When it comes to treating chronic disease or diseases of lifestyle, the conventional healthcare system is failing people. Year after year deaths from these diseases continue to rise. The main approach that dominates our disease-care model are through the administration of drugs, vaccines, and surgery. The use of nutrition to heal people through diet and supplementation is often ignored or scoffed at. Some may wonder why is this the case?
One major reason is due to the financial control and influence big industries have on the healthcare system. These major influencers target researchers, hospitals, universities, and medical continuing education programs. Politicians receive campaign “donations” or are offered top notch jobs once out of office. Media outlets receive millions of dollars in advertisement revenue from pharmaceutical, vaccine, and junk food industries.
One example how the beverage industry influences healthcare policy can be seen with Coca Cola. Documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests reveal Coca-Cola’s research agreements with certain universities give the company questionable rights over the research process, while other FOIA documents show Coca-Cola has an unreasonable amount of influence over the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
So it should be no surprise why cheap and effective nutritional options are ignored. While drugs and surgery have a place for life-saving and traumatic interventions, when it comes to chronic disease, a new paradigm is needed. This new paradigm is functional medicine.
What is a Functional Medicine
Functional Medicine is a comprehensive approach towards better health and wellness. It includes viewing the patient as a person with a story and not merely a diagnosis. It takes into account mind, body, and spirit. Another way put, it evaluates the physical, mental-emotional, and energetic attributes of someone. It is not symptoms based but systems based. It’s acknowledged and understood these systems are interdependent and one can affect the entire balance of the others. The doctor patient relationship is viewed as a team and one of mutual respect. The therapy program is comprehensive and collaborative. Lifestyle and nutrition are stressed as main pillars towards healing. The ultimate goal, other than giving someone their quality of life back, is to educate them to doctor themselves as much as possible. It is a true, preventive whole-life approach to medicine and desperately needed on a larger scale.
A Functional Medicine Case Study
Here is an example of a functional medicine encounter that showcases comprehensive lifestyle support.
A 28 year old female has chief concerns of bloating, anxiousness, and fatigue the past year. Bloating occurs daily, generally after eating, and can last an hour in duration. She reports bowel movements every other day that are generally hard to pass. She is on birth control and denies taking nutritional supplements. She has coffee every mooring, eats a non-organic diet standard American diet that consists of a fair amount of processed grain-based foods, and eats meals quickly due to time constraints. Upon further discussion, she expresses she never has tried or been offered an elimination diet. The patient feels she never has enough time to get all her daily tasks done and stresses over finances due to high rent & student loans. She works out 5 days a week and consumes a glass wine nightly as a stress outlets. She reports no issues with sleep and said previous performed labs were said to be “normal”.
After nutritional and functional lab testing were completed, it was discovered the patient had dysbiosis (imbalance in the gut microbiome), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), and was deficient in vitamin D, omega 3 fatty acids, & B12 (most likely due to birth control use and poor GI health). An organic acids panel revealed mitochondria and neurotransmitter imbalances.
The Therapy Program
To support this patient the following program was initiated:
Diet- An elimination diet that included avoidance of wheat, dairy, and coffee. Pt was encouraged to reduce alcohol intake from nightly to a few nights per week. Pt was educated on the importance of organic foods, especially when consuming animal products and the dirty dozen produce.
Lifestyle- Pt was educated on the importance of being present, slowing down, and adequately chewing her food around meal time. This included to stop multi-tasking while eating lunch and dinner. Pt was trained in HeartMath techniques to manage stress, anxiety, and improve emotional resilience.
Nutritional Supplements & Herbs- Specific supplement protocols were given to support the above mentioned imbalances that consisted of both herbs and nutrients.
Upon follow-up 6 weeks later, patient expressed drastic improvements that included daily bowel movements, decreased bloating, less anxiety, and improved energy.
So after only 6 weeks the patient is now more empowered with techniques she can implement on her own and feels great! She was able to improve all of her concerns by
- avoiding and adding in certain foods
- changing the way she approached meal time
- taking herbs & nutritional supplements
- implementing easy to learn HeartMath techniques for stress and anxiety
This demonstrates the power of functional medicine and shines a light on how important diet, nutrition, and lifestyle are for reaching ones health goals.
Next month I will dive deeper into the concept of root causes or drivers of disease. I will list the top factors I have seen clinically, as well as, what the research shows.
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