By Cecilia Ologunagba
Abuja – Participants at the just concluded conference on Lifestyle medicine have advised medical professionals in the health sector to adopt the use of therapeutic lifestyle interventions in the primary treatment of lifestyle-related diseases.
Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based medical field, where professionals used simple lifestyle therapeutic approaches to prevent, treat and often times reverse the cause of life time chronic illnesses.
The participants gave the advice in a communiqué signed by Society of Lifestyle Medicine of Nigeria (SOLONg) President, Dr Ifeoma Monye and Dr Mimi Osanwoyi, General-Secretary after SOLONg 2nd conference held in Abuja.
The participants said Lifestyle medicine should be the foundation of healthcare in Nigeria and that therapeutic lifestyle interventions were vital in addressing the root cause of diseases rather than the conventional way of managing symptoms.
They said gaps in health literacy, regarding the understanding and processing of basic health information, should be addressed to inform health decisions.
According to them, national and subnational governments should prioritise the construction of pedestrian sidewalks, tracks and pavements dedicated solely for walking and cycling to promote physical activity and ensure safety in this avenue.
They stated that national and subnational governments should ban the public use of tobacco, to reduce exposure to passive smoking and the risk of chronic lung disease and lung cancer.
“Government at National and State levels should provide recreational parks in all major cities in Nigeria; access to stadia, parks, gyms and other facilities that promote physical activity should be free of charge.
“Government and relevant educational regulatory bodies should implement the inclusion of Lifestyle medicine modules to undergraduate and post-graduate study programmes in health; Clinicians should also engage in continuing lifestyle medicine training programmes.
“The Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) is urged to address self-care among medical practitioners to reduce the threat to qualitative healthcare services from paucity of doctors due to chronic lifestyle related illnesses and premature deaths.
“There is need to understand the root causes of sudden, unexpected deaths amongst Nigerian doctors; all other affiliate medical associations and societies are enjoined to do same.
“ The government should invest in the development of Lifestyle Medicine as a panacea to huge healthcare costs in the contemporary society.’’
In addition, the participants observed that Lifestyle Medicine was the future for the treatment, prevention and reversal of chronic, non-communicable/lifestyle-related diseases.
This, they noted, was achievable by enabling lifestyle changes such as eating whole food, plant-based meals, and moving more, loving more and managing stress better.
They further observed that scientific research include numerous randomised clinical trials and longitudinal studies that had remarkable outcomes in applying lifestyle changes, compared to conventional care in many chronic diseases.
“Chronic diseases such as Hypertension, Coronary heart disease, Prostate cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and Diabetes Mellitus.
“Also, physical activity is a pillar of Lifestyle Medicine which involves cardio-respiratory endurance, muscle strength, muscle endurance, flexibility and balance.
“The benefits of physical activity range from improved sleep quality, improved brain function, improved insulin sensitivity as well as decreased blood pressure, reduced anxiety and depression and decreased risk of premature death.
“Exercise is for everyone; the recommended level of exercise for adults (18 – 64 years, pregnant and breastfeeding) is at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise per week.“
The participants stressed the need for children go back to outdoor play with good old fashioned running, football, basket ball, hide and seek, and so on, with friends from the neighbourhood.
“This enhances social connectedness too.’’
They further observed that dietary patterns had been shown to impact the reversal of type 2 diabetes mellitus include, caloric restriction and intermittent fasting as well as meal timing.
They also observed that consumption of macro nutrients (100 per cent plant-based diet, high vegetable diet, whole grain diet, low protein plant-based diet, adequate hydration) had been shown to impact the reversal of type 2 diabetes mellitus.
According to them, sleep is a biological process that should be restful and restorative, adding that the required night time sleep duration in adults should be seven to eight hours.
“Power naps not more than 20 minutes during the day are also recommended. Poor sleep quality and duration, less than six hours at night is associated with obesity, cardiovascular disease and some cancers.’’ (NAN)