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The Pillars of Health, the Foundations of Self-Care

Updated: 6 days ago

pillars of health

The Pillars of Health are a classification of the core areas of lifestyle to address for health and wellbeing. Generally these fall under the broad categories of: physical, mental and social health.


It is useful to understand the different categories used by different bodies, even 'health' and 'wellbeing' can be defined differently dependent on the speaker. This allows us to check we we are ticking all the boxes when it comes to our own practice of self-care. In this article we will use the Pillars of Health from 2 different organisations as a starting point. Which of the pillars resonate with you and your own journey in health?

 

The American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM)

Nutrition

  • Evidence supports the use of a whole food, plant-predominant diet to prevent, treat and reverse chronic illness.

Physical Activity

  • Regular, consistent physical activity - strength and cardiovascular - is an important part of overall health and resiliency.

Stress Management

  • Managing negative stress can lessen anxiety, depression and immune dysfunction and leads to improved well-being.

Restorative Sleep

  • Improving sleep quality can improve attention span, mood, insulin resistance and can reduce hunger, sluggishness and more.

Social Connection

  • Positive social connections have beneficial effects on physical, mental and emotional health.

Avoidance of Risky Substances

  • Use of tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption have been shown to increase risk of chronic diseases and death.

 

Stanford Center on Longevity


Similar to the ACLM, Stanford's pillars include: Movement and Exercise, Healthful Nutrition, Restorative Sleep, Stress Management and Social Engagement. In addition, they also include:

Gratitude and Reflection

Gratitude may be defined as an appreciation of what is valuable and meaningful for oneself. The act of practicing gratitude is by no means a new idea, but it has gained significant attention in recent years. New research has found that practicing gratitude has significant positive effects on our physical and mental wellbeing, helps you sleep at night, and even bolsters your immune system.


An increasing body of research shows that practicing gratitude and reflecting on positive aspects of our lives regularly may increase our life satisfaction and our quality of life.

Cognitive Enhancement

Note that Stanford does not include the ACLM's Avoidance of Risky Substances.

 

Other bodies define their own Pillars of Health and might include separate pillars for emotional or spiritual health, even the physical environment as part of whole-person health. With our own friends and clients Work-Life Balance is a pillar in its own right.


At the most basic level the Pillars of Health provide us with a common vocabulary for health. The pillars can also provide a valuable tool for self-reflection and to frame a conversation around wellbeing. Ultimately to allow us to take responsibility and action for our own health.


Stay Healthy,

Alastair

 

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Take the first step. Contact us to arrange an introductory call, to discuss how we can support your journey to health. We are based in Singapore and work with clients globally.


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Related Resources



Other...

Maria L Cagigas, Stephen M Twigg, Luigi Fontana, Ten tips for promoting cardiometabolic health and slowing cardiovascular aging, European Heart Journal, Volume 45, Issue 13, 1 April 2024, Pages 1094–1097, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurheartj/ehad853


Grega ML, Shalz JT, Rosenfeld RM, et al. American College of Lifestyle Medicine Expert Consensus Statement: Lifestyle Medicine for Optimal Outcomes in Primary Care. American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine. 2023;0(0). doi:10.1177/15598276231202970


Moore M. Ground Zero in Lifestyle Medicine: Changing Mindsets to Change Behavior. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2023 Apr 5;17(5):632-638. doi: 10.1177/15598276231166320. PMID: 37711351; PMCID: PMC10498987.


Rattan SIS, Kaur G. Nutrition, Food and Diet in Health and Longevity: We Eat What We Are. Nutrients. 2022 Dec 18;14(24):5376. doi: 10.3390/nu14245376. PMID: 36558535; PMCID: PMC9785741.


Duncan GE, Avery AR, Tsang S, Watson NF, Williams BD, Turkheimer E. The pillars of health: influence of multiple lifestyle behaviors on body mass index and depressive symptoms in adult twins. BMC Public Health. 2022 Aug 5;22(1):1487. doi: 10.1186/s12889-022-13901-7. PMID: 35927692; PMCID: PMC9354427.


Gragnano A, Simbula S, Miglioretti M. Work-Life Balance: Weighing the Importance of Work-Family and Work-Health Balance. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Feb 1;17(3):907. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17030907. PMID: 32024155; PMCID: PMC7037206.



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