Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Living and Eating Healthy vs. Unhealthy

In the short term, living and eating healthy generally costs more. However, in the long term, the habits of a sedentary lifestyle and eating cheaper fast foods and processed foods can lead to obesity, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease  — which is quite expensive in terms of health care costs, quality of life and lifespan.
Living healthy helps to reverse Type 2 diabetes.

Of course, living a healthy lifestyle can take a lot of work. And for some, it may seem like it takes a lot of money, too. The reality is, however, that living a healthy lifestyle can save you more money in the long-term -- not only for you, but also for our nation.

When it comes to understanding the costs of unhealthy living, we need to look at several aspects. We need to look at our individual lifestyles, our national lifestyles, and the costs that don't always come directly out of our individual pockets. When we do that, we get a better picture of what it really cost to eat and live healthy vs. unhealthy:

Grocery Bill: It definitely cost a lot more for healthy foods such as extra virgin olive oil, organic Omega-3 eggs, wild salmon, free-range chicken, fresh organic vegetables, sprouted grain bread, and raw juices. However, if you reduce the amount of money that you spend on animal meat and purchase inexpensive healthy foods such as fresh spinach, kale, broccoli, carrots, pinto beans, brown rice, canned tuna/salmon, and frozen vegetables, you can stay within your grocery budget! Ironically, animal meat tends to be the most expensive item on the grocery list and it is one of the primary causes for a lot of our diseases such as obesity, cancer, and heart disease! Also, if you do your homework, you can get many of these healthier foods at discount.

Note: For more information about reducing your grocery bill, refer to an earlier post titled Tips for Eating Healthy Inexpensively.

Unhealthy Habit Costs: If you are an alcoholic or a smoker, this can put a major burden on your pocketbook. Drinking a bottle of liquor every day can cost you almost $3700 a year! Smoking a couple of packs of cigarettes a day can cost you almost $3000 a year. Think about the vacation you could take on that! Now remember, that is just the cost of the habit, not the cost of the potential diseases or conditions that may become a result of your habit. 

Out-of-Pocket Medical Costs: The less healthier you are, the more likely you will need to visit the doctor for prescription medications. And in more serious situations, you will need medical procedures or some kind of surgery that can be very costly. Unhealthy lifestyles make up a huge percentage of healthcare costs, and unfortunately, very few of us have a full-coverage health insurance plan. As a result, each visit to the doctor…the additional medications required ... each stay in the hospital ... each surgery required…inevitably is money that will need to come out of your own pocket.

Less Income: The less healthier you are, the more likely you are going to be ill and have to take time off from work. If you are limited to a certain number of sick days a year and you go over that limit, you end up losing potential income as a result. Let's say an individual makes $20 an hour and they get 5 sick days a year. Because they are unhealthy and get sick more often, maybe they actually need 10 days a year. As a result, they take an extra 5 days off for the year. Financially, that would add up to $800 in lost income.To make matters worse, if you continue to miss too much work, you may lose your job!

Healthcare Costs: As we all know, healthcare coverage for our country is a very complicated and costly issue. What's more is that a lot of the cost can be avoided. It turns out that over 70 percent of our healthcare costs are specifically related to lifestyle decisions. According to the Wellness Council of America, here are some statistics about healthcare costs:
  • The annual healthcare costs specific to obesity-related disease and health issues, all of which are considered preventable, represents about $150 billion or about 12 percent of our healthcare costs.
  • Smoking-related illnesses account for $96.7 billion in healthcare, or approximately 8 percent of healthcare costs (CDC).
  • Sedentary lifestyles account for 15 percent of all healthcare costs. It turns out that only 20 percent - 25 percent of the population achieves the recommended 30 minutes of daily physical activity.
  • Further, other preventable conditions aside from smoking make up an additional 40 percent of our healthcare costs.
  • In total, all of the above is related to 75 percent of our healthcare costs! All of which are linked to unhealthy lifestyle choices, including physical inactivity, diet, alcohol consumption and tobacco use. Further, 70 percent of American deaths are attributed to strokes, heart attacks, diabetes and cancer, all of which can be influenced significantly through lifestyle choices.
We need to stop making excuses for why we can't (or won't) live a healthy lifestyle. And, think about the message that we're sending to our children ... 

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