A Physician’s Personal Journey to Practice Lifestyle Medicine

This transcript has been edited for clarity.

Indu Subramanian, MD: I am so excited today to speak with Kathrin LaFaver, who is a friend, colleague, and incredible force of nature whom I got to know through the Group of Women Neurologists and so many other great things it has started. She is currently a neurologist in Saratoga Springs, New York. We’re going to talk about her exploration of lifestyle medicine, what led her to develop this passion, and a few other things. Catherine, welcome.

Dr. Kathrin LaFaver: Thank you very much for the kind introduction.

Subramanian: People are always a bit confused about all these different subspecialties that have started. There’s integrative medicine, functional medicine, and things like that. Can you first teach us what lifestyle medicine is?

LaFaver: Absolutely. The official definition is that it is the use of evidence-based therapeutic and lifestyle interventions to prevent, treat and reverse chronic diseases.

The cornerstones of lifestyle medicine are nutrition in the form of a predominantly plant-based, whole-food diet; physical activity or regular exercise; restful sleep; stress management or stress reduction; positive social interactions and connectedness with other people; and finally, the avoidance of toxic substances. The important differentiating factor is that these pillars are actually based on research for a number of different disorders, primarily cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and heart disease, but are really applicable to human health in general.

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