HL Charleston Nov/Dec 2023

76 | HealthLinksSC.com CHARLESTON COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY LIFESTYLE MEDICINE A BETTER WAY TO BETTER HEALTH By Theresa Stratford It looks like you’re going to have another late night, but plenty of coffee and a doughnut in the morning should do it. You’ll need some kind of boost for the late Friday night of drinking alone while consuming mountains of junk food to celebrate your birthday. And speaking of getting older, maybe you’ll finally join the gym this year. Come to think of it, who has time for the gym between kids and work? You’re stretched way too thin as it is. Well, stretched way too thin with time, that is – not your waistline. Either way, now you really need some sleep. You’ve got a good five hours until the alarm goes off. Maybe a glass of wine will help. Does any of that sound familiar? With a lifestyle like that, no wonder you feel tired, stressed and just all around beat down. There isn’t just one way to fix your aching body – there are several. A growing number of doctors are joining a medical specialty called “lifestyle medicine,” which incorporates several remedies – and their patients are enjoying better health, lower medical bills and greater satisfaction. By definition, lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity. Doctors certified to practice lifestyle medicine also prescribe medication, but, often, that is only as a last resort since they prioritize the idea of a holistic and natural approach to preventing chronic conditions. In the tri-county area, the lifestyle medicine concept is still fairly new. Dr. Lisa Ference, who hails from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pennsylvania, recently started a local telemedicine practice in the Charleston area. She said the increasing popularity of telehealth methods allowed her to continue working for her Pennsylvania employer and also provide services for South Carolina patients who are interested in taking control of their health. She also offers virtual shared medical appointments with other providers, which have a longer educational component than is possible at an individual appointment, as well as support and camaraderie from the group itself. Dr. Ference said that as a lifestyle medical doctor, she focuses on the six pillars of lifestyle medicine: nutrition, physical activity, stress management, sleep, avoidance of risky substances and healthy social relationships. She said that when she consults with her patients, she talks to them about how they can make changes in those six pillars and how they can treat or even reverse many conditions. “We address the root causes of chronic disease through lifestyle choices,” she explained. Dr. Ference works with her patients on a periodic and continual basis so they don’t fall back into their old habits, which are known to die hard. She noted that many of her patients accept disease as a precept to getting older. Dr. Lisa Ference