The Future is Bright, the Future is ‘Lifestyle Medicine’

Healthcare is changing, and during my last 3 years in practice on the beautiful island of Guernsey, I have witnessed more and more people wanting to take control over their health and wellness,  rather than relying on prescription medications

Healthcare is being somewhat forced into a transition because of the rising rates of lifestyle-related chronic disease, and the realisation that the current conventional model of healthcare is proving ineffective in resolving both the symptoms and causes of these modern-day epidemics.

As an Osteopath, the majority of aches, pains and complaints I encounter are either a result of, or made worse by lifestyle factors such as stress, poor sleep, poor diet and lack of physical activity. All of which can make things hurt more, and more often!

As an example, persistent lower back pain is commonly a result of lifestyle habits and behaviours as opposed to actual physical injury. I have encountered many people who have had years of manual therapy and drug treatment without experiencing resolution of their back pain, and after making small adjustments to the way they eat, sleep, move, and cope with stress, they soon start to experience greater vitality and less pain.

Lifestyle medicine is our best weapon against most of the aches, pains and symptoms we now experience in modern society. Unfortunately until we become collectively more proactive than reactive with our health, we will carry on enduring unnecessary symptoms due to self neglect, and more side effects due to the overuse of pharmaceutical medications.

My experience of delivering ‘Lifestyle Medicine’ through the 31 Day Health Transformation Programme has inspired me to change the way i treat people, and also given me great hope for the future. Although this approach can seem like the road less travelled at times (and is still met with frustrating resistance in many primary healthcare settings), it is now more obvious than ever that Lifestyle Medicine is the future of Primary Healthcare.

Thanks to the pioneering work of people such as Dr Rangan Chatterjee, Dr Aseem Malhotra, James Maskell, and Guernsey’s own Daniel White, the current symptomatic ‘single disease’ model of primary healthcare will soon be outgrown by the more ‘patient centred’ approach of Lifestyle Medicine.

Curating and delivering a lifestyle medicine programme has changed the way I practice as a Healthcare Practitioner, and I would confidently say that all Primary Healthcare Professionals with a genuine desire to improve their patients lives, should without a doubt, be appraising an individuals diet, physical activity, sleep and stress resilience, alongside normal treatment

This may seem like a lot of work for health professionals trying to deliver care in the conventional time-starved model, however it is simple, and we have proved it. By providing people with a programme of simple and effective lifestyle interventions that provide accountability, group camaraderie and encouragement, we have witnessed people transform their lives and free themselves from long term health issues and medications.

Lifestyle Medicine is not a miracle cure but it can most definitely stop some of the most health-depleting symptoms at source, and create the environment for the body to do what it does best- take care of itself.

I like to use the analogy of a boat with a hole in it’s hull to describe one of the most significant differences between the lifestyle medicine that I use to compliment my treatments, and the conventional model of primary healthcare. Conventional primary healthcare focuses on emptying the water out of the leaking boat, where as lifestyle medicine focuses on mending the hole so no more water can get in.

Whatever your aches, pains and symptoms, try adopting the simple lifestyle changes below to help you patch up any holes and  float on the turbulent seas of life a little easier!

Move in the morning light

Get outside in the morning for a 10 -15 min walk or some gentle exercise. Both exercise and morning light regulate the body’s natural clock (circadian rhythm) and improve sleep. Better still,  take your shoes and socks off and make contact with the earth beneath your feet. Grounding has anti-oxidant effects on the body,  helps to regulate blood pressure, reduce inflammation and improve wound healing.

Experiment with your diet for a few weeks

Many people are unknowingly suffering from symptoms such as joint pain, fatigue, low mood and digestive issues as a result of eating foods that the body is either mildly intolerant or sensitive to. By  simply cutting out a few common dietary culprits such as gluten and dairy for 2-3 weeks you should notice a difference in symptoms such as joint pain and digestive issues if you have an issue with them.

Eat your daily food intake within a 10 hour window every day

By simply eating all of your days calories within an 8-10 hour period you will help to regulate your body’s natural metabolic rhythms, reduce weight and  blood pressure. This simple variation on fasting helps can reduce overall calorie intake whilst not disturbing normal eating habits too much.

Practice regular belly breathing

The simple and deliberate act of slow diaphragmatic (belly) breathing can reduce blood pressure, anxiety and stress in just a few minutes. Inhaling through the nose for a count of 5 and exhaling for a count of 5 can increase Heart Rate Variability, which is a measure of how well the nervous system adapts and copes with stress.  In addition, simply closing the eyes and resting your attention on your breath, transforms the activity of the brain into a more calm and creative state.

If you’re interested in learning more about the simple steps you can take to reclaim the health you deserve, why not enroll on my 31 Day Health Transformation Programme, where I can help you create your own personal blueprint for greater health and happiness.

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