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The Best Approach To Treating Diabetes May Not Be Drugs

Feb 20, 2016

New research suggests that a healthy lifestyle is better than any medicine out there.

The American Journal of Cardiology a few years ago proposed that given the toxic nature of the food served to the public, all fast food restaurants should provide mild cholesterol-lowering medications with every meal that is given to a customer. This raises the question: is the basis to good health the decisions we make in our lifestyle, or is it our medications?

A new study published by Dr. Robert Kushner and associates discussed a new discipline called “Lifestyle Medicine.” The concept can be defined as “the therapeutic use of evidence-based lifestyle interventions to treat and prevent lifestyle related disease in a clinical setting. It empowers individuals with the knowledge and life skills to make effective behavior changes that address the underlying causes of disease.” The findings of the study looked at the five leading causes of death in 2010 and found that cancer, heart disease, chronic lower respiratory diseases, stroke and unintended injuries were central to most health concerns faced by individuals today. What was ultimately established in regards to these ailments faced by a vast majority of the population was that practicing healthful lifestyle behaviors overall reduced the risk for acquiring many of these chronic conditions.

A healthy lifestyle, rather than medication, is crucial as it tackles the source rather than the symptom of the health problem. The majority of preventable diseases such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes which plague the nation all stem from unhealthy lifestyle choices, which could easily be diverted if there was a greater focus on the health of individuals and really honing in on proper dietary restraint and regular exercise. Medical professionals around the world would agree that when it comes to diseases where hereditary factors come into play such as cancer or diabetes, leading a healthy, well-balanced lifestyle could significantly reduce an individual’s chance of acquiring them. In order to implement this change, the researchers note that, “Good communication between the provider and patient is paramount in eliciting behavior change. Rather than simply educating and instructing patients about what to do, behavior change counseling should be a guiding and collaborative process.”

One factor that definitely needs to be more closely considered is the social determinants of health, which would encompass an individual’s economic stance, their race, ethnicity and other cultural factors that go on to make a great impact on how a person will conduct their life. Many individuals are not necessarily choosing to live an unhealthy lifestyle–that’s the only option they have. This on its own is a major factor when considering the “lifestyle medicine” model, and though it was referred to in the research, there should be greater investigation on how much of a person’s lifestyle choices are actually choices they make versus the conditions they live in or the culture they have been brought up in.

Supporters of healthy living will go on to demonstrate the physiological and psychological benefits of an active and well balanced lifestyle, such as boosted self-confidence, energy and overall contentment with oneself. With a healthy regime playing a precarious role in keeping diseases away and improving our mental and physical health, there is a solid case for why lifestyle is central to good health.

Practice Pearls:

  • Lifestyle medicine is a new approach to address the prevention of common disease states.
  • Proper communication between a provider and patient is essential in eliciting any behavior changes.
  • Further research should be performed that takes into greater consideration how a patient’s social and economic standing contribute to their lifestyle choices.


Researched and prepared by Javeria Fayyaz, Doctor of Pharmacy Candidate LECOM  College of  Pharmacy, reviewed by Dave Joffe, BSPharm, CDE

“Lifestyle Medicine Initiative – American College of Preventive Medicine.” American College of Preventative Medicine. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Jan. 2016.

Kushner, Robert F. “Lifestyle Medicine—An Emerging New Discipline.” US Endocrinology 11.1 (2015): 36-40. Web.