What is Lifestyle Medicine?
It is an evidence-based approach to preventing, treating and even reversing diseases by replacing unhealthy behaviours with positive ones - such as eating a healthy Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet, being physically active, managing stress, not smoking, reducing alcohol consumption, improving sleep, and having a strong support system. Lifestyle Medicine (LM) is right for you, if you are struggling with chronic diseases, like:
Heart disease, whether it is a heart attack, angina, peripheral vascular disease, or sometimes even heart failure - can be improved through Lifestyle Medicine. Decades ago, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., and their colleagues demonstrated that heart disease could actually be reversed after patients began consuming a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet. If you are concerned about heart disease because you have a family history, it is important to know that genetics does not have to be your destiny. If you have had a serious cardiac event, or even if you have been told that nothing else can be done for you medically or surgically, Lifestyle Medicine is the answer that may well help you to feel better, and help you to BE better.
By making simple changes in the foods you choose to eat, the painful and frustrating symptoms of Rheumatoid Arthritis can be lessened. A Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) approach to eating will often help slow and even stop the progression of joint degeneration. If you do not experience complete improvement with a WFPB diet, then a short trial of an elimination diet may be helpful to determine if other food items such as gluten, citrus fruits, etc. are the culprit as they may cause pain and inflammation in a few individuals. Unfortunately, joint damage due to RA is not normally reversible.
As our society's consumption of animal products, processed foods and oils has skyrocketed, so has our weight. Obesity has reached epidemic proportions, but more importantly, people are suffering because this is a disability that causes discomfort, as well as sometimes pain and suffering. Thankfully, obesity has a solution, and it is called Lifestyle Medicine.
Focusing on a Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) lifestyle, getting better sleep and managing stress, physical activity (if possible), alcohol moderation and tobacco cessation... this non-prescription-based approach is a safe, nurturing, and compassionate way to help you lose weight and reverse obesity once and for all.
Depression and anxiety rates are increasing in Canada. It is important to continue medications and to see your normal care team. However, there is evidence that mood disorders are positively impacted by LM components: Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet, physical activity, sleep, alcohol reduction, and stress management.
Type II Diabetes
Type II Diabetes is a food-borne disease that's not only preventable, it can be entirely reversible! By incorporating Lifestyle Medicine into your treatment plan and adopting a Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) eating, it may take only days or weeks to notice improvements with some complications common to diabetes, including chronic kidney disease and diabetic neuropathy. The good news is you can feel better and improve your health by simply making different choices and making modifications to your lifestyle.
Osteoarthritis is a degenerative joint condition that occurs when the cartilage or cushion between the joint breaks down, leading to joint swelling, stiffness or pain. Although it can be painful, osteoarthritis generally responds well to Lifestyle Medicine interventions, including increased physical activity and choosing to eat a Whole Foods, Plant-Based (WFPB) diet. Foods that are in their most whole form tend to be anti-inflammatory, so they do not cause the inflammation that animal products and oils can.
Whether it is due to migraines, fibromyalgia, musculoskeletal disorders or injuries, chronic pain can be very difficult to manage medically. All LM components are important in the management of chronic pain. Specifically regarding food, there are two primary ways that food can influence pain: by increasing inflammation (pro-inflammatory foods), and by causing arterial narrowing and blockages (due to cholesterol) that affect circulation and therefore healing of injuries (e.g. lower back pain). While there may be situations where pain will not be completely treated, lifestyle medicine can reduce symptoms and ease pain.
Dr. Roy Swank, an American neurologist, discovered decades ago that MS progression could be halted and sometimes, reversed, by following a diet very low in saturated fat. The results of his research are astonishing, even today. LM principles can benefit people with MS, although disease reversal may not be possible for those who have long been suffering from MS.
Alcohol Use Disorder
Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is a spectrum which ranges from any unhealthy alcohol use that puts your health or safety at risk or causes other problems, to patterns of alcohol use that may involve things like difficulty controlling alcohol intake, becoming preoccupied with alcohol, continuing to use alcohol even when it causes problems, etc. There are different philosophies of treatment: some people believe that abstinence is necessary, while others disagree. An assessment should always preclude treatment options, and then the treatments recommended will depend on the severity of the AUD. In situations where a person is diagnosed with mild AUD, often a person is able to decrease alcohol consumption on their own to low-risk levels of intake. In situations where a person is diagnosed with moderate to severe AUD, some more assistance may be required. The decision of abstinence or not rests with the patient. Medication may be very helpful in assisting a person to lower their alcohol intake. One of the modalities that Dr. Purdy may recommend is the use of the Sinclair method while using a medication called naltrexone.
Many other chronic diseases and conditions, including autoimmune issues, can be managed and even reversed by making different lifestyle and nutrition choices, too. If you feel you have tried everything, then why not try Lifestyle Medicine (LM)?