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How to transform America's sick-care system to a well-care system

At a time when health insurance is a major national debate, many Americans are failing to hold up their end of the health care bargain.

Too many people ignore their health — failing to exercise and eat properly — until they become so ill they can no longer neglect their problems. The trick to preventing illness is by preventative healthcare, better known as wellness care.

Frankly, Americans don’t have a health care model; we have a “sick care” model. We only go to the doctor when we are sick. If we focused on wellness care — that is, taking care of our bodies properly — then a lot of surgeries and medication could be avoided. That’s the best health insurance of all.

Part of the problem is that people invest in cars and houses, but not their health. Even though most people will have five to seven cars and three to five homes in a lifetime — but only ONE body — we are so busy with endless to-do lists that investing time and effort into ourselves seems to take a back seat to the more pressing issues and daily stressors of a too-busy life.

But people need to make the time. Let me offer a few tips for those who want to invest in a healthier future:

Eat breakfast. Ever wonder why you are barely eating anything for breakfast, but still not losing weight? The reason is that during the mini-fast you experience while sleeping, your metabolism shuts down and does not begin working again until you break your fast with breakfast.

If you skip breakfast, your metabolism will not start working again until whenever it is that you fill your belly with food. You can’t break down fat if your metabolism is not on.

Stay hydrated. Medical Daily reported in 2013 that 75% of Americans may suffer from chronic dehydration. So how much water should you be drinking? Divide your body weight by two and this is the number of ounces of water that you should be drinking per day.

Understand that once the weight comes off, the job’s not over. When I was in my mid-30s, I realized I was overweight and needed to practice more of what I was preaching to patients. After doing a detox to prove to someone that they didn’t work, I was astonished to lose 16 pounds of toxins in nine days and was then further determined to get even healthier.

I began an exercise regimen and shed 50 pounds. I decided that I was never going to put the weight back on. But that’s easier said than done.

I’m now in my mid-40s. As you age, your metabolism slows down and your muscles respond slower to exercise. That means it takes longer to recover after rigorous workouts, and takes longer to get back up to speed after a day or two off from the gym. Unlike anything else in life, this job gets harder as time goes on.

So don’t get frustrated. Some people find that joining a gym or having a trainer helps them stay on task, but if you’ve got the fortitude, you can also hold yourself accountable at home.

I think it’s important that people understand you can’t wait until you get sick and then go to the doctor and expect everything to be all right. By then you will have let things go on too long.

You need to be proactive about your health. That’s something most people probably already know. The question is, why aren’t they acting on it?

Dr. Raj Gupta, who has more than 20 years experience as a chiropractor, is the founder of Soul Focus Wellness Center. He also is author of “Wellness Center Solution: How Physicians Can Transform Their Practices, Their Income and Their Lives.” He has a doctorate in chiropractic from Life University.

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