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Primary Care

Focusing on Cornerstones of Wellness

“Health and wellness” can sound like a nebulous idea and an overwhelming goal. Where does one even start to pursue and achieve them? 

To help identify starting points, I open up discussion about these four cornerstones with each and every patient: Sleep, Mental Health, Exercise/Movement and Food. From the perspective of holistic care and functional medicine, I believe it’s very hard to heal anything if these four cornerstones are not addressed and optimized. They are all integral parts of our body’s function and homeostasis and all intimately connected. A strong mental health and spiritual foundation is vital for healthy relationships and cultivating virtues like self-control that enable good decisions about what we consume (from food choices to social media). More movement means better blood sugar and insulin control, a stronger cardiovascular system, and better sleep. Quality sleep means more hours of stable cortisol and blood sugar levels and time to heal from emotional and physical stressors. 

Science supports this approach to holistic, functional care. A study in India in 2018 found that heart disease patients who practiced meditation (including mindful attention, forgiveness and relaxation) for five sessions per week for six months experienced significant drops in fasting and post-meal blood sugar levels. This suggests that meditation could be a component of a plan for heart disease prevention. Studies done at the University of Rochester revealed that those who generally sleep less than 7 hours a night over the course of decades have brains with higher burdens of the protein tangles that can lead to dementia. The biochemistry of energy metabolism makes it clear that the avoidance of processed sugars and empty carbohydrates can lower the risk of metabolic syndrome (heart disease, diabetes, obesity) and lead to better sleep, emotional and mental stability, and a healthier frame. 

I’m so thankful for the time that the direct primary care model affords me to spend on these topics with every patient that shares that interest. Medications, procedures and specialists are vital resources that can save lives, but holistic and thorough preventive care has the potential to keep those needs at bay and truly prevent disease!

“I believe it’s very hard to heal anything if these four cornerstones are not addressed and optimized.”