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Improvement in Cognitive Function and Emotion Function with the Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Program




Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Incorporates Chinese Medical Concepts and

Conventional Psychological Intervention


Drawing from traditional Chinese Chan medical concepts and conventional psychological intervention approaches, Dr. Suiyin Agnes Chan has developed an Eastern-Western integrative lifestyle medicine program that improves cognitive function in adults and self-control in children with autism. Older adults using the Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Program have shown improved memory, mood and sleep quality after receiving the intervention. Patients with depression have shown improvement in their psychological problems. Children with autism, after receiving the intervention, have shown improvement in their ability to achieve self-control and have had fewer behavioral problems.


“In sum, different cohorts showed various levels of improvement in cognitive function, emotional status and physical health. The results are very encouraging,” said Chan, a professor in the department of psychology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. “The aim is to help patients cultivate a lifestyle that can positively impact their brain, as well as their physical and psychological health.”


The Chinese Chan medical concept consists of four core elements that are similar to Western lifestyle medicine. They are diet, exercise, stress management and emotional well-being. However, the Chinese Chan has unique elements within the four core elements of lifestyle medicine. The program recommends the intake of vegetables, fruits, whole-grains and plant-based proteins in each meal; avoidance of trans-fats, sugar, processed foods and risky substances such as smoking and alcohol; and remaining physically active in daily living, such as increasing walking and household chores.


The participants are advised to practice Chinese deep breathing and meditation practices as a mean of stress management and to cultivate gratitude and positive thinking. The treatment is provided in both group format and individual sessions.


The United Nations reported in 2007 that up to 1 billion people, nearly one in six of the world’s population, suffer from neurological disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease, strokes, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, migraines, brain injuries and neurological infections. Since that report, Chan has conducted research on children with autism and older adults with memory problems as well as on patients with depression and other issues that significantly affect their daily living.


The Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Program has earned the Certified Lifestyle Medicine Program designation from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine. The designation recognizes, supports and encourages adoption of evidence-based health intervention programs that meet rigorous review requirements and standards for offering lifestyle modification for chronic disease treatment and reversal.


Chan received her undergraduate degree as well as double master’s degrees in psychology and social work from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. She obtained a doctoral degree in 1995, majoring in clinical neuropsychology, from the University of California at San Diego. Her studies on brain plasticity related to earlier life experience was published in Nature and reported on by The New York Times, The Washington Post, ABC and the BBC. Chan is the founding director of Pro-talent Association Ltd., which provides clinical training for individuals with brain disorders. She is also the founding chairperson of the Hong Kong Neuropsychological Society.


For more information about the Chanwuyi Lifestyle Medicine Program, visit chanwuyilifestyle.psy.cuhk.edu.hk.



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