Six Pillars of Lifestyle Medicine

There are six pillars that fall under the umbrella of lifestyle medicine. The pillars include eating a primarily plant-based diet, managing energy levels through exercise, having adequate restorative sleep, managing stress and mental health, and eliminating negative habits such as smoking, excessive drinking, and drug use. Learn more about them below.

The benefits of maintaining a healthy lifestyle include preventing and mitigating many diseases which make up the top causes of death in the United States: The benefits of living a healthier Lifestyle include reducing or eliminating many medications, over time, and significantly decreasing the risk of developing:

  • Many types of and contributing factors of heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type II Diabetes
  • Up to 40% of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Lung disease and cancer
  • Many other cancers including breast, prostate, colon, and more.

1. Plant-Powered Minimally Processed Diet

A healthy plant-rich diet focuses on whole plant foods that are rich in leafy greens, whole grains, berries, legumes, nuts and seeds to provide a well-balanced, nutrient-rich diet that contributes to well-balanced gut health.

2. Physical Activity

Regularly participating in any kind of movement that increases heart rate and breathing harder than normal. This may be brisk walking, dancing, biking, hiking, gardening or raking, running, swimming, playing sports, etc.  The goal is to get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate activity or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activity and two days per week of weight-bearing exercises.

3. Sleep

Sleep Many studies show that 7-9 hours of restorative sleep are essential for lowering risk and helping manage chronic diseases. Diseases such as obesity, diabetes and heart disease can be significantly prevented or mitigated by getting < 6 hours of sleep per night.  In addition to sleep, we all need periods of daily, weekly and annual rest – times when we take a break to rejuvenate and get a clearer perspective.

4. Stress and Mental Health

Chronic stress which often leads to mental or emotional stressors – is very harmful to    one’s bodily system, increasing risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity.  Developing a regular routine for managing stress is a key element to reducing the chronic stressors of modern life.

5. Relationships and Social Support

Most people don’t think of social relationships as an essential factor in health, but research shows that having healthy relationships can have as big an impact on health and longevity as factors as physical activity does on obesity. All types of healthy relationships – family, friends, colleagues and neighbors – can bring value to our lives and improve our overall physical and mental or emotional health.

6. Reducing or Eliminating Risky Substances

This includes addictive substances like tobacco and alcohol which can increase risk for cancer and heart disease, but also commonly used substances like caffeine – which in excess may be harmful for some people.  It also considers environmental toxins and pollutants which can be harmful to health.