Your Health and Financial Wealth Are Closely Linked
Posted 10/14/2016 by UHBlog
Poor health can be costly – literally. In fact, according to 2010 research by George Washington University, being obese can cost women almost $5,000 a year and men more than $2,600 annually. The tangible yearly costs of simply being overweight can average close to $500 per year.
“Health and wealth are linked,” says neurologist Tanvir Syed, MD. “The question is about the direction of causality. Does amassing wealth help to make you more healthy, or does more wealth lead to better health? I think it goes both ways. One can play off the other in beneficial ways, or it can be a vicious cycle that can lead to a demise in your health.”
One way that wealth helps to create better health is through stress reduction. Financial problems are one of the leading causes of stress.
“Stress is the one factor that can negatively impact your entire body at once,” Dr. Syed says. “The first thing I do when I am assessing any disease or medical condition is to assess a patient’s stress level.”
One way health helps to create wealth involves staying healthy and prepared for the opportunities that come along in life, Dr. Syed says.
“You don’t know when opportunities to increase your wealth are going to come,” he says. “You don’t know when a promotion will be offered, or when a new business opportunity is coming, so you have to be prepared. When you have good health, you’ll be in a better position to take advantage of opportunities when they come along.”
Poor habits, like smoking, overeating and consuming a bad diet, can impact both your health and wealth, Dr. Syed says.
“People lose a lot of money through addictions like smoking and drinking,” he says, noting that a pack of cigarettes a day can set a smoker back more than $2,000 a year. “Addictions are ticking time bombs that are expensive to maintain and lead to major health issues that are expensive to treat.”
According to Dr. Syed, staying healthy can help to improve your chances of increasing your financial wealth, but he says, money and assets may not be the best way to measure wealth.
“Virgil, who wrote the Aeneid, said that the greatest wealth is health, and Gandhi said health is the real wealth,” he says. “You can measure wealth by the size of your bank account or you can define it by happiness or satisfaction. You can be worth $10 million and be miserable, or you can have little money and be perfectly happy. A recent documentary showed that Japan, with all of its technology, is one of the unhappiest and stressed-out places in the world, while people in the slums of Calcutta were among the happiest people in the world.”
To improve health and wealth, Dr. Syed suggests practicing these three good habits:
- Early to bed and early to rise – and shut down the iPhone and TV when you go to sleep. “Our natural rhythms tell our body that it’s time to shut down at night,” he says. “These technologies stimulate the brain when it’s time for rest. The result is a poor sleep, and you won’t be as rested and alert the next day.
- Give up refined sugar and artificial sweeteners. “Sugar is more addictive to the body than cocaine,” he says. “Until the last century, human bodies had never received these massive doses of sugar that we nowadays consume daily. Our genes aren’t prepared for it and it is causing a lot of problems. It’s best to consume sugar only in its natural forms, like fruit.”
- Stop eating all the time. “Every major religion has some component of fasting, but it’s a concept that has become completely foreign to most people today,” Dr. Syed says. “Our ancestors went hungry 15 hours a day and they did just fine – they were very fit. The idea of daytime fasting at least twice a week, for at least 12 hours, might cause a lot of people to panic, but it is actually beneficial. Every patient I have given this advice to has wanted to hug me after they did it. The first thing you lose is your fat belly. You become mentally sharper and you have more energy, and it actually corrects your diet on the other days because you begin to realize what is good and what is poisonous to put into your body.”
Tanvir Syed, MD is a neurologist at UHMP Neurology at University Hospitals St. John Medical Center. You can request an appointment with Dr. Syed or any doctor online.