Amid the frustration and despair associated with rising premiums, healthcare costs and obesity prevalence, is a trend that is slowly infiltrating the healthcare industry. Although some of the most notable trends (in fitness and nutrition) tend to come and go as quickly as a fastball (World Series, anyone?), this particular trend has an immense amount of staying power based on current scientific research. This immense power has little to do with pharmacological interventions and prescription refills and much more to do with our feet, forks, fingers and minds. This trend, as written in a recent article by the influential and impactful Dr. Dean Ornish, highlights the imperative and pervasive need for lifestyle medicine solutions throughout our healthcare system and everyday lives.
With rising healthcare costs and a despondent perspective on our nation’s health, lifestyle medicine strategies have gained greater traction and attention to assist in reversing such dismal trends. Although this branch of medicine has provided a promising outlet for disease prevention and reversal current day, it can be argued that the birth of lifestyle medicine was first introduced by the Greek physician and Father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates. Most commonly known for his Hippocratic oath, Hippocrates can also be credited with linking disease formation to environmental factors, diet and living habits. Even with the limited scientific research available at that time, the prominence in such findings is the striking similarity of disease causes and outcomes we see today. As such, environmental factors, diet and living habits still continue to play a critical role in the development of such non-communicable diseases plaguing our nation: heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Unfortunately, these non-communicable diseases are not trends or fads. These high-cost, potentially terminal diseases have carved a potent, negative fixture in our culture, one producing unnecessary healthcare expenditures, morbid living, and truncated lifespans. Fortunately, amid the frustration of overmedication and disproportionate quality years of life are the preventable and evidence-based strategies for reversing such non-communicable diseases plaguing our nation. Lifestyle medicine has a time-honored origin that has provided cost-effective and practical strategies for optimal health and well-being. These comprehensive lifestyle medicine strategies have certainly amplified and garnered more interest since the time of Hippocrates but his words still hold true:
“Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food”“Walking is man’s best medicine”
The health-promoting and longevity-optimizing truth about lifestyle medicine is undeniable. Thank you to the tireless efforts of Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, we are equipped with the potent scientific research supporting the beneficial impact lifestyle medicine has on our health, well-being and longevity. From reversing some of the most prevalent chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, and early-stage prostate cancer to lengthening our telomeres, effective and life-saving medicine needs no prescription refill or surgical intervention. Likewise, we need not waste time in seeking what has already been found: a cost-effective, low technological solution for better, healthier and optimal quality living. As such, healthier and more frequent application of our feet, forks, fingers, and minds must start now to positively change the course of our health future and expression of our genes. IT IS JUST THIS-APPLICATION. We must frequently apply our feet, forks, fingers and minds towards health-promoting behaviors, those that add quality years to life and life to years. This frequent application of lifestyle medicine solutions releases the potential power of knowledge we hold to be true about lifestyle medicine.