News : This is what lifestyle medicine teaches us: make its keys your mantra
We are not very aware, in general, of the true implications that our lifestyle has on health. We are not talking only on a personal level, but about public health: treatment is much more expensive than disease prevention.
As you remember the article Lifestyle Medicine: The Importance of Considering All Causes of Disease, published in Elsevier, the lifestyle is one of the major determining factors on the health status of the population in developed countries. And many of the medical consultations in Primary and Specialized Care are derived from diseases related to lifestyle.
What is lifestyle
According to the aforementioned article by Elsevier, whose author is the Doctor of Medicine Ramón Mora-Ripoll, the concept “lifestyle” was used for the first time in 1979. It was done by the writer and futurist Alvin Toffler, who envisioned the ways of living of citizenship in post-industrial society.
What exactly is involved in our lifestyle? Everything. The way we eat, exercise, rest, or work is the most relevant, but how we think, plan, or behave with others also defines our lifestyle. Even how we play or drive a vehicle.
Our individual lifestyles shape patterns that influence fundamental biological mechanisms. And this, in turn, can lead to health or disease.
What is lifestyle medicine
The conscious and the unconscious intervene in the choice of lifestyles. We are traversed by our education, by the information we have, and by our own context when making decisions.
Lifestyle medicine is a clinical discipline that it is based on evidence and intervenes in those lifestyles that affect health and quality of life. It encompasses medical, environmental, motivational and behavioral principles, as Mora-Ripoll recalls, citing a study published in Altern Ther Health Med.
This discipline deals with prevent to reduce risks, but it also offers a concrete therapeutic approach. It is often less expensive and more effective than standard drug- and surgical-based treatments, according to Mora-Ripoll.
Despite this, not intended to be a substitute, but a complement. Unfortunately, it is neither lucrative nor does it capture enough interest from public or private systems to be financed. Its application is therefore limited.
Causes of the disease
The current prevailing approach focuses on risk factors and biomarkers, but lifestyle medicine takes into account other levels of causality. Therefore, when establishing therapies, preventive actions at the public and individual levels are combined, as well as private patient care.
According to Lifestyle Medicine, source of the Elsevier article we mentioned, the causes of chronic diseases occur in a hierarchy, then the elements are related to each other. We see it:
- Distal causes. Industrialization, current lifestyles, and economic growth make up this category.
- Medial causes. Psychological factors, stress, anxiety, depression, good humor, laughter, optimism, work, leisure, social pressure and technological change are medial causes.
- Proximal causes. In this category, diet, smoking, sendentarism, alcohol and drug consumption or owner hours, but also exposure to the sun, pollution or unsafe sex are cited.
This is how we get to risk factor’s. The previous causes converge in this category, where we find markers such as hypertension, glucose intolerance, hyperuricemia and other health problems.
And so, in the hierarchy that we mentioned, we arrive at the disease: cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, anxiety, respiratory diseases, chronic pain, sexually transmitted diseases, osteoporosis and others.
The aforementioned studies present all of the above as a chain in which lifestyles are directly cited in the first link. But these, in addition, intervene in other categories of causes that, finally, will increase risk factors and contribute to the development of diseases.
General health recommendations
As institutions like Lifestyle Medicine recall, in addition to the articles and studies mentioned, there are ways to take control over individual health. What we do will not only have an impact on ourselves, as we coexist in society.
1. Take care of your diet
The key is choosing whole, plant-based foods that are high in fiber. We are talking about fruits, vegetables, legumes, cereals, fruits and seeds, which should be at the base of our diet. Specifically, the ideal is to consume two servings a day of fruits and three of vegetables.
The fish, especially blue fish, is recommended a couple of times a week. Regarding the meats, they must be lean and you can look for vegetable alternatives, in addition to skimmed dairy.
The healthiest drink we can drink is water, and it is recommended to consume 1.5 l a day also counting the infusions. Drinks and foods with added sugars and saturated fats should be limited to very occasional consumption, and represent 10% or less of our diet. Salt, meanwhile, should be limited to less than five grams per day.
2. Do physical exercise
Physical activity must be implemented regularly and constantly. Do not think only about the gym, because walks or gardening tasks take us out of a sedentary lifestyle effectively. Realistically, yes, do exercise a minimum of five days per week moderately vigorously it will always be better for our health.
In the case of being overweight or obese, you will have to reduce your caloric intake by up to 500 calories a day, and gradually increase your activity until you are able to exercise for one hour a day.
3. Take care of sleep
Not getting enough sleep or having poor quality sleep can significantly decrease our ability to recover from illness. Lifestyle medicine deals with identifying the behaviors that influence the quality of our sleep, with the aim of improving it.
Adults and the elderly should sleep between seven and nine hours a day. Although there is a popular current of thought that expands the belief that sleeping so many hours is wasting time, nothing could be further from the truth. Rest is necessary to preserve health and therefore to remain effective.
4. Ditch toxic habits
What is most often cited is tobacco and alcohol. The former must be discarded completely as a matter of urgency, and the latter should be reduced to two standard units per day for men and one standard unit per day for women. A standard unit corresponds to 10 grams of pure alcohol.
It is shown that tobacco use increases cancer risk, heart disease and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). If you have trouble quitting, ask your doctor, who can give you useful information.
5. Take care of interpersonal relationships
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine recalls that feeling socially connected is essential for our overall health, but especially for our emotional resilience.
In fact, he cites studies showing that isolation and loneliness are associated with higher mortality and morbidity, especially in people who have already been diagnosed with conditions related to lifestyle.
6. Watch out for stress
In its fair measure, stress can incite us to productivity. But in excess it can lead to depression, anxiety, obesity or immune dysfunction, among other problems. Lifestyle medicine also helps us manage it effectively, and to increase emotional and mental well-being it is always helpful to present a positive and optimistic attitude, as well as to practice good humor and laughter.
In short, although there are other factors involved, many of the causes that lead to the development of a chronic disease are related to our lifestyles. It is important to become aware of the importance of our decisions, and not only because of the implications they have on our individual health, but because of their extension to public health.
The news This is what lifestyle medicine teaches us: make your keys your mantra originally appears on La Bolsa del Corredor.