We are living in one of the largest health epidemics of all time.
Despite being one of the wealthiest and most educated countries in the world, America has ranked the lowest of any other developed nation for health consistently for the past decade—(And this is not about politics or insurance).
In addition, despite billions of dollars invested in “health-centric” marketing, diet and low calorie products
The numbers—not the calories or steps walked—speak for themselves.
For about the same amount of time that this epidemic of disease has ramped up, so has our healthcare industry’s efforts to battle the symptoms.
Nearly 3 in 5 American adults take a prescription drug—up more than 50-percent since 2012, and unfortunately most people do not die without some form of disease or diagnosis written in their obituary or medical record.
Annually, we spend $322 billion on diabetes treatment alone— a combo of insulin coverage, bloodwork, disability, dialysis, vision coverage and neuropathy surgeries—all this before considering and treating the lifestyle factors that contributed to the disease in the first place. In addition, more and more kids are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes —a disease once practically unheard of in people under 30. (If trends continue, 1 in 3 Americans is projected to have the disease by 2050.)
GI doctors prescribe 15 million Americans an acid-suppressing drug like Prilosec, Nexium, and Prevacid for heartburn or GERD— Not realizing that GERD (heart burn) is a result of too little stomach acid (not too much) and the body’s inability to digest food appropriately because of this.
1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men have a diagnosed autoimmune condition—a 100-percent increase in prevalence since 1997 —including celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis type 1 diabetes. The CDC says they have no idea what’s causing this epidemic as they have typically blamed it on genes: “With the rapid increase in autoimmune diseases, it clearly suggests that environmental factors are at play due to the significant increase in these diseases. Genes do not change in such a short period of time.” The answer? Conventional disease management often involves prescribing corticosteroids or immunosuppressive drugs—both of which further suppress the immune system and gut integrity to combat and heal from the disease in the first place (hint, hint: 80% of our immune cells are produced in the gut).
Cancer patients are fed Coca Cola, cookies following radiation therapy; however, research has clearly shown that sugar—namely glucose—feeds cancer cells.
The number of children diagnosed with autism or related disorders has grown at an alarming rate. In the 1970s and 1980s, about 1 out of 2,000 children had autism. Today, the CDC estimates that 1 in 68 children has an autism spectrum disorder in the U.S.—more than double the 1 in 150 rate in 2000.
One-third of all Americans get less than 6-hours of sleep—an amount connected to the same brain and cognitive accuracy as one who is legally drunk or intoxicated.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. and the CDC warns that “having high blood cholesterol puts you at risk for heart disease,”— however 75-percent of heart attack victims actually don’t have high cholesterol markers at all. In addition, an analysis of over 28 studies on the link between “high cholesterol” and heart disease actually found that low LDL cholesterol (the “bad cholesterol”) was linked to higher death risk. Unfortunately, over half of all Americans over age 40 are still prescribed a statin drug to counter this “problem”—particularly since 2004 when the American Heart Association updated their guidelines for what they consider “high cholesterol, changing the recommended level of LDL cholesterol from 130 to LDL to less than 70-100 (ironically, guidelines changed the same year the statin drug Lipitor came out on the market). In addition, many docs prescribe more Americans low fat diets— without understanding that many of these medications, low fat foods with added sugars, artificial sweeteners and hydrogenated oils (n-6 PUFA fatty acids) in our diets—not “saturated fats” (i.e. organic red meat, egg yolks and grass-fed butter)—promote the oxidative damage and inflammation that cause heart disease in the first place. (Fact: the average American gets 57% of his/her calories from highly refined grains and polyunsaturated (PUFA) oils—found in canola oil, diet products, and processed foods).
Anxiety disorders are the most prevalent mental illness (approximately 40-million Americans) and cost the U.S. more than $42 billion a year, almost one-third of the country’s $148 billion total mental health bill, yet most treatments focus solely on psychological and brain health, instead of the gut microbiota —the place where 90-percent of a person’s serotonin (feel-good brain chemicals) is produced for total brain health.
Despite all the “knowledge” in the world to “eat fruits and veggies” or “exercise”—only 1 in 10 Americans eats the recommended amount of veggies (at least 3) daily and more than 80-percent of all Americans do NOT get the recommended 150 minutes of movement per week.
Something’s NOT working.
Band-aiding, medicating, low-fat diets and addressing the symptoms of disease alone is not working.
When was the last time you went to the doctor with a symptom or illness, and sat down with him or her, to take a deep look at your current lifestyle factors that impact your health?
Your nutrition? Your sleep? Your stress management? Your exercise and movement?
How about a look at potential stressors or triggers in your life that are linked to chronic disease—such as antibiotics, travel abroad, low stomach acid, surgeries, long-term medication or NSAID use, being a C-section or formula-fed baby?
There rarely is enough time in your 5-10 minute appointment to report your symptoms, much less any other potential outliers wreaking havoc on your health.
At the end of your appointment, you’re out the door with a diagnosis, the suggestion for a potential test, a medication prescription to “make things better” and perhaps the advice to drink some more water, go on a walk or “eat healthy”—without much more elaboration there.
Enter: Functional Medicine—an approach to modern-day healthcare and medical treatment, bringing the word “real” back to medicine.
Real-(functional) medicine—a blend of medical, scientific and lifestyle approaches to the treatment and prevention of chronic disease, that a growing number of doctors and allied healthcare providers are beginning to incorporate into their practice.
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE 101
The premise of functional medicine?
Addressing the roots of disease.
Unlike conventional medicine that looks at you with your out-of-control seasonal allergies or chronic headaches at hand and prescribes you weekly allergy shots or gives you an Advil to suppress the disease, functional medicine digs deeper into addressing what caused the disease in the first place.
Consider a flat tire from a functional medicine and conventional approach.
Whereas conventional medicine may try to patch up the hole with some really strong duct tape or tire-repair patching, functional medicine would figure out what caused the puncture in that tire in the first place—such as a rock or nail, take it out, then repair it.
Functional medicine uses a microscope lens to look under the “hood” of your body, your lifestyle, environment and your unique health and life history timeline considering detoxification pathways, gut integrity, stress, sleep, nutrition, water, air pollution, chemical exposures, vitamin/mineral deficiencies, hormonal balance, thyroid health and more.
In short, this “real” medicine takes a comprehensive approach to both diagnosis and treatment of disease to help you heal, beyond the symptoms—everything from autoimmune conditions and allergies to chronic constipation, bloating, anxiety, depression, skin breakouts, fatigue, hormonal imbalances, thyroid dysfunction and more.
Ultimately, functional medicine views “optimal health” from an ancestral health or evolutionary perspective, raising the question: How are human bodies designed to function and thrive?
For thousand of years, humans ate primarily meat and fish, fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and some starchy plants. They were physically active. They didn’t sit for long periods. They lived in sync with the natural rhythms of light and dark in direct contact with nature and in close-knit tribal and social groups.
And even though we don’t live in a time thousands of years ago, the human body and wiring really has not changed from needing—and thriving off these simple things (good food, sleep, moderate-low stress, walking and movement, water, sunshine, human connection).
Functional medicine helps humans get back to their roots—without living in caves.
SO WHAT DOES “FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE” LOOK LIKE IN PRACTICE?
Meeting with a functional medicine trained practitioner (doctor, nutritionist, therapist, coach) most often includes:
Patient-centered—you play an active role in your healing process; and integrative—combining the best of allopathic and alternative treatments. It doesn’t exclude drugs or surgery when they’re necessary but does tend to focus more on diet,
Preventative—aimed at treating disease before it occurs full-blown and getting to the roots of the roots of disease.
A deep dive and evaluation of your personal “timeline”—life health and lifestyle history—answering a series of deep questions about both past and present lifestyle factors, symptoms, conditions and health markers
An emphasis on real food (non-processed, additive or sugar rich) and water
Lifestyle treatments (stress management, sleep, social connectivity, movement, mindset, therapies, etc.)
Necessary lab work to address any underlying imbalances and figure out roots of disease (many times often highly gut related since 80-90% of disease is rooted in the gut health and integrity)
Nutritional therapy supplementation or herbal therapies to aid in correcting imbalances, along with real food.
Where or how to connect with a functional medicine trained clinician?
More and more practitioners are integrating functional medicine into their medical and healthcare practice, and also offer telemedicine online.
Connect with Dr. Lauryn at Thrive Wellness & Recovery today to find out more about getting to the roots of your disease—no longer staying stuck in your health rut or bandaging the symptoms. In addition, Dr. Lauryn’s network includes practitioners around the globe and she can help connect you to the right fit for you if Thrive is not for you.