The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) defines Lifestyle Medicine (LM) as the use of evidence based lifestyle therapeutic interventions including whole food based nutrition, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connection as a primary modality, delivered by clinical providers trained and certified in this specialty, to prevent, treat and often reverse chronic disease.
The American College of Lifestyle Medicine was formed in 2004 and as of 2020 now includes over 5,800 members. In 2016, the American Board of Lifestyle Medicine (ABLM) with the American College of Lifestyle Medicine developed the LM Certification exam and process in 2016 and by 2020, more than 1200 sat for the ABLM exam.
When you think of Lifestyle Medicine the quote by the famous inventor Thomas Edison comes to mind who said, “The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.” In other words, live a physically active life with a healthful diet to avoid and/or treat disease.
The top 10 leading causes of death in the US are mostly Lifestyle-related including:
- heart disease
- Accidents (unintentional injuries such as Falls)
- Chronic lower respiratory disease
- Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases)
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome
- Intentional self-harm (suicide)
Additionally, 80% of all premature deaths are attributable to three factors:
- Tobacco use
- Poor diet
- Lack of physical activity
Experts also estimate that only 10% of our health status is due to our genetics and b/n 70-90% is due to epigenetics (envt’l factors) as the main determinants of health status. In short, our genes do not decide our fate, it is our lifestyles that do; so, if we focus on living healthy, we improve our future!
Understanding how Lifestyle Medicine is structured, what is the importance of muscle centric health and how does it align with Lifestyle Medicine?
Muscle centric health is a philosophy that leads to a fruitful life with exercise, nutrition and rest at the core, but what it is not, is creating what some may think is muscles like a body-builder. The primary focus of Muscle Centric Health (MCH) is the promotion of longevity and vitality through emphasis and alignment of Lifestyle Medicine’s pillars.
It is important to understand as we reach our late 30s and early 40s, what is known as sarcopenia begins. Sarcopenia is defined as an age related, involuntary loss of skeletal muscle mass and strength. Evidence suggests that skeletal muscle mass and skeletal muscle strength decline in a linear fashion, with up to 50% of mass being lost by the 8th decade of life. (Curr Opin Rheumatol. 2012 Nov; 24(6): 623–627. )
One of the leading causes of death as we reach older age is fragility. The decrease in muscle as we age, particularly in women often results in falls with hip fractures or other traumatic injury because our musculoskeletal system is no longer as pliable or strong enough to complete what is known as activities of daily living (ADLs). This can include tasks such as general household chores of cleaning, picking up or bending over for items, bathing and so on. Fragility often coincides with chronic health conditions that are the leading cause of death due to lifestyle as mentioned earlier such as Heart disease, Neuro disorders/stroke, Cancer and Diabetes.
Muscle Centric Health starts with protein as the backbone of the nutrition model. I like to share protein in the Greek word is “proteios,” means primary, which is essential to keep at top of mind.
There are three macronutrients: carbohydrate, fat and protein. Each serve an important purpose in the health of body and mind. Carbohydrates are like the fuel for our car (body) each day, fat is like the oil in the car that keeps our hormone production and nervous system healthy. Lastly, protein is like our mechanic who services our car to ensure it has the longevity we expect from it. Protein maintains and also builds our musculoskeletal system while keeping our glands healthy to perform over decades of life!
Protein is central for the nutrition model, but we must incorporate both aerobic and anaerobic exercise as part of the behavioral and habit changes during our journey to a healthier life(style).
Aerobic exercise “with oxygen” is any exercise that takes longer than two continuous minutes, which would include brisk walks, jogging, swimming, biking and so forth. Anaerobic exercise are “without oxygen” and short in duration and an intense activity such as weight lifting or sprinting. The aerobic goal is to equal or exceed 150mins of moderate cardio exercise per week (30mins, 5 days per week) such as brisk walking. This can be attained by focusing on number of steps per day in the range of 8-10K steps. For anaerobic exercise, the goal is to build up to a sustainable work-out routine of 3-4 days per week, each session lasting 30-40mins.
Lastly, maintaining an adequate sleep/rest routine so your body has time to build, heal and relax while also incorporating stress and substance mgmt are the remaining pillars of Lifestyle Medicine and Muscle Centric Health. I won’t say it will be an easy journey, but you will not be alone and as your co-pilot, I am optimistic that together we will create lasting behavior change and habits that will result in a healthier lifestyle with greater vitality and longevity!