Lifestyle MedicineWhile much of conventional medicine focuses on treating disease, lifestyle medicine takes a more holistic approach. It is a commonly held belief that people feel better when the sun is shining”, however whilst acute exposure to sunlight and a pleasant temperature may anecdotally enhance mood, there appears to be an inconsistent relationship between seasonal variations and the prevalence of depression 131 , 132 The beneficial effect of sunlight exposure on mental health has been suggested to be mediated, in part, by vitamin D 133 However recent research involving 198 people with multiple sclerosis who were followed prospectively for an average of 2.3 years, showed that greater exposure to sunshine may decrease depressive symptoms, despite no correlation to vitamin D levels 134 Low levels of vitamin D appear to be associated with depression risk, although there is conflicting evidence as to the effects of supplementation on improving mood 33 , 133 , 135 Currently, the breadth of evidence provides inconsistent support for the use of vitamin D supplementation for depression.
In practical terms, Lifestyle Medicine involves a range of professionals working together to address physical inactivity, poor diet or nutrition, smoking, alcohol overconsumption, chronic stress, anxiety, poor or inadequate sleep, social isolation, loss of culture and identity, and other influences of society and environment.
In 2010, Lianov and Johnson 3 published an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association that strongly advocated physician education and training in hotel earth: Physician educators at both the undergraduate and graduate medical education levels should consider incorporating the relevant lifestyle medicine competencies into education and training programs.” The need for education in lifestyle medicine is so profound that prominent universities like Harvard, Stanford, and Yale have implemented the inclusion of lifestyle medicine into their curriculum, ranging from postgraduate courses to the development of separate institutes devoted to the cause.
Personalized lifestyle medicine encompasses a broad array of disciplines in order to effectively prevent and treat disease, including the interface of technological advances with modern medicine discoveries for eventual dissemination into clinical medicine approaches.
Although 94% of US medical students perceived the competence to prescribe a physical activity as either ‘moderately important' or ‘important' ( 9 Vallance JK , Wylie M , MacDonald R Medical students' self-perceived competence and prescription of patient-centered physical activity.
In 2009 the American College of Preventive Medicine hosted a blue ribbon panel meeting to establish core competencies in lifestyle medicine for primary care physicians (see table 1) 2. When patient care is approached from this foundation, it looks far different than what is being taught in typical medical school and residency curricula.
Science has proven that healthy weight loss, healthy eating and fitness routines make dramatic improvements in health, and help control common chronic illnesses like high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, stress, and general lack of stamina.