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What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based medicine, which helps at personal, interpersonal levels or groups to adopt and maintain healthy lifestyle behaviors and practices to spend healthy and good quality of life. (1). Such behaviors are stress management,  emotional well-being, engagement in positive social relationships, no use of tobacco, balanced diet,  regular physical activity or exercise, or moderate consumption of alcohol (2). This established branch of medicine involves various non-drugs interventions for disease prevention, cure, and better management of lifestyle diseases such as exercise in diabetes mellitus, weight management in obesity, and positive psychology in depression. Lifestyle medicine’s prescriptions are not for drugs, but for changes in thinking, feeling, interacting, making a choice, eating, physical activity/exercise, stress management, sleep, substance reduction, work/occupation balance, and environmental exposure.

Lifestyle medicine approach can help meet and support for the need of change multifaceted dimensions of living course or lifestyle (1). That is, lifestyle medicine can be help in overall well-being (physical, mental, emotional, social and spiritual, occupational, intellectual health) (1), which individuals, families, or groups require for their everyday lives. Such lifestyle medicine can be a cost-effective way to treat and prevent the burden of chronic diseases, in addition to promote health and well-being state in many lifestyle dimensions.

The literature reveals that lifestyle interventions are associated with reducing the risk of chronic diseases; the more lifestyle factors one changes, the better the health outcomes and the wellness quotient one achieves. A holistic approach will add quality of life to the picture of health. An evidence-based lifestyle medicine is a comprehensive approach can be practiced in many health care systems for far more positive health outcomes; also it can offer efficacious care services for patients, whether sick or well, who are a whole being and who need to be well in all living dimensions. 

 

  • Competencies in Lifestyle Medicine
  • Lifestyle Medicine competencies are core to the ability to practice effective LM, as developed by the international societies leading this specialty. The Lifestyle Medicine Core Competency Online Program fills the gap in the education space by providing an evidence-based program that builds a basic foundation for physicians and other health professionals in lifestyle medicine. 

    The reason we need this training is because our current medical school curriculum inadequately provide lifestyle medicine education. Physicians reported their limited confidence, knowledge and skills as a major  obstacle in lifestyle medicine counseling to their patients. (3). And especially, it is evident that effective patient-provider communication and physicians responsibilities in taking care of their patients produces huge impact on positive health outcomes in patients.

    We need physicians to have both the content expertise as well as the knowledge on how to apply the core concepts of lifestyle medicine in their clinical practices to empower the movement and make a substantial difference in the lives of our patients and communities.  

    Please refer to http://www.lifestylemedicine.org/Lifestyle-Medicine-Core-Competencies-Program for further information. 

     

    Why Is Lifestyle Medicine Important?

    Lifestyle medicine matters because it helps one to learn about the healthiest way of living. As per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, Americans’ health status has not changed appreciably over the past two decades. The single most important factor in determining health status is lifestyle choices (3). The quality of medical care affects the health of individuals by 10%, genetics affects by 18%, environment by 19%, but lifestyle choices have more than a 50% impact on the health of an individual. 

    The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC reported that more than 70% of chronic diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, hypertension, and obesity) are generally result of major lifestyle related risk factors such as poor eating habits, lack of exercise and long term stress) (4). For example, stress is one of the main reasons for chronic diseases such as heart diseases, anxiety, depression, and diabetes. Growing evidence in the literature shows that lifestyle factors affect the pathogenesis of chronic diseases as well. Lifestyle factors can even influence human biology at the level of the cells and gene expression. The new  area of epigenetics has developed in the past 25 years to study of how lifestyle — including emotions, beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors as well as the environment in which we live — affects gene expression (5). 

    In recent, this basic science of Epigenetics is recognized in a translational research and applied medical practice that focuses on lifestyle intervention in individuals and community populations (5). Holistic lifestyle medicine approach can more effectively meet the need of intersecting public health and medicine in arresting multitude of modern health problems which have a multidimensional lifestyle-based causes and possibly diminishing the outcomes of health disparity by employing community engagement or participation (6). Lifestyle medicine thus can involve a range of multi-disciplinary health professionals from both medical and non-medical communities, working together as a team to enhance positive health outcomes, reduce health care costs, and patients’ satisfactions for long-term.

    Biomedical therapy does little to prevent chronic diseases. Lifestyle medicine, by contrast, provides simple and efficient solutions for a physician to prevent and treat chronic diseases, in addition to health and wellness promotion (7).

    Lifestyle measures also help to improve quality of life and well-being beyond, physical wellness, including spiritual, emotional, social, and occupational states. Most importantly, lifestyle medicine helps by providing lifestyle related knowledge and support to help people to find the meaning and purpose in their lives; identify strengths, barriers, and resources;, transform relationships; and enhance their living as well as working environments. As for a better health and wellness care service approach, it can reason that the holistic approach to lifestyle medicine is more imperative and cost effective for long run by helping people, sick or well, adopt and practice more dimensional healthy lifestyle components(8). Holistic lifestyle medicine can also more effectively and positively bridge the gap between public health and conventional medicine as we human beings live, learn, experience, love, work, play, grow, and die through multidimensional living courses in various community contexts. 

     

     

    How to do Lifestyle Medicine?

    Lifestyle medicine includes lifestyle interventions for prevention, treatment and management of diseases. Lifestyle medicine incorporates evidence-based practices, which help at all level such as individual, family, and community to adopt and maintain healthy behaviors that affect their level of disease burden and their quality of life (9). These interventions include balanced diet, exercise, stress management, smoking cessation, positive psychology, resiliency, faith or spirituality, meditation, and various other non-drug modalities (10). Lifestyle medicine is the first choice to achieve health and wellness, not only due to its prevention properties, but also due to its effectiveness in treating chronic conditions and diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, metabolic syndrome, and obesity. Lifestyle medicine can be used as a first therapy line (11). The literature shows that treatment and prevention strategies are two to three times more effective when they incorporate lifestyle changes. Lifestyle medicine and its programs help to bridge a gap between health and health care, balance treatment with prevention, and most importantly include both community action and individual responsibility. 

    Lifestyle medicine involves several steps and competencies. It always starts with comprehensive lifestyle assessment (tobacco use, alcohol consumption, diet, physical activity, body mass index, stress level, sleep, and emotional well-being), risk assessment, and patient and family readiness to change modifiable risk factors11. After these assessments, lifestyle medicine professionals offer lifestyle prescriptions that are evidence-based, achievable, specific, realistic, measurable, timely appropriate, and action-oriented. Management includes good and professional relationships with patients and their families to produce effective and sustainable lifestyle behavioral change with adequate evidence-based counseling and coaching techniques. The process also draws on community level resources to support the implementation of healthy lifestyles, which helps reinforce positive decision- making by an individual or family (12,13). Finally, continuous assessment and evaluation helps in making long term lifestyle changes for a salubrious life.

    Our lifestyle medicine-oriented center (Center for Lifestyle Medicine and Wellness Care) offers the latest data and up-to-the-minute findings on multi-dimensional lifestyle components from a whole person approach, as well as best practices for behavioral counseling, demonstration techniques, and guidelines for patient-centered prescription. 

    Our center helps humanity stay healthy and well, and disease-free by providing health care providers education, knowledge, skills, experience through courses, programs, services, resources, and networks related to lifestyle medicine. 

    We are here for your best professional and personal life!!!

    References

    1. Polak, R., Pojednic, R. M., & Phillips, E. M. (2015). Lifestyle Medicine Education. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine9(5), 361-367. doi:10.1177/1559827615580307
    2. Minich, D. M., & Bland, J. S. (2013). Personalized Lifestyle Medicine: Relevance for Nutrition and Lifestyle Recommendations. The Scientific World Journal2013, 1-14. doi:10.1155/2013/129841
    3. Lianov, L. (2010). Physician Competencies for Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine. JAMA304(2), 202. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.903
    4. American College of Lifestyle Medicine - Lifestyle Medicine Core Competencies Program. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.lifestylemedicine.org/Lifestyle-Medicine-Core-Competencies-Program 
    5. Health Policy Brief: The Relative Contribution of Multiple Determinants to Health Outcomes,” Health Affairs, August 21, 2014. 
    6. The Power of Prevention. (2009). Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/chronicdisease/pdf/2009-power-of-prevention.pdf 
    7. Weinhold, B. (2006). Epigenetics: The Science of Change. Environmental Health Perspectives114(3), A160–A167. 
    8. Wells, E. V., Benn, R. K., & Warber, S. L. (2015). Public Health and Preventive Medicine Meet Integrative Health. American Journal of Preventive Medicine49(5), S270-S277. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2015.07.009  
    9. Minich, D. M., & Bland, J. S. (2013). Personalized Lifestyle Medicine: Relevance for Nutrition and Lifestyle Recommendations. The Scientific World Journal2013, 129841. http://doi.org/10.1155/2013/129841 
    10. Søren Ventegodt, Niels Jørgen Andersen, and Joav Merrick, “Holistic Medicine III: The Holistic Process Theory of Healing,” TheScientificWorldJOURNAL, vol. 3, pp. 1138-1146, 2003. doi:10.1100/tsw.2003.100 
    11. Rippe, J. M. (n.d.). Lifestyle Medicine: History and Overview. Encyclopedia of Lifestyle Medicine & Health. doi:10.4135/9781412994149.n201 
    12. Lifestyle Medicine, Second Edition. (2013). doi:10.1201/b13781 
    13. Kottke T, Wilkinson J, Baechler C, Danner C, Erickson K, O’Connor P, Sanford M, Straub R. Institute for Clinical Systems Improvement. Healthy Lifestyles. Updated January 2016.