Today I want to talk about functional medicine shortcuts; are they good or bad? What do I mean by shortcuts? Are there really any legitimate “shortcuts” to restore health and wellness? These shortcuts would be simple, general concepts to improve your health status. Many doctors and wellness authors are looking for broad and general concepts to sell to the public to solve their health problems. While this approach can be beneficial to many people, because they usually involve common sense health practices they will not work for some people. The basic philosophy of functional medicine is to identify what is out of balance with the body and then restore function using tools such as diet modification, nutritional supplements, lifestyle changes and if necessary, the use of prescription medication. So, are there really any shortcuts? In some cases, yes, but in most cases no.
Shortcuts would be using general diets and lifestyle programs. You could read books on different types of diets or food combinations to optimize health. For some people applying the principles in the book will work for them and they will feel better. Other short cuts might be to take some basic nutritional supplements like a multivitamin, probiotic and vitamin D or starting an exercise program or improve your sleeping habits. If you made these changes to your lifestyle, you might achieve your health and wellness goals. But what do you do if these changes do not improve your health issue? Well, then you need to start collecting information about how your body is working and what is out of balance, so you can get a more individualized health program created. The basic concept that a functional medicine doctor or an integrative doctor will employ is body function restoration. For many people, utilizing general good health habits will not be enough. More data is required, and root causes need to be isolated so that a you-specific health program can be created and put into action.
It can be difficult to discover what is causing unwanted health issues without appropriate consultation and lab tests. Finding root causes that are creating poor health can be tricky. Let’s say you have IBS. What is causing it? Is it due to a food sensitivity or food allergy? If so, which foods? Do you have a leaky gut? If so, why? Is the IBS caused by a hormone imbalance between estrogen and progesterone? If so, how should you go about addressing that? Is the IBS being caused by an overgrowth of yeast in the bowel or is it a parasite? Are you taking a medication that is causing your bowel issues? Maybe your digestion problems are being caused by an imbalance of the production of neurotransmitters in the gut like serotonin, dopamine or norepinephrine. By working with a functional medicine doctor, you might discover that you have 2 or 3 of these health issues that are causing your IBS.
These same questions would apply to almost any health issues you might be suffering from. Maybe you have a thyroid problem or an autoimmune disease. Your body is a complex machine!
So, shortcuts might work for you, and if they do, then by all means, keep it up! If general diets and good health practices are not restoring your health, then you need to dig deeper and get more information about your body.
Good choices are supported by good information. If you don’t have the relevant information about your body, it can be difficult to know what you should and should not be doing to restore your health. So where would you get this kind of information? You probably won’t get it from a book or podcast. You probably won’t get it from your traditional medicine doctor because this is not what they specialize in. If you want to discover why your body is not functioning properly, you would see a function medicine doctor.
The way I practice functional medicine is essentially a 2-step process:
- Collect relevant information about the functional state of your body so that we can make informed decisions together.
- Apply what we have discovered in the form of a function-restoration health program.
The bottom line is that you want to feel better and you want to get results. If you can do that with shortcuts, then you are on your way. If you are not getting the results you are looking for, then you probably need some help.
I wish you success on your quest for health!
If you would like more information about functional medicine and integrative medicine or Dr. Sexton go to www.napervilleintegratedwellness.com
Do your own research, inform yourself and ask lots of questions. When collecting information, you MUST consider the source. There is no shortage of false, misleading, outdated, profit-driven and utterly biased information in healthcare today; even from the most respected sources and organizations.
This approach to healthcare is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, mitigate, or prevent any disease. Why? The FDA enforces its position that these words can only be used with drugs. This approach does not use drugs.