Over the past several months, Kinwellhealth.com has highlighted different aspects of good health including diet, fitness, sleep, and behavioral health. What these all have in common is they are part of advanced primary care, an approach to healthcare that works just as hard to keep you healthy as it does to treat you when you’re sick.

Think of your health as a lifelong journey with ups, downs, and course corrections as you grow and age. Your advanced primary care team is your personal navigator on this journey to help you chart the right path for your long-term health. Kinwell’s doctors, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants provide a road map to maintain and improve your well-being and quality of life.

Advanced primary care is based on the growing body of research that links individual habits (diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors) to chronic conditions like obesity, high blood-pressure, diabetes, and coronary heart disease. Treating the whole patient has defined Kinwell from the very beginning. Our longer appointments give patients and clinicians the time to discuss strategies for treating illnesses, managing chronic conditions, and encouraging healthy habits. The principal considerations of advanced primary care include the following:

Diet

What you eat may have a greater cumulative impact on your health than any other single factor. A sensible diet of nutritious food can keep your body working as intended. Consuming less nutritious processed food can contribute to chronic conditions like hypertension and pre-diabetes.  That’s why advanced primary care recognizes diet as a key part of your healthcare journey.

Kinwell clinicians may ask about your eating habits and suggest improvements. It may be as simple as eating more fruit every day or cutting back on sugar and processed food. Small changes can have big rewards, but even small changes can be difficult. That’s why Kinwell offers some patients the assistance of a health coach to help set goals and reach benchmarks. Kinwell clinicians understand that food can be the best medicine and empower patients to take charge of their health.

Physical activity

An active lifestyle not only reflects good health but contributes to it. Human beings were made to move, and even moderate daily activity helps with digestion and circulation. Exercise can also help prevent heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. The American Heart Association recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of intense activity each week for adults.

Kinwell clinicians understand the powerful connection between activity and health.  Just as food can be the best medicine, exercise is another way for patients to take an active role in their health. Kinwell’s health coach works with patient to increase daily activity. Read this article for some simple tips on sitting less and moving more.

Sleep

The healthcare conversation tends to favor decisions we make in our waking lives, but the quantity and quality of our rest can be just as impactful. A good night’s sleep not only restores our energy but allows our bodies to heal and our minds to process memories and emotions.

Studies have shown that athletes perform better in competition and students score better on academic tests after a solid night’s rest. The opposite is also true. The lack of restorative sleep can lower the body’s immune system, increase the risk of chronic diseases, and impair cognitive function.

Advanced primary care incorporates sleep into whole-person care. Kinwell clinicians will ask about the quantity and quality of your sleep and recommend ways to improve it. This might include developing a consistent sleep routine with a regular bedtime and a reduction in the use of computers and television before turning in. Studies have shown the blue light of screens can impede and delay the onset of sleep. Our behavioral health clinicians can also provide effective tactics to overcome sleep disorders.

Behavioral health

Recent research has also demonstrated the link between our mental well-being and our physical health. Depression and stress can take a toll on physical health and discourage healthy habits. Advanced primary care integrates behavioral health services into the primary clinic setting and in doing so normalizes this vital area of treatment.

Kinwell’s behavioral health clinicians help patients deal with difficult life’s difficulties including grief, problematic relationships, and substance use disorders. This treatment is typically accessed via secure video chat through MyChart.

A proactive approach

Advanced primary care empowers patients to take a proactive approach in charting their health journey. Part treatment and part education, this proactive approach to patient health emphasizes prevention and healthy lifestyle choices. The American College of Lifestyle Medicine has identified six pillars of good health: plant-based nutrition, physical activity, stress management, the avoidance of risky substances, restorative sleep, and social connections. Kinwell offers educational group appointments for these key health factors.

By taking charge of your health, you are doing your part to reduce the need for expensive medications, urgent care visits, or hospital stays. Advanced primary care benefits patients, reduces costs across the healthcare system, and increases the overall health of our communities. Best of all, advanced primary care helps you chart the healthiest path on your life-long journey.