What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Lifestyle Medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic intervention—including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection—as a primary modality, delivered by clinicians trained and certified in this specialty, to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease. (As defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine)
Lifestyle Medicine can also be defined as, “The application of environmental, behavioural, medical and motivational principles to the management (including self-care and self-management) of lifestyle-related health problems in a clinical and/or public health setting” (Egger et al, 2017).
Another way of describing Lifestyle Medicine is in term of its “6 pillars” (diet/nutrition, physical activity, smoking cessation, alcohol harm reduction, sleep and stress, and of course social connection), but of course there are many more pillars of health, including the numerous societal and environmental drivers which are more challenging to modify and require change at society and political level.
Lifestyle Medicine is the foundation of conventional medicine and bridges the gap between health promotion and clinical practice. The majority of clinical practice guidelines for non-communicable diseases support Lifestyle Medicine as the first line of treatment. Despite this, very little about the practical implementation of Lifestyle Medicine is taught at medical schools. Ideally, Lifestyle Medicine should involve clinicians, public health professionals, healthcare executives, researchers, scientists and educators working together to prevent, manage and treat conditions that result from:
- Unhealthy diet or nutrition
- Physical inactivity
- Inadequate and poor quality sleep
- Chronic stress and anxiety
- Overconsumption of alcohol
- Lack of social connectedness
- And many more societal and environmental influences
Lifestyle Medicine is a scientific discipline and a global movement for a positive change in health, healthcare, society, environment and our future.
LIFESTYLE MEDICINE’S UNIQUE VALUE PROPOSITION
• Allows the body to protect and heal itself by promoting healthful lifestyle choices
• Educates, guides and supports positive behavior changes
• Places a focus on evidence-based optimal nutrition, stress management, sleep and physical activity
• Encourages active patient participation
• Treats the underlying, lifestyle-related causes of disease
• Uses medications as a supplement to therapeutic lifestyle changes
• Considers the patient’s home and community environment