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The health service belongs to us

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Did you know that we spend nearly 10% of our income on health care? 30% of our health spend comes directly out of our own pockets on private consultations, tests etc and the rest comes from government funding. But there are also hidden costs such as travel to clinics and hospitals, lost income from days off work for appointments, and also sick days.

 We’re paying twice

Every year the cost of health care increases (currently in Australia it’s about $45 billion per year), which is why the government is looking at ways to fund it, such as the 7 dollar co-payment debacle. The cost of health care hits us 2 ways, once in our pocket with our own expenses but also in our taxes. So while a completely free health care system sounds like a great idea but we don’t want to be paying 50 cents in the dollar to the ATO to cover it.

I’ve travelled widely and worked in many countries and I can tell you that Australia has one of the best health services in the world. It has the right combination of free and private health services which means our system is sustainable and we have access to a wide variety of health practitioners (and that includes integrative health practitioners) so we have free choice. I know everyone grumbles about waiting times, but amazing things happen every day in hospitals and clinics around the country. Lives are saved around the clock in emergency rooms, intensive care, cancer clinics and surgery. Our GP services are second to none, with a free system for those who need it and affordable care for those who can contribute.

Don’t get sick – that’s the key

However we could do a lot more to keep people healthy and prevent illness. While our life expectancy goes up, our level of disability from chronic illness is sky-rocketing. Obesity levels continue to rise (with diabetes and heart disease) and our psychological distress is at an all-time high particularly in young adults and adolescents.

So how can we reduce health care costs? Well the easiest way is to make sure we and our families are as healthy as we can be. For example, eating healthy means our body functions better, our immune system is better able to fight off colds and flu and we spend less time in doctors’ waiting rooms.

There are many ways to eat healthy but patients complain that there is too much confusing information and from too many unreliable sources. So what do people do when they are confused? Nothing – it’s all too hard. And that’s where I come in.

A source of reliable information from a qualified practitioner

In this blog, I want to provide you with a great source of health information, from someone who is well qualified and has integrity. As a nutritional GP and academic with over 30 years’ experience, I am absolutely convinced that healthy eating is the key to good health, so I’m going to be giving lots of clear and common sense advice about what’s good to eat and what to avoid. I’m going to put together all this confusing advice that you are bombarded with every day and summarise it down to a few key points that you can easily follow.

I’ve also been a researcher and published over nearly 20 research papers. So I know how to look at research and tell if it’s good and how we should interpret the results. So I’m going to look at new research and articles and then give you sound, down-to-earth advice about food and health.

Eat the best to be your best

I’m also going to run investigations into how processed food is produced and what’s in it. We need to know all about how our food is grown and manufactured so we can make informed choices about what to eat and what to feed our families. It doesn’t matter whether you’re into clean eating, paleo or vegan, there will be great information for all of you that you probably won’t be getting anywhere else. I’m into eating fresh, organic wholefoods and increasing the variety of foods we eat to get all the nutrients we need. But I know we are all busy and pushed for time. So with that in mind I’ll put together recipes, meal plans and advice that’s quick and easy.

So if we all eat well and keep healthy, we’ll be saving the health service and ourselves a heap of cash. And that’s good for everyone. Our health service needs to be cherished and protected by all of us, for all of us.

I hope you enjoy my blog and I’m really looking forward to helping you and your family be as healthy as you can be…

Talk soon

Dr Shirley

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