Did you know that this is Global Lifestyle Medicine Week, May 24-31? Lifestyle Medicine addresses the root causes of disease with evidence-based therapies in lifestyle behaviors such as diet, exercise, sleep, social connectivity and stress, according to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) (https://www.lifestylemedicine.org/). ACLM, the medical professional society for treating, reversing and preventing chronic disease through lifestyle behaviors as a first-treatment option, launched this global event to celebrate healthy behaviors and boost public awareness of the impact our choices can have on chronic disease (https://lmweek.org/). ACLM’s announcement highlights the benefits of evidence-based Lifestyle Medicine therapeutic approaches to treat and reverse chronic disease, to restore and optimize health. In it, Executive Director Susan Benigas states, “What the world really needs now is health restoration,” especially now during this devastating COVID-19 pandemic. As she explains, “Those who are most vulnerable are those with compromised immunity resulting from underlying conditions.” Many of these conditions are chronic diseases that may be related to lifestyle, which can benefit from the approaches of Lifestyle Medicine, as “the foundation of health and all health care,” to reduce and manage chronic diseases, such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity and others. “This emphasizes that the time is now—more than ever before—for Lifestyle Medicine to become the foundation of health and all health care,” Benigas explains. (See ACLM’s announcement at PRWeb.)
Do prevention and management of some key chronic health conditions provide protection against serious impacts of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19? Dr. David L. Katz, a global healthcare influencer, President and Founder of the True Health Initiative, founding director of Yale’s Prevention Research Center, and a past president of ACLM, shares on LinkedIn a convincing New York Times article (read here) and provides illuminating data from the New York City Government that provide strong evidence that addressing and preventing underlying health conditions can mitigate population risk of dangerous outcomes of COVID-19. Dr. Katz explains in an interview on HBO (watch interview here or read summary here) that chronic health conditions like heart disease and type 2 diabetes become acute threats during the COVID-19 pandemic because these conditions exacerbate the risks for those who become infected with the novel coronavirus. He recommends a national health-promotion campaign to encourage people to improve their diets and lifestyle before they become infected.
Availability of vaccines and testing are outside our individual control, but Lifestyle Medicine can help people improve and take charge of their own healthy lifestyles, especially when it is integrated into clinical practices to communicate with patients at home or in the clinic. Leslie Casey of ACLM provides a case study with Spectrum Health that shows how Lifestyle Medicine addresses and helps manage root causes of preventable health issues. The article describes the teams of Lifestyle Medicine practitioners who lead the management of chronic disease and support patients, with and without chronic disease, in developing and sustaining healthy ways of living, which are so important in preventing the infection and mortality rate of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. “Lifestyle Medicine, with focus on coaching and empowering individuals to achieve lasting healthy lifestyle behavior, is very amenable to virtual engagement and offerings. Lifestyle Medicine can provide in-home personalized support and education around getting and staying healthy during a time when our patients and community members need motivation, inspiration and healthy patterns of living more than ever.” (See Leslie Casey’s article on LinkedIn here.)
Wellian, Inc., demonstrates such virtual engagement. Their first @office deployment in actual clinics showed how people and physicians respond well to intelligent, voice-assisted technology to access care with their professional providers (Read article here at True Health Initiative news). People also can improve their healthy behaviors at home with feedback and curated information about their own health and actions that they can take to improve it by interacting with Wellian’s product designed for home use (See demo of Wellian @home here). Wellian’s highly-curated knowledge engine is based on licensed content from the pioneers and world leaders in lifestyle medicine, including Dr. Michael Greger, M.D. at NutritionFacts.org, Dr. Joel Kahn MD, FACC, and Dr. David L. Katz, MD, MPH, FACPM, FACP, FACLM. Wellian has recently performed a very successful pilot of its @home solution in collaboration with NutritionFacts.org.
During the current COVID-19 pandemic, many people have expressed feelings of sadness, isolation, worry, and frustration when spending more time at home and away from usual activities and in-person interactions. Worries may be heightened by the threat of contracting an illness that can have catastrophic consequences, with little protection for its prevention. The situation may launch or reinforce unhealthy patterns and behaviors, including overeating and unhealthy food choices, inadequate exercise, sleep disruption, increased substance use, and disrupted relationships, that result in poor health, weight gain, and additional stress. This week’s focus on Lifestyle Medicine highlights some of the resources available for healthcare providers, patients, and other health-seeking people to learn and instill new habits such as healthful food preparation and physical movement. This could be the ideal time to utilize these available supports to help us not only survive during an extremely difficult situation but to move to healthier paths and lifestyle choices that protect us from illness and its effects.