The American College of Lifestyle Medicine states “Lifestyle Medicine involves the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substance use, and other non-drug modalities, to prevent, treat, and, oftentimes, reverse the lifestyle-related, chronic disease that's all too prevalent”.
Why is this important?
Our population has been accumulating more and more chronic diseases like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, depression, heart disease, arthritis, heart burn, lung and kidney diseases, dementia and cancer. All chronic diseases are primarily driven by poor health habits and other environmental causes that can cause inflammation, injury and activate susceptible genes. 90% of healthcare costs, before COVID-19, went to treating chronic diseases. These same chronic diseases increase the risk of severe illness with COVID-19.
Research has shown that keeping a normal weight, exercising 350 minutes a week, not smoking and eating an unprocessed diet rich in plant foods such as beans, nuts and seeds, fruits and vegetables and low in animal fat and red meat, refined grains, sugar and other processed foods and meats can practically eliminate diabetes and heart disease and lower cancer risk by one third.
There is early research showing that eating a mostly plant based diet reduces the chance of moderately severe COVID by two thirds! In a more recent study that followed people early in the pandemic from March 2020- December 2020, those who ate a higher amount of plant-based food were less likely to develop COVID and if they did it was less severe.
A recent study from South Africa followed more than 60,000 people from March 2020 to June 2021 and found that adults with high (at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise a week such as fast walking!) had significantly less severe COVID than those with low activity when contracting COVID-19.
In a nutshell, a healthy lifestyle optimizes the biochemistry and functioning of our body by decreasing inflammation and regulating our physiology, thus increasing our chances to enjoy a longer, vibrant, disease-free life.