Lifestyle Medicine: What It Is, What It Does

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Since this is the Best of Edina issue, I wanted to explore a health topic which I’m very passionate about, which can help unlock a person’s best health: lifestyle medicine.

Lifestyle medicine is a branch of medicine that has experienced a strong resurgence of interest in recent years. It’s based on the understanding that lifestyle and a person’s state of health are tightly intertwined. However, the fact that lifestyle choices contribute to the development of chronic disease has been recognized by the scientific community for just shy of four decades.

This medical paradigm is an evidence-based therapeutic approach to healthcare that combats chronic illness by identifying and modifying personal habits and behaviors (known as lifestyle factors) that are contributing to the development of—or severity of—disease.

Lifestyle factors associated with chronic illness include physical inactivity, chronic stress, poor sleep quality, unhealthy diet, lack of positive social connection, exposure to environmental toxins and consumption of alcohol and tobacco.

And what’s the connection between these lifestyle factors and chronic illness? To oversimplify:

  • Smoking causes cancer.
  • Alcohol damages the brain.
  • Sleep restores our immune system.
  • Stress disrupts our hormones.
  • Sugar harms the liver, (our body’s master detoxifier and energy producer).
  • Sedentary living contributes to early mortality (think: diabetes and obesity).
  • Diet regulates inflammation, which manifests as joint pain, fatigue and headaches.
  • Environmental toxins harm our cells and have been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

You see, our state of health is strongly dependent on the way we live. Lifestyle medicine exists to raise awareness of this reality. Practitioners trained in lifestyle medicine help guide their clients to positive lifestyle changes that may lead to a greater state of health.

Timothy Borowski, MS, is a natural healthcare professional who specializes in neurological function, injury rehabilitation and complex pain management. He is the founder of Axon Movement, an Edina-based complementary healthcare practice that utilizes a wide variety of science-based therapies and technologies.