Often we hear complaints about the cost of eating and preparing healthy foods. "Eating healthy costs too much." "I don’t have the time to cook." "I don’t know how to cook.” “Fruits and vegetables go off too fast.” “I don’t have the energy to prepare my healthy meals.” “I want to eat healthily, but I just don’t have the time or money."
We all have a choice to make when it comes to investing in our health. We can continue to eat a typical western diet full of cheap, convenient, tasty processed foods and watch ourselves, and our children, grow overweight, depressed and diabetic. We can continue to watch health care costs boom out of control, bankrupting us individually and as a country. Or we can choose to invest our time and money into real whole foods that can help prevent chronic disease and illness, give us more energy, and save us money and time in the future.
Small lifestyle changes can bring about significant health gains. A recent study found that adopting five healthy lifestyle habits can extend lifespan by an average of 13 years. These habits are not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, not drinking excessively, doing 30 minutes or more a day of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity, and eating a healthy diet.
Other recent studies have found that 84% of the risk of chronic disease is not genetic, but environmental and behavioural. Our genes do play a role in determining which diseases we’re predisposed too, but the choices that we make about our diet and lifestyle turn out to be far more critical determinants of our health and wellbeing.
2018 statistics from The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare:
Around 45% of Australians ages 16-85 will experience a mental illness in their life
63% of Australians aged 18 and over are overweight or obese, 28% of children between the ages of 5-17 are overweight or obese
The lead causes of death between the ages of 45-74 are coronary heart disease and lung cancer.
The lead causes of death between the ages 75 and above are coronary heart disease, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
The top 5 leading causes of death in 2016 were:
Coronary heart disease
Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
1 in 2 Australians have a chronic disease (50% of the population)
1 in 3 (7 million) adults and children have chronic respiratory conditions
1 in 3 (6.9 million) people have arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions,
1 in 10 (1.7 million) adults shows biomedical signs of chronic kidney disease.
1 in 20 (1.2 million) adults self-report having diabetes
1 in 11 (376,000) people aged 65 and over have dementia
1 in 3 (6 million) Australian adults have high blood pressure.
Around 1 in 4 Australians had two or more chronic conditions in 2015
87% of deaths in 2015 were associated with chronic disease,
Chronic diseases account for 61% of total disease burden
37% of hospitalisations are due to chronic disease
These numbers are typical in westernised countries like Australia, the USA, and the UK. In 2017 chronic disease was responsible for 70% of deaths globally and these numbers have been increasing.
Spending on health in Australia has grown from $113 billion in 2007 to $180 billion in 2017— that’s more than $7,400 per person. It’s an expensive business being sick, fat and unhealthy.
The interventions that we desperately need to address the chronic disease epidemic require us to invest far more time and resources into promoting health, which is just the opposite of what we’re doing today, we are pushing the magic pill over healthy behaviour changes.
It seems so simple, and yet society is becoming fatter and sicker by the day.
Does eating a healthy diet cost more? Well, that depends on how you look at it. Yes, it costs more to eat real whole foods, and it will take you longer to prepare healthy home-cooked meals. But I assure you that you are either going to be paying the price NOW for food that restores your health and vitality, or you will pay the price LATER for ongoing doctor visits, prescription drugs, surgeries, time off work due to illness, early retirement and nursing home care. Which would you prefer?
“If you live to be 100 years old, what sort of 100-years-old are you going to be? Are you going to be bedridden and unable to take care of yourself? Or are you going to be reasonably independent and alert?“
We have the choice to become modern day hunter and gatherers and eat an ancestral diet, or we can continue to follow the typical western lifestyle and become another health statistic. What will choose?