Prescription For Savings

From low-tech to low-cost, here are some tips that can help keep you healthy


Published:

Many people cheered when, in December, word arrived that the annual rise in America’s health care costs was smaller in 2013 than in any of the last 50 years.

But we still spent almost $3 trillion on health care.

Washington pols, health care workers, and others continue to worry about how to treat all sick Americans without breaking the bank. No wonder: New cancer drugs cost tens of thousands of dollars per patient and the latest imaging machine has a price tag upward of $1 million.

But what if we go to the low-tech end of the spectrum, and look at steps anyone can take right now that don’t cost a penny, or relatively few of them, at least, to improve their health?

Adopting any — or all — of the following 10 “health hacks” may be just what the doctor ordered.

 

Use fresh herbs by the handful

Jo Robinson, author of Eating on the Wild Side, argues that modern farming has left us with produce that’s severely lacking in phytonutrients that can help ward off cancer, heart disease, dementia, and diabetes. Early farmers unwittingly chose plants with the lowest phytonutrient content, based on taste, according to Robinson. “Herbs are wild plants incognito” with their phytonutrients left intact, she writes. 

 

Analyze your recipes

If you’ve ever wondered how many calories and grams of fiber are in a serving of your Italian Nona’s stuffed tomatoes, you can create your own nutrition label for the dish at nutritiondata.self.com. The site requires registration, but once you register for free, you can create and store recipes, complete with nutrient analysis using the USDA’s National Nutrient Database and information from restaurants and food manufacturers. 

 

Fight colds by gargling with water

A Japanese study of 387 healthy adults ages 18-65 showed a connection between gargling with water three times a day and reduced colds and other upper respiratory tract infections (URTIs). People who gargled with water in the study had a lower incidence of URTIs than those who gargled with an antibacterial mixture. Gargling to wash the throat is a common hygienic practice in Japan.

 

Get more from your dental exam

Dr. Douglas Fogel, a Southfield dentist, says dentists doing an exam to check for oral problems can spot signs of diabetes and heart disease, too.“You can see an unhealthy situation and know they need a full exam” by a physician, says Fogel. For example, chronic inflammation and gums that bleed easily may be a sign of diabetes, he says.

 

Sleep in the cold

A study published in 2014 in Diabetes showed that turning down the thermostat or opening a window in your bedroom can stimulate production of brown fat in your body. Five men in the study slept in a 66-degree room for a month in hospital scrubs with just a sheet covering. Increases in their brown fat stores gave them metabolic advantages that could lessen their risk for diabetes.

 

Join a clinical trial

Participants in clinical trials get access to new medicines and treatments not available any other way, and health professionals monitor their condition more closely. Get information about clinical trials at clinicaltrials.gov, a website maintained by the federal government. The site aggregates information on more than 180,000 trials, including about 9,000 available in Michigan, on conditions ranging from acne to Zollinger-Ellison Syndrome. 

 

Check out hospital loss leaders

Both Beaumont and St. John Providence Health System bundle a number of heart and vascular tests that check for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes for less than $100. Beaumont also offers a $300 basic screening in its Cardiovascular Performance Clinic that includes an exam by a cardiologist, an echocardiogram and exercise stress testing with direct measurement of aerobic fitness. Individually, the tests would otherwise costs hundreds to thousands of dollars.

 

Focus on the breath

Dr. Michael Dangovian, a cardiologist at Healthy Heart & Vascular in Sterling Heights, has been helping his patients reverse heart disease and lower blood pressure, cholesterol, stress, inflammation, and anxiety through yoga and meditation for 20 years. “Any time you follow your breath, you’re meditating,” he says. It doesn’t take much time: Just 15 minutes a day, sitting comfortably. If you get distracted, just re-focus. 

 

Ask a pharmacist

Few may know it, but pharmacists will do a comprehensive medications review just for the asking. “Ask when is a good time to do that” though, says Dr. Nancy MacDonald, a pharmacist at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. “Obviously a Saturday morning may not be the best time.” MacDonald advises that anyone who is on a lot of medications, frequently hospitalized, or elderly, or whose medications change frequently, should ask a pharmacist for a review. 

 

Be intense at the gym

If you’re pressed for workout time, check out high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which alternates short bursts of almost-maximum effort with less intense recovery periods. This form of exercise has been shown to improve athletic conditioning, metabolism, and fat burning, according to studies.

Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Meal Prep Services: What to Know Before Committing to the Trend

Plus, tips from a metro Detroit-based dietitian on getting the most out of your meals

This New Technology May Allow Researchers to 'Edit' Our Genes

CRISPR could prune some inherited diseases from the family tree

Power to the Patient

A U-M doc is giving cancer survivors the tools to finally feel healthy again

100,000 Points of Data

Precision Medicine helps find valuable needles amidst haystacks of information

The Common Cure

Cats and dogs get many of the same cancers we do. Could they be the key to unlocking new treatments that help us — and our pets — beat the disease?
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Fisher Building Is a One-Stop Shop for the Alternative Bride
    Plus, bridal looks with vintage flare
  2. 2018 Restaurant of the Year: Parc
    Excellent food, exceptional service, and a crisp and formal but distinctly unstuffy atmosphere...
  3. What’s the Source of the Steam Pouring Out of Detroit’s Sidewalks?
    Environmental groups want to clear the air about the fuel behind a little-known power system
  4. An Hour With ... Angela Aufdemberge
    President and CEO, Vista Maria
  5. Cocktail Recipe: Man on the Moon
  6. Meet the Makers: The Empowerment Plan
    How the non-profit’s coat, sleeping bag project continues to expand
  7. Love at First Sip
    Michiganders dish about their love affairs with local wine
  8. Local Winter Activities Worth Bracing the Cold
    Metro Detroit’s parks are prime for winter adventures
  9. The Charm Is in the Details at Cellar 313
    A charming interior meets well-curated wines at this quaint Grosse Pointe hotspot
  10. Netflix Set to Bring Local Author’s Horror Novel to Life
    Sandra Bullock stars in the film adaptation of Ferndale author/musician Josh Malerman’s...