Personalized Lifestyle Medicine

Sara Gottfried MD Women's Health Article |Personalized Lifestyle Medicine|We are experiencing a profound change in the type of disease that affects the general population, and it is the main reason why I believe we need a paradigm shift from the current model of mainstream medicine to personalized lifestyle medicine. Allow me to explain why. The past few decades have witnessed a dramatic rise in chronic, debilitating conditions like diabetes, depression, cardiovascular disease, thyroid disorders, and autoimmune dysfunction. Chronic illness is the result of diverse factors that must be treated in a cohesive manner. Addressing individual symptoms through pharmacological agents alone does not work. This is why I believe the traditional healthcare model, with its pill for every ill, is failing. Conventional medicine needs to change. I am committed to transforming standard medical care into a new model of personalized lifestyle medicine, which has functional medicine at its core. Functional medicine views the body as an integrated system, not individual parts each with its own medical specialization. Indeed, personalized lifestyle medicine offers the greatest hope to improve health outcomes.

Why Personalized Lifestyle Medicine Is the Future of Healthcare

When you look at the economics of healthcare costs—3.3 trillion dollars and rising in the United States in 2016—you find that at least 70 percent of costs are due to problems of lifestyle.[1] If the largest part of healthcare costs is being spent on preventable diseases caused by lifestyle, this clearly indicates that we need a new model of medicine that addresses the new challenges we face and replaces the unsustainable and broken conventional medical care system.
What is personalized lifestyle medicine? It’s the power of customized recommendations in the way a patient eats, moves, sleeps, thinks and connects. In the language of precision, it’s the targeted improvement of the gene/environment interaction to reduce aging and prevent or reverse disease.

I believe we are at a tipping point due to a convergence of factors:

  • The medical care system is broken. This is not just my opinion. It is felt by physicians and patients alike and is documented in reports and articles across many medical fields. The majority of healthcare costs are due to lifestyle and therefore preventable. That’s why I believe in lifestyle medicine as the solution. Tommy Thompson, a former secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, agrees: “So many of our health problems can be avoided through diet, exercise and making sure we take care of ourselves. By promoting healthy lifestyles, we can improve the quality of life for all Americans, and reduce health care costs dramatically.”[2]
  • Most physicians lack competencies to counsel patients about lifestyle medicine.[3] Less than half of physicians feel equipped to counsel a patient about obesity.[4] We need a robust education strategy to make up for holes in the education of physicians with regard to diet, exercise, and self care. And we need to use technology to provide disintermediated education and care to patients. Top down and bottom up.
  • Physicians are burned out. In a recent Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) around 40% of physicians described themselves as depressed and it’s affecting patient care and safety.[5]
  • Consumers are failed by mainstream medicine. With access to the wealth of health information, online consumers see the promise of emerging science not just from the realm of microbiome medicine but also genomics, epigenomics, the entire -omics revolution with its personalized, customized, precision medicine. However, patients are not seeing it translated into their personal care and are losing faith in mainstream medicine.
  • The evidence emerging from institutions like Cleveland Clinic[6], and the supplement company Metagenics, sponsors of the n-of-1 trial of its employees called Lifestyle Intervention and Functional Evaluation – a Health OUtcomes SurvEy (LIFEHOUSE[7]), is proving the personalized lifestyle medicine model works
  • What this means for the nutrition and dietary supplement space is that we need to have the best science available to prove the case, and we need to teach our practitioners how to translate that science into action with our patients.


This is why I am deeply committed to lead the movement to make personalized nutritional intervention the standard of care in medicine and help change the future of healthcare
Simon Sinek has a popular TED talk where he recommends that we start with WHY. Not WHAT or HOW—those come later—but the WHY. It motivates a different part of the brain. It gets us to jump out of bed, ready to tackle obstacles. It is a cause, a call to action.
Changing the future of healthcare for the benefit of patients and practitioners alike is my WHY.


  • How do I plan to transform medical care?
  • To find and empower new practitioners that are open to the future of personalized lifestyle medicine.
  • To educate new and existing practitioners on best practices and how the emerging science can be integrated into their clinical practice
  • To motivate patients to seek out and work with lifestyle medicine practitioners
  • To magnify the message by highlighting the best science, cutting-edge research, and the highest quality products now available for clinicians.

Functional Medicine: An Overview

Functional medicine empowers the individual with a patient-centered approach to overall wellness, more comprehensively resolving the wide variety of causes that generate disease.
Many people who go to their doctor to find out why they’re struggling with persistent health issues, may have their labs come back as “normal.” They’re told there is nothing wrong with them and left with no real answers or solutions, other than perhaps some medications for symptom control. This can be an incredibly frustrating experience for a patient who knows for certain, that they are feeling anything but “normal.”

A functional medicine approach goes beyond the label of the disease, to look at the full scope of a patient’s physiology and contributing factors. While mainstream medicine is structured to manage symptoms, functional medicine is primarily concerned with addressing the underlying dysfunctions of the body that give rise to symptoms. Comprehensive labs look at underlying deficiencies, imbalances, infections, and dysfunctions, and give incredible insight into these often, overlooked pieces of your health puzzle.

Whilst Functional Medicine is not anti-medication, it does ask the important question of what the most effective option for the patient is, and what is likely to cause the fewest side effects. If a medication fits that criteria, it may be the best option. But it often isn’t. Food can be used as medicine in a condition-specific way, whilst herbal and micronutrient supplements are used to address the underlying dysfunctions found on the labs to support normal healthy function. By incorporating lifestyle medicine, nutrition, supplements, stress reduction, and appropriate exercise, practitioners and patients work together to improve the functioning of the body as a whole, thus preventing disease and creating optimal, sustainable health.

Personalized Lifestyle Medicine: A Global Perspective

The Personalized Lifestyle Medicine movement has been growing steadily around the world As part of my mission to change the future of our current medical system, I am dedicated to educating practitioners with continuing education from world-class speakers from around the globe.

The transformation of the current medical system is long overdue. Conventional medicine as we know it is failing its patients and frustrating and disappointing its physicians and practitioners. As we define the strategic direction for the future of personalized lifestyle medicine, I hope that you will join me as a practitioner or enlightened citizen to grow and intensify the demand for a paradigm shift in medical care. I believe the transformation needs to happen at the practitioner level, but also from citizens demanding a better way to deal with their chronic issues, from prediabetes to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, stubborn weight gain to pre- and post-menopausal hormonal shifts. A medicine model that views them as a whole individual, greater than the sum of their parts. This is the future that I see.


[1] National Health Expenditure Fact Sheet.” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services accessed April, 17 2018

[2] “Clinical Alert: Diet and Exercise Dramatically Delay Type 2 Diabetes; Diabetes Medication Metformin Also Effective.” National Library of Medicine accessed 12 March 2018

[3] Liana L., et al. “Physician Competencies for Prescribing Lifestyle Medicine.” Journal American Medical Association. 2010;304(2):202–203. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.903

[4] Foster, G., et al. “Primary Care Physicians’ Attitudes about Obesity and Its Treatment.” Obesity A Research Journal. 11, no. 10, (2003): 1168-1177

[5] Panagioti M., et al. “Association Between Physician Burnout and Patient Safety, Professionalism, and Patient Satisfaction A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis.” JAMA Internal Medicine. 178 no. 10 (2018) :1317–1330. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.3713

[6] Functional Medicine In Asthma (FAst) Study Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine retrieved November 20, 2018

[7] Kanner, E., (2018, October 3) “How Supplement Companies Walk Their Wellness Talk.” retrieved November 20, 2018 from