Most clinicians recognize that lifestyle change is difficult for patients. Recent research is helping us understand what patients really need in order to make sustainable and effective changes in their diet and activity level.
Two intervention studies suggest direct access to healthy food and a coordinated exercise program improve psychological well-being and metabolism, respectively. When patients with chronic disease learn by doing evidence-based lifestyle modification behaviors—even over a short period of time—both health and well-being improve.
In a randomized controlled trial over a two-week period, researchers investigated the effects of giving a group of young people a $10 voucher for fruits and vegetables and twice daily text-reminders versus giving another group of young people the actual fruits and vegetables worth $10 with no reminders.1
Despite both groups consuming relatively the same amount of fruits and vegetables—including a higher amount than normal even—only the group who was given fruits and vegetables flourished and showed improvements in their vitality and motivation.1 This study suggests that direct access to healthy food may be necessary for effective dietary change, even if the clinician is providing “high-touch” service.1 In other words, clinicians may want to consider investigating their patients’ access to quality food before giving them other tools to help them eat better.
In another study, over a 12-week period, a single-blind randomized controlled trial of 24 breast cancer survivors separated them into either an exercise program or a control group instructed to continue their normal exercise routines.2 The exercise group saw increased muscle strength, endurance, and flexibility, as well as decreased body fat percentage, waist circumference, visceral fat area, insulin levels, leptin/adiponectin ratios, and DKK1 and SFRP1 levels. The researchers suggest that DKK1 and SFRP1 may be useful biomarkers to determine both the benefits of long-term exercise and the prognosis of patients with cancer. They also suggest exercise may have a therapeutic benefit in those with chronic illnesses.
At IFM, we find innovative ways to put new science into practice, and our programs allow clinicians to apply the results from studies like these right away in the clinic. We provide practitioners with a toolkit containing more than 200 items that help improve patient compliance, with a vast array of lifestyle changes. When patients learn evidence-based lifestyle modification behaviors, chronic disease and general ill-being decreases.3,4
Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice (AFMCP) is IFM’s five-day foundational course where clinicians learn cutting-edge research and clinical tools to improve patient compliance, satisfaction, and outcomes. Renew your love of medicine by learning the science behind today’s cutting-edge medical research and simple ways to put it to use in the clinic to help improve your patient outcomes.
- Conner TS, Brookie KL, Carr AC, Mainvil LA, Vissers MCM. Let them eat fruit! The effect of fruit and vegetable consumption on psychological well-being in young adults: a randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2017;12(2):1-19. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171206.
- Kim TH, Chang JS, Park KS, et al. Effects of exercise training on circulating levels of Dickkpof-1 and secreted frizzled-related protein-1 in breast cancer survivors: a pilot single-blind randomized controlled trial. PLoS One. 2017;12(2):1-13. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0171771.
- Spartano NL, Stevenson MD, Xanthakis V, et al. Associations of objective physical activity with insulin sensitivity and circulating adipokine profile: the Framingham Heart Study. Clin Obes. 2017;7(2):59-69. doi:10.1111/cob.12177.
- Song M, Giovannucci E. Preventable incidence and mortality of carcinoma associated with lifestyle factors among white adults in the United States. JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(9):1154-61. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0843.