Lifestyle as Medicine - Past Precepts for Present Problems

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This article was originally published as:

Morton, D., Mitchell, B. G., Kent, L., Egger, G., & Hurlow, T. (2016). Lifestyle as medicine - past precepts for present problems. Australian Family Physician, 45(4), 248-249.

ISSN: 0300-8495


111104 Public Nutrition Intervention| 111716 Preventive Medicine| 119999 Medical and Health Sciences not elsewhere classified

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Lifestyle principles have been advocated for the promotion of health and prevention of disease since antiquity. More than 2000 years ago, Hippocrates asserted, ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’.

Predating Hippocrates, Levitical health laws mandated lifestyle practices such as hand washing after touching dead bodies or diseased animals, and avoiding pathogenic substances such as blood and mould. The consumption of animal fat was also forbidden, which is intriguing given that chronic disease was not the major health threat at the time.

Notwithstanding the developments in pharmacological and surgical technologies that have profoundly enhanced healthcare, the authors propose that the historical practice of ‘lifestyle as medicine’ will become increasingly re-emphasised in future healthcare for mitigating and/or managing contemporary concerns relating to chronic and infectious diseases.


Used by permission: RACGP

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