By Andres Neira, MS 

We live in a world full of technology and science that has revolutionized the world around us. With medical advances, our quality of life has risen exponentially, right? Wrong! Unfortunately, it’s been dramatically decreasing over the past 30 years, and we are sicker now more than ever. So, what is causing this rapid decline in health? 

We’re living in a time of convenience. Doordash, Amazon, streaming, and social media have made us reliant on technology to function. With obesity rates at all-time highs, it’s no coincidence that this is directly correlated with the rise in chronic disease. 

What if I told you there’s a medicine at your house, that’s with you wherever you go, that you could take whenever you want, and it’s cheaper than traditional medicine? This life-changing medicine is called Lifestyle Medicine. Lifestyle medicine has five pillars you can work on optimizing with life-long health benefits. 

Pillar 1: Diet 

You are what you eat. When you eat nothing but processed foods and excess calories, you rob your body of vital nutrients such as vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals your body craves to ward off sickness. Many chronic diseases can be traced back to what we’re consuming. For instance, high triglycerides and insulin resistance are likely due to excess processed sugars and refined carbohydrates; high cholesterol and elevated LDL due to fried foods, cooking with butter, vegetable oils, or a diet high in animal fats; or overeating could be the issue. 

TIP: Don’t stress or complicate it. Eat primarily whole foods and consume more lean meats, fruits, and vegetables, which are loaded with the nutrients we need to live longer.

Pillar 2: Physical Activity 

Moving the body is one of the most important things you can do to ensure you live longer. Stress and depression reduction through hormone optimization, more energy, improved sleep, reduction or prevention of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, many cancers, osteoporosis, tendonitis, and arthritis are just some benefits of exercise. Chronic disease is directly linked with inflammation in the body caused by poor diet, substance abuse, and pollutants, but regular exercise has a huge impact on reducing chronic inflammation. 

TIP: Microdose your exercise by making small changes that will add up over time. If you do what you enjoy more first, you’ll want to form the habit, which will become routine. Life is a marathon, not a sprint; take your time to make changes! 

Pillar 3: Sleep Management 

Sleep is for the optimal function of your body. The body that doesn’t get enough deep sleep ages quicker, has more inflammation, and becomes stressed and sick. Consistent sleep might be the most critical aspect of recovery, in addition to healthy blood pressure, glucose, stress, anxiety control, lean muscle mass growth, and more energy! 

TIP: Get 7-8 hours for optimal health. Stop eating two hours before bedtime so your body can prepare for sleep and go into deep sleep without being interrupted by digestion. And don’t drink alcohol close to bedtime. 

Pillar 4: Stress Management 

Stress can wreak havoc in our bodies, attacking our immune system and our mental health, but spending time with people who make you smile and laugh can be therapeutic. The dopamine, serotonin, and endorphins produced when you laugh and are happy is medicine in itself. Watching a funny movie, listening to your favorite music or podcasts, orates, tai chi, or meditation are other options for reducing stress. 

Pillar 5: Substance Abuse 

Drugs, tobacco, and alcohol abuse destroy our bodies. Even being around secondhand smoke is risky, with some studies showing you can get about 60% of the negative effects. This pillar may not apply to all, but it must be respected to live your best life. 

This year, let’s all add some lifestyle medicine to our pantries and lives. 

Andres Neira, MS, Director of Health and Wellness at LifeDoc. For more information, contact LifeDoc at 901.683.0024 or visit