What Are the Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine? A Comprehensive Guide - Salveo Direct Care

What Are the Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine? A Comprehensive Guide

July 15, 2023
pillars of lifestyle medicine

Did you know that there’s enough demand in the global wellness economy to generate over $4 trillion in revenue every year? Experts are predicting that people will continue to spend about 10% more on this market each year until 2025 at least. By then, they expect the global wellness economy to be worth about $7 trillion per year!

On the other hand, people might not have to spend so much on their health if they could prevent health problems in the first place. The pillars of lifestyle medicine focus on helping people maintain robust health. That includes both managing current health problems as well as making it unlikely that people will develop new ones.

Of course, there are a lot of different ways you can cultivate better health. However, the pillars of lifestyle medicine are some of the most powerful ways you can enjoy fantastic health improvements. So what are these pillars, and what might they be able to do for you?

Read on to learn all about the most vital things to understand about the pillars of lifestyle medicine!

What Is Lifestyle Medicine?

As we have discussed, lifestyle medicine programs focus both on curing health problems as well as preventing them. People who receive a lifestyle medicine certification learn to encourage patients to cultivate lifestyle habits that can make them more resistant to health challenges.

In the current medical paradigm, many people focus on specific drugs and treatments that can help cure acute illness. As amazing as modern medicine is, it is also worth emphasizing preventative medicine.

One of the great things about the pillars of lifestyle medicine is they are based on strong evidence. Many studies have discovered different ways that people can live so as to maintain their health for as long as possible.

Applying the pillars of lifestyle medicine in your life can do something more than cure whatever your current health problems are. After all, even if you cure each acute illness, you experience as it arises, your health will still tend to degrade as you get older.

At the same time, some people manage to age gracefully and hold on there to their health for years or decades longer than others. One way or another, many people who maintain great health throughout their lives end up applying the principles of the pillars of lifestyle medicine.

While lifestyle medicine cannot cure every illness, it can help almost anyone develop their health as much as possible given their circumstances.

There are six pillars of health that lifestyle medicine focuses on. So what are these six pillars, and how can they help you improve your health across your lifetime?

Using Nutrition as Preventative Medicine

The first pillar of lifestyle medicine is healthy eating. Most people understand that what they eat can have a huge effect on their health. However, it can be difficult to always stay on top of a healthy diet.

On the other hand, healthy eating may be more important now than ever before. As the obesity epidemic continues, many people are suffering one or more health problems because of their eating habits. Certain medicines might be able to help resolve some of these problems, but they tend to fail to address the root cause.

The right diet can help people achieve their weight loss and fitness goals. On top of that, it can help their bodies get all of the nutrients they need to function as well as possible.

One of the main things that this pillar of lifestyle medicine emphasizes is the value of eating plants. When your diet is full of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and other plants, your body enjoys a wide variety of nutrients.

Many people deal with a vitamin or nutrient deficiency without ever knowing about it. There are so many vitamins and nutrients that our bodies need that it can be difficult to aim at getting all of them. However, if you make sure to eat a wide variety of healthy foods, there is a much higher chance that you will get all of the nutrients you need even if you don’t know it.

Lifestyle medicine also recommends that people be careful about eating meat. It recommends that people avoid processed meats and find the highest quality meats available.

On top of that, lifestyle medicine recommends that people fill their diets with whole grains in the form of bread, pasta, and similar foods.

Lifestyle Medicine Emphasizes Mental Health

In some ways, the relationship between the mind and body is still mysterious. At the same time, there are plenty of studies that find that the health of one has a powerful effect on the health of the other.

Most medical approaches neglect the importance of mental well-being. However, this is one of the main pillars of lifestyle medicine. The lifestyle medicine approach emphasizes that mental health is as important as physical health when it comes to staying healthy over the years and decades.

Lifestyle medicine also acknowledges the many factors in life that can affect our mental health. These can include things like income as well as genetics. However, no matter your situation, there is a lot that you can do to start cultivating greater mental health.

Ways to Cultivate Mental Health

Many people find that spending time in nature is a great way to relieve stress and gain perspective in their lives. Other people discover that dedicating themselves to helping others can provide a rich sense of meaning in their lives.

Lifestyle medicine also emphasizes the power of some of the most successful kinds of psychological treatment ever discovered. Cognitive behavioral therapy is a method of therapy that can help with anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. There is an incredible amount of evidence showing how effective this kind of therapy can be.

Studies have also found that gratitude practices can have a profound effect on people’s mental health.

It is also worth looking at practices like meditation to cultivate robust mental health. There are a lot of different kinds of meditation. People often find that the first type of meditation they try does not provide the results they are looking for.

However, if you try several different meditation styles, you may find one that clicks for you better than others. Once you have found a meditation tool that works for you, you will always have it at your disposal to help you cultivate mental health.

Maintain Robust Health with Healthy Relationships

Some people are surprised to find out that healthy relationships are one of the pillars of lifestyle medicine. However, many studies attest to the power of our social relationships.

When people are alone, their health and longevity tend to suffer. Loneliness can have a more powerful effect on our physical health than smoking in some cases.

Our social relationships are also a strong source of meaning in our lives. That gives them a strong point of interaction with our mental health.

If your health is not where you want it to be, a lifestyle medicine practitioner might ask about your social relationships. If they are not where you would like them to be, they may be having a subtle but powerful effect on your general health.

Making it a point to cultivate relationships with family members and friends might be just the right solution. In other cases, lifestyle medicine might recommend that you focus on meeting new people and forming new friendships. Being an appreciated member of a peer group can help people enjoy a sense of belonging and safety.

On top of making life more enjoyable, these benefits can also have profound effects on our overall health.

Stay Active to Stay Healthy

Most people appreciate that staying active can have a strong effect on our general health. When people live a sedentary lifestyle, they tend to find that health problems accumulate over time. On the other hand, people who keep using their bodies in different ways often find that far fewer illnesses and health concerns arise.

lifestyle medicine doctor might encourage you to find a way to involve physical activity in your life. Some people struggle to do this because they find it difficult or tedious over time.

However, these are largely solved problems. If doing the same kind of activity repeatedly is boring to you, then you can keep trying out new things. In fact, participating in a variety of physical activities might be even better for your health than developing your body in only one way.

It might be more difficult to get involved in activities like tennis or baseball. However, almost everyone can do things like yoga, calisthenics, jogging, and more without any special tools or preparation.

On the other hand, some people find it difficult to engage in physical activity. If using your body is uncomfortable, you can often solve this by doing something easier.

Instead of jogging, you can walk. Instead of doing regular push-ups, you can do push-ups against a wall. Instead of adopting full yoga poses, you can engage in stretching that feels comfortable to you.

In fact, you don’t need to do any specific kind of physical activity. Anything that gets your body moving and develops it can be great for your health. Even cleaning your house or going on a walk can be a great place to start.

Avoid Substances That Can Diminish Your Health

Sometimes, health is not about doing specific things that add to it. It can also be about avoiding specific things that detract from it. Even if you engage in healthy lifestyle activities, using harmful substances can take a big toll on your overall health.

Over the course of a lifetime, huge numbers of people end up struggling with an addiction or a harmful substance. A lifestyle medicine doctor will encourage you to try to get rid of any substance use habits that are harming your health.

In the short term, this can be difficult. But in the long run, it can help you enjoy your life more. Avoiding harmful substances can help you enjoy better physical and mental health as well as improve your sleep and mood.

Lifestyle Medicine Emphasizes the Power of Sleep

These days, it is getting harder and harder for people to enjoy a good night’s sleep on a consistent basis. However, most people spend close to a third of their lives asleep. The quality of the time you spend asleep has a dramatic effect on your overall health.

Although getting a good night’s sleep can come with its challenges, it is worth making a serious effort to do it anyway. Lifestyle medicine doctors help patients figure out how to improve their sleep habits.

Going to sleep at the same time each night can make it easier to fall asleep instead of lying in bed awake. Making sure to wind down at the end of the night and avoid bright lights can also help you get to sleep on time.

Some people benefit from using sleep masks or earplugs. Others need to adjust the temperature of their home at night. Using a fan or opening a window can also improve sleep.

You might even enjoy putting on some white noise or soft music at night.

The point is that there is a lot that you can do to enjoy better sleep hygiene. In the long run, that will have a huge effect on your health.

Understand the Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

The more you learn about the pillars of lifestyle medicine, the better you can appreciate how they help prevent health problems before they begin. Lifestyle medicine is an exciting health approach that can help people enjoy vibrancy as well as avoid acute conditions. Applying the pillars of lifestyle medicine to your life can help you begin to enjoy better health almost immediately.

To learn more about how you can benefit from the lifestyle medicine approach to health, reach out and get in touch with us here at any time!

Our Doctors

We are Primary Care Doctors with a combined over 20 years of experience in Family Medicine and are additionally board-certified in Lifestyle Medicine. Our focus is on evidence based treatments in both traditional and integrative medicine practices to find what best fits your needs and health goals. Crafting your path to wellness and renewed vitality is our passion.

Drs. Monica Salas and Prisiliano Salas with Salveo Direct Care

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