A health message so simple and effective that everyone should be doing it

Kaiser Permanente Dr. Sean Hashmi believes that evidence-based lifestyle medicine gives patients a sense of health ownership that medications and procedures cannot.

Sean Hashmi

Give a patient a sense of ownership over their health, and you give them hope.

That’s the approach taken by Sean Hashmi, MD, MS, FASN, Regional Director Clinical Nutrition and Weight Management for Kaiser Permanente Southern California, when prescribing treatment for his patients, many of whom have obesity.

Ownership makes patients active participants in their care, not helpless bystanders.

“The best hope in the world is when they feel like they are in the driver’s seat,” Dr. Hashmi said. “The only thing in the world I know that does that is the promise of lifestyle medicine.”

Lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Lifestyle medicine certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse such conditions.

Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine — a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connections — also provides effective prevention for these conditions. Lifestyle medicine can address up to 80% of chronic diseases.

Dr. Hashmi’s interest in lifestyle medicine grew out of concern for the health of his wife, who suffered from lupus and pulmonary hypertension, among other conditions.

“At one point, we were both certain my wife was going to die,” he said. “I needed to find something. I started to research nutrition and was blown away by how much information there was….There were concepts you could call irrefutable proofs of life that exist, like fruits vegetables, legumes, lentils and all this stuff that is not just feeding your body, but helping to heal your body.”