What is Lifestyle Medicine?
Lifestyle medicine is a form of medicine that deals with the research, prevention, and treatment of health conditions that are caused by one’s lifestyle. Such factors include nutrition, a lack of activity, or stress issues. Lifestyle medicine mostly involves educating patients to change their possibly dangerous habits or behaviors, as well as motivating them to take control of their health. Many lifestyle medicine practitioners will help patients adopt a whole healthy diet, start an exercise routine, get more sleep, reduce stress, and avoid addictive or damaging substances. A poor diet, lack of activity, stress, and drug use all contribute to chronic disease. Lifestyle medicine is used to fight chronic diseases.
How Lifestyle Medicine Helps Patients
LM physicians will focus on treating patients with intervention and education. Pretty much any physician can be a lifestyle medicine practitioner– it simply involves having an open dialogue with one’s patient about their lifestyle. Essentially, lifestyle medicine adds an element of counseling into typical physical healthcare.
Many lifestyle medicine practitioners will utilize group counseling sessions. These sessions can help patients tackle the root cause of their lifestyle habit while also providing community support, a lack of which is another cause of lifestyle-related health conditions.
Lifestyle medicine has its own issues, unfortunately. Many doctors don’t implement lifestyle counseling into their appointments because they take up too much time and are difficult to reimburse. Just as well, the Affordable Care Act details that patients can receive lifestyle counseling from their doctor without the need for a copay as one of several preventative care benefits. Unfortunately, insurance companies will often still charge for this.
Lifestyle Medicine and the Future of Digital Health
This type of medicine is becoming quite popular and it certainly makes sense why. Many patients simply need a push or some encouragement when it comes to fixing their health problems. Unfortunately, many physicians avoid talking about such things, as patients may not be receptive or the physician is not particularly well-prepared or well-versed is a specific lifestyle issue.
However, lifestyle medicine is starting to pick up traction. When paired with digital health, a pretty clear image is painted. These two concepts could be the future of medicine, especially since today’s patients are more interested in controlling their own health than ever before.
Items like Apple watches and Fitbits are becoming more popular among the average consumer, and they are definitely tools of lifestyle medicine. With these products, one can track their sleep, manage their water intake, and keep an eye on their heart rate, among other things. Genealogy services are also becoming more and more popular, as they can help patients identify genetic health conditions that they can work with their doctor to prevent. Unfortunately, not everyone can access these products and many don’t even know their value. Some people wouldn’t even be open to using such technology.
The best way for patients to get access to valuable health technology is through lifestyle medicine. Doctors could do incredible good by being proactive in talking about lifestyle changes and digital tools for taking control of one’s health. In fact, lifestyle medicine practitioners could very well set the pace for telehealth or digital health adoption on a major scale.
To put it simply, lifestyle medicine is a fantastic sector of medicine that could help a lot of people. In fact, doctors that practice lifestyle medicine have reported a number of intense improvements in type 2 diabetic patients, such as regulating their blood sugar without medication via lifestyle changes like diet and exercise.
The future may see a lot of lifestyle medicine in the future, as different medical colleges and organizations are incorporating lifestyle medicine classes into curriculum. Let’s hope that the future becomes a lot brighter for this specific kind of medicine and that more patients will be able to take control of their lifestyle through open conversations and education from their doctors.