American physician urges Samoans to focus on lifestyle in chronic-disease fight

An American physician, Dr. Wayne Dysinger, is calling for Samoans to focus on their lifestyles in the fight against non-communicable and chronic diseases. 

Dr. Dysinger says there are a lot of stories and smaller research studies that show the possibility of reversal of conditions such as high cholesterol. 

But he says, with non-communicable disease (N.C.D.) on the increase across the Pacific, he wants to see the results from a larger concentrated effort in the fight against their spread. 

“So we’re sort of exploring the idea of can we have a story from Samoa that talks about reversing N.C.D.'s, having the rate descend from its [currently rising] level,” said the doctor, who studied at Loma Linda University and was a resident at Florida Hospital. 

The doctor said his team has begun focusing on the South Pacific partly because it is at the centre of the growing rising of non-communicable disease. 

But because its countries have smaller populations, he argues, the effects of reversal could be seen more quickly .

He has already made his pitch to Fiji and the Solomon Islands. But Samoa is the third country in line.

"Doctors such as myself find the greatest satisfaction in when I can find a patient that comes in with diseases and I can help them walk out without any diseases without pills," he said. 

Dr. Dysinger cites research showing that lifestyle-based approaches making use of nutrition, exercise and stress and sleep, can effect disease reversal. 

“Doctors like to treat root causes, and pills are just mandates. It’s nice if you can get the root cause which is what lifestyle medicine is looking at," he said.

He says a growing number of physicians are interested in the concept of lifestyle medicine concept and treatment through non-medical means. 

Included in his lecture at the Tu’utu’uilemealoloto Hall are four principles of that movement: Nourishment, Movement, Resilience and Connectedness. 

Nourishment deals with what you eat or put in your body. Movement involves physical activity and exercise. Resilience requires management of sleep and stress. And connectedness, requires a focus on family, friends and community but also the integration of a higher purpose in life. 

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