Lifestyle and culture inform our daily decisions, which in turn affect our daily lives and the paths our lives take. This effect is rarely more evident than with our health. The decisions we make as parents inform our children’s decisions, and the decisions we make as adolescents impact our lives as adults. Each stage, in turn, impacts our long-term health. Although it is often stated that making healthy lifestyle choices prevents many, if not most, chronic conditions; that is not all our lifestyle can do. It can actually treat and even reverse many chronic conditions.
Lifestyle Medicine uses lifestyle interventions as the main way to treat chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. The specialty applies evidence-based lifestyle change to treat the entire person. These lifestyle changes are actually the first line of treatment for most chronic conditions though it may not seem that way. The concepts are simple to understand but not exactly easy to apply in the fast-paced life we live.
However, the six areas of focus in Lifestyle Medicine can be used to control and reverse high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and high cholesterol, not just prevent them. These areas: 1) nutrition, 2) exercise, 3) stress, 4) substance abuse, 5) sleep, and 6) relationships address key factors that can also be used to treat our depression, help us stop smoking, and are an important part of cancer survivorship.
It is important for us to realize that we are the most important part of our treatment plan. When we become invested in our own care, things like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease can be reversed, illnesses like depression can be managed, and even the burden of medications can be eased. Our daily decisions and lifestyle choices across our lifespan have the biggest impact on our chronic conditions. This is an empowering realization.
Brian Shelmadine, DO, PhD, CSCS, CAWSM
To schedule an appointment with Dr. Shelmadine, call 308-762-7244.