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Make Health Your Primary Investment

It’s no secret that Americans don’t always make health their number one priority, and when times get tough, people sometimes compromise their own health care. Unfortunately, Americans who make fiscal sacrifices at the expense of their own health might be taking the biggest risks in the long run.

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Many might see health care and prevention as an adjustable expense, allocating    more dollars toward other short-term needs. In fact, results from a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released in late October reveal the economic slump is having a direct influence on health-related spending. Here’s what they found:

  • 30% of Americans said they skipped recommended tests or treatments. In a fifth of these cases, medical conditions got worse.
  • Nearly 20% of U.S. residents had more than $1,000 in medical bills.
  • Thirty-six percent of U.S. residents have delayed medical care in the past year because of cost, representing an increase of seven percentage points in about six months.

The Associated Press reported in late October that many doctor’s offices are seeing marked declines in the number of patient visits and checkups. As the population ages, this figure is expected to increase at a rate of 2 to 4 percent a year. Basically, the older you get, the more health care you need.

While it may seem financially responsible in the short term, cutting corners in health and wellness is risky business. The long-term effects of ignoring symptoms and preventive care could lead to more numerous, or more serious, health problems in the future.

It’s cost effective to invest in prevention. Taking care of underlying problems now, before they become troubling or threatening symptoms, will save from costly procedures and skyrocketing medical costs later in life. Cutting long term health care expenses through prevention can not only save you money, but save your life. And it’s about the cheapest investment you’ll make this year.

With that in mind, here are five cost-effective ways you can save money NOW, while improving your health long-term:

Try yoga or meditation instead of drugs: Fortunately, yoga and meditation are relatively inexpensive health care modalities that can be practiced in the comfort of home. Instructional DVDs, magazines and alternative practitioners can provide yoga training, and meditation techniques are available through several multimedia platforms. You can even go to the library and check out a yoga DVD for free!

Use dietary supplements, and avoid side effects later in life: Before reaching for those antacids or acid blockers, you should know that acid-reducing medications have been shown to block absorption of key nutrients, such as calcium and vitamin B12. Digestive enzymes can relieve symptoms of indigestion and acid reflux without troubling side effects. Also, it’s a good idea to avoid nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs whenever possible, as many have been linked to serious side effects, such as gastrointestinal bleeding and cardiovascular complications.

Try acupuncture or massage, and ditch the painkillers: Acupuncture has gained attention lately for its proven health benefits. Practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine use the technique to aid in pain relief, prevent anxiety and improve overall well being. Massage, another relatively inexpensive therapy, also is used for pain relief and stress reduction. For an even cheaper solution, trade massages with a spouse or a friend to relieve pain and tension.

Enjoy a walk: USA Today reported that a simple walking regimen can lead to significant weight loss. In fact, men and women who added 3,500 steps per day for a year were able to shed 8½ pounds and 5 pounds, respectively. The best thing about walking – it’s free.

Cook at home: It’s likely that as economic conditions have declined, many of you are eating out less and cooking more meals at home. This is fun, cheap, and healthy. Try to incorporate whole and organic ingredients into your cooking and avoid chemical preservatives. Surprisingly, some of the best deals for dinner are at your local farmer’s market.

Focusing on wellness is a healthy distraction from the daily grind as well as economic woes. So kick those bad habits and start thinking about your health in the long term by eating well and getting some stress reducing exercise. This will lead to a long and happy life with fewer medical expenses down the road.

This article originally appeared on the Live Natural Live Well website

Heather Lounsbury

Heather Lounsbury, L.Ac., is a leading healthcare advisor and acupuncturist based in Los Angeles, California, USA. See Heather's website Live Natural Live Well to keep up to date with her work and to follow her natural therapies BLOG. Heather can be CONTACTED for in-person or Skype consultations.

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