What is Lifestyle Medicine?
What is Lifestyle Medicine?
As the global burden of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, and mental health conditions increases ever more, we must start looking at alternative ways to create positive health outcomes and quality of life alongside the conventional allopathic model of healthcare that we are used to. This is where lifestyle medicine comes in.
Lifestyle medicine is a medical approach that uses evidence-based behavioural interventions to prevent, treat and manage chronic disease. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory and musculoskeletal conditions, cancer, and mental health conditions are on the rise. Lifestyle medicine seeks to address these conditions with a person-centred approach to improve the health and wellbeing of individuals by focusing on the six core pillars of health, below, within an individual’s own social context:
Discussions around diet can be highly nuanced. Experts agree that a diet which is varied and based around whole plant-based foods which includes vegetables, fruit, nuts, wholegrains, seeds, and legumes has great benefits for health and should take centre-stage at mealtimes.
With increasingly sedentary lifestyles, never has it been more important to maintain regular daily exercise as part of our daily routine. The benefits for various chronic health conditions have been clearly demonstrated. A combination of activities that involve aerobic activity, strength training, balance and flexibility are important for healthy ageing.
Sleep forms the bedrock on which other the other pillars sit. A poor night’s sleep can lead to poor dietary habits, a decrease in energy levels and stress. In addition, we now know that a poor night’s sleep can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, compromise immune function and gives an increased risk of dementia.
Stress is defined as the human’s response to any change or demand. Though classically there are negative connotations associated with the word, stress can be both positive as well as negative. Recognising the unique way, we each respond to stress triggers is key to identifying our own coping strategies and stress management techniques to improve our overall sense of well-being and health.
We are profoundly social creatures. Social connection to others and a sense of belonging has an influence on our mental health as well as physical health. Studies show the maintaining social ties lower risk for depression and anxiety, increase self-esteem and empathy, and increase overall longevity.
Whilst it is universally well-known excessive consumption of alcohol, smoking and recreational drug use is detrimental, acceptance on the impact of the substance on one’s health is only the start. Adopting positive behavioural changes to overcome the addiction is often challenging and careful consideration needs to be given to an individual’s own unique circumstances.
"A Healthy Lifestyle is the Most Potent Medicine at Your Disposal"
SRAVANI SAHA NAKHRO