To state the obvious, we all want to lead healthy lives. Unfortunately, due to a lack of credible educational resources, a surplus of industry-sponsored research leading people astray as to what’s actually in their best interest, and the failure of our current Healthcare System in a variety capacities, it can be challenging to figure out the best steps in order to do so.
This blog was born out of the desire to share the knowledge that I’ve gained over the past decade of practicing medicine and developing strategies for optimizing my own health.
Our Current Medical System is Broken
In our current Medical System the expectation that a patient can be adequately educated about disease prevention in a 20 minute appointment is incredibly unrealistic. Unfortunately, 20 minutes is the national average for time spent during a face-to-face encounter with a physician. Even though I have the luxury of spending twice that amount with my patients, it still isn’t enough.
LifestyleIsMedicineDoc is essentially an amalgamation of the discussions I would like to have with each one of my patients if our time was unlimited. My hope is that through this website I will be able to impact a larger audience and help fill some of the gaps left by our current Healthcare System.
Self-Education is Key for Optimizing Health
The most important piece of advice I can give, is that you must take responsibility for your health. Your physicians are here to guide you in the right direction, but ultimately, it’s on you to implement the changes needed to live a healthier lifestyle. Ultimately, your health is yours to own.
Part of owning your health means educating yourself about any medical conditions you may have. Be inquisitive. Make sure you are receiving what is considered to be the standard of care. If certain laboratory work, diagnostic tests, or treatment options haven’t been offered, ask your physician to explain why. There is likely a good reason. In some instances you may pick up on something that otherwise would have gone missed or a novel treatment option that your physician may not be aware of.
Cleaning a Mess is Much Harder than Not Making a Mess in the First Place
You’ve read in a prior post how finances are like dirty dishes. Dirty dishes are so much easier to keep up with if you tackle them on a daily basis. It takes less time and is much more enjoyable than spending your Saturday chipping away at last week’s dinner.
Your health is the same way. It’s something that needs to be tended to consistently. If you neglect your health for too long, you’re going to spend much more time on the back end trying to clean up the mess and feel a whole lot worse in the process.
Prevention is Key
By developing a strategy where you habituate one healthy habit at a time, you’ll take small, but consistent steps each day that will have a dramatic impact on your life in the future. Check out our post on Habit Stacking which offers a good technique for developing a number of positive habits that build off each other. Taking steps to avoid injury or sickness before it happens prevents unnecessary suffering and saves you a boatload in medical expenses down the line. Not to mention, you will feel and look better than ever before!
Lifestyle Habits Determine Good (or Bad) Health
In many instances, it's your daily habits that can make you sick. But, in the words of the founder of Osteopathic Medicine, Dr. A.T. Still, “Anyone can find disease. It is the object of a physician to find health.” So what habits can we cultivate to make sure we are finding health as opposed to sickness. Well, let’s take a look:
Get good sleep
Practicing good hand hygiene
Limit caffeine and alcohol intake
Develop stress reduction strategies
Indirectly, these habits also play an important role:
Do meaningful work
Natural Remedies May Work Better Than We Think
Despite the paucity of high-level research available showing the potential effectiveness of naturopathic remedies, this doesn’t mean they aren’t effective. Unfortunately, the funding needed to conduct such research is limited as Big Pharma doesn’t stand to profit from this data like it does with prescription medications.
However, the little data we do have suggests there are a number of naturopathic agents that may prove beneficial in treating a variety of ailments. For instance, there’s a long list of natural anti-inflammatory agents that, as their name implies, reduce inflammation, relieve pain and likely cost a lot less than the medications you’d pick up at a local pharmacy.
For instance, more and more research is being conducted on the medicinal benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) and essential oils, etc. [1-17] Obviously, before starting any natural remedy it is important to first seek the advice of a medical professional as some of these agents can interact with other medications you may be taking and may not be appropriate given your medical history.
Eating an unprocessed diet that is jam-packed with phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory agents may be beneficial in preventing and possibly curing some medical ailments. In his book, How Not to Die, Dr. Gregor offers a succinct review of the medical literature as it pertains to the healing properties of certain foods. 
Don’t Underestimate the Importance of Touch in Healing
In my opinion, it’s far too often that we underestimate the healing properties of touch. Recordings of spinal corrections being performed via manual muscle manipulation dates back several thousand years with formal osteopathic manipulation and chiropractic intervention being introduced in the United States since the late 1800s. Logic would dictate that there must be some reason why these treatment modalities have survived this long.
Despite lacking a plethora of what is believed to be the highest level of research, i.e. prospective, randomized, double-blinded, placebo controlled, multi-center studies, it doesn’t mean these treatments aren’t efficacious. The limited data that is available does suggest that these treatment options may be beneficial for patients and pose little harm when performed safely by a licensed practitioner.  However, as with any topic mentioned in this blog, it is important that you get cleared by your physician before undergoing any spinal manipulation as this treatment isn’t for everyone, especially those with high-grad spinal stenosis, i.e. narrowing in the spine.
Stopping smoking is the single most important change that any individual can make at this very moment to substantially improve their health for years to come. Not only is it destroying your lungs and cardiovascular system, it is predisposing you to developing early-onset degenerative disc disease which means a lifetime of spine pain that does not have the best treatment options available. Not to mention, it makes you wrinkly, smells terrible, and has considerable financial implications.
So there you have it, a brief introduction to some of the topics that many physicians wish they had more time to discuss with their patients. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it’s a nice overview of many of the topics we’ve discussed in further detail in our blog. If you are interested in finding out more about any the topics above, feel free to click the accompanying links for additional blog posts on such topics. Until then, keep making those positive lifestyle changes one step at a time. An investment in your health is one that will continue to pay you dividends for years to come!
Fernández‐Ruiz, J., Sagredo, O., Pazos, M. R., García, C., Pertwee, R., Mechoulam, R., & Martínez‐Orgado, J. (2013). Cannabidiol for neurodegenerative disorders: important new clinical applications for this phytocannabinoid?. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 75(2), 323-333.
Cunha, J. M., Carlini, E. A., Pereira, A. E., Ramos, O. L., Pimentel, C., Gagliardi, R., ... & Mechoulam, R. (1980). Chronic administration of cannabidiol to healthy volunteers and epileptic patients. Pharmacology, 21(3), 175-185.
Leweke, F. M., Piomelli, D., Pahlisch, F., Muhl, D., Gerth, C. W., Hoyer, C., ... & Koethe, D. (2012). Cannabidiol enhances anandamide signaling and alleviates psychotic symptoms of schizophrenia. Translational psychiatry, 2(3), e94-e94.
Gomes, F. V., Resstel, L. B., & Guimarães, F. S. (2011). The anxiolytic-like effects of cannabidiol injected into the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis are mediated by 5-HT1A receptors. Psychopharmacology, 213(2-3), 465-473.
Moller, H. J., Bal, H., Sudan, K., & Potwarka, L. R. (2014). Recreating Leisure: How immersive environments can promote wellbeing. Interacting with Presence: HCI and the Sense of Presence in Computer-Mediated Environments, 102-122.
Marczylo, T. H., Lam, P. M., Nallendran, V., Taylor, A. H., & Konje, J. C. (2009). A solid-phase method for the extraction and measurement of anandamide from multiple human biomatrices. Analytical biochemistry, 384(1), 106-113.
Parker, L. A., Mechoulam, R., & Schlievert, C. (2002). Cannabidiol, a non-psychoactive component of cannabis and its synthetic dimethylheptyl homolog suppress nausea in an experimental model with rats. Neuroreport, 13(5), 567-570.
Johnson, J. R., Lossignol, D., Burnell-Nugent, M., & Fallon, M. T. (2013). An open-label extension study to investigate the long-term safety and tolerability of THC/CBD oromucosal spray and oromucosal THC spray in patients with terminal cancer-related pain refractory to strong opioid analgesics. Journal of pain and symptom management, 46(2), 207-218.
Mecha, M., Feliú, A., Iñigo, P. M., Mestre, L., Carrillo-Salinas, F. J., & Guaza, C. (2013). Cannabidiol provides long-lasting protection against the deleterious effects of inflammation in a viral model of multiple sclerosis: a role for A2A receptors. Neurobiology of disease, 59, 141-150.
Langford, R. M., Mares, J., Novotna, A., Vachova, M., Novakova, I., Notcutt, W., & Ratcliffe, S. (2013). A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of THC/CBD oromucosal spray in combination with the existing treatment regimen, in the relief of central neuropathic pain in patients with multiple sclerosis. Journal of neurology, 260(4), 984-997.
Crippa, J. A. S., Derenusson, G. N., Ferrari, T. B., Wichert-Ana, L., Duran, F. L., Martin-Santos, R., ... & Filho, A. S. (2011). Neural basis of anxiolytic effects of cannabidiol (CBD) in generalized social anxiety disorder: a preliminary report. Journal of psychopharmacology, 25(1), 121-130.