A Perfect Match: health, Hippocrates and lifestyle medicine

This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

Amid the frustration and despair associated with rising premiums, healthcare costs and obesity prevalence, is a trend that is slowly infiltrating the healthcare industry. Although some of the most notable trends (in fitness and nutrition) tend to come and go as quickly as a fastball (World Series, anyone?), this particular trend has an immense amount of staying power based on current scientific research. This immense power has little to do with pharmacological interventions and prescription refills and much more to do with our feet, forks, fingers and minds. This trend, as written in a recent article by the influential and impactful Dr. Dean Ornish, highlights the imperative and pervasive need for lifestyle medicine solutions throughout our healthcare system and everyday lives.

With rising healthcare costs and a despondent perspective on our nation's health, lifestyle medicine strategies have gained greater traction and attention to assist in reversing such dismal trends. Although this branch of medicine has provided a promising outlet for disease prevention and reversal current day, it can be argued that the birth of lifestyle medicine was first introduced by the Greek physician and Father of Modern Medicine, Hippocrates. Most commonly known for his Hippocratic oath, Hippocrates can also be credited with linking disease formation to environmental factors, diet and living habits. Even with the limited scientific research available at that time, the prominence in such findings is the striking similarity of disease causes and outcomes we see today. As such, environmental factors, diet and living habits still continue to play a critical role in the development of such non-communicable diseases plaguing our nation: heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes. Unfortunately, these non-communicable diseases are not trends or fads. These high-cost, potentially terminal diseases have carved a potent, negative fixture in our culture, one producing unnecessary healthcare expenditures, morbid living, and truncated lifespans. Fortunately, amid the frustration of overmedication and disproportionate quality years of life are the preventable and evidence-based strategies for reversing such non-communicable diseases plaguing our nation. Lifestyle medicine has a time-honored origin that has provided cost-effective and practical strategies for optimal health and well-being. These comprehensive lifestyle medicine strategies have certainly amplified and garnered more interest since the time of Hippocrates but his words still hold true:

"Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food"
"Walking is man's best medicine"

The health-promoting and longevity-optimizing truth about lifestyle medicine is undeniable. Thank you to the tireless efforts of Dr. Dean Ornish and his colleagues at the Preventive Medicine Research Institute, we are equipped with the potent scientific research supporting the beneficial impact lifestyle medicine has on our health, well-being and longevity. From reversing some of the most prevalent chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, type II diabetes, and early-stage prostate cancer to lengthening our telomeres, effective and life-saving medicine needs no prescription refill or surgical intervention. Likewise, we need not waste time in seeking what has already been found: a cost-effective, low technological solution for better, healthier and optimal quality living. As such, healthier and more frequent application of our feet, forks, fingers, and minds must start now to positively change the course of our health future and expression of our genes. IT IS JUST THIS-APPLICATION. We must frequently apply our feet, forks, fingers and minds towards health-promoting behaviors, those that add quality years to life and life to years. This frequent application of lifestyle medicine solutions releases the potential power of knowledge we hold to be true about lifestyle medicine.


Lifestyle medicine is built on the constructs of optimizing the life in our years and years in our life with solutions that please the palate, provide purpose for our movement, create open space for our thoughts and conversations, and create enjoyment in our days. These unrestricted solutions have no intent of a love-hate relationship or one of destruction for that matter but rather a blissful diversion from the norm to which has been superseded. It is this fun, blended up to your liking, shimmying in one direction or another, that can showcase the joys a proper dosage can bring. This such joy lies in lifestyle medicine's beauty and flexibility, void of a timeline and defined starting point. There is no strict, specific order for where you need to start. Whether you decide to incorporate more wholesome, nutrients in your day or reduce work-related stress, choose a starting prescription that best suits you and provides an optimal vehicle for change. You decide where you want to start and what outcomes you are looking to achieve. Let the self-care, self-love and healing begin and as Hippocrates once said "Let food be your medicine and medicine your food." Here's to the best in your health and well-being journey.

Best in health and happiness,

Colleen M. Faltus, MS, CWWS, CPT

The Research:

1) Koertge J, Weidner G, Elliott-Eller M, Scherwitz L, Merritt-Worden TA, Marlin R, Lipsenthal L, Guarneri M, Finkel R, Saunders Jr DE, McCormac P, Scheer JM, Collins RE, Ornish D. Improvement in medical risk factors and quality of life in women and men with coronary artery disease in the Multicenter Lifestyle Demonstration Project. American Journal of Cardiology. 2003; 91 (11): 1316-1322.

2) Ornish D, Scherwitz LW, Billings JH, Gould KL, Merritt TA, Sparler S, Armstrong WT, Ports TA, Kirkeeide RL, Hogeboom C, Brand RJ. Intensive Lifestyle Changes for Reversal of Coronary Heart Disease. JAMA.1998;280(23):2001-2007.

3) Pischke CR1, Weidner G, Elliott-Eller M, Scherwitz L, Merritt-Worden TA, Marlin R, Lipsenthal L, Finkel R, Saunders D, McCormac P, Scheer JM, Collins RE, Guarneri EM, Ornish D. Comparison of coronary risk factors and quality of life in coronary artery disease patients with versus without diabetes mellitus. American Journal of Cardiology. 2006; 97(9):1267-1273.

4) Silberman A1, Banthia R, Estay IS, Kemp C, Studley J, Hareras D, Ornish D. The effectiveness and efficacy of an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program in 24 sites. American Journal of Health Promotion. 2010; 24(4):260-266.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Colleen M. Faltus

Colleen has ber BS degree in Applied Exercise Science from Springfield College (2008) and MS degree in Nutrition and Health Promotion at Simmons College (2015). She currently holds certifications through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA) and National Wellness Institute (NWI) as a certified personal trainer and worksite wellness specialist. Additionally, she is a member of the Worksite Wellness Council of MA as well as an active committee member for their annual conference.

Colleen has experience writing and speaking about lifestyle medicine at both the individual and population health level. Her expertise also lies in the design and implementation of people-centric health and well-being programs, with previous experience in both the commercial sector at Sports Club LA and Equinox as well as corporate sector at Google and State Street Corporation. Colleen's knowledge and expertise in the development and implementation of individual and population-based health and well-being programs embodies the significance of lifestyle medicine solutions for sustainable, positive health outcomes.

Specialties: organizational health and well-being program planning and implementation, lifestyle medicine practices and solutions, disease and stress-management, individual and population-based exercise prescriptions

Read more from Colleen on Women's iLab here