This month, Dr Chatterjee is feeling hopeful about healthcare in the UK becoming more lifestyle-focused.
So, here we are again at the start of a New Year. I for one am filled with optimism as I truly believe there’s is a shift taking place in public consciousness about what keeps us healthy and what leads to ill health. People are taking more responsibility for their own health and educating themselves about the best ways to achieve longevity, which is so important considering degenerative diseases are on the rise.
Science over the past 10 years has taught us that only 10 per cent of our health outcomes are related to our genetics, making a whopping 90 per cent down to our lifestyles and environments. This is great news as it means we have a lot more control than we once thought!
With this newfound knowledge, it is clear that the way doctors are educated needs to evolve. With so much of our health reliant upon our nutrition and lifestyle choices, doctors need to be taught more about this – only two weeks out of five years training to be a medical doctor is taken up looking at nutrition, for example! I do think doctors are doing their best with the education they receive and the time slots they are given for appointments but it is clear to me that something is not working – I wonder how many of you have been frustrated after having visited the GP? Around 40 years ago, we were seeing acute conditions that responded well to a ‘one pill, one ill’ approach. Today, the health landscape has changed and we are seeing a variety of different problems that in most cases are linked to the way that we are collectively living our modern lives as well as the over-prescription of certain medications such as antibiotics.
Time for a change
This is why I have co-created the very first accredited Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine course with the Royal College of General Practitioners. My goal is to teach doctors the science behind a whole variety of lifestyle intervention so we can all better serve our patients. IBS, weight problems, mood disorders, menstrual problems and thyroid conditions are just some of the issues that can be significantly improved by making lifestyle changes such as improving diet and sleep patterns, reducing stress and, of course, exercising, all of which I cover in my new book, The Four Pillar Plan.
So, this year I encourage you to be your own doctor and empower yourself to make positive changes that could keep you healthy well into old age and even reverse some pre-existing conditions. It’s possible – you have the power!
Rangan’s 2018 health prescription
- Prioritise relaxation. Taking time out – even five minutes a day – to do deep, slow, focused breathing can help reduce your cortisol and help you to stay calm.
- Move more: Commit to walking a few miles each day, which is fantastic for managing blood sugar as well as de-stressing. Also have regular movement breaks if you have a sedentary job.
- Eat your greens: and your reds, oranges, yellows and purples!
- Sleep soundly: Plenty of health issues are made worse by having little or poor sleep. Dim the lights an hour before bed, switch off devices and take a bath – your sleep really matters!