Practically all the media have to talk about: leefstijlgeneeskunde. What is it and why is it such a hot topic? We asked the general practitioner Tamara de Weijer, founder and president of the Association Arts and Lifestyle.
What is leefstijlgeneeskunde exactly?
“Leefstijlgeneeskunde revolves around the prevention and treatment of lifestyle related disorders by means of leefstijlinterventies: with the help of a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition.”
What are lifestyle related disorders?
“Diseases that are partly caused by the way we live and eat. Our body still works the same as that of our ancestors. It may well deal with scarcity, but we live in times of abundance. Unhealthy food is everywhere. In addition, we are much more than our ancestors, we sleep less and worse and we have more chronic stress. Our body can not cope with it. Lifestyle plays an important role in many diseases of affluence, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, and heart disease.”
How many disorders are leefstijlgerelateerd?
“Half of the diseases which I have in my office, see, is, together with lifestyle. Asthma, eczema, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, ulcerative colitis, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol. All complaints are to relieve or even to return with a healthier lifestyle.”
You’re not a fan of the term ‘leefstijlgeneeskunde’. Why not?
“Because it suggests that it is something else than the ‘regular’ medicine. That is not so. Lifestyle was already in the time of Hippocrates in medicine used for the prevention and treatment of diseases and disorders. It was always in the oath that we as physicians sit at the end of the geneeskundestudie: “I will live and dietary measures engagement for the benefit of the sick, to the best knowledge and judgment. I will keep them from harm and injustice.’ Unfortunately there is in the current oath is not much more about it.”
So it is nothing new?
“On the contrary. It is the basis of our medicine. That we now like to experience something new, maybe because we are around a century ago – in the time that we have penicillin and antibiotics nd – more and more drugs are going to prescribe. Our faith in drugs is large, but in lifestyle a lot less.”
“Doctors realize so often that there is a huge connection between lifestyle and certain diseases”
Tamara de Weijer
But antibiotics save still lives? Is leefstijlgeneeskunde against drugs?
“Certainly not. In case of severe illness or disease is medication necessary. It’s a good thing that we have people with medications can cure deadly diseases. What, according to me went wrong, is that we as doctors also pills are going prescription to lifestyle related diseases such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, asthma, eczema, migraine, and stomach or intestinal disorders. While lifestyle in the guidelines for these disorders are always at the top. For example, in the case of diabetes: as a doctor you have three months to work with a patient to lifestyle to look, before you proceed to medications. But often, directly with medication started. Medication for lifestyle related diseases would be plan B, not plan A.”
Why save doctors who step over?
“Because many doctors do not know or do not believe that lifestyle has an effect. That is also logical, because we are trained to provide people with drugs to heal. We call the medicine programme even ‘medicine’. Lifestyle makes barely a part of the training. On average, doctors during their six-year study two-day lesson about lifestyle. Doctors realize so often is not that there is a huge connection between lifestyle and certain health conditions. And grab, so in the first place to medicines.”
Because these drugs work, anyway?
“That is the question. Medicines do not always what they promise. Apart from life-saving drugs, “cure” a lot of resources to the ailment, but suppress the symptoms. In other words: they take the cause of the complaint. Leefstijlgeneeskunde does. No fires to extinguish the fire, but the arsonist detection.”
There Is sufficient evidence that diet has such a big role?
“We have masses of evidence that diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease with nutrition to turn back. We need to explore that as well, only read. In addition, there are also a lot of things still not scientifically proven. That’s because nutrition research among large groups of people is very difficult to perform. After all, you can’t double-blind study in which one group of broccoli leaves to eat and the other group a placebobroccoli. However I think we seriously need to go what we in the practice see. I do not want a hundred years of waiting before it has been scientifically proven that poor diet is making us sick and healthy nutrition keep us healthy. Patients have now benefited from.”
No pills, but paprika?
“That is indeed the credo of the Association of Arts and Lifestyle. But pepper is not, of course, the holy grail for a healthy life. It is going to be whole foods: lots of vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, oily fish, some whole grains, less meat and less processed foods. And to have a healthy lifestyle: adequate sleep, not too much stress, not smoking and sufficient move.”
But is it your own fault if you get sick?
“Certainly not. With the emergence of diseases also plays the instance role. Genes have absolute influence. It is not so that you never get sick is if you put enough work in. But the fact is that you have the chance to be ill with a healthy lifestyle reduces. And some conditions, you can even turn around.”
What are the conditions?
“Asthma depends in 50% of cases with overweight. That means that half of the patients, those with obesity, it may come. That is also true for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Also type 2 diabetes is to reverse. Half of the patients may eventually, the medications. Also patients with intestinal disorders like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome can completely free of symptoms and sometimes even medicatievrij be.”
“Diabetes type 2 is to reduce and even to reverse’
Doctors would feel more in need to deepen?
“Fortunately, this is happening already. Our association is in a short time grown enormously. There are now a thousand doctors and other medical professionals associated with us. You also see it in the training medicine: nutrition and lifestyle is now a checkbox on some faculties, but in the future certainly are a part of the curriculum. More and more young doctors want to know anything about. Also because the question, ” doctor, what can I do?’ is an often asked question is in the doctor’s office. A good development. Leefstijlgeneeskunde is the basis of our medicine. That is what we as doctors must do: the health of our patients promote. In place of illness in connection with drugs.”