I was inspired to write this article when I saw this insightful image. Most people walk out of a GP practice or hospital with a prescription for a drug or surgery and very few will get a lifestyle prescription. The are a few reasons for this 1-most doctors are not trained to prescribe Lifestyle medicine 2- the 10 minute appointment allows very little time to discuss lifestyle changes 3- some doctors are overweight themselves and thus reluctant to tell a patient to exercise and eat more healthy food 4- Reluctance and resistance from patients to listen to lifestyle advice and would prefer to take a tablet to help say their blood pressure.
This is a real shame for multiple reasons. Drugs and surgery cost billions of pounds each year to the NHS whereas exercise and a change in diet costs very little in comparison. Even with us taking more and more medication the rates of diseases like cancer, diabetes and heart disease are still rocketing. Although we are living longer many are not in good physical or mental health placing another burden on social care. We are adding years to life but not quality of life.
Taking a drug may reduce your risk of disease by a relatively small percentage compared to exercise/healthy diet. If you look at the website thennt.com taking a statin in someone who never has had heart disease helps one person in a hundred after taking a statin for 5 years but 1 out every 50 persons taking a statin will develop type 2 diabetes and 1 in 10 will develop muscle pain. But if you took regular physical activity the benefits are huge as you can see from the infographic below.
You don’t have to join a gym. Look at the benefits of regular daily walking below.
If you then cut out eating processed foods, especially foods like white bread and any fizzy or sugar laden drink and focus on eating real food, you really can bullet proof your body from the chronic diseases ravaging the Western world. What a fantastic quote ‘THE MOST POWERFUL MEDICINE IS AT THE END OF YOUR FORK’
In my view if the NHS invested money into changing all GP surgeries into a Prevention medical practice, we could save the NHS and heal our broken social care system. Every GP practice would have a small fitness gym with a personal health trainer and a nutritionist. So, for example if you were diagnosed with high blood pressure or type 2 diabetes you were given the option to reverse this with an 8 to 12-week prescription delivered by the personal health trainer and nutritionist. Imagine a GP practice that looks more like a health and well-being centre where you may get a drug, but you may also be offered a lifestyle prescription. Imagine walking up to your Prevention medical practice and seeing other patients working out in the gym. Imagine a GP practice which has an allotment where patients can be encouraged to grow their own food and benefit from more physical activity. JUST IMAGINE!!!
This why either for my patients at Pelham medical practice or the customers we care for at Vitality Home Health are offered a lifestyle prescription. If every doctor who has been given the right resources could do this in my humble opinion for NHS and Social care this would be a game changer.