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On Saturday 11 March 2017 at Regent's University, London I attended the first Lifestyle Prescriptions Forum in London for ALL health practitioners.

It's aim is to bring awareness to the importance of treating the root-cause of disorders thus empowering the patient or client to take responsibility for their own health through lifestyle changes.

Lifestyle medicine is defined by Global Lifestyle Medicine Association 2014 as,

"A branch of evidence based medicine in which comprehensive lifestyle changes (including nutrition, physical activity, stress management, social support and environmental exposures) are used to prevent, treat and reverse the progression of chronic diseases by addressing their underlying causes."

The forum was organised by Lifestyle Prescriptions and had 4 guest speakers: Dr Ron Lawson, GP and Chair of British Society of Lifestyle Medicine; Johannes Fisslinger, Founder of Lifestyle Prescriptions Foundation; Annie Gedye, Bowen Therapist and Lifestyle Prescriptions Health Coach and Trainer and Despina Giannopoulou, Chief Operating Officer of Fibr Health a Functional Medicine company. 

Each expert shared information ranging from the art of Lifestyle Medicine, options for clients using Green and Lifestyle Prescriptions, bio-psycho-social-root-cause analysis plus solutions using client cases to Functional Medicine which focuses on the 4 Ps - participatory medicine, preventative medicine, personalised and proactive.

It was refreshing to hear that at no point throughout the forum was there a dismissal of traditional medicines. In fact an attendee quite rightly reminded us that what we now consider to be complementary medicines ie Chinese, naturopathy, homeopathy, herbalism, Ayurvedic were once referred to and respected as traditional medicines.

Today, however traditional medicines are viewed as those that have empirical evidence and tend to come in the form of a tablet or cream and one size fits all. Even though today's traditional medicine is far removed from the holistic approach of Lifestyle Medicines it still has its place in the health and wellness industry. Together both traditional and Lifestyle Medicines can support the individual's health and well being.

You might like to know the differences between the two in order to better understand how they each have their place within the health and wellness industry. Take a quick browse of the following:

Traditional Medicine

  • Treats individual risk factors
  • Patient is a passive recipient of care
  • Patient is not required to make big changes
  • Treatment can be short term
  • Responsibility is on the clinician
  • Medication is often the 'end' treatment
  • Emphasises diagnosis and prescription
  • Goal is disease management
  • Less environmental considerations
  • Side effects are balanced by benefits
  • Involves other medical specialities
  • Doctor generally operated independently, on a one-one basis

Lifestyle Medicine

  • Treats lifestyle causes
  • Patient is an active recipient of care
  • Patient is required to make big changes - in stages if required
  • Treatment is always long term
  • Medication may be needed but the emphasis is on lifestyle change
  • Emphasises motivation and adherence
  • Goal is primary/secondary/tertiary prevention
  • More environmental considerations
  • Side effects which impact lifestyle require greater attention
  • Involves allied health professionals
  • Doctor is part of a team of health professionals

There are some local councils in London that are moving towards integrating Lifestyle Medicine into their way of serving patients. I personally have experience of Wandsworth Borough Council using physiotherapists, dietitians and GPs to support the lifestyle changes of the elderly. 

It's a start but it's not enough. With over 50,000 GPS in the UK each one should ideally have a team of practitioners who they can signpost their patients to in order to assist them in making relevant lifestyle change ie osteopath, chiropractor, nutritionist, acupuncturist, naturopath, herbalist, Reiki Master Practitioner, Life Coach, Counsellor, body worker, Personal Trainer, Ayurvedic practitioner and the list goes on. 

In January 2015, online BBC News showed us that: 

  • a third of adults drink more that the recommended amount
  • a third of men and a half of women were inactive
  • nearly a third of people had high blood pressure
  • the average person consumes 7.2g of salt when the recommended daily amount is 6g
  • only a quarter of adults eat 5 or more of the recommended portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

In 2015 this cost the NHS around £2.6bn a year for alcohol related problems and £1.8bn for inactivity. The economy suffers too because overall sickness absence cost the economy £22bn a year with mental health and musculoskeletal problems being the prime causes.

Goodness knows what the stats are in 2017 (I couldn't find any) and unless drastic lifestyle changes are made asap the UK taxpayer will continue to spend millions of pounds treating unnecessary lifestyle-related illnesses.

Look around you at your family, work colleagues and friends. Look at yourself. The lack of taking responsibility is all around you and it really is time to make a change not just 'at home' but from a community and societal perspective. 

What could you change TODAY that would make a real difference to your health? It doesn't need to be a macro step.  I'm going to ensure that I buy enough fruit and vegetables per week to start juicing again. A micro step.

Yours might be simply going for a walk or reducing the sugar in your tea/coffee. How can you make a micro step for longevity TODAY?

If you'd like to know more about Lifestyle Prescriptions, please visit Lifestyle Prescriptions

If you'd like to know more about the upcoming Lifestyle Medicine Summit, 1-7 June 2017 an online health conference where health experts will discuss strategies about how to reverse up to 80% of chronic health issues then click here

David Katz, MD who will be speaking at the summit makes a bold statement about Lifestyle Medicines. He says:

"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...It is, quite simply the best medicine we've got." David Katz, Founding Director Yale University's Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Centre, current President of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine


Comparison of Traditional and Lifestyle Medicine, Rob Lawson, Chair British Society of Lifestyle Medicine, Lifestyle Prescriptions Live Forum 2017

The Cost of Being Unhealthy, BBC News 2015, Nick Triggle

I'd love to hear what lifestyle changes you're making. Why note share them below to inspire others.