In the world trending with chronic diseases, lifestyle medicines are truly a savior.
A change in lifestyle is evidently a key to managing health problems and also, a preventive measure against ailments. Be it diabetes or blood pressure, coronary heart disease, or weight management, lifestyle medicines have proven their efficacy in preventing, managing, and reversing these chronic lifestyle disorders.
Lifestyle medicine has become an integral part of preventive care and self-care routines in the past decade. With a rise in the incidences of behavioral and lifestyle disorders caused by faulty nutrition, physical inactivity, chronic stress, and alcohol abuse, the need for preventive lifestyle medicine became evident.
The working mechanism of lifestyle medicine is very simple. Several studies have proved that the body has a self-healing mechanism that triggers when the factors causing the disease are controlled. For example, stress-related disorders are caused by the hormone cortisol, so managing this hormone either by lowering stress naturally or through lifestyle medicine can help in preventing and managing these stress-related disorders.
Understanding Lifestyle Medicine
Lifestyle medicines are therapeutic approaches that aim to improve your overall health and prevent lifestyle-related disease and death. Most of the chronic diseases today, ranging from diabetes to cancer to the number one reason of global death, coronary heart disease, are preventable.
Experts believe that using lifestyle medicines that include evidence-based therapeutic approaches such as whole foods, balanced diets, physical activities, sleep routines, and stress management can help in preventing a wide range of lifestyle disorders.
Lifestyle medicines for cardiovascular diseases
Experts now believe that the main preventive measure for CVD is a healthy lifestyle. Studies show that activities such as 30 minutes of exercise, restraining from smoking and consumption of alcohol, and having a balanced nutritive diet can reduce the risk of CVD by 80% in both men and women.
It is a known fact that obesity poses a vital risk for CVD. In order to manage obesity healthy lifestyle changes such as indulging in physical activity and a healthy diet are game-changers. Maintaining a healthy BMI can help in lowering the risk factors of CVD as well as work as a preventive measure. Several studies recommend moderate to high-intensity physical activity to manage the risk factors of CVD.
Another crucial factor in managing CVD is a good and balanced diet. According to several studies, the main agenda of a balanced calorie diet is to consume vegetables and fruits daily; oily fish at least twice a week; limit the overall intake of fat; switch to lean meat over red meat, and opt for skimmed milk option or plant-based milk. These dietary modifications can significantly, lower the risk of CVD.
Lifestyle medicine also has a strict restraint on smoking and the use of tobacco products. Evidence shows the fatal effect of smoking and other tobacco products on patients with CVD. The adverse effects include stroke and even heart attacks.
There is evidence that quitting smoking immediately takes effect on lowering the risk factors of CVD. Therefore, quitting smoking plays a huge role in lifestyle medicine to minimize the risk levels related to CVD.
Lifestyle Medicine in Diabetes
Diabetes is another global epidemic. It is estimated that over 380 million adults either have type1 or type2 diabetes. Studies say that people with pre-diabetes can reduce the incidence of type2 diabetes by 58% with intensive lifestyle changes.
Nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation, psychosocial care, and diabetes self-management can work wonders.
The right dietary choices can help in maintaining a proper nutrient-dense diet while managing the proper Glycemic levels in the body. A proper diabetes diet helps in avoiding food that causes a spike in blood sugar levels while including those that help in supporting insulin production and use in the body.
Furthermore, obesity, smoking, stress, and alcohol consumption can increase the risk of diabetes. Therefore, lifestyle medicines have strict corners for intensive exercise and restraining smoking. Health care providers should work with patients to chart out a fitness regime that fits the patient’s requirements, encouraging them in their journey.
Lifestyle Medicine in Obesity
Obesity is a quintessential lifestyle disease that has progressed exponentially. It is also the main culprit behind chronic lifestyle disorders like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and more. Several studies have shown that both nutritional and physical activity are critically important in managing healthy body weight.
Research says that nutrition is an essential treatment for overweight and obesity. There is strong evidence that proper dietary intake improves waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio, fasting blood sugar, better cholesterol management, and regulated blood pressure. A variety of evidence-based diets like the Mediterranean diet or the DASH diet are proven to improve body weight.
Regular physical activity plays an important role in preserving lean body mass. Physical activity helps in improving your metabolism and supports healthy weight loss. Even a simple 30-minute walk every day is proven to be beneficial.
Lifestyle Medicine in Cancer
Several pieces of research have shown that lifestyle medicines can play an important role in the prevention and treatment of cancer. Lifestyle measures also play a crucial role in palliative care. The relationship between obesity and cancer is well-established.
Studies have proved that excess body fatness is the second leading preventable cause of cancer. Researchers say that proper weight management can help in lowering the risk of cancer and improve the survival rate among cancer patients.
In addition to that, lifestyle medicine involves an increase in the consumption of foods that have been shown to decrease cancer risk. Foods like whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and legumes are proven to decrease the risk of cancer. While decreasing the intake of processed meat, red meat, alcoholic beverages, and salt can help in lowering the risk.
Physical activity also plays a key role in decreasing the risk of cancer. Scientific evidence shows that physical inactivity and stress can increase the risk of obesity as well as cancer. Some of the cancers linked to inactivity are colon cancer, breast cancer, and endometrial cancer.
Lifestyle Medicine in Dementia
As the expectancy of life increases, cognitive disorders like dementia see an uprise. Studies show that there is a strong link between brain health and lifestyle medicine. Lifestyle measures to improve cardiovascular health can also have a positive impact on your brain health.
Studies revealed that a variety of dietary habits can aid in decreasing the risk of dementia. Plant-based diets that include grains and cereals, fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, olive oil, and fish as fat sources are proven to benefit brain health.
Lifestyle medicine in anxiety, depression, and stress
Anxiety, depression, and stress are very common problems in the modern world. Lifestyle interventions can play an effective role in managing these conditions. Studies show that engaging in physical activities even for 30 minutes every day can improve your endorphin secretion and combat your stress hormones. Physical activity has also been associated with a decrease in the symptoms of depression.
A wide variety of approaches are identified to manage your stress levels. From relaxation techniques to mind-body therapies, to positive psychology, different techniques can help in combating stress and its ill effects.
Lifestyle medicine is an effective step toward a healthy life. However, one can still fall sick even after practicing a healthy lifestyle with other nutritional and behavioral changes. This is due to the fact, that lifestyle medication works to build up immunity but is not an absolute cure. However, there is numerous scientific evidence of its effectiveness in chronic diseases. Therefore, don’t get discouraged and switch to a healthy lifestyle.
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