There is a growing movement in the medical and health industry right now. Well, this movement is based on the thinking that a “prevention-based lifestyle medicine” is the “primary approach to the management of chronic conditions and, more importantly, their prevention.

Let’s break down that concept.

The Arguments for a Prevention-based Lifestyle Medicine Approach

There is an epidemic of immense proportions right now. Hence, that epidemic is the onset of chronic diseases that could have been avoided if not for poor lifestyle choices. Lifestyle-related diseases like obesity and diabetes are the leading causes of mortality now in the Western world.

Cardiovascular diseases and Cancer have become the top 2 disease killers, accounting for 50% of the deaths in the U.S. now. Besides, these 2 diseases could have been avoided if the populations have been adequately informed that they are based on “poor lifestyle choices”. Hence, those poor lifestyle choices could have been avoided if there was adequate information. On how this epidemic of chronic diseases can be averted.

Well, it is through right diet, moderate exercise and emotional resilience.

The statistics speak for themselves. In 1900, the leading cause of death in the U.S. was infectious diseases (about 53% of total cause of death according to the Center for Disease Control). By 2010, the leading cause of death was Heart Disease/ Cardiovascular Disease or CVD (33%) and Cancer (32%). The sudden shift in causes was attributed to, as we said earlier, “poor lifestyle choices”.

Likewise, Diabetes and Obesity are inflammatory conditions that contribute to CVD and cancer. But, these diseases don’t have to develop if we practice lifestyle medicine.

The 4 Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

If we follow Lifestyle-based medicine, we can extend our patients’ lives and give them a better quality of life. Which, does not dependent on treatments that bring pain, suffering and false hopes for them. Well, here are the 4 pillars of lifestyle are based on –

  1. Healthy eating
  2. Active living
  3. Healthy Weight
  4. Emotional Resilience

Let’s discuss more about “healthy eating”.

A great part of our formula for total health in modern times is to eat healthy. Thus, to eat healthy, one has to eat whole, plant-based foods.

So, the foundation of total health can be affected by the adoption of whole, plant-based foods. In fact, a whole plant-based foods means the consumption of nutrient-dense foods and minimizes the intake of animal-based products like dairy and processed foods that have added sugar, oil and salt.

Moreover, eating whole, plant-based foods leads to an anti-inflammatory diet – a great deterrent to developing inflammatory diseases like obesity and diabetes. A whole-foods, plant-based diet also recommends increased consumption of leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, legumes (except soybeans), and whole grains (except white or brown rice) as part of your staple foods.

Now, healthy eating is related to a healthy weight. Thus, to determine what is a “healthy weight”, then that’s the weight that you are most comfortable carrying.  In other words, it is a diet made of whole foods, plant-based and organic.

Active Living

A cornerstone of Lifestyle Medicine is to combine a healthy diet with moderate exercise. A prospective study of 23,000 participants were given and evaluated on 4 simple recommendations: 30 minutes, 5 times a week of exercise; no tobacco, maintains a BMI of less than 30 kg/m2, and eating a healthy diet as recommended above. It is an example of a moderate kind of activity that falls under this lifestyle approach.

Well. what do you think happened? Participants who followed the 4 recommendations developed an overall 78% reduced risk of developing a chronic condition after an 8-year period. Moreover, participants who followed the 4 recommendations had a 93% reduced risk of diabetes; a 36% reduced risk of developing cancer, and an 81% reduced risk of developing a heart attack.

Therefore, lifestyle is the determinant of good health. Thus, a poor lifestyle leads to poor health; a good lifestyle conclusively leads to good health.

Do you agree with the concepts we outlined above? Share your feedback in the comments below!

Read on to our Part II:  How to Develop Emotional Resilience as a Cornerstone of Lifestyle Medicine!

Sources of info:  Bodai BI, Nakata TE, Wong WT, et al. Lifestyle medicine: A brief review of its dramatic impact on health and survival. Perm J 2018;22:17-025. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7812/TPP/17-025.

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