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What is Lifestyle Medicine?

Lifestyle medicine is a speciality and a movement that started out In America by Dr Dean Ornish. However, it is now recognised worldwide and the specialty is accredited in many countries. I hold a British Board Certification which is recognised internationally (IBLM/ACLM).


We know that most chronic disease has a basis in inflammation and there are 6 “pillars” of a healthy lifestyle, which when addressed can prevent, improve, and in some cases lead to remission of many of these chronic diseases.


Six Pillars of a Healthy Lifestyle

  1. Good Nutrition

  2. Healthy relationships

  3. Adequate sleep

  4. Mental wellbeing and a sense of purpose

  5. Reduction/avoidance of risky substances

  6. Exercise


They don’t work in isolation and making improvements in all these aspects together can be a powerful tool in treating ill health which can be just as effective as medication and used alongside conventional medical care.

In fact, a study published in the Journal of Internal Medicine estimated that 80 percent of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, and 40 percent of cancer cases could be prevented by maintaining a healthy weight, eating a nutritious diet, engaging in regular physical activity, and not smoking (1)

Where lifestyle medicine is different from medication, is that it addresses the root cause of a disease without nasty side effects, only good ones!


Apart from anti-microbials such as antibiotics to treat bacterial infections, medications don’t cure chronic disease. However conventional medical care including medication, need not be exclusive of a good lifestyle. Say the brake pad of your car stopped working, the hand brake is important to stop you from crashing. Medication can act as the “emergency hand brake” when it comes to your health while you address lifestyle at the same time. So please don’t come off your medication unless advised by your health professionals!


Where is lifestyle medicine practised well?


A study conducted by Dan Beutner in 2004 looked to seek out areas of the world with the longest living people with the most amount of centenarians. The study aimed to find out what the secrets were to not only living longer, but also with the least amount of disability.


According to a study published in The Lancet in 2012, people in the Western world (including Europe and North America) live an average of 23 years with disability from chronic preventable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and cancer (2).


The areas of the world identified by Dan Buetner and his team were dubbed the “The Blue Zones” and included Sardinia in Italy, Nicoya in Costa Rica, Ikaria in Greece, Okinawa in Japan, and Loma Linda in California. All these blue zones, at the time they were studied, practice lifestyle medicine well and pay attention to all 6 lifestyle pillars.


What type of nutrition is advocated within Lifestyle medicine?


What the Blue Zones have in common is that they follow a mostly “Whole Food Plant Based Diet” (WFPB).


A Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) diet is one that centres mostly on whole plant foods that are as minimally processed as possible. These include fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, legumes (beans and lentils), nuts and seeds. This is different from veganism which is a way of living that seeks to exclude all animal products, as much as possible. This may not necessarily comprise a healthy diet, as after all chips and Oreos are vegan!


The Blue zones aren’t vegan, though 95% of their calories come from Whole plant foods such as sweet potatoes in Okinawa. The Blue zone populations still eat some dairy and meat, but very little. A WFPB diet has been proven to have many health benefits. This is mostly owing to the antioxidant and fibre rich content of whole plant foods.


If you want to learn how you can incorporate a more Whole Food Plant Based diet and lifestyle medicine into your life, please see how I can help you!




(1) Katz, D. L., Frates, E. P., & Bonnet, J. P. (2018). A roadmap for prevention of chronic disease: forging a bold new path. Journal of Internal Medicine, 284(2), 129-136. doi: 10.1111/joim.12746

(2) Lim, S et al. (2012). A comparative risk assessment of burden of disease and injury attributable to 67 risk factors and risk factor clusters in 21 regions, 1990–2010: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2010. The Lancet, 380(9859), 2224-2260. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(12)61766-8

Can I help you?

Conditions/areas that I work with:

  • Sustainable weight loss and combatting fatigue

  • Chronic health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, fatty liver, gout, auto-immune disease

  • IBS/Chronic constipation

  • Improving acne with lifestyle

  • PCOS and menopausal symptoms

  • Gaining weight healthfully


Conditions that I don’t work with but happy to provide a recommendation:

  • Anyone aged < 18 years

  • Cancer care

  • Dementia

  • Palliative care

  • If you are on insulin or gliclazide


I do not prescribe or change doses of medication, provide any form of psychotherapy, do blood tests or provide medical advice so it is important that you consult your health professionals for this. However, I can work with any blood markers you provide such as cholesterol levels and I am happy to write to your health professionals if the need arises to inform them of your lifestyle changes.

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Want to work with me?

Book an introductory call with me to see how I can help you plant the seeds for a happy, healthy you.

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