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lifestyle change

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Lifestyle Change First!

Scientific consensus is to treat with lifestyle changes first.

Why do patients and mainstream medicine seem to chose medications for diseases that can be treated with lifestyle change? Patients often think physicians are professional drug dealers owned by big pharma, yet many patients choose not to cooperate with behavioral recommendations saying, "That is too hard, doc. Don't you have a pill for me?" Consider the current guidelines for reducing cardiovascular risk recommend dietary and exercise as first-line strategies.

PositiveTip: Ask your doctor what lifestyle changes you should make! Opt for Grace-empowered hard work--not quick-fix pills.

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Chalk-up More Benefits to Lifestyle Change

Lifestyle intervention can reduce the long-term risks of diabetes.

A 23 year follow-up of 6-years of lifestyle intervention among a group of patients who had impaired glucose tolerance in China found a 45% lower risk of diabetes and a 41% reduction in cardiovascular mortality. Patients were randomized to diet-only, exercise-only, both diet and exercise or standard medical care groups. There were some marked gender differences, and the authors suggested men may not have been as adherent.

PositiveTip: Choose an active lifestyle and a healthy diet for good long-term outcomes!

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Lifestyle Changes Alter Gene Expression

Lifestyle changes make a difference and need to be maintained for maximum benefit.

Patients with cardiovascular disease (CVD) or at high risk for developing CVD were placed on a year-long very low-fat vegetarian diet, 180 minutes/week of moderate aerobic exercise, one hour of stress management daily, and weekly group support. Hypertension, dyslipidemia and obesity all dropped compared to the controls. Researchers identified 143 genes that showed significant change in their expression, mostly downregulated resulting in lower vascular inflammation. 

PositiveTip: Healthy lifestyle changes seem to induce positive changes at the molecular level--stick with them!

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Stroke Prevention: To Stent or Not?

Meds and lifestyle alone prevent stroke better than additional stenting.

A recent randomized trial compared two stroke prevention approaches in 451 people at risk for a second stroke: 

  1. Medical management (blood thinning medications & lifestyle management)
  2. Medical management PLUS stenting (inserting a metal stent to open narrowed arteries).

After an average of 32 months follow up, 15% of the medical management group had a stroke event compared to 23% of the stenting group.

PositiveTip: Start preventing stroke now! Exercise regularly and choose to eat more fruits and vegetables.

Physician's Puzzle

Obese man jogging in a park.

Now let me tell you about the “good ol’ days,” back when I was convinced that people would change their habits if they only knew a better way. While this happened to be true for most of my pregnant clients, it was seldom the case for those struggling with hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.

On patient was approximately 50 years old, and the most pleasant grandmotherly lady you could imagine. This was the first patient I had cared for that weighed over 300 pounds. Baking and decorating specialty cakes was her hobby. It was also her business. When my twin boys had their second birthday, she baked the most incredible train cake I had ever seen. The engine, caboose, and all the train cars were exquisite.

She came to see me monthly for her weight control and hypertension.

Quite Amazing

It’s a time of miracles and wonderment. When a woman is ‘with child,’ she is often willing to adjust many aspects of her life. Women are amazing! While pregnant, they will stop smoking, eat more fruits and vegetables, cut out alcohol, and even exercise!

Why are so many women willing to pursue a healthier lifestyle during pregnancy but not after surviving breast cancer--even though a better lifestyle has been shown to decrease the risk of cancer recurrence? What about survivors of heart attacks? Considering that they have only one heart, it seems they would be motivated to develop healthier habits--but this is seldom the case.

There are good reasons why pro-life supporters want mothers to see a real-time sonogram of their baby before scheduling an abortion. As soon as a woman knows for sure that she is pregnant, she begins falling in love with her baby. While there are exceptions, this is the rule.

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It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk of Cancer

A majority of Americans do not know that aging increases the risk of cancer!

Does your potential cancer risk scare you? You are not alone! A recent survey by the American Institute for Cancer Research has found the majority of Americans over 70 years old do not know that cancer risk increases with age. Also, many older Americans think there is nothing they can do to reduce their risk. These troubling findings have led the AICR to launch a campaign called It's Never Too Late to Lower Your Risk.

PositiveTip: The good news is that even older people can significantly lower their risk of cancer through simple lifestyle changes such as eating smart, moving more, and attaining a healthy weight.

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Healthy Living or Healthcare Reform?

Interest in healthcare reform needs to include vigorous efforts to bring about adoption of healthy living!

What would happen if we heard as much  or more about healthy living as we hear about healthcare reform? A new study of more than 25,000 Germans provides some interesting findings. The risk of developing major chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer was compared to the participants compliance with four healthy lifestyle factors:

Small Changes Make Big Differences

Earlier last week on my way to speaking appointments I was a passenger on a South African Airways jetliner as it lifted off from Washington's Dulles International Airport bound for Johannesburg, South Africa. It was a long, sixteen hour flight with a refueling stop in Dakar, Senegal. The majority of the flight was spent at approximately five miles above the earth where the air is thin and jet engines are the most efficient.