CUHK’s Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Programme Certified by American College of Lifestyle Medicine
A Scientific Evidence-based Programme for Improving Cognitive Function and Physical and Mental Health
Professor Chan Sui-yin, Agnes in the Department of Psychology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), has developed Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Programme, a health intervention programme integrating Western lifestyle medicine and some Chinese medicine concepts. It aims to help patients with cognitive impairment and emotional problems to develop a lifestyle that positively affects their brain and physical and mental health. The programme has recently passed the examination of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (the evaluation was conducted by a group of medical professions in the USA) and was awarded as an American College of Lifestyle Medicine certified lifestyle programme, signified that it is a scientific evidence-based intervention programme.
Lifestyle medicine is an evidence-based lifestyle with therapeutic approaches, such as a predominantly whole food plant-based diet, regular physical activity, adequate sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and active social interaction. Patients are advised by professionally trained and certified clinicians on how to treat, prevent, and even reverse a variety of chronic diseases and health problems through lifestyle changes.
Professor Agnes Chan’s research interest has been in clinical neuropsychology and neuropsychological intervention, and using various methods to modulate the neural function to improve the cognitive function and mental status. Patients who suffer from neurological disorders have various kinds of cognitive and emotional problems including memory loss, loss self-control ability and language problems, personality change and bad temper that affect their daily living significantly. However, most cognitive disorders cannot be treated efficiently with western medicine.
Since 2007, Professor Chan has been researching Chanwuyi lifestyle medicine, a comprehensive physical and mental intervention which has its origins in Chinese Chan culture and is integrated with Western brain science. She explained, “Chan is a wisdom of living that was passed down from the Chinese ancestors to achieve a peaceful mind, healthy body and harmonic living. It is also a practical way of living, which includes suggestions on how we should eat, exercise, treat ourselves and interact with others. According to a 2007 report by the United Nations, as many as 1 billion people worldwide suffer from neurological diseases, imposing a heavy burden on the public healthcare system. The Chanwuyi lifestyle medicine programme is an intervention developed to address this major global health issue.”
The programme includes four major components. They are: 1) Diet modification: the intake of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and plant-based proteins in each meal; avoidance of trans-fats, sugar, processed foods and unhealthy habits such as smoking and alcohol. 2) Physical activity: such as increasing the time spent walking and on household chores, and practice Chinese Kungfu. 3) Stress management: participants are advised to practise Chinese Chan special breathing and Nei Gong (movement meditation) practices as a means of stress management, and to cultivate gratitude and positive thinking. 4) Psychosocial well-being: establish and maintain good interpersonal relationships.
Professor Chan has conducted research on children with autism, older adults with memory problems, and patients with depression. Scientific experiments have proved that the Chanwuyi lifestyle medicine programme acts as a neuropsychological intervention measure for people with cognitive impairment. For instance, older adults has showed improved memory, mood and sleep quality after receiving the intervention. Also, children with autism, after reciving the intervention, have showed improvement on self-control ability and less behavioural problems. Patients with depression also showed improvement on their psychological and sleep problems. In sum, different cohorts showed various levels of improvement in cognitive function, emotional status and physical health. The results are very encouraging.
“The Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Programme received the recognition among some medical professions in the United State is a milestone for clinical research of Chinese medicine being a possible intervention of physical, mental and brain health,” said Professor Chan.