Lifestyle as Medicine: Heal or Harm, It’s Your Choice.

Lifestyle as Medicine

Every day you are faced with multiple lifestyle choices.

Heal or harm, it’s your choice.

What you eat, how active you are, how well you prioritize sleep and recovery from stress – these are all choices that either promote health or will contribute to your risk of being diagnosed with a chronic lifestyle disease (like Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, stroke, dementia) – a very expensive diagnosis both financially and psychologically.

Have you been told by your doctor that you have:

  • high blood pressure
  • elevated blood lipids (cholesterol)
  • prediabetes
  • borderline diabetes
  • impaired fasting glucose
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • or that your blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be called diabetes
  • Is your fasting blood sugar (FBS) 100-125 mg/dL or A1c 5.7-6.4%?
  • Do you have a BMI (body mass index) greater than 25? (find out here)

The good news? At least you know.

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 74 million Americans are prediabetic (that’s 1 in 3 adults) yet only 11% know they are at high-risk. And now you do know. Now you can delay and even prevent your progression to Type 2 Diabetes.

Prediabetes is when your body is starting to be resistant to insulin, has too high of sugar in the blood, and is experiencing inflammation – an environment that, unfortunately, cancer also starts to thrive in. The harm to your body is starting now.  It doesn’t wait until you progress to being Type 2 Diabetic.

But there is an alternative.

You can also now stop the harm that is already occurring inside your body. You can use your own daily lifestyle as medicine. Each lifestyle choice you make can be medicinal, and begin healing, or the choice can be harmful, and continue your progression to more advanced stages of disease.

The great news: the progression to disease due to poor lifestyle choices is preventable.   

Notes from the Center for Disease Control (CDC)

“Chronic diseases – such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and arthritis – are among the most common, costly, and preventable of all health problems in the U.S.” – CDC

“Four modifiable health risk behaviors—lack of physical activity, poor nutrition, tobacco use, and excessive alcohol consumption—are responsible for much of the illness, suffering, and early death related to chronic diseases” – CDC

“There are a number of studies that suggest behaviors that might lessen the risk of developing [Alzheimer’s]. Among these are increasing physical activity, having a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, maintaining social engagement, and participating in intellectually stimulating activities.” – CDC

Lifestyle as medicine has the potential to prevent up to 80% of chronic disease; no other medicine can match that. In addition, it is potentially inexpensive and even cost-saving; free of all but good side effects; safe and appropriate for children and octogenarians alike. It is, quite simply, the best medicine we’ve got.

David Katz, MD, MPH, American College of Lifestyle Medicine President, Yale University Prevention Research Center

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