Lifestyle medicine is an approach that aims to prevent, and manage disease by adopting a holistic approach to health. Its main emphasis is on “upstream determinants of disease,” and preventing the disease through making lifestyle changes.
The main focus of lifestyle medicine is on prevention of lifestyle-related diseases of the 21st century, among the most common being obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, as well as depression and anxiety. Although, all these conditions are multifactorial and complex, it is now becoming increasingly clear that our lifestyle plays a major role in the development of these conditions.
The 5 main aspects of lifestyle that this approach considers are:
- Physical activity
- Strategies we adopt to manage stress
- Our relationships and social life
Lifestyle medicine, is not an “anti-drug” approach, rather it considers natural ways through which we can prevent/manage a mental or physical health problem before considering prescribing drugs.
We all know that healthy lifestyle promotes health and longevity. However, the main challenge is bringing about behavioral change. Lifestyle medicine coaches help their clients with making such changes by setting realistic and achievable lifestyle goals, that their client feels most comfortable with.
The problem with the current health care system
The NHS spending on medicine in England in 2016/2017 was £17.4 billion, and its growing at a rate that is placing a huge burden on the NHS budget. About 2/3rd of adults in England are overweight or obese. The NHS spending on overweight and obesity-related health conditions in 2014 to 2015 was £6.1 billion, and over £25.000 is spent on diabetes every minute!
What is certain is that through adopting a healthy lifestyle, we can significantly reduce the risk of these conditions. However, many GPs only offer 10 minutes for routine appointments. Although this short duration may give them enough time to diagnose a condition and prescribe medicine, it may not be sufficient for health promotion through giving lifestyle advice. There is now a seed change amongst GPs wanting to give more lifestyle advice and less prescription. However, the issue is limited budget of the NHS.
If the GPs could spend more time with the patients, giving them lifestyle advise before the disease arises, then we could possibly reduce the cost associated with prescriptions, as well as other costs associated with obesity and diabetes-related health conditions. As such, there is clearly a need for a change within the NHS system with regards to where funds are being directed.
How we can help you
Our Medical Health Coach, Rachel, will be able to listen to you carefully in a safe environment, and explore how your lifestyle may be a barrier to your optimal health. She will then motivate you to take steps towards making lifestyle changes. Such changes can be as small or as large as you want it to be!
It may be suggested to have some further tests to look at the possibility of any health condition in more detail. We also track progress and perhaps have them repeated after an agreed interval to look at the impact of positive lifestyle changes.