Lifestyle Medicine

It is well established that our lifestyle impacts our health, yet it can be very easy to underestimate the magnitude of this impact.

In fact, small changes in our lifestyle, whether positive or negative, can lead to significant differences in our overall health, energy levels, outlook upon and enjoyment of life.


As individuals, and as a population, our lives are ever changing – by choice or otherwise. In the developed world there has been a slow shift in our lifestyles as our world has become increasingly modernised and technologically advanced, resulting in convenience and over-abundance. This has led to society as a whole becoming more sedentary, disconnected and unhealthy (e.g. due to chronic diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, mental health conditions and more).

Stress and burnout are also frequently experienced by individuals due to family and work responsibilities, the fast pace of life, and the ever-present worrying news and media reporting.

It is no wonder that the combination of the above factors, and many more, can take its toll upon our health.

Lifestyle Medicine – What it is

The good news is that by becoming more consciously aware of the above, and working to make small positive changes in our lifestyles where possible, we can markedly improve our health.

The evidence-based discipline of Lifestyle Medicine seeks to work with patients to optimise physical and mental health, prevent the onset of illness and/or minimise/reverse the effects of chronic disease. Using a holistic approach, doctors support patients to examine the ‘Six Pillars of Health’ in their lives, before helping patients to create personalised manageable next steps towards optimising their health. Each step is created in partnership with the individual and is bespoke to their unique life circumstances.

The Six Pillars of Health are as follows:

  • Healthy Eating & Nutrition Lifestyle Medicine supports people to reduce consumption of ultra-processed foods by teaching the knowledge and skills required to follow healthier eating patterns of people’s own choosing.
  • Physical Activity  Lifestyle Medicine supports people to choose ways in which they could incorporate more physical activity into their lives, as well as reducing time spent sitting down.
  • Sleep – Lifestyle Medicine supports people to achieve good quality sleep and to avoid behaviours which have the potential to impair sleep quality.
The Six Pillars of Health
  • Stress Management & Mental Wellbeing – Lifestyle Medicine teaches proven techniques to reduce stress and help people with relaxation. Practitioners support people to find purpose in life and improve health through connection with nature.
  • Healthy Relationships & Social Connection – Lifestyle Medicine supports people to develop and sustain healthy and meaningful relationships and increase social connection to reduce stress and promote both physical and mental health.
  • Minimising Harmful Substances – Lifestyle Medicine supports people to stop smoking, reduce excessive alcohol consumption, avoid addictive substances and behaviours such as gambling or excessive internet or social media use. 

Lifestyle Medicine – What it is not

Lifestyle Medicine is an evidence-based discipline within modern mainstream medicine. (It does not involve alternative or complementary medical therapies such as homeopathy or naturopathy etc.)

A specialised Lifestyle Medicine Consultation is generally not focused on initiating or adjusting medications for particular health conditions. Instead, it looks at the patient as a whole and focuses on the six areas above in order to formulate individualised advice to support the patient with sustainable behaviour change that will lead to improved health and wellbeing. The advice given is designed to optimise health and prevent the onset of illness. It can also be used instead of, or alongside, medications or surgical management for many pre-existing chronic health conditions. 

Dr Karen Liu

At The Walcote Practice, Dr Karen Liu is currently working towards the Lifestyle Medicine Diploma. At present, Dr Liu is able to incorporate detailed Lifestyle Medicine advice into her standard GP consultations. Following achievement of her Diploma, Dr Liu will also be able to offer specialised in-depth Lifestyle Medicine Consultations.

Should you wish to book an appointment with Dr Liu, please phone 01962 828715.