Dr. Evans and the Evolution of the Institute for Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine
Dr. Evans received his medical degree at the University of Calgary in Alberta, Canada in 1984. Prior to going to medical school, he received a masters and PhD in medical physiology. He spent 13 years in academic medicine where he taught medical physiology (how the body works normally) to medical students. During that time, he researched reproductive and metabolic physiology. He published 16 research studies in basic science journals and wrote three books. He practiced standard medical care for eight years in Canada and then another 15 years in Texas.
By 2007, he became frustrated with standard of care with the emphasis on treating individual diseases with medication or procedures, not taking the time to treat the underlying cause. Dr. Evans spent hundreds of hours of additional training in advanced physiology and Integrative Medicine.
Integrative Medicine is grounded in the definition of health. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” Integrative medicine seeks to restore and maintain health and wellness across a person’s lifespan by understanding the patient’s unique set of circumstances. It addresses a full range of physical, emotional, mental, social, spiritual and environmental influences that affect health. By personalizing care, integrative medicine goes beyond the treatment of symptoms to address the causes of an illness. Integrative medicine is not the same as alternative medicine, which refers to an approach to healing that replaces conventional therapies. Instead, it is a healing modality that is used to complement allopathic (traditional) approaches.
Good medicine is based on good science and is driven and open to new paradigms. Our knowledge of how the human body works doubles every three years. It is often hard to keep up with this rate of change, especially if a physician is relying on drug representatives to educate them. The broader concepts of health promotion and the prevention of illness are paramount. In addition to addressing and handling immediate health problem(s) as well as deeper causes of disease, integrative medicine strategies focus on prevention and fosters the development of healthy behaviors and skills for effective self-care that patients can use throughout their lives. In 2015, integrative medicine became acknowledged as a legitimate specialty by The American Board of Specialties, and Dr. Evans was one of the first to become board certified.
Around the same time, a new movement was growing in medicine, which complemented integrative medicine’s personalized medicine paradigm. This movement was also recognized (as of 2017) by the American Board of Specialties and is known as Lifestyle Medicine. Dr. Evans became Board Certified during the first class: the very year the American Board recognized it as a legitimate medical specialty. As defined by the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, this is an evidenced-based approach to lifestyle therapy for chronic illnesses, which includes a healthy diet consisting mainly of plant-based whole-foods, physical activity, adequate sleep duration and quality, stress management, tobacco cessation and other non-drug modalities to prevent, treat, and sometimes reverse chronic disease. These simple maneuvers have been shown to cut healthcare costs by more than 60% and add up to 13 years of life. A common phrase used by Lifestyle practitioners is that, “A healthy lifestyle adds life to your years and years to your life”.
Dr. Evans is now one of the few physicians who are Board Certified in both Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine, which gives the practice a unique blend of therapeutic and preventive platforms. Dr Evans’ long-time experience using the scientific method and the principles of physiology places him in a unique position within this new paradigm of healthcare delivery that an increasing number of informed patients are insisting upon. He likes to refer to himself as a physiologist with a medical degree who feels compelled to fix patients with problems and make it the goal to take patients off prescription medications when they are ready. The Institute for Lifestyle and Preventive Medicine (also called “The Institute”) is based upon this paradigm shift, and we strive to continue our search for knowledge to remain a place where “state of the art” medicine is practiced for health promotion in addition to standard of care for disease treatment.
We are constantly reassessing what we do and how we do it, which means that everyone entering our programs are anonymously placed in our pool of statistics for internal research purposes only. We also have affiliations with universities and are investigating the impact of lifestyle intervention on disease prevention. We have a special interest in the impact sleep apnea has on our metabolism. We hope to publish these studies soon.