Lancaster Physician Fall 2020 - 17

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"Nobody wants to be sick or limited,
which is why I'm an advocate in preventative care," says Donna Mueller, DO, MS,
C-IAYT, Lifestyle Medicine Specialist,
UPMC. "Coaching individuals through
an evidence-based, therapeutic approach
enables patients to take control of their
health before a problem develops."
The importance of evidence-based
medicine in health has been proven by
science and emphasized by the medical
community, although not all have embraced
or understood the concept immediately.
Still, before the phrase became popular,
many primary care providers already were
prescribing a daily dose of exercise, healthy
eating, good sleep hygiene, and advising
patients to refrain from substance abuse
in order to get and stay well.
However, it is recognized that implementing these daily habits can be a
challenge. Physicians like Dr. Mueller,
who live according to the pillars of lifestyle
medicine, understand the commitments
involved. There are benefits and challenges
in utilizing lifestyle medicine from patient
outcomes to controlling out-of-pocket costs
in medical care.
The six pillars of health include: nutrition, regular physical activity, sleep, stress
management, avoiding substance abuse,
and relationships. Together, they work in
unison-along with traditional therapies
and medicines, when needed-to prevent,
treat, and often reverse lifestyle-related
chronic conditions.
"When you consider any one of these
pillars, research has shown one unhealthy
habit or problematic area in a person's life
leads to another and can cause a chain
reaction," says Dr. Mueller. "Consider how
stress, weight, or sleep deprivation directly
impacts our relationships, food choices, and
activity levels. It's all connected."
Although most people desire an easy,
quick "fix" to an acute problem, doing so
could have the opposite effect, because it
may not be necessary and the long-term
effects could be worse. Instead, lifestyle

medicine encourages patients to explore
alternative ways of developing better habits and uncover the root of the problem,
which assists in promoting health and
preventing disease.
The commitment is significant, but so are
the benefits. The following pillars emphasize
and underscore the importance of healthy
living. With the support of your physician
and other support specialists, individuals
are in the driver's seat to a happier, disease-free life. What better reason to make
your health a priority.
Physical Activity
Daily exercise is not only good for the
body, but it also helps to reduce depression
and anxiety, improves cognition, and supports quality sleep. Evidence has been shown
that dedicating 30 minutes of moderate
to intense exercise daily minimizes weight
gain, which is linked to conditions such as
diabetes, hypertension, osteoarthritis, and
heart disease.
Nutrition
Dietary guidelines have recognized the
key role nutrition plays in chronic disease
and other conditions. Eat a balanced diet
complete with whole grains (high in fiber),
lean proteins, fruits and vegetables, nonfat
dairy, legumes and nuts, and avoid or limit
alcohol consumption. The 2015-2020
Dietary Guidelines for Americans focus
on establishing healthy eating patterns as
opposed to specific foods or calorie count.
Substance Abuse or Addiction
Cigarette smoking, chewing tobacco, vaping, cigars, pipes, alcohol, and other illegal
substances have been shown to increase the
risk of lung cancer, heart disease and stroke,
and diabetes. Alcohol abuse in the form of
binge drinking or alcoholism is responsible
for diseases that attack the body, mind, and
also interpersonal relationships.
Stress
Stress is a part of our everyday lives. Perhaps now more than ever. Nearly one-third
of adults in the United States experience
enough to have an adverse effect on their
home or work lives. Long-term stress has a

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profound negative effect on the body since
it releases a surge of hormones, including
adrenaline and cortisol, which impact
both the cardiovascular and neurological
systems. Incorporating lifestyle choices such
as getting enough sleep, journaling, talking
to a therapist, meditating, and engaging in
regular physical activity help to alleviate
the intensity of stress.
Relationships
Scientists are investigating the biological
and behavioral factors that account for the
health benefits of connecting with others.
Strong relationships help relieve harmful
levels of stress, which can adversely affect
coronary arteries, gut function, insulin regulation, and the immune system. Those who
have social support from family, friends, and
their community are happier, incur fewer
health problems, and live longer.
Sleep
Adults should be logging seven to nine
hours of sleep each night, and teens eight
to 10 hours. Unfortunately, very few of
us achieve those goals. Sleep problems
or disorders may be acute or chronic. A
lack of sleep puts people at risk for health
problems including high blood pressure,
obesity, dementia, and depression. In
addition, people cannot concentrate or
function at work or school and feel drowsy
during the day, which also increases the
risk for accidents.
Whether the concept of lifestyle medicine is familiar or new, consider adopting
it as a way of life and not a fad. Incorporating healthy habits in every aspect of
one's life, even by making small, gradual
changes, can yield big, long-term results
in our overall health. 



Lancaster Physician Fall 2020

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