What is Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is a modern approach to treating the Human Body that focuses on the individual as a system and treats chronic diseases and health problems within the body itself rather than treating the disease and its symptoms.
The idea behind functional medicine is that, as with any machine, a problem will have an underlying cause, as well as the direct cause. If you treat the machine as a whole and aim for optimal functionality it improves upon any problems the system may have.
“The key is figuring out the root causes. Functional medicine is the map — the GPS system — that we use to navigate the landscape of chronic disease.” – Mark Hyman, MD
Functional Medicine is considered holistic but is, in reality, a much more thorough approach to treating the individual.
How does Functional Medicine Diagnose and assess an individual?
Functional medicine looks at a variety of different factors from patient to patient in an effort to build a basic picture of potential problems or aggravating factors.
A number of those factors that would not always be covered within practical medicine are:
– Environmental factors
Is the patient exposed or not exposed to anything on a daily basis that could cause a problem?
– Genetic factors
Beyond family history, are there any specific genes that could contribute to the disease? For example, the MTHFR gene has been linked to several events such as cardiac problems and pulmonary embolism.
– Lifestyle (diet, stress, social setting)
What kind of life does the individual live and what would they benefit from?
There are a multitude of different issues that directly affect a person’s body that would not be addressed outside of the realm of functional medicine.
More information on the subject can be found at https://www.functionalmedicine.org/files/library/Introduction.pdf.
What role does healthy eating play in the Functional approach to medicine?
Healthy eating is a vital part of functional medicine, as the wrong diet to an individual can cause a multitude of problems.
At Southwest Functional Medicine, a nutritionist evaluates the individual’s diet and aims to improve upon that. For more information on Southwest’s approach to nutrition visit their website.
Are there any specific foods or diets recommended?
The quick and simple answer is no. There is no such thing as a magic food that should be eaten or a diet that would benefit every single individual. Functional Medicine proposes identifying the healthiest lifestyle for each individual body; analyzing and assess the patient and modifying diet accordingly.
The benefits to this approach for some diseases are obvious. Patients that suffer from type 2 diabetes would benefit from nutritional improvement; whereas, patients with autoimmune diseases could potentially benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Health food and Functional Medicine
If you are interested in improving your overall health and are interested in how healthy eating could benefit you, then Functional Medicine provides an interesting insight in the right way to address diet and nutrition to benefit each person to the full extent possible.