|Lifestyle Medicine VS Diet-de-Jour
Have you read the US News “Best Diets 2021” report? If you haven’t heard of this annual publication, let me fill you in. Each year, US News pulls together a panel of nutrition experts from prestigious universities and research centers to analyze the composition of “diets” and validate their dietary attributes and claims. This year, experts were from Harvard, Emory, Tuft, Johns Hopkins, Joslin Diabetes Clinic and more. The panel consisted of physicians, nurses, dietitians and nutritionists. Renown plant-based authorities such as Dr. Michael Greger and Dr. David Katz were included in the annual review for this publication.
As a society, most people look at diets as a temporary deprivation or restriction of key nutrients/ingredients to reach weight-loss and/or health goals. These short-term dietary changes are usually time-bound, for example, a two-month diet before a special occasion or vacation. However, most people grow tired of the restrictions, fall prey to peer pressures, and recognize that the “diet” was unsuccessful in goal attainment. The weight that was lost is usually regained and often times, even more pounds are added. As the weight they worked so hard to lose returns, frustration, discouragement, and disappointment drive many people to try yet “another diet” that will work to achieve success. Consequently, “yo-yo” dieting patterns frequently emerge due to unrealistic demands and expectations. It is a vicious and discouraging cycle that has existed for decades, and the weight-loss approaches, disinformation, misinformation, and confusion in the food and health industries are becoming more harmful to good health than ever before.
In a culture that accepts the diet-de-jour as normal, we are experiencing even more disease and disability than previously seen. Currently in the United States, the average life expectancy is 77.9 years according to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). “As a rule, 66.2 of those years tend to be healthy, unimpaired ones. In other words, most people will face 11.7 years of an impaired, unhealthy life,” according to the, ACLM Lifestyle Medicine Handbook, published in 2019. “In that regard, lifestyle medicine can not only help to increase the number of healthy years, it can also help decrease the number of impaired years of life that a person is likely to experience.”
Lifestyle medicine is “The use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominately whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities to treat, oftentimes, reverse and prevent the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that’s all too prevalent.”
Although lifestyle medicine may appear or sound new to many people, the scientific evidence supporting its benefits is extensive. Consider just a few key findings from various peer-reviewed studies:
- 80% of chronic diseases could be prevented by lifestyle practices including: never smoking, maintaining a body mass index lower than 30, being physically active more than 3.5 hours per week, and adhering to a healthy diet consisting of high intake of fruits, vegetables, whole-grain bread, and low meat consumption. (Archives of Internal Medicine 2009)
- Health behaviors including physical inactivity, poor diet, smoking and alcohol use resulted in an estimated chronological age of 12 years older. (Archives of Internal Medicine 2010)
- 79% of myocardial infarctions could be prevented through healthy lifestyle choices including a healthy diet, moderate alcohol consumption (10-30 g/day), no smoking, being physically active (walking/biking >40 min/day), and exercising >1 hour/week) and having no abdominal adiposity (waist circumference <38 inches) (Journal of the American College of Cardiology 2014)
Can you envision a life full of energy, vitality and exuberance for your entire life? Can you imagine a life without pain or chronic conditions? For those who may have already fallen prey to illness, there is hope! Countless evidenced-based research studies have demonstrated the power of lifestyle medicine to halt and even reverse our most common diseases such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers. A genetic predisposition for illness does not have to define you. This may sound like “pie in the sky,” but it can happen when you stop thinking short-term results or “Diet-de-jour” and begin thinking about a “Lifestyle Medicine” journey towards better health!” As a Lifestyle Medicine Coach, Debbie Zimmerman can help you with your journey to optimal health and wellbeing. Your journey begins with a phone call to Debbie at 863-660-8588.
Over the next few months, the PhytoFit newsletters will dig a little deeper into the six pillars of lifestyle medicine including: Exercise, Nutrition, Sleep, Stress, Meditation/Mindfulness, Substance Abuse, and Social Connection. Until then, help celebrate Lifestyle Medicine Week, which begin May 31, and join us on social media to learn more about how your lifestyle can lead to your ultimate health and wellbeing.
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