Lifestyle Medicine, the key to metabolic healing

lifestyle medicine

What is lifestyle medicine?

Lifestyle medicine can be the central vehicle for metabolic intervention and metabolic optimization. Generally speaking, metabolisms are improved with behaviors rather than with the stuff of conventional health care, i.e., surgeries and medications. While surgeries and medications are often lifesaving, they usually don’t improve underlying metabolic dysfunctions that can give rise to chronic disease.

The World Health Organization says that two-thirds of all disease worldwide is the result of lifestyle choices, and the converse is also true. Many diseases can be reversed through positive lifestyle change. 

Is lifestyle medicine an accepted form of intervention, or is it fringe woo-woo pseudoscience?

Yes, it is real, accepted practice in healthcare. Although standard medical clinicians often don’t have the time or the knowledge to practice it.

According to the American Academy of Family Practice, Lifestyle medicine “will do more for you than any medication or treatment in the world.” This form of intervention includes optimizing diet, exercise, stress management, and sleep. In other words, this approach to health care is not focused on medications and disease. Rather, it is focused on creating a dynamic collaboration between the clinician and the patient to prevent, treat and ultimately reverse many disease processes.

“… following the increased awareness of the importance of lifestyle for disease prevention, we are now facing a renaissance of nutrition, or lifestyle [optimization] in general, for disease management as well. In this context, disease management not only comprises lifestyle interventions to improve general health and well-being of patients, but also nutritional strategies to stabilise or even ‘reverse’ the disease process itself.” 

Renger F. Witcamp, Science Direct

Can lifestyle medicine be used with elimination diets?

The term “lifestyle medicine” is often used by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, which also advocates vegetarianism. We at Metabolic Multiplier are diet diplomats, so we don’t advocate for any particular diet beyond finding the one that works well for a particular patient. You can see some discussion of this here and here.  You and your clinician will recognize your bio-individuality and use that understanding to work with your body to develop an effective plan individualized for you. With that said, according to Virta Health, a well respected virtual-diabetes-treatment program, finding a dietary pattern with the level of carbohydrate a person can tolerate is often key to treating metabolic diseases like diabetes. Ketogenic dietary formulations may be necessary to treat other diseases such as epilepsy and mental illness. Can you be low carb or keto and vegetarian? Yes, just ask type 1 diabetic, vegan keto dieter, and doctor Carrie Diulus!1,2

Chronic disease and unhealthy lifestyles

Most examples of lifestyle medicine’s success come from treating chronic disorders that are directly associated with an unhealthy lifestyle, specifically obesity, cardio-vascular disease, type 2 diabetes and its comorbidities. However, the list of other diseases for which there is evidence suggesting that healthy nutrition can reduce disease burden and (or) progression is also increasing. 

Which diseases can lifestyle medicine treat or reverse?

There are so many! Lifestyle interventions have been shown in research studies to help:  

Active, patient focused healthcare

Lifestyle medicine is patient-focused, patient-engaged healthcare! The clinician is your guide, mentor, educator, and you are the one in charge of implementation. You are guided to heal yourself with carefully constructed, evidence-based lifestyle interventions developed jointly with your clinician. You and your clinician are a potent healthcare team!

What are examples of lifestyle interventions?

These run the gamut from promoting a good night’s sleep with early bedtime, cool room, warm bath, dim lights, and maybe a well-timed melatonin supplement if necessary. For another it could be reversing diabetes with a nutritious ketogenic diet and exercise. Lifestyle collaboration with your clinician will help you find your best way of exercising, eating, relaxing, sleeping, and socializing. These are broad spectrum interventions that improve a wide swath of health parameters. Improving your life is improving your health!

How does it work?

According to the AMA, lifestyle medicine includes 5 areas, all of which your lifestyle or Keto Treatment Team will be able to provide for you.

  1. Leadership & Teamwork – the clinician will promote and practice healthy lifestyle behaviors. Practitioners practice what they preach, and they focus on your goals and empowerment!
  2. Knowledge – clinicians have knowledge about which interventions can create the change you want and they know how to help you make the necessary behavior changes.
  3. Assessment skills – they can assess your biological, social, and psychological needs, and assess your readiness for various levels of change. They perform appropriate physical examinations, history taking, and relevant testing.     
  4. Management – this includes establishing effective, collaborative relationships with patients and their families. It also includes working with patients to develop specific action plans and medication regimes and referrals (when necessary).
  5. Office and community support – Clinicians will interact with multiple health care providers, family members, and community members to support patients’ positive changes. They have an open, friendly, and engaging office staff and system to support patients’ health.

Is lifestyle medicine for me?

Ask yourself a few questions to assess whether you are interested in this type of care. If not, don’t worry, a more traditional Keto Treatment Team option might be better suited to your needs.

Lifestyle medicine self-assessment questions?

  • Do you want to be an active participant in your health care?
  • Would you like to collaborate with your clinicians?
  • Do you believe you have the power and strength to improve your health with the help and support of your healthcare providers?
  • Are you willing to make incremental, long-term changes in your diet and lifestyle with the help of your clinician?

If your answers are mostly affirmative, you are likely to succeed with lifestyle medicine! 

Facts checked by Mani Malagon & Cecile Seth.


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  1. Sources: Wikipedia “Seventh-day Adventist Church.” Retrieved April 20, 2020.
  2. Retrieved April 20, 2020.

Christie Barnett

Christie is an Advanced Practice Nurse with over 35 years experience working with people in mental health care. She currently has a private, outpatient psychotherapy practice in Millburn, NJ. You can follow her on Instagram at keto.nj

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