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The Sad Truth of American Health in 2023

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

And why you’re part of the solution

By Austin Perlmutter, MD


At the start of 2023 we face an incredible paradox. While America spends over $4 trillion each year on healthcare, our health outcomes are consistently far worse than countries spending far less. The US boasts the worst health outcomes overall compared to other high-income countries, with lower life expectancy and the highest rates of chronic health conditions.

The reasons for this problem are multiple. We don’t prioritize healthy food. We’re very stressed. We don’t sleep well, and we spend most of our waking hours on digital media. Corporate interests are placed above the public. We subsidize junk food. We have unequal and inconsistent access to basic health resources.

How do we address this issue? There are a number variables to consider. Of course we need change at the highest levels, and the recent White House conference focus on nutrition and “food is medicine” work is a hopeful sign. But from my perspective, it’s absolutely invaluable that each of us first becomes a local champion for better health. Here’s what I mean:

The default outcome for adults living in the United States today is development of at least one chronic disease, especially those related to disordered metabolic and immune health (e.g., blood sugar issues, chronic inflammation). We also know that many if not most of us can make substantial changes to improve our health with simple lifestyle steps.

Having heard from so many of my readers, I recognize that many of you are already personally and locally advocating for simple healthy measures like reading nutrition facts, eating more real food, engaging in movement and getting into nature. But here’s the thing: you need to realize that prioritizing wellness makes you an anomaly!

By reading this and other health-themed educational content pieces, you’ve shown you care about learning more. That means you are on a journey to better your health. To this end, I so congratulate your efforts, and want to remind you why it’s the simple things you do that matter so much.

Despite what you see on social media or on the magazine covers, sensational and sexy isn’t good science, nor does it produce quality outcomes. Instead, it’s getting time outside, eating real food, prioritizing sleep, moving your body frequently, putting down your phone and calling a loved one that are most strongly linked to better health. In fact, that’s often what the journey to health looks like! And we need to celebrate ourselves and each other for the simple steps rather than tear each other down in debates over the trivial and sensationalized.

As of my writing this, the community of people interested in ways to get the stuck out of their bodies and brains and pursue lasting and meaningful health has grown to tens of thousands, I so value your being here, and if you think someone you know would enjoy this journey too, I’d greatly appreciate you sharing this article with a friend or family member.

I appreciate you. Until next time,

-Austin Perlmutter MD

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