So what is Lifestyle Medicine?

Picture Credit: American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM)

I’m conscious I have used this term in a lot of my posts, so I thought it’s only right I explain what exactly this means.

Lifestyle Medicine has a number of definitions, but I like simple and have taken this from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) and they state:

“Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and even reversing diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviours with positive ones”

The key areas or behaviours considered in Lifestyle Medicine are:

Healthy eating: Food is Medicine!  A healthy diet consists predominantly of whole, plant-based foods that are rich in fibre and nutrient dense. So mainly vegetables, fruit (in moderation), beans, lentils, whole grains, nuts and seeds.  Proteins like meat, chicken and fish are considered a side dish.  A ratio to bear in mind on your plate is 3: 1 – ¾ portion vegetables/beans/nuts/seeds/wholegrains and ¼ portion of protein

Physical activity:  Choose activities you enjoy so you can sustain your regimes and then engage in regular and consistent physical activity on a daily basis examples are – walking, gardening, push ups, lunges, Pilates, yoga, HIIT workouts, metabolic workouts, skipping 

Stress Management:  Stress can lead to anxiety, depression, obesity, immune dysfunction and more.   It’s important to recognise your negative stress responses, then identify coping mechanisms and reduction techniques which lead to your improved wellbeing

Avoid risky substance use:  There are exhaustive data in the literature which show that addictive substance use can increase risk for many cancers and heart disease. Some of the positive behaviours to practice that improve health include to stop smoking and limiting the amount of alcohol consumed. 

Adequate Sleep: Lack of, or poor-quality sleep can lead to a strained immune system amongst other things. It’s helpful to Identify factors in your daily life that can help you improve your sleep health. It could be food, the environment, where you sleep and strategies to help you sleep better e.g. breathing/stretching, meditation

Relationships: Studies show that isolation is associated with increased mortality.   Social connection is essential to emotional resilience and wellbeing.  Consider your relationships and support network, evaluate your relationships and avoid any that are toxic.  Aim for mutually stable, loving and supportive relationships that foster health and wellbeing. This requires you to intentionally in invest in them also

I’ll be touching more on each of the individual areas I’ve mentioned in further blogs to share practical examples of what we can do to adopt positive behaviours to help our overall health and wellbeing

Personally, the areas I am focusing on are my diet, making the necessary adjustments in what I eat and shifting more towards a plant-based diet, I still eat proteins but tipping the balance more in favour of plants/grains, nuts etc. I am also trying to eliminate a lot of dairy products, which is a great ask for me actually as I love greek yoghurt and cheese.

I also struggle with consistent exercise, so I have set myself a daily plan which seems to get me doing something small every day.  I rotate daily between walking, skipping, Pilates, and a metabolic workout, for me the rotation keeps it interesting otherwise I’d get bored.    I’ll share more of what I am doing as we go along

To summarise “….Being mindful of your food choices, managing your stress, being physically active, avoiding risky substance use, getting plenty of sleep and having a strong emotional support system in your life — are “just what the doctor ordered”   to powerfully prevent, treat, and, often, even reverse chronic disease and select autoimmune conditions” ACLM

Lifestyle Medicine gets to the root cause of disease and puts you at the centre, it’s all about you and your choices but is a powerful approach to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease and select autoimmune conditions.   It allows the body to protect and heal itself by promoting heathy lifestyle choices

So there you have it, if you have a chronic disease or a health concern or just want to live in better health and wellbeing I’d encourage you to consider which of the areas I’ve mentioned above you could work on to help support what you are doing already to maintain strong health and wellbeing

There has never been a more crucial time to evaluate where you are and make some life changing choices.  Are you going to CHOOSE health and wellbeing and so choose to change in certain areas?

If you need any help or have any further thoughts, I’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment or get in touch via our social media channels

Love Bukky x

“The time for your healthy lifestyle is NOW”

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