Some common misconceptions about lifestyle medicine

Some people think that because there are so few docs doing lifestyle medicine, then it must not be real medicine or give real results. To get real health care, you need to see the conventional medical doctor and get the standard drugs, tests, and procedures. For example if you get heart disease, you will be placed on a statin drug and you will likely have almost no nutrition counseling. Statins do help, a little bit. About 4% of people with coronary disease who take those drugs for 5 years are helped in any way by the drug. Whereas with the Ornish Program for Intensive Cardiac Rehab, which is a 72 hour lifestyle modification program, it has been estimated that about 80% of people are helped by the therapy, with dramatic reductions in rates of heart attack, stroke, and death.

Guidelines from all major medical bodies, for hypertension, heart disease, diabetes, etc. recommend lifestyle change as the first step to managing these conditions. The gap is that our medical disciplines (internal medicine, family medicine, cardiology, etc) proceed to place little emphasis on this.  There is the belief that people will not change their diet. The reality is that people do change, as we see with the recent DiRECT trial, with my Cure Diabetes program, and so much research.

Some people think there is some controversy about plant-based diets that we recommend. There is a paleo movement who recommend meat and eggs in the diet and often recommend against beans and grains. In reality the research is clear that our bodies function best on high fiber, low fat, and anti inflammatory diets. Plant foods contain all those properties and animal foods do not. At the macro level, we know the more eggs or meat or dairy fat you eat, the more diabetes and heart disease you get.

BE WELLDavid Donohue