Lifestyle medicine uses evidenced-based behavioral interventions focused on the six pillars of nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress management, healthy relationships and substance abuse avoidance. The medical approach of lifestyle medicine has successfully reversed chronic disease and according to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, it can address 80% of chronic diseases. Lifestyle medicine recognizes that preventative measures can be taken to avoid health problems and disease.



A large aspect of lifestyle medicine is recognizing the role of food as medicine and incorporating a predominantly whole food, plant-based diet that minimizes processed foods. A diet that consists mostly of vegetables, fruits, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds with less animal-based foods is the recommended guideline for lifestyle medicine as it is associated with lower cardiovascular risk factors. The body needs certain nutrients for wellness and longevity including fiber, antioxidants and phytochemicals, which are rich in plant-based foods.



Movement of the body is crucial for not only physical health, but also mental health. Regular exercise promotes cardiovascular health and also releases endorphins, which boosts mood. Physical activity decreases the risks of diabetes and reduces stress, inflammation, cortisol, visceral fat and triglycerides. The CDC recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise or 60 minutes of high intensity exercise per week and two or more days of strength training to “work all major muscle groups.”


Senior woman on yoga mat



Adequate sleep in both quantity and quality is essential for the body to recover, heal and repair. Seven to nine hours of sleep for adults is optimal in order to achieve all 4 phases of the sleep cycle with a sufficient amount of delta wave sleep, which is 2-2.5 hours. During sleep is when neuronal homeostasis happens where “nerve cells adjust their electrical excitability and the overall strength of synaptic connections to maintain their functional identity.” Sleep is also when memory consolidation and metabolic conservation likely takes place.


Stress Management

Stress is necessary to live, but too much stress results in inflammation and negative health outcomes including high blood pressure, diabetes, depression, and anxiety, so it should be properly monitored and managed. It takes a certain level of self-awareness to determine how much stress is too much as it varies between individuals. When individuals experience stress, they need an outlet to release that stress, and physical activity or doing something you enjoy is a great way to achieve that.


Healthy Relationships

Humans need safe, close and satisfying relationships with others for longevity, so much so that relationships have a higher impact on health than physical indicators. Without healthy relationships, people often experience stress and as a result turn to risky behaviors to cope such as substance abuse. Dr. Robert Waldinger of Harvard Medical School states, "Loneliness kills. It’s as powerful as smoking or alcoholism." Research by Dr. Naomi Eisenberger, a social psychologist at UCLA indicates that social rejection “activates some of the same neural regions that are activated in response to physical pain.”


Young hispanic woman at the beach


Substance Abuse Avoidance

When it comes to substance abuse, it is often necessary for a third-party to step in and evaluate as the user often doesn’t realize that he/she has a problem. It can be difficult to see whether it is a situation of overindulgence or abuse until a proper assessment is done. Mental health issues are inextricably tied to substance abuse since people are using tobacco, drugs, and/or alcohol as a maladaptive coping mechanism. Taking preventative measures to avoid substances to begin with is an important part of lifestyle medicine and achieving wellness and longevity. It begins with understanding the patient and steering the patient towards healthier coping skills to manage stress.

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM) is a professional medical organization that a group of visionary healthcare leaders founded in 2004 in response to a need to formalize the advancement of lifestyle medicine as a medical specialty and discipline. In 2017, ACLM in collaboration with the American College of Preventive Medicine (ACPM) created the Lifestyle Medicine Board Certification Exam, providing a standardized credential for healthcare providers practicing in the field. 


The ACLM is actively involved in promoting lifestyle medicine in healthcare systems worldwide. It advocates for changes in healthcare reimbursement models to incentivize preventive care. Integrative medicine and functional medicine share similarities with lifestyle medicine as they incorporate some similar approaches of treating the whole person, going beyond medical prescriptions and including lifestyle interventions.


Therefore, similarly clinicians practicing lifestyle medicine can benefit from adopting a membership model to have consistent relationships with their patients over a long period of time to create a health treatment plan that they can monitor and adjust along each patient’s health journey. Hint has the resources to help lifestyle medicine practitioners incorporate a membership model into their practice with ease. Power your practice with Hint Core and benefit from free educational resources for customers to help grow your practice including DPC Accelerator.



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