Chosen “One of America’s 20 Superheroes of Health,” Dr. Hans Diehl is the founder of the Lifestyle Medicine Institute at Loma Linda, California. Offering more than 20 years of leadership experience in the emerging field of lifestyle medicine, his pioneering efforts with Nathan Pritikin and Denis Burkitt, MD have shown that simple lifestyle changes can prevent and reverse many of today’s diseases.
Dr. Diehl’s work as a lifestyle interventionist, researcher, educator, and speaker has found its most powerful expression in the CHIP program (Complete Health Improvement Project), a community-based, 30-day, 40-hour intensive educational lifestyle intervention, which draws together healthcare professionals, faith-communities, corporations, schools, and community infrastructures, such as restaurants and grocery chains. Clinical reports have been published in peer review journals highlighting the vast potential of an integrated medical/public health approach to many of our largely lifestyle-related diseases. More than 80,000 CHIP graduates vindicate the applicability of these CHIP lifestyle principles in their daily lives. His book Health Power (co-authored with Aileen Ludington, MD) is being published in 32 languages and has sold over 2.5 million copies.
The accomplishments of modern medicine have been prodigious, especially in the areas of diagnosis and treating episodic and infectious diseases. And yet, these advances in high tech medicine have not altered the advances of our modern killer diseases. Rarely found some 100 years ago, the global incidence rates of chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and certain adult cancers have sharply increased, especially during the last 40 years when profound dietary changes transformed foods into industrialized products and the consumption of animal products became overwhelmingly desirable. With that the diet composition changed where the distribution of macronutrients shifted from a largely unrefined complex carbohydrate diet with sufficient protein and small amounts of fats and sugar to a more affluent diet characterized by a high consumption of fats, refined carbohydrates (both sugars and starches) and where plant protein became largely replaced by animal protein. The result was a major shift in the micro-nutrient content, and also in the lipid, glucose, blood pressure and weight profiles as established risk factors for circulation-related diseases. While smoking and sedentary living contribute to the underlying atherosclerotic and inflammatory processes, the use of fork and knife is emerging as the primary cause in the pathogenesis and in the regression of our largely lifestyle-related chronic disease epidemic.
Health is largely a function of how people take responsibility for their own actions. Promoting and restoring health has to do with
going beyond the mere management of symptoms through pills and procedures. The current approaches are no longer sustainable. To turn this global epidemic around, we need to deal with the causes of our chronic diseases. And that can best be accomplished through intensive education, motivation and public policies that will contribute to a cultural transformation.