What Is The Goal Of Lifestyle Medicine?

Health is the most important thing a person can have, but in today’s convenience-based world, it can also be one of the easiest things to take for granted. Modern society has the majority of the American population moving less due to sedentary work, eating more processed foods that lead to inflammation and chronic disease, and dealing with unprecedented levels of stress and mental health issues.

Traditional forms of medicine tackle these issues with treatments after the fact. Traditional medicine treats rather than prevents, and often hopes for the best in cases of serious illness. But lifestyle medicine is a different form of health care altogether, and its big goal is to prevent health problems entirely before they come to fruition.

What is lifestyle medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is a form of health care that operates under the umbrella of a few different processes. The first part of lifestyle medicine revolves around diet. The diet of the typical American citizen is full of processed foods that offer little to no nutritional value, and often contains high levels of sugar, carbs, and salt. Lifestyle medicine aims to change this into a wholefood, plant-predominant diet so that the body is being fueled with nothing but what it needs.

Lifestyle medicine also has a heavy focus on regular exercise routines that ensure people are moving as much as they should be. Another big focus area is sleep and stress. Since busy schedules and high-stress lives are commonplace for Americans, lifestyle medicine encourages stress management and restorative sleep as a key component in the way people take care of themselves.

Finally, lifestyle medicine also aims to have people establish positive social connections within their community while avoiding harmful substances.

How does lifestyle medicine differ from traditional medicine?

As mentioned, traditional medicine does not usually take a proactive approach to one’s health. Certain measures that could be considered traditional do act as preventative measures, such as cancer screenings and the encouragement of healthy lifestyle, but they tend to fall on the second tier of health care.

Lifestyle medicine is the complete opposite end of the spectrum. Its entire goal is to create a healthy population not through advancement of medications or other technologies that can help treat disease, but through the elimination, reversal, or prevention of disease altogether. Since many chronic diseases can be prevented, lifestyle medicine aims to arm the population with the knowledge they need to avoid getting sick in the first place.

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Image by EllaOlsson on Unsplash: Eating healthily is one of the six pillars of lifestyle medicine.

What are the pillars of lifestyle medicine?

There are 6 pillars of lifestyle medicine, all of which play a specific role in the prevention of disease and in the attempt to sustain healthy living well into old age. They are:

1. Healthy eating

By choosing a diet that is full of nutrients the body needs to function at its best, a person can avoid certain health conditions that can be brought on by nutritional imbalances.

2. Increased physical activity

Many jobs and lifestyles involve people sitting at their desk or on the couch for long hours. This level of sedentary living is not healthy for any individual. If a person is not exercising adequately, it can lead to many health issues.

3. Strategies to manage stress

Stress can put a huge burden on bodily processes and lead to a wide variety of different health conditions, such as cognitive disfunction and psychiatric disorders. Stress management is a key part of lifestyle medicine because dealing with stress properly can help lower the risk for these conditions.

4. Improvement of sleep

The brain needs to sleep to help the brain process the events of the day and the body repair itself. When a person doesn’t get adequate sleep, it can lead to a decline in overall levels of wellness, including cardiovascular health and immune function. Lifestyle medicine aims to improve sleep to avoid these complications.

5. Avoidance of risky substances

As much as lifestyle medicine is about giving your body what it needs, it is also about avoiding what it doesn’t need. Things such as alcohol and drug use should be avoided to help prevent disease in the future.  

6. Formation of good relationships

People need others to help them get through life, and research has shown that healthy relationships have a direct impact on overall levels of wellness.

When used in conjunction with one another, these six pillars of lifestyle medicine can lead to optimal health and a lowered risk for developing chronic health issues in the future.

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Image by Keegan Houser on Unsplash: Stress management is another pillar of lifestyle medicine that can go a long way when it comes to warding off chronic disease.

What is a lifestyle medicine doctor?

Any medically licensed doctor can practice lifestyle medicine, but that doesn’t mean all of them are properly equipped to do so. A true lifestyle medicine doctor is well versed in the areas of health coaching and nutrition, and takes the time to understand a patient’s personal situation in order to address all the things that may be contributing to the onset of chronic disease.

Studies suggest that five out of the seven major causes of death in the United States can be attributed to lifestyle-related diseases. Lifestyle medicine doctors are there to help lower those statistics through the use of different techniques and coaching practices, as well as collaboration with other health care professionals and their patients.

What are the benefits of lifestyle medicine?

Lifestyle medicine holds many benefits, the most obvious being a better level of overall and optimal health. Taking care of oneself using the six pillars of lifestyle medicine can lead to an increased lifespan and a better quality of life.

Featured image by Simon Maage on Unsplash

What Are Lifestyle Medicines And How Do They Work?

A new era of health care may be upon us, and that means that the old traditional ways of chemical medications and treatments could become secondary acts on the road to optimal health. Healthy eating and lifestyles are on the rise, especially in younger generations, because many Americans have realized that fast food and sedentary living aren’t working in their favor.

Studies have shown that just the simple act of making better choices when it comes to your health can extend life expectancy by as much as 14 years. This fact alone has led to the more widespread adoption of the practices involved in what are called “lifestyle medicines”.

What are lifestyle medicines?

Lifestyle medicines are categorized as ways of living that can dramatically improve one’s overall level of health, adding years to their life and improving their quality of life.

To actively engage in lifestyle medicines, a person has to practice specific habits. They include:

  • Exercising regularly to promote physical and mental fitness.
  • Making good food choices and eating a diet rich in wholefoods, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Reaching and sustaining a healthy body weight.
  • The complete avoidance of smoking.
  • Limiting alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day.
  • Avoiding or limiting overall stress.
  • Getting adequate and regular sleep.
  • Participating in relationships that are good for one’s mental and physical health.

Lifestyle medicines operate under the level of preventive medical care. The above factors should be adhered to at all times to help keep balance within the body, ultimately avoiding unnecessary disease and health issues later in life.

This type of daily routine is also a form of biohacking, which is a hot-button topic when it comes to lifestyle medicines. The concept is designed to give the power back to you when handling and controlling your health. It does so by allowing you to gain the health knowledge you need to essentially “hack” your system via trial and error with nutrition, exercise, and other health regimes.

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Image by Brooke Lark on Unsplash: Eating a well-balanced diet is just one of the keys to maintaining overall health.

How do lifestyle medicines work?

“Lifestyle medicine” may sound like a new-age term, but there is plenty of evidence to support its popularity in recent years. For example, in terms of the diet portion of this type of care, research has found a direct link between what we eat and how likely we are to develop chronic disease later in life. Some studies have even suggested that certain foods can eliminate or cure certain health ailments altogether, especially when it comes to mental health.

Mental health isn’t the only thing affected by lifestyle medicine, though. Weight loss, autoimmune disorders, fitness levels, sexual performance, cardiovascular health, and the onset of new chronic diseases can all be greatly impacted by different levels of healthy living. The process behind lifestyle medicine is simple: if you take care of your body before you become ill, it will take care of you.

Types of lifestyle medicines used today

Different lifestyle therapies can help enhance one’s overall health. For example, nutrition involves the consumption of foods that fuel the body with vitamins and minerals. However, sometimes nutrition is inadequate. This is where supplementation comes in. Many supplements offer to help balance out deficiencies that could lead to chronic disease if left unchecked.

Intravenous therapy is also used to help balance out deficiencies or increase the body’s overall level of hydration. It is used to efficiently get what the body needs directly to the source, as opposed to oral applications that could take longer and have to go through the digestion process, essentially limiting their absorption.

What is peptide therapy?

Peptide therapy is a broad term used to describe the number of therapies involved in different peptide usage. The body creates peptides naturally, and the small chain amino acids have different jobs. Some slow aging, while others can help increase muscle mass.

Research suggests that people undergoing peptide therapy receive supplementation of a lack of natural peptides, thus balancing out hormone levels within the body. The most notable form of peptide used in therapy is insulin.

Does peptide therapy work?

Peptides have been used since the early 1900s as a health remedy, and research has shown that they have the ability to work similarly to natural pathways.

Certain peptides that have been included in the treatment of various diseases include:

  • Insulin to treat diabetes.
  • Adrenocorticotropic hormone for seizure control.
  • Calcitonin to treat osteoporosis.
  • Oxytocin (synthetic) to manage pain.
  • Vasopressin (synthetic) to treat dehydration caused by loss of water through urination.
  • Octreotide (synthetic version of somatostatin) to help treat cancer.
  • Leuprorelin (synthetic version of gonadorelin) to help treat prostate cancer.

These peptide therapies have been known to work in correlation with other forms of treatment in the past, or on their own depending on the condition.

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Image by Jesper Aggergaard on Unsplash: Managing stress is one of the pillars of lifestyle medicine and can be done through massage therapy.

What does the future of lifestyle medicines hold?

Lifestyle medicine continues to evolve as more and more people look to develop healthy habits as opposed to, or in addition to, receiving better treatment. Research has been hyper-focused on identifying different disease markers and risks that could be associated with the onset of new and chronic conditions.

Specific areas of study and interest in the future of lifestyle medicines include:

  • Diet.
  • Physical activity levels.
  • Behaviors.
  • Body weight.
  • Adhering to treatment plans.
  • Stress management.
  • Coping mechanisms.
  • Mind-body correlation and exercises.
  • Substance abuse (including tobacco).

Along with medical advancement and new knowledge in the area, lifestyle medicine could eventually become a cornerstone in health care. With over 63% of world deaths being attributed to avoidable diseases, the time for lifestyle medicines is now.

Featured image by Omid Armin on Unsplash