Doctors Urge More ‘Lifestyle Medicine,’ Fewer Pharmaceuticals
Six ways to ‘prevent, treat, and often reverse’ chronic diseases
All the medications ever invented can’t put America’s health back together again. Not because drugs never work, but because we individuals and our health care system at large have come to rely on pharmaceuticals far too heavily, at the expense of simple behaviors known to prevent and battle many of the deadliest and most debilitating diseases.
Here’s where dependence on medications has brought us: 60% of U.S. adults have at least one chronic disease and 40% battle two or more, according to a comprehensive new analysis by 58 medical doctors and research scientists that estimates 90% of all U.S. health care dollars are spent treating largely preventable diseases. Yet rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and dementia are rising at alarming rates, the report concludes.
“Too many physicians and patients alike may believe they are victims of their genes and they are destined to become chronically ill and dependent on pharmaceuticals,” three experts write in a summary of the report.
The report calls bunk on the country’s backward approach to health care and aims to flip the entire medical profession on its ear, by encouraging “lifestyle medicine,” rooted in six behavior changes proven to help “prevent, treat, and often reverse” many of the most common chronic ills — including Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and Alzheimer’s.
The analysis, a project of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM), includes 22 articles published in the Journal of Family Practice.
“There is rapidly growing demand for lifestyle medicine interventions among patients who want help making sustainable behavior changes that allow them to take control of their health and live their healthiest, fullest lives,” ACLM President Cate Collings, MD, says in a statement. The advice, dubbed six pillars of lifestyle medicine, is aimed at doctors and other health care professionals.
But don’t wait for a prescription.