Have you seen Jack’s magic beans? In one way or another, everybody is looking for Jack’s magic beans. Everyone knows the story. Jack, at a whim, traded his milk cow for the “magic beans”. Despite his mother’s rebuke, Jack’s trade eventually proved to bear fruit, that is the fruit of the goose that laid the golden eggs. The relevance of Jack’s magic bean to health is significant. Everyone is looking for the magic beans of health. The magic beans of prescription medications. The magic beans of surgery. Everybody is looking for the golden goose of health through the healthcare magic beans. But, do they exist?
Jack’s magic beans makes for a great story and hollywood movie adaptation. However, the magic beans just don’t exist. As hard as traditional medicine may look; no matter how much money is invested; there are no magic beans to health. No prescription medication can provide health. No surgery can provide health. Yes, not even supplements can provide health.
Health is not guaranteed for any person. However, there is one strategy close to Jack’s magic beans. A strategy to promote health and not disease. It does involve commitment. It does involve a little work. It doesn’t involve a pill or a surgery. What is it? It is the strategy of lifestyle interventions.
What are lifestyle interventions? The term lifestyle interventions is used regularly, but what does it actually mean. I’ll give you my working definition—lifestyle interventions are a voluntary, sustained change in an individual’s modifiable patterns of behavior from those that promote disease to those that promote health. Simply put, a lifestyle intervention is a pattern change of behavior to promote health over disease. A lifestyle intervention can also do just the opposite. The perfect examples of this working definition of modifiable patterns of behavior are diet and exercise. Despite the prevalence of “diet and exercise” in marketing, more than 33% of the US adult population does not get adequate, regular exercise and only 24% of US adults get adequate daily intake of fruits and vegetables.
Lifestyle interventions must be voluntary. One cannot force a change of behavior. A change of behavior must be learned voluntarily through a personal commitment, never forced.
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Lifestyle interventions have to be sustainable. As to sustainability, I am not talking about being environmentally friendly. I am talking about a change in pattern of behavior beyond the 3 month honeymoon period of therapy. For example, look at weight loss. Weight loss is not hard. In the short term, weight loss is actually quit easy. That is the honeymoon period. The difficult aspect of any therapy is the long-term success or long-term failure rate. Weight loss is no different. It has been estimated that 98% of weight loss programs fail. They fail, not because of the short-term, but because of the long-term inability to sustain the weight loss. Sustainability means it is there at 3 months, 3 years, 30 years and beyond.
Lifestyle interventions have to be individual. There is no one individual that is genetically the same (exclude identical twins). There is no one individual that has had the same environmental exposures throughout their lifetime. Likewise, all therapies require individualization. We are not robotic drones. We are created individually unique. Thus, each individual will have unique patterns of behavior that contribute to disease or health. One individual may eat twinkies and drink coke all day. Another individual may have a pattern of excessive exercise without adequate recovery. One individual may be genetically programmed to develop diabetes. Unique. Individualized. Personal.
If you have spent anytime on our website (seasonswellness.com) or follow us on social media, you are aware that we follow the science. How much published science is there on “lifestyle interventions”? Not a discussion of the quality of evidence (though very important), but what is the simple volume of evidence that is published on lifestyle interventions? A simple pubmed search for “lifestyle interventions results in 1986 articles.
What is the evidence for Lifestyle interventions? Are Lifestyle interventions only to be useful in prevention? Does every therapy start and end with a pill? Or, can Lifestyle interventions be used in the treatment of disease?
What does the evidence show?
- Lifestyle intervention programs can eliminate the need for bariatric surgery
- Lifestyle intervention is effective in the prevention and treatment of obesity
- Lifestyle intervention is effective in the treatment of childhood obesity
- Pre-operative Lifestyle intervention augments weight loss post bariatric surgery
- Lifestyle intervention is effective in management of glucose control in those individuals with diabetes and/or obesity
- Intensive lifestyle intervention improves quality of life measures
- Lifestyle intervention can be used for both short-term and long-term strategy for diabetes prevention
- Lifestyle intervention reduced the incidence of diabetes by 58%, outperforming metformin, in those at high risk for diabetes
- Lifestyle intervention therapies are effective in reducing cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes
- Lifestyle intervention reduces Coronary Heart Disease risk by 12-14%
- Lifestyle intervention therapies in people with Coronary Heart Disease have an 18% reduction in future fatal cardiovascular events
- Lifestyle intervention is effective as adjunctive therapy in the traditional, allopathic treatment of cardiovascular disease
- Lifestyle intervention is effective in reducing risk of major cardiovascular events in individuals with coronary artery disease.
- Lifestyle intervention significantly reduced metabolic syndrome
- Lifestyle intervention reduced the prevalence of metabolic syndrome
- Lifestyle intervention effective in resolving metabolic syndrome
- Lifestyle intervention reduced histologic findings of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in 2 year follow up study
- exercise and dietary changes effective in reducing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in non-obese individuals
- Lifestyle intervention reduced fatty liver and NAFLD in individuals with diabetes
- Lifestyle intervention weight loss increases Testosterone levels in men with low Testosterone, metabolic syndrome, and/or diabetes
- resistance training increases Testosterone levels
- Lifestyle intervention through exercise increases Testosterone through loss of visceral fat
- Lifestyle intervention reduces cardiovascular mortality and all-cause mortality
- Resistance training decreased odds of all-cause mortality in individuals > 65
- healthy lifestyle interventions reduce the incidence of cancer mortality
- a healthy lifestyle prevents cancer
What does the evidence show? Does Jack’s magic beans exist? Unfortunately, Jack’s magic beans for the golden goose and Jack’s magic beans for health just don’t exist. There is no magic pill, nor will there ever be, that is the answer for all ailments or the means to health for all. However, the scientific evidence does highlight the importance and effectiveness of lifestyle intervention therapies. Whether in the prevention of disease, whether in the direct treatment of disease, or whether in the augmentation of traditional, allopathic treatments of disease; lifestyle interventions are an important, effective option available to be utilized by all physicians in all situations. This is not magic beans, just science!