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Why do we only value our health once it’s gone? The future of Australian healthcare

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By Tania Flack

Guy: Sure enough these days you will often here a statistic or concern for the overall health of Australia or Western society.  At what point does an individual let they health get to before they decide to do something about it? For one good friend of mine, he let his weight get so bad he could hardly see his feet! (I wrote a post about it here). He woke up one day and said enough was enough and changed his life completely for the better.

Another good friend of mine was diagnosed with an extremely life threatening cancer at the age of 34. She openly admits her life was pretty unhealthy until her diagnosis. Since then she has not only gone on to overcome the cancer, she is now in the best shape of her life. (You can watch the video interview here).

Are you investing in your health daily?  Or are you going to be another growing statistic?

Over to Tania……

The future of Australian healthcare

Tania: No doubt about it, rates of obesity and other preventable diseases are rising, so are Australia’s health costs. In fact so much so, the current drain on our health budget has got to the point where it will unsustainable in the near future.

Statistics show that Australians are now seeing a Doctor or Specialist once every two months, which has substantially increased over the last decade. Surprisingly, these figures are also well above what is seen in other comparable Western countries.

Figures from the Department of Health show that Australians make on average 6.3 trips to the doctor per year, compared with 5.8 in Canada, 5 in Britain, 4.7 in New Zealand and even less than that in America where the cost of quality health care is prohibitive to many people. This gives rise to growing concern that Australia’s health costs are rising at an unsustainable rate, with federal spending rising at 5.8% per year for the past decade.

A report released by the Australian treasury has predicted that federal spending on healthcare would grow from 4% to 7% of gross domestic product by the year 2050. The report stated that increase in spending over the last decade was due to “increasing use of doctors, tests and pharmaceuticals, rather than aging and population growth”.

Just think about that for a moment….. At what age do you think you will retire? What state do you think our health services will be in then? What condition wil your health be then?

It seems you may not have the same access to quality health care your parents have enjoyed, at least not without a whopping bill attached.

What legacy are we leaving for our children and what kind of health services will be available to them? Are we leading by example?

The cost of running hospitals is expected to increase dramatically from $594 per person to $803 by 2022, while the cost of subsidising pharmaceuticals is expected to rise from $443 to $534 per person.

So I’d like to ask, will preventative health care stand? The cost to our health system of preventable diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes is enormous and I fail to see that the government is currently investing in promoting healthy lifestyles and preventative health care.

Really it is up to the individual to take positive steps to manage diet and lifestyle factors that can contribute to preventable diseases such as obesity and type II diabetes. What happened to daily exercise, eat a healthy diet and teach our children to do the same. Surely prevention is better than cure? I hope that the new health care reform makes preventative health care top priority and focuses on promoting healthy diet and lifestyles to help all Aussies make the most of their health now and in the future.

If you would like to learn more about healthy diet and lifestyle to help protect your health and that of your family, now and in the future get some professional advice, people working in the nutrition and natural health care industry specialise in this area. If you believe prevention is better than cure, then we can make a significant difference to our health by implementing a few small changes.

My top 5 tips for helping to prevent ill health in the future:

Exercise – one of the most important ways to prevent disease and keep healthy is exercise and stay active. It doesn’t have to involve expensive gym memberships or sporting equipment, regular walking is like free medicine and all you need is a pair of runners. Staying active is one the best things you can do for your health!

Vegetables – provide you with essential nutrients and antioxidants, lots of people don’t get anywhere near enough in their diet, a bit of salad on the side once a day just doesn’t cut it! Try to have half your plate filled with vegetables at each meal, even breakfast! Bring back mushrooms and spinach with eggs and other more traditional breakfasts, it may take a bit longer to prepare but it’s a delicious meal and healthy way to start the day. A quick way to boost your vegetable intake is juices – try beetroot, celery, carrot and apple with a touch of ginger to really give you a boost.

Cut down on refined foods – this includes anything pre-prepared, biscuits, crackers, pastries, sausages, deli meats, tinned foods etc the list goes on. Buy fresh food, cut it up and cook it, that way you know what you’re really getting.

Decrease alcohol consumption – Let’s face it, we Aussies love a drink, in fact our whole social culture is based around it and most social functions involve a glass of wine or beer. Try to have alcohol only a couple of times a week and savor not swill is the key. A high alcohol intake is linked to lots of chronic diseases such as obesity, liver problems, diabetes and cancer.

More fish – Fish contains valuable essential fatty acids that help to protect our cardiovascular system, decrease inflammation and have lots of other beneficial actions. Whereas a diet high in processed meat seems to do the exact opposite! We love our BBQs and meat feasts in Australia but we could learn a lot from our Asian cousins who enjoy fish more than processed meat in the diet. Experiment, find a fish monger and a few new recipes and increase fish in the diet.

If you would like some help to make positive dietary and lifestyle changes to ensure you stay as healthy as possible, now and in the future make an appointment to get some professional guidance.

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    3 Replies to “Why do we only value our health once it’s gone? The future of Australian healthcare”

    Great article! If only more people would look at their well being as an investment! Great take on what is a major problem in our country mate! I’ll be back to read some more soon!

    Dr. Russell Elliott says:

    Finally a naturopath with some sense, no mention of any ancient herbs and spices to cure poorly understood diseases like cancer. Unfortunately with no regulation across CAM these important principles of health are lost in a sea of mysticism and false hope. If patients and health professionals alike heeded these suggestions health and well being would be far easier to attain. Doctors who don’t take the time to encourage these practices are doing us a disservice and they are loudly blamed for it. But by confusing the populace further with expensive and useless potions many CAM practitioners contribute to the same issues… CAM needs to be folded into one regulated body perhaps “preventative health consultant” would be a good title, that way consumers can differentiate between quacks and truth. And doctors could then refer to them. Health cannot be achieved without teamwork.

    Tania Flack says:

    Thanks for your comments Dr Elliot. I agree that all too often the basic concepts of good health are ignored in favour of product sales and the latest super food or fad diet. There is no panacea, the building blocks of good health are good nutrition, regular exercise, stress management and healthy lifestyle. Herbal and nutritional medicines, like pharmaceutical medicines, have their place in the health care system. Hopefully preventative healthcare will become a focus for all practitioners in the future, I for one would be happy to call myself a ‘preventative healthcare consultant’.

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