Achieving your best health can often seem straightforward, at least in theory. All it takes, a bounty of evidence has found, is adopting a lifestyle that balances activity, nutrition, socialization, and rest. In reality, it’s usually not that easy. The pressures and demands of life, like pursuing a fulfilling career, raising a family, and simply living in a society that favors screen time and fast food can often keep us from making the best decisions for our health.
What many fail to realize is this “modern lifestyle” has become increasingly unsustainable. The number of people with one or more chronic conditions has grown by over 40 million people in the U.S. in the past 25 years. A majority of this impact is a result of lifestyle factors like high stress, lack of sleep, and poor nutrition, among others. If current trends continue, this number is expected to reach over 170 million in the next decade — despite the billions of dollars invested in healthcare every year. What is needed now more than ever is a reevaluation of how our behaviors affect our health, and the incorporation of this concept into healthcare, so that we can make appropriate long-term changes to our lifestyle.
4 ways our modern lifestyle leads to poor health
We make choices every day, both consciously and unconsciously, that affect our health. This can encompass a variety of small and large decisions, from our diets to how much we move our bodies, to even our choice of career. But when we forget to prioritize ourselves, we risk damaging our health. A poor lifestyle can produce negative health consequences in several key ways. Explained below are the impacts of modern lifestyle on our health:
Too little exercise
Moving our bodies is one of the most basic but important ways we can stay healthy. Yet a 2019 analysis found that U.S. adults are sitting, on average, six and a half hours a day, while teenagers are averaging eight hours. Much of this is due to the increasing centrality of computers and the normalcy of sedentary work settings, which makes it hard to move around as much as we should. As a result, we have become more susceptible to a range of health issues associated with a sedentary lifestyle, including obesity, weaker bones and muscles, and poor blood circulation.
Modern lifestyles have left many feeling anxious and burnt out. There are many reasons for this, including constant virtual connectivity and the increasing pressure to work long hours with little downtime. Worldwide events like the pandemic and economic uncertainty have also become a significant source of stress. Because of this, we are now facing what the American Psychological Association is calling a “national mental health crisis.” The consequences of this are serious: the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention projects that 50% of all Americans will be treated with a mental health issue at some point in their lifetime. Prolonged stress can lead to a myriad of health issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and even diabetes. It is safe to say that stress is a vastly underestimated cause of health problems.
Too little sleep
Chronic sleep deprivation is also a national epidemic, according to many experts. Sleep is a large factor that can contribute to optimal health, and adults should aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. This helps ensure proper recovery from the mental and physical activity our bodies experience throughout the day. But, according to the CDC, as many as one in three adults are not getting enough sleep. This can be traced back to a number of modern factors, such as the increased use of screens, too much caffeine or alcohol, irregular work hours, and, of course, stress. Lack of high-quality sleep over the long-term may increase the risk for chronic conditions like obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke.
There is no doubt that what we put into our bodies nutritionally directly affects our health. Ideally, meals should consist of highly nutritious, balanced, whole sources of foods, with the appropriate number of calories required for metabolic health. Despite this ideal, the demands of our modern lifestyles can make this difficult. Many of us simply don’t have the knowledge or time it takes to maintain a perfectly balanced diet. Instead, we end up eating on the go or choosing cheaper, processed foods that can be higher in calories and lack the nutrients our bodies need to function properly. The negative health effects of this can be substantial over time. By some measures, poor diets are responsible for 22% of deaths among adults due to the range of conditions that it can cause, such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.
How Precision Health Care addresses the modern lifestyle
For many of us, a modern lifestyle can feel like an inescapable aspect of life, especially because conventional healthcare is not designed to address its effects. Instead of focusing on the root causes of disease, a strictly conventional approach tends to treat just the symptoms, draining the healthcare system and often doing even more harm. Precision Health Care builds on top of conventional medicine by not only treating the symptoms of disease, but going deeper to address root cause. This allows patients to make significant, long-term lifestyle modifications like reducing stress, developing better nutrition habits, increasing quality of sleep, and becoming more active to help prevent chronic disease and work towards optimal health.
It is possible to make small steps toward lifestyle change to improve health. For many, extra support may be needed to help start taking a more proactive, whole person approach to health. This can look like seeking support from a provider that looks beyond pharmaceutical interventions when determining a patient’s health plan. Precision Health Care providers use a blend of conventional, functional and integrative medical disciplines to change the course of their patient’s lives by supporting long-term lifestyle change.
Want to learn more? Schedule a meet and greet to talk to an expert and see how Precision Health Care can benefit you.