In the functional medicine approach, we look at illness differently than I did when I was a conventional medical doctor. In my conventional medical training I was taught to wait until people were sick, give them a diagnosis and then give them a medication to treat that diagnosis. We didn't ask the question "Why did they get this disease in the first place?" or "How can we prevent this from getting worse?"
Now that I've spent years practicing functional medicine I have a better understanding of what the real causes of disease are. I love being able to help people reverse illness, come off of medications and feel better than they ever have before when we remove those disease triggers.
Stress and inflammation are what trigger disease, so when we are looking for those causes we are really looking at what causes stress and inflammation for each individual. So, how do we treat the causes of stress and inflammation? We call the solution the Pillars of Health.
The Pillars of Health
- Gut Healing
- Mind-Body Connection
Let's look at each of these in more depth.
Detox can mean a lot of different things. When we do our detox we first identify which foods might be creating stress and inflammation in the body by eliminating the most common triggers. We help people walk through nutrition changes to identify those triggers.
It also means getting the toxic chemicals that we are all inadvertently exposed to every day. Supporting our gut and our liver with nutrition helps us to get those toxins out.
The last thing is learning how to avoid "retoxing". What good is a detox if you continue to have toxins and irritants flooding back into your body. We love teaching people how to love a lifestyle that prevents retoxing.
If detox is about removing the bad stuff in our body, then nutrition is about replacing the good stuff. Of course that means healthy foods, fruits -- vegetables, proteins, healthy fats. It also may mean making sure that you have enough vitamins, minerals, amino acids and antioxidants for your cells to functional optimally. We love to help people learn how to achieve optimal nutrition status.
This may be the most important piece of the stress and inflammation puzzle, because it connects to all of the other pieces on the list. 60% of our immune system tissue is located around the gut. So anything that irritates the gut can flare up our entire immune system. Autoimmune disease, allergies, diabetes, heart disease can all be affected by our gut health! Plus, if our gut isn't working well then we can't absorb nutrients, so we can't get good nutrition--piece number two above doesn't work. If our gut isn't working we can't get toxins out of our body, so we don't detox correctly--pillar number one doesn't work effectively. So, remember that gut health is often the key to health overall!
Yes, we all know that moving our body is an important part of health. It decreases inflammation, builds muscle, increases metabolism, increases mood-boosting neurotransmitters in our brain and reduces stress.
The good news is that we don't have to run marathons. In fact, the information that we got in the 70s and 80s about more cardio always being better isn't actually true! We need to do the right kind of fitness and when we incorporate the right kind of strength training we can get the same results in 30 minutes or less that we could with hours of cardio.
Don't be fooled that I have listed this last. This is an extremely important component of health, and one that is all too often ignored in the medical setting. When you have undue mental, emotional or physical stress it affects your immune system, neurotransmitters, hormones and immune system setting everything out of control.
The good news is that there are now simple, short exercises that we can do in a few minutes a day that are research proven to decrease heart attacks, decrease strokes, improve mood, reduce depression and help people live longer. We love teaching people how to do these exercises!
The interesting thing about functional medicine is that the same causes of stress and inflammation--toxins, poor nutrition, wrong fitness, poor gut health and mental stress--can cause any number of symptoms from chronic fatigue and depression to diabetes and heart disease. This is why we all need to focus on the same root causes and the same treatments. Please contact us if you're interested in learning how to heal your body from the inside out, and we can teach you how to engage each of these pillars in your life.