An alternative to taking pills
After his cholesterol measured high, Felix Granthon didn’t ask his doctor for the simplest solution.
“I knew I could take medication — but I don’t like medication,” Granthon, 72, said. “I wanted to know what else I could do besides take pills.”
So Granthon and his wife, Carla, and their family physician, Harold Fain, MD, Assistant Professor of Community Medicine, created a healthier lifestyle plan that included nutritious foods and regular physical activity. Six months later, Granthon’s cholesterol level had dropped by 35 percent, and Carla’s had fallen 28 percent to normal levels.
This holistic style of patient-centered care is the focus of a new Graduate Certificate in Lifestyle Health offered by UNT Health Science Center. The online program, designed by a multidisciplinary team, provides health care practitioners and UNTHSC students the tools needed to incorporate evidence-based lifestyle interventions into their practices for management and prevention of chronic illnesses, said Dr. Claire Peel, Vice Provost and Dean of the School of Health Professions.
“Up to 80 percent of chronic diseases can be prevented by what you eat, how much you weigh, how much you exercise and if you don’t smoke,” said Dr. Fain, who practices at a JPS Health Network clinic and serves as a program instructor. “But the truth is that in school, providers spend little time, if any, learning how to help a patient make these critical lifestyle changes.”
Health care providers often lack time for discussions of lifestyle health with patients, Peel said. The application-based program helps providers quickly assess whether a patient is ready to make a lifestyle change and offers a structured, efficient way to empower patients to make healthy adjustments in their diet, physical activity, stress management, smoking and sleep habits.
“This goes far beyond ‘eat more vegetables’ and instead offers evidence- based strategies that really make a difference in someone’s quality of life,” said Debbie Gillespie, a Registered Dietitian and the program’s director.
The benefits of changing one’s lifestyle far outweigh the effort required, the Granthons said.
“We feel great,” Carla Granthon said. “All we needed was someone to help us.”
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