A Return on Your Investment any Wall Street Titan Would Envy
- Concepts from the worlds of business and finance are just as applicable to health and medicine.
- In finance, the concept of return on investment can be used to help focus our time and energy on specific health goals.
- When discussing business or investment strategies, I always like starting with the end. What’s the goal you’re trying to reach?
- If your goal is to reduce your chance of dying by more than 40%, you’ll want to know what investment you’ll need to make to achieve that.
by Dr. John Neustadt
While I’m a doctor by training, I’m an entrepreneur at heart. I founded several successful companies, including my medical practice and NBI. And I’ve helped my wife, Romi, build her own successful businesses and publish her award-winning, Amazon bestseller, Get Over Your Damn Self: The No-BS Blueprint for Building a Life-Changing Business.
Over the years of growing our companies, helping people heal from disease, working to improve my own health and that of my family and digging into the medical research for my articles, books and talks, I realized something. Many concepts from the worlds of business and finance are just as applicable to health and medicine.
In a world of finite resources, where you invest your time, energy and money today determines your future prosperity. That applies to prosperity in all areas of your life, including prospering in your career, your personal relationships, your finances and your health.
Return on Investment and Your Risk
In the finance and business world people talk about return on investment (ROI). It’s a performance measure that allows you to evaluate the efficiency of an investment.
ROI is the amount you receive back after making an investment. A 10% ROI means that if you invested $100, you’ll get $110 back. Conversely, negative ROI means you’re losing money. If you invest $100 and your ROI is -10%, you’ll get back $90. That’s a bad investment. Knowing the ROI can help you evaluate opportunities and decide where you should put your valuable money, time and energy.
If any investor came to me and told me that they could get me a 20-40% or greater ROI with little to no risk I would be incredibly skeptical. But in the world of integrative health, it’s not unusual.
You simply have to look at what the research says and not get caught up in the hype that too often surrounds information on the internet and social media. Just like investing, if there’s a lot of hype and flash around something, be skeptical.
With health, your ROI isn’t more money, it’s greater vitality, being out of pain, enjoying your life, family and friends and feeling amazing. Once you’re feeling better, you’re always free to take that improved energy and create greater financial wealth, but improving your health comes with its own intrinsic rewards.
So let’s see what the research shows how you can get a great ROI from your health investments.
40% Reduced Chance of Dying
Let’s start with the big one. If your goal is to reduce your chance of dying by more than 40%, you’ll want to know what investment you’ll need to make. Since being alive has immeasurable value, especially if you’re healthy, vibrant and able to enjoy your life, who wouldn’t want this? The time, energy and money you invest will thus give you a 40% ROI, although the argument could easily be made that the ROI on extending your life is infinite.
A 2019 article in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine looked at medical records of nearly 38,000 men and women and whether exercise had a benefit on all-cause mortality. All-cause mortality means they evaluated how people died and whether or not there was an association between exercise and someone’s risk of dying from any cause.
They concluded that replacing thirty minutes of sitting with thirty minutes per day of light physical activity was associated with a 14% reduced risk of dying. In the American Cancer Society survey they used for this study, light physical activity was defined as yoga, stretching, toning or other similar activities. If you can easily carry on a conversation without being winded, it’s probably light physical activity.
In the business world, a 14% ROI, especially when it only takes thirty minutes of someone’s time per day is unheard of. It would be considered a no-brainer investment.
But it gets better. When people get their heart rate up and push themselves a little more, replacing thirty minutes per day of sitting with thirty minutes a day of “moderate to vigorous physical activity”, the risk of dying goes down by 45%.
In their survey, moderate to vigorous physical activity included jogging, lap swimming, tennis or racquetball, bicycling, aerobics, mowing and dancing. If you try talking with someone while exercising and find it difficult or impossible because you get winded you’re doing moderate to vigorous physical activity.
This wasn’t the first study to look at the dangers of sitting and the benefits of exercise. A 2014 review of studies reported that being sedentary for more than 8 hours a day increases the risk of all-cause mortality, and the longer you’re sitting around the greater your risk of dying. One study found that women who sat for 11 or more hours a day had a 52% higher risk of death than women who sat for less than 8 hours per day. A 2015 meta-analysis found that not exercising at all increases your risk of dying from heart disease and cancer by nearly 20%.
Is decreasing your risk of dying by 45% worth swapping out thirty minutes of sitting with thirty minutes of exercise? It is for me.
The great news is that you don’t necessarily have to exercise thirty minutes all at once. The researchers looked at the total amount of time per day, so you can consider breaking up your exercise throughout the day if that works better for you. For tips on how to do this, read my blog, 5 Simple Ways to Work Exercise into Your Life.
21% to 80% Improvement in Osteoporosis Risk
Osteoporosis is a global health epidemic. Globally more than 200 million people struggle with bone loss and 44 million of these are in the United States. If you have osteoporosis and fracture a hip you have a 20% chance of dying in the first year. And if you happen to survive, there’s a 20% chance that you’ll need long term care and may struggle with chronic pain and disability.
What can you do to reverse your risk of osteoporosis and fractures? While exercise can help, diet is important. And the health ROI for making some dietary changes could save you tens of thousands of dollars or more in medical bills down the road.
A 2017 study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that following the Mediterranean Diet increases bone mineral density and reduces the risk of osteoporotic hip fractures by as much as 21%. That’s a 21% health ROI just for eating right.
This dietary pattern may also reduce the risk of Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease by 13%. Studies even show that the Mediterranean Diet protects against death from chronic disease: it reduces deaths from heart disease by 9%, reduces deaths from cancer by 6%, and reduces overall mortality by 9%.
Dietary supplements have also been shown to grow stronger bones and reduce fractures. Research on calcium and vitamin D show that they can reduce fractures about 20%.
Another important nutrient is a form of vitamin K2 called MK4. MK4 has been studied in more than 26 clinical trials with more than 7,000 volunteers. A review of studies published in the Archives of Internal Medicine concluded that MK4 (45 mg/day) may reduce fractures more than 80%.
There are other things besides diet and dietary supplements that can naturally help grow stronger bones and reduce fracture risk. For more tips, read my blog, 6 Steps to Reduce Fracture Risk.
What are Your Investment Goals?
When discussing business or investment strategies, I always like starting with the end. What’s the goal you’re trying to reach? While it’s common for folks to think this way about retirement savings or building a business, most people don’t clearly define their health goals.
What are your health goals? Answer this question in as much detail as possible.
Once you have your health goal clearly defined, ask the second question. What are you willing to do to get there?
If reaching your goal means eating differently, changing your priorities to work exercise into your day or taking dietary supplements, are you willing to do that?
The choices you make today determine the quality of your life later. You’re investing in your health every day anyway with the diet, lifestyle and exercise choices you’re making, so you might as well be making great investments that will pay off.
Are you willing every day to invest in yourself? I hope so. You’re worth it and you deserve it.
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Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. Vitamin K and the Prevention of Fractures: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials. Arch Intern Med. 2006;166(12):1256-1261. [Article]
Esposito K, Maiorino MI, Bellastella G, Chiodini P, Panagiotakos D, Giugliano D. A journey into a Mediterranean diet and type 2 diabetes: a systematic review with meta-analyses. BMJ Open. 2015;5(8):e008222. [Article]
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Kerver JM, Yang EJ, Bianchi L, Song WO. Dietary patterns associated with risk factors for cardiovascular disease in healthy US adults. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003;78(6):1103-1110. [Article]
Malmir H, Saneei P, Larijani B, Esmaillzadeh A. Adherence to Mediterranean diet in relation to bone mineral density and risk of fracture: a systematic review and meta-analysis of observational studies. Eur J Nutr. 2017. [Article]
Ozturk I, Toker S, Erturer E, Aksoy B, Seckin F. Analysis of risk factors affecting mortality in elderly patients (aged over 65 years) operated on for hip fractures. Acta Orthop Traumatol Turc. 2008;42(1):16-21. [Article]
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