What is Preventative Medicine?
The world of medicine can get a bit confusing. There’s Modern Medicine, Holistic medicine, Integrative Medicine, Eastern Medicine, Curative, Preventative Medicine, and that list could go on. To help add a little clarity, this article will specifically address, ‘What is Preventative Medicine?”
Perhaps the best source for the definition of preventative medicine comes from the American College of Preventative Medicine. Their website says:
“Preventive medicine is practiced by all physicians to keep their patients healthy…Its goal is to protect, promote, and maintain health and well-being and to prevent disease, disability, and death.”[i]
Now, while that defines it, there remains the difference between a definition and practice.
The Practice of Preventative Medicine
The idea of preventative medicine is not a new one. Neither is its practice. Medical traditions around the world have embraced for thousands of years.
For example, Traditional Chinese Medicine developed from the intersection of Taoist medicine and ancient wisdom. When illness or disease occurred in a patient, the practitioner would seek to restore balance of Yin / Yang, typically through herbal and applied remedies like acupuncture. The practice of maintaining balance to prevent illness continues to exist in the dietary, herbal and physical practices (think T’ai Chi / Qi gong) of the tradition.
Ayurvedic Medicine in India developed a similar tradition in relation to the need for balance, the reliance on herbal remedies and activity. The aim of Ayurveda is disease prevention.
In the West, preventative medicine isn’t a new concept although Western Medicine does not have the same ancient traditions found in India and China. Doctors and those who care for patients have unquestionably practiced it. The importance of it in the West can be seen by the presence of an association (or college by definition) dedicated to it and an international journal that publishes articles on the “science and practice of disease prevention, health promotion, and public health policymaking.”[ii]
The popularity of preventative medicine continues to grow. After all, no one wants to be sick or suffer from disease. While illness can’t be avoided entirely, the risk can be diminished by taking preventative steps.
Strategies for Preventative Medicine
Every individual’s unique health needs demand unique strategies. Ultimately, an individual is responsible for the outcomes of his or her own health and well-being. Partnering with a trusted healthcare practitioner can make the job simpler, but taking the actions required to prevent disease is up to the individual.
And that makes for a good first strategy. Find a trusted health provider.
The next three strategies represent a practical approach to maintain health and prevent disease.
- Eat a healthy diet. This may seem simple, but how many times did that snack-size candy bar taste good?
- Exercise regularly. You don’t need to be a work-out fanatic to get the exercise needed for health. Cambridge researchers noted in a study that 20 minutes of brisk walking every day would provide the moderate activity needed for health.[iii] Other gentle forms of exercise include T’ai Chi, Qi Gong and most forms of yoga.
- Get knowledge. Know your body and mind to know what you need. Find a way to stay informed. Spending hours online reading medical journals isn’t necessary, but making it a daily or weekly habit to check-out information on relevant health topics can go a long way. You won’t just be informed, you’ll be keeping your mind active too!
[iii] Ekelund U1, et al. Physical activity and all-cause mortality across levels of overall and abdominal adiposity in European men and women: the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition Study (EPIC). Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Mar;101(3):613-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.114.100065. Epub 2015 Jan 14. http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/early/2015/01/14/ajcn.114.100065.abstract