As our healthcare system increasingly addresses symptoms rather than root causes of illness, functional medicine is rising to bridge the gap
Our healthcare system is evolving in a direction that increasingly focuses on treatment of symptoms rather than addressing the underlying problems that have created those symptoms. This is for many reasons, including financial pressures on healthcare providers to process as many patients as possible, and industrial influences from pharmaceutical companies that produce symptom-reducing medications.
In simple terms, mainstream medicine has the tendency to provide Band-Aid-like solutions that slap a temporary fix on a chronic problem. Got a cough? Here’s cough syrup. Got pain? Take this pill. Few medical professionals in mainstream medicine will drill down to the underlying issue and work on boosting your immunity and resilience to prevent the symptom to begin with.
This is where functional medicine shines. Functional medicine allows for the whole human being to be considered and for the underlying issues to be discovered and eliminated rather than treating individual symptoms or consequences. It combines the discoveries of mainstream medicine, but gives it a unique, authentic perspective. Here’s how and why we should embrace functional medicine in our everyday lives.
Considering how you feel
Not being sick isn’t and shouldn’t be the measure of good health and wellbeing. Even if you don’t have an official diagnosis, a chronic health problem, or an acute infection, perhaps there are ways you can change your approach to life that will increase your vitality and wellbeing. That is precisely why functional medicine always covers the questions of how you feel and your overall psychological and emotional stability.
If you’re frustrated, anxious, or if you’re having a hard time expressing yourself, and that ends up wreaking havoc on your skin or your digestive health — a professional in functional medicine won’t just give you a prescription for probiotics. They’ll find ways to discover the root of your issue and the appropriate treatment for it, while helping to alleviate the symptoms, too.
A personalized approach to eating
Knowing that nutrition is one of the core pillars of healthy living, functional medicine recognizes that the right ingredients in your diet can make a profound difference in your health, even in the most severe conditions. A medical expert specializing in functional medicine will often help their patients by restructuring their diet, but without turning to a cookie-cutter solution. Instead, they’ll aim for a personalized approach to eating that ensures the right balance for that person.
To help simplify nutrition even further, a professional can also recommend healthy functional medicine supplements that are based on superfoods and highly nutritious ingredients, instead of fillers that have no nutritional value. This helps people who use functional medicine in everyday life to maintain strong digestive health, a resilient immune system, and a powerful metabolism that will set the tone for their overall wellbeing.
Utilizing the latest research
A common misconception among people new to the genre is that functional medicine is a form of alternative medicine. In truth, functional medicine relies heavily on the most recent medical research and in addition to that, creates a whole host of new functional research studies, as well.
That said, experts in this field are continuously updating how they treat patients and what kind of solutions they provide, much like in mainstream medicine. The key difference is that functional medicine professionals invite people to come to them even when they are considered healthy in general, but feel that they could improve their quality of life, or need additional guidance.
Combining various aspects of your lifestyle
If you happen to consult a functional medicine expert with a specific issue, you’ll come across much more than your typical “eat five portions of fruits and veggies per day” advice. They’ll ask you about all of your behavior patterns, from your dietary habits, and workout routine all the way to how energized you feel or if you’re mentally or physically exhausted.
Only after they explore your entire lifestyle and its numerous facets will they come up with a battle plan to tackle the problem you came to them with in the first place. The outcome is typically to equip you with new and improved habits and behaviors that will not only eliminate the issue but also pave the way for a healthier life altogether.
A holistic approach to prevention
As we’ve mentioned at the beginning, the main goal of functional medicine is to prevent problems before they occur, and to do that in a holistic, mindful way. That means that you’ll not only rethink how you train your body, but also how and what you eat and drink, how you sleep, and what you do to put your mind at ease and relax.
Functional medical professionals recognize that food can be medicine and that changing your lifestyle can lead to major changes in your energy levels, fatigue, and overall productivity.
Mainstream medicine is the primary reason why we’ve been able to extend our longevity and why our species has advanced against numerous diseases. Today, however, we have the opportunity to turn to a more holistic approach through functional medicine and reap the rewards of both conventional and somewhat less conventional methods that treat the whole of your existence. With a holistic, functional approach, you can transform your wellbeing and lead a healthy, vibrant life by providing yourself with the foundation of health that you need.
You may also enjoy reading Interview: Mark Hyman, MD | Unraveling the Confusion Over Food, by Kristen Noel