions always fall into three categories:
- Losing weight and becoming healthier
- Making or saving more money
- Enjoying life to the fullest
All of these categories of “resolutions” have one thing in common. If you want to reach your goal, you need to do more than make a promise or a spur-of-the-moment decision.
You need a plan.
I’ve written and spoken extensively about functional medicine, which I believe is critical to fixing our broken healthcare system. Functional medicine is personalized care that focuses on preventing disease and attacking the root cause of health issues rather than reactively treating symptoms.
The goal is to maintain or restore balance among the body’s various systems. This balance helps us function at an optimal level so we can live as many quality, disease-free years as possible.
One area of functional medicine that is finally starting to get the attention it deserves is functional neurology, which is focused on making sure the brain functions at an optimal level. Continue reading
As another year comes to an end, I hope the notion that chronic disease is not preventable and reversible will also come to an end. If we’re going to achieve true healthcare reform and reduce costs, our nation must start wrapping its arms around an integrated approach to healthcare that focuses on prevention.
As I get ready to celebrate Christmas with my family, I’d like to celebrate the work and success of my colleague, business partner and dear friend, Dr. Oscar Coetzee, PhD. 10 years ago, Dr. Coetzee joined me at Natural Healthcare Center. Together, we continue to see the reversal of chronic illness every day. Continue reading
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one out of every three adults – 86 million total – have prediabetes, also known as insulin resistance or Metabolic Syndrome. Of those 86 million, nine out of 10 don’t know they have prediabetes. 15-30 percent will develop type 2 diabetes within five years.
Type 2 diabetes isn’t the only form of chronic illness with a “pre” stage. It just happens to have a quantifiable diagnosis that’s known to lead to the more serious condition.
Precancerous cells can lead to cancer. Osteopenia refers to bone density that’s lower than normal but not quite low enough to be called osteoporosis. Being overweight can be the “pre” condition of obesity.
But just because a “pre” condition doesn’t have a formal name, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Blood pressure can be elevated without being classified as high blood pressure. Inflammation could be a precursor to osteoarthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, neuro-degenerative disorders and many more disorders. Continue reading
The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, consumed our nation from the time President Obama took office until the bill went into effect. It remained a lightning rod and a major talking point in the presidential election six years later.
During all of the drama that played out on TV, on social media and in the newspaper, I remember seeing a lot of politicians, insurance company representatives, lawyers and big pharma folks talking about how health insurance would be administered in our country.
The conversation focused on whether there should be a government run, public option. It focused on allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance plan until age 26. It focused on not allowing insurance companies to deny coverage to people or charge them more because of a pre-existing condition. It focused on removing lifetime and annual dollar limits for essential health benefits. It focused on reducing administrative costs. Continue reading
Regular readers of my blog know I have enormous respect for Dr. Mark Hyman, one of the world’s foremost advocates of functional medicine and chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine. I’d like to summarize an article written by Dr. Hyman and share important information about what he calls “the most important molecule you need to stay healthy and prevent disease.”
This molecule is called glutathione, which is produced naturally by the human liver. What makes glutathione special is sulfur. Sulfur is sticky, and free radicals and toxins stick to glutathione for that reason. Glutathione then carries them to bile and stool before they leave the body.
That’s why glutathione is the most important part of the detoxification system. It cools off free radicals and recycles other antioxidants. Research suggests that, by supporting immune function and controlling inflammation, high glutathione levels can reduce muscle damage, speed recovery time, improve strength and endurance, and switch metabolism to develop muscles instead of fat. Continue reading
During the Olympics, we saw world-class gymnasts hurl themselves into the air and land on their feet. If the average person tried to perform these moves, their joints and discs could literally crumble from the force.
Why doesn’t that happen to gymnasts? Well, they obviously train for years to learn proper form. But they also protect their bones and joints by building thick muscles to absorb the force generated by the moves they perform.
Of course, building muscle isn’t just beneficial to Olympic gymnasts. Average people like you and me can reduce the risk of degenerative disc disease, osteoarthritis, and other disorders of the tendons, cartilage and ligaments by building muscle mass.
Our muscles require anabolic stimulation to grow. Anabolic processes involve the synthesis of proteins and complex molecules in the body that lead to the growth of muscle mass. This shouldn’t be confused with anabolic steroids, which accelerate these processes through artificial means but can also be used to treat a variety of illnesses.
Early last year, 40-year-old guidelines from the government related to the consumption of cholesterol were changed. Basically, Washington finally caught up to science in understanding that cholesterol in the food we eat does not have a significant impact on cholesterol levels in our blood.
Thanks to decades of ignorance, one of the healthiest, most budget-friendly food options has gotten a bad rap. Because the average large egg contains more than 200 milligrams of cholesterol, which is approximately two thirds of the recommended daily allowance, egg consumption was incorrectly linked to heart disease.
Fortunately, the public is becoming educated about the myths and realities of cholesterol, and eggs are receiving long overdue recognition as a source of:
- Vitamins A, D, B6 and B12
- Minerals, including iron, calcium, folate, phosphorus, selenium and zinc
- Choline, which promotes normal cell activity, liver function, and nutrient movement in the body
- Amino acids
- Omega-3 fatty acids, which lower triglycerides to reduce the risk of heart disease
- Antioxidants, including lutein and zeaxanthin
According to a recent Harris Poll of more than 2,200 U.S. adults, 78 percent of respondents believe having dinner at home involves cooking from scratch. I agree wholeheartedly. But some of the other findings have me scratching my head.
When asked what it means to have dinner at home, 45 percent said it could mean heating up something from the fridge or freezer. I can almost buy that if it means heating up leftovers that were made from scratch, using fresh ingredients. But I know that’s not the case.
37 percent said having dinner from home could mean using shortcuts such as precut veggies or pre-marinated chicken breasts for cooking. Pay extra for the convenience of precut veggies? Okay, if you must. Pre-marinated chicken breasts? Now you’re crossing the line into processed food. Continue reading
As summer winds down, I’ve been shocked to learn how many people don’t use their vacation time. After doing a little digging, I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised.
According to the State of American Vacation 2016 report from Project: Time Off, 55 percent of American workers didn’t use all of their vacation time in 2015. On average, Americans used 16 vacation days in 2015, down from 20.3 in 2000. Researchers estimate that Americans left 658 million vacation days on the table.
The top six reasons for not using vacation time were:
- Fear of returning to a mountain of work (37 percent)
- Nobody else can do the job (35 percent)
- Unable to afford a vacation (30 percent)
- Taking time off is more difficult as you grow in the company (28 percent)
- Desire to show complete dedication (22 percent)
- Fear of being seen as replaceable (19 percent)
Despite these numbers, employees who used 11 or more vacation days were more likely to have received a raise or bonus than those who used 10 or fewer days. Could it be that employers are taking advantage of the hard work and perceived insecurity of certain employees? Continue reading