Yet it's true.
Over the past decade or so, the U.S. has made headlines - not for its advanced healthcare system, but for the fact that we now rank lower than almost every other developed country when it comes to a number of health and longevity factors.
In the World Health Report 2000, the U.S. healthcare system was ranked 37th in the world! In 2006, the United States was number 1 in terms of health care spending per capita, but ranked 39th for infant mortality, 43rd for adult female mortality, 42nd for adult male mortality, and 36th for life expectancy (New England Journal of Medicine, Jan. 14, 2010).
And it's not getting any better! In 2014, Time magazine reported that in the 2014 Commonwealth Fund survey, the U.S. healthcare system ranked dead last in "efficiency, equity and outcomes" out of 11 countries including France, Australia, Germany, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K..
And in 2015, the Organization for Economic Cooperation & Development (OECD) stated in their annual Health At A Glance Report that "Life expectancy in the United States is lower than in most other OECD countries for several reasons, including poorer health-related behaviours and the highly fragmented nature of the US health system."
How can this be? How can a country that spends more than any other country in the world on healthcare be so unhealthy?
In reality, the alarming statistics above (and others like them) are the reason this website exists. I started this site to help people learn to take back control of their health, and achieve healthier, happier, more holistically balanced lives, and this remains my core mission!
Today I want to share a few ways that living holistically can benefit your health - and some tips for getting back on the right track, whether you are one of the millions already suffering from our modern epidemic of preventable disease, or you are just heading in that direction.
Holistic living means finding a healthy balance that honors mind, body, and spirit, and your relationship with the world around you. By doing so, you can achieve a natural state of true holistic health.
What Is Holistic Health?
First of all, holistic health involves treating the cause of your disease - not just the symptoms. Those who practice holistic health understand that only by addressing the root cause can you truly cure a health problem.
Instead of following fads and trendy diets, holistically healthy people pay attention to whatever supports healthy function for their own individual entire being - physical, mental, and psychological.
Holistic living is also about simplicity. By putting your health and well-being first when making decisions, you can simplify your life, reduce stress, and achieve better health with less effort.
Holistic Health Care
If you visit a holistic healthcare practitioner, they should take all of these considerations into account when designing a treatment for you. They may use traditional treatments, or some treatments that are new to you, but each treatment should keep the previous statements in mind. Here are a few holistic health treatments that you may come across:
- Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Non-invasive treatments that stimulate your body’s natural healing mechanisms. May include lifestyle counseling, acupuncture, and exercise, among others.
- Herbal Treatments: Herbs or other nature-derived medicines.
- Animal Therapy: A type of holistic rehabilitation that involves the use of animals (often horses, dogs, or cats) to help patients who suffer from drug addiction, depression and other mental issues.
- Energy Medicine: This form of treatment assumes that diseases are often caused by blockages or an imbalance in the energy fields that flow throughout your body. Commonly used procedures may include qi gong, reiki, or therapeutic touch.
Whether you choose to use a holistic healthcare provider, or simply make healthy changes on your own, there are a number of things you can do yourself to help improve your health in a natural and holistic manner.
Obviously (or maybe not so obviously here in America!), being healthy isn't about going to the doctor; it's about choosing to take charge of your own well-being and make healthier choices for yourself.
Here are just a few things you can do to choose health every day, courtesy of SivanaSpirit.com:
- Drink More Water. Soda pop is absolutely one of the worst things you can put into your body, yet it is one of the most popular beverages in our country. It contains lots of chemicals and unhealthy sugars, and zero nutritional value. If you have a soda pop addiction, it can be difficult to break, but you can start by substituting one glass of water for one pop every day. After a week or so, substitute another, and continue this process until you are weaned off of the stuff for good! Water is the best beverage you can possibly drink. Besides re-hydrating your system, water also helps detoxify your body, replenish lost fluids and re-energize your cells with nutrients. Drink plenty of it every day, and carry a water bottle with you wherever you go to make sure you don't get dehydrated.
- Unplug. While the Internet is possibly the greatest innovation of the 21st century, if not all of human history, turning off your devices and engaging with the non-virtual world is key to a healthy connection with the world around you, not to mention healthy relationships! Plus, it gives your eyes a break, and makes you more likely to get more physical activity. Which brings me to...
- Get Moving! Worried about the effects of sitting for eight hours straight in the office? Sitting disease is a commonly recognized new affliction among the sedentary, and it accounts for a number of modern diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. One recent study says you can offset the harmful effects of sitting by exercising for at least one hour a day. You can increase or decrease that time depending on how long you’ve been sedentary (e.g. four hours of sitting can be offset by 30 minutes of exercise). However you choose to do it, be sure to incorporate plenty of exercise into your day, whether you do it in short bursts throughout the day, or in a structured workout session.
- Think Positive Thoughts. Eastern medicine has long recognized the connection between your mental state and your physical health. Here in the West, we are still catching up, but more and more evidence suggests that our thoughts have a powerful effect on how we feel, and the state of our health. It may be hard to change this if you are habitually negative, but start paying more attention to your thoughts, and when you catch yourself thinking something negative, try to reframe it in a positive light. Eventually, by replacing your negative thoughts with more positive ones, you will find a happier, healthier life awaits you.
No matter what methods you use to take control of your health, by making healthier choices for yourself on a daily basis, you can learn to do your part to reverse the tide of modern disease that is sweeping our nation, and choose to step outside of the conventional box, and into the light of a simpler, healthier, more holistically balanced life.
To your (holistic) health!