Five Pillars to Better Health

Lifestyle Medicine – Five Pillars to Better Health

Whether you’re a health care professional working to address acid reflux or a woman attempting to get enough rest, lifestyle medicine can be woven into many forms of healthcare.

Metropolitan State University offers the first Lifestyle Medicine major and minor at the bachelor’s level. ACLM is also the leading medical professional society that supports clinical and worksite practice of lifestyle medicine.


The Nutrition Pillar focuses on choosing foods that provide your body with the proper nutrients to support its biological functions. Choosing whole plant-based foods, like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds, as well as getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, can help you stay healthy.

This pillar also includes addressing any food sensitivities or allergies, which may impact your health in unexpected ways. A lifestyle medicine practitioner may recommend testing for food allergies or incorporating mindfulness-based stress reduction techniques to reduce your daily exposure to potential allergens.

80% of healthcare costs are spent on chronic disease, and many of those conditions are caused by unhealthy behaviors. Lifestyle medicine seeks to prescribe behavior changes that decrease unhealthy habits and promote healthy ones. ACLM helps physicians incorporate these strategies into their practices through evidence-based education, practice resources and networking opportunities like our popular monthly email newsletter, ACLM Insider. Our members are united in our desire to domestically and globally champion lifestyle change as a primary treatment option, mitigating the disease epidemic. To learn more about this new paradigm in healthcare.



Whether you’re looking to lose weight, lower blood sugar or reduce chronic pain, our team of lifestyle medicine coaches will help you make the changes needed to reach your goals. Our dietitians use motivational interviewing techniques to discuss how your current diet and other lifestyle habits affect your health, and will work with you to create a plan that will lead to long-term success.

A healthy diet is the foundation for vibrant, life-long health. Our program emphasizes a whole plant-based food diet of fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils and whole grains while avoiding excess sugars, processed foods and meat. It also encourages regular physical activity, good sleep hygiene, stress reduction techniques and social connection.

Unlike most health trends, lifestyle medicine is grounded in science and has real benefits for members. Many members have been able to stop taking medication or cancel surgeries after making simple diet and movement changes. And, in many cases, these practices are as effective as or more effective than medications and surgeries.


A good night’s sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Most adults require about seven hours of sleep a night, though teens and children need more.

Getting enough sleep is vital to support your immune system, heart and circulatory health, and metabolism. Research has also linked poor sleep to diabetes, obesity and mental health. It also impacts how well you think and learn.

Exercise is another pillar of the lifestyle medicine approach, and it can be done in many ways, from hiking to swimming. The key is to find what works for you and incorporate it into your daily routine. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night and establish a regular bedtime and wake-up schedule. Avoid drinking caffeine in the evening and limit electronic usage prior to sleeping as these can interfere with your quality of sleep.

Sleep and stress are also connected, and addressing both can lead to improved sleep. In fact, a study in the journal of Psychosomatic Medicine found that treating insomnia and anxiety can result in better sleep.


The term “detoxification” is often used in reference to addressing addiction or getting drugs out of one’s system. But the practice is much broader and can be woven into many types of care. For example, a patient battling acid reflux might work with an osteopathic physician to improve their diet and avoid alcohol. The same principle can also apply to patients working night shift at a factory, who could benefit from a physician’s advice on how to manage sleep and stress to help prevent recurrence of chronic health conditions like heart disease or diabetes.

A wide range of medical, behavioral and environmental factors contribute to chronic diseases, including obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and mental illness. As a medical specialty, lifestyle medicine provides the knowledge and tools family physicians need to prescribe effective behavioral changes for their patients.

A whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and strong social connections have been proven to treat or even reverse these conditions. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine is a galvanized force for change, providing the evidence-based education, practice resources and networking necessary to deliver this transformative, comprehensive approach to healthcare.


The final pillar of better health is one that’s both personal and incredibly important: your mindset. It’s often the most difficult to change, but it is also essential to good health. Having an abundance of negative thoughts can increase cortisol and decrease serotonin, which negatively impact both your physical and mental health. This is why positive thinking and emotional health are so critical.

According to the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, 80% of healthcare spending is for chronic diseases that could be prevented or improved through healthier behaviors. This holistic health approach looks for and solves root causes of problems like nutrient deficiencies, inflammation, poor sleep, and chronic stress.

The six pillars of lifestyle medicine are plant-based nutrition, physical activity, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, restorative sleep, and social connections. Sign up for ACLM Insider to receive lifestyle tips and updates. You can also learn more about how the pillars of better health work together by visiting our lifestyle medicine portal. This is where members can get personalized recommendations from physicians and coaches on the best ways to improve their health through the pillars of wellness.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts