Published on October 27, 2023

Lifestyle behaviors contribute to up to 80% of chronic diseases, yet according to a recent Medscape article, medical doctors can be penalized for its use in practice especially if you get well

Key Points

  • People in the United States are currently experiencing the worst health outcomes overall of any high-income nation – including having the highest death rates from avoidable or treatable conditions and the highest rate of individuals with multiple chronic conditions
  • Lifestyle interventions, such as a healthy diet and exercise, are proven to be effective in helping to prevent many chronic diseases – some have also been shown to treat or reverse diseases without the side effects of medications
  • A recent article describes how utilizing lifestyle medicine, which is often less costly than prescription medication, can result in physicians being penalized despite helping patients achieve their optimal health outcomes

An article published this month by Medscape, titled “How PCPs Are Penalized for Positive Outcomes From Lifestyle Change,” leaves one to question how much they can rely on some doctors to guide them to better health – especially if pharmaceutical medications are not part of their wellness plan.

According to The Commonwealth Fund, “people in the United States experience the worst health outcomes overall of any high-income nation. Americans are more likely to die younger, and from avoidable causes, than residents of peer countries.” Their 2022 report outlines the worsening health outcomes in the US, including “the lowest life expectancy at birth, the highest death rates for avoidable or treatable conditions, the highest maternal and infant mortality, and among the highest suicide rates” along-side the accelerated spending rate seen in the US healthcare system. They also show that the US has the “highest rate of people with multiple chronic conditions” – all an indication of a broken system that does not work.

Lifestyle Behaviors Contribute to an Estimated 80% of Chronic Diseases

Lifestyle interventions, such as a healthy diet and exercise, are proven to be effective in helping to prevent many chronic diseases – some have also been shown to treat or reverse diseases without the side effects of medications. Common chronic diseases that can be especially responsive to lifestyle interventions include cardiovascular diseases, obesity, and type 2 diabetes.

How Doctors Are Penalized for Reversing Disease

Unfortunately, according to the Medscape article, for reasons including limited time with patients and lack of incentive, the current system “unintentionally penalize physicians for successfully treating or reversing disease through lifestyle behavior interventions while rewarding clinicians for meeting process measures — usually adherence to medication — regardless of whether health outcomes improved.” In the case presented, utilizing lifestyle medicine was also less costly than the medication, yet the physician was penalized despite helping the patient achieve their optimal health outcome. This type of system sets patients up to remain uninformed of the power and effectiveness of certain lifestyle interventions to help them stay well and to improve their current health conditions – even if their doctor has the patients’ best interests in mind.

The article concludes with supporting lifestyle interventions as a first line of treatment against certain chronic diseases, arguing that incentive should be given to doctors based on health outcome measures instead of being based on the continuous management of disease.

This is a simple reminder of the importance of acting for your own health and making it your job to be your own biggest health advocate… how well are you and your loved ones filling that role?

Simple, Proven Ways You Can Support Better Health

Eating well, getting enough exercise, managing stress, avoiding toxins, and getting plentiful sleep are all lifestyle behaviors that can contribute to our health. Studies have also shown that

Measuring your levels is the only way to tell if you are getting enough vitamin D, omega-3s, magnesium, and other nutrients, and is a simple and easy step to take towards improving health. Other measures, such as the testing of toxic elements (including lead, mercury and cadmium), C-reactive protein (a measure of inflammation in the body) and HbA1c (a measure of blood sugar health), can help guide you towards other specific lifestyle behaviors that might need to be added or modified to support better health and reduce your risk of disease.

GrassrootsHealth offers at-home test kits for each of the above, along with educational materials for how to utilize supplements, diet, sunshine, and other lifestyle factors to help improve and maintain health. Have you measured your levels lately?

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Create Your Custom Home Test Kit

Create your custom home test kit to measure your levels at home as part of the D*action project!

With your kit you can measure your:

  • Vitamin D
  • Magnesium PLUS Essential and Toxic Elements
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids
  • hsCRP
  • HbA1c
  • TSH
  • Type 1 Diabetes Autoantibodies

Did you know that each of the above can be measured at home using a simple blood spot test? As part of our ongoing research project, you can order your home blood spot test kit to get your levels, followed by education and steps to take to help you reach your optimal target levels. Start by enrolling and ordering your kit to measure each of the above important markers, and make sure you are getting enough of each to support better mood and wellbeing!

Create your custom home test kit today. Take steps to improve the status of each of these measurements to benefit your overall health. With measurement you can then determine how much is needed and steps to achieve your goals.  You can also track your own intakes, symptoms and results to see what works best for YOU.

How Can You Use this Information for YOUR Health?

Having and maintaining healthy vitamin D and other nutrient levels can help improve your health now and for your future. Measuring is the only way to make sure you are getting enough!

STEP 1 Order your at-home blood spot test kit to measure vitamin D and other nutrients of concern to you, such as omega-3s, magnesium, essential and toxic elements (zinc, copper, selenium, lead, cadmium, mercury); include hsCRP as a marker of inflammation or HbA1c for blood sugar health

STEP 2 Answer the online questionnaire as part of the GrassrootsHealth study

STEP 3 Using our educational materials and tools (such as our dose calculators), assess your results to determine if you are in your desired target range or if actions should be taken to get there

STEP 4 After 3-6 months of implementing your changes, re-test to see if you have achieved your target level(s)

Enroll in D*action and Build Your Custom Test Kit!