HL Charleston Nov/Dec 2023

HealthLinksSC.com | 77 CHARLESTON COUNTY MEDICAL SOCIETY HealthLinks Charleston is a proud partner of the Charleston County Medical Society. For more information on joining CCMS, contact Dana Holladay at [email protected]. “I’m here to tell you that your genes are not your destiny,” said Dr. Ference. “Just because many of your family members developed a certain disease when they got older doesn’t mean you will. It is your lifestyle choices that turn those genes on or off.” Changes in lifestyle can address up to 80% of chronic diseases, according to LifestyleMedicine.org. When doctors adopt the lifestyle medicine approach, they have the ability to suspend the proliferation of many chronic conditions and the burdensome costs that plague their patients. Mental illness poses a barrier to a healthy lifestyle, but Dr. Ference said that making small changes can build confidence, which, in turn, improves a person’s mental state: “And vice versa – when your mental state is better, you tend to make better choices and your physical health improves, so it is all interrelated.” “Mood is affected by all six pillars of lifestyle medicine, so, although stress management is important, we must leverage all of the pillars, including restorative sleep, nutrition, exercise and social interaction to make people whole and restore them to health,” she added. Dr. Ference recently was certified in culinary medicine, which she said is an additional tool she can deploy to help her patients. “We give people the tools, knowledge and confidence to meal prep and create healthy meals that equip them in the battle against the toxic food environment they often find themselves in,” she explained. Dr. Ference conducts cooking demonstrations for the public and looks forward to scheduling more demos with local community organizations and libraries in the near future. “I see a bright future for lifestyle medicine in the Charleston area. The potential is there,” she added. “I think more people are beginning to connect the dots with the fact that their habits and choices will catch up to them eventually, yet changing behavior is not easy, especially among the mixed messaging of our culture. They need a practitioner to provide them with evidenced-based guidelines and coach them in how to apply them. That’s where I come in.” For a lifestyle medicine telemedicine appointment, call 412-856-7332.