Functional medicine is personalised medicine. It approaches healing in a holistic way, meaning that your disease isn’t treated but the cause of the disease is treated which in most cases have very desireable side effects like overall health and mood improvement.
Functional medicine starts with an extensive research of you:
- What do you eat?
- How do you sleep?
- How much exercise do you get?
- How is your stress level?
- What do you do for fun?
- How does your job look like?
- How much time do you spend looking at screens?
These are the kind of questions that you can expect when going to a functional medicine practioner. On top of asking you all kinds of questions to get an idea of your habits and rituals they also do extensive testing to find out if you have inflammation or for example a leaky gut. Also nutritional deficicies like vitamin d, magnesium, iron, omega 3, zinc are being investigated.
An extensive profile will be created to find out what is causing your disease(s) and a treatment plan will be based upon that. Find out how what the differences are between functional medicine and traditional medicine and what functional medicine treatments plan could look like.
Differences between functional medicine and traditional medicine
As mentioned functional medicine treats the patient on a holistic level. They look for the root cause(s) of your disease and treat the cause not the disease. Traditional medicine does treat the disease, they have a procedure for every disease and on how it’s treated.
Traditional medicine tends to prescribe drugs that have many harmful side effects fast while functional medicine in most cases only prescribes a certain diet and in more extreme cases pro-biotics and even a microbiom transplant. Which is a last resort.
Traditional medicine has all kinds of specialists for every disease while functional medicine practioners are more generalistic and can treat several diseases because the root causes are in most cases a form of imflammation caused by a poor diet and unhealthy lifestyle.
What a functional medicine treatment plan looks like
A functional medicine treatment is based on your life. What you eat and how much you exercise and sleep. So the treatment plans tend to differ in the details however when speaking generally you get recommended the following:
- Follow a strict diet for atleast 6 weeks of mainly vegetables, beans and legumes, fruit (not all kinds), nuts, organic meat (not to much), eggs, and an occasional piece of dark choclate (above 70%)
- Meditation, 15 – 30 minutes daily
- Regular exercise, atleast 30 minutes daily.
- Nutritional supplements such as vitamin d and omega 3 fish oil.
Most people generally are cured after six weeks when following this diet and not only that they also tend to feel a lot better in general.
Functional medicine focusses a lot on the microbiom of the gut
On Netflix there is a show called Human: The world within and there was an episode about fuel (episode 3). This explained how much impact the microbiom of the gut has on your level of well-being. You have billions of micro-organisms living in your gut and they all eat what you eat.
When you eat ultra processed food like cookies and chips all the time your microbiom will adjust and micro-organisms will grow which release chemicals that are bad for your health. The same is true for when you eat the right foods like vegetables and nuts.
You and your microbiom should be a team, you should not only eat for yourself but for your teammates supporting you with the right kinds of chemicals.
The good news is that you can change your microbiom rather quickly. So if you have been eating poorly for a long time it does not matter because you can change it in a month or two of strict dieting.
What diseases can be cured or if incurable become more managable using functional medicine
It might come to a suprise to you, because I know it did for me that functional medicine can cure all kinds of diseases like:
- Depression and anxiety (There are strong signs that depression is just inflammation of the brain)
- Chrone disease
- Lyme disease
- Autism (but only autism that is picked up not born with)
- Diabetes type 2
- Autoimmune diseases
- Cancer prevention and also help slow down cancer cells
- Thyroid disorders
So that’s quite a list already but there are more diseases that it can treat but also prevent. More and more discoveries are being made that inflammation and the immunal system are linked to many of these diseases.
What foods are often recommended by functional medicine
As previously mentioned the food groups that functional medicine recommends are beans, legumes, vegetables, fruits (not dried), nuts, fish (organic), meat (organic).
Beans are a natural ingredient that contains quite the amount of proteine and it is recommended by Dr. Mark Hyman in his book the blood sugar solution that you take proteïne with every meal to negate the negative effects of carbs.
Vegetables according to functional medicine you can eat all day every day. Especially dark green vegetables, they are anti-inflammatory and provide you with many healthy nutrients.
Fruits (not dried)
Now fruits are nature’s candy so these you can’t eat all day every day. Around 2 to 3 pieces of fruit daily and not always the same fruit is preferable. The advice here is to eat the rainbow, meaning you switch colors of fruit. The color of fruit says a lot about the nutrients it contains. So when eating different colors you get the whole variety of nutrients that you and your microbes need. You shouldn’t eat dried fruit because sugar and other harmful compounds are added to make and preserve it in that form.
As humans we have been eating nuts for as long we exist so we evolved being very able to make good use of these foods. Nuts provides healthy fats and proteïne, make sure that you eat different kinds and eat them unsalted and unprocessed. Eat nuts like cashews, pistaches, walnuts and almonds.
Fish is a great source of omega 3 fats and also proteine. Eat fish like tuna and salmon and not the bigger fish as they contain high contents of heavy metals like mercury which can poison you.
While to much meat is not good for you. A few pieces of meat, mainly white meat is good for the amount of proteïne and fats it contains. Eat it as organic as possible because it will contain no hormones and pesticides that your body does not need.
What supplements are often recommended by functional medicine
The main supplements recommended by functional medicine are omega 3 fish oil, magnesium, vitamine D, Zinc and Iron.
Omega 3 fishoil
Omega-3 fatty acids are considered essential fatty acids. They are needed to survive and should be in the right ratio with omega-6 fatty acids which is 2:1. But on your standard diet with lots of dairy and gluten and proccessed foods this ratio is far from this ratio. omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation and play a crucial role in brain function. Therefore supplementation is recommended. Also on the packages of fish oil say to take two to three capsules a day. It doesn’t say when, this is important because you should take one AFTER eating in the morning and one after dinner. This way it is absorbed more throughout the day. The same goes for magnesium.
Magnesium is called the relaxation mineral. And for good reason it relaxes your muscles and also mind. It is one of the best mood boosting supplements that you can take that are free of any risk when you don’t go overboard with the dosis ofcourse. But that is rather hard to do.
Vitamin D is also a mood booster and vital for regulation your cells and genes. Vitamin D is one of the most potent cancer cell inhibitors. Your body makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight but most of us aren’t getting enough sunlight anymore because our work is mainly indoors.
Iron plays a role in various enzymatic reactions in the body that are necessery for muscle metabolism, physical growth and neurological development. When deficient of iron you can feel headaches, dizziness or lightheadedness, extreme fatigue and have a poor appetite.
Zinc is a mineral that your body uses for fighting off infections and producing celss. It is important for healing wounds and creating DNA.
How functional medicine is linked to the climate and global warming
What I would like to leave you with is this. You vote 3 times a day with your fork, everytime you eat vegetables or organic meat instead of processed foods and processed meat or fish you are voting for what kind of food is demand for. Eating vegetables and organic is better for the climate and for yourself!
The only reason to eat junk is because it tastes good and you get a temporal high. This is the ONLY reason you do it, because many of us are addicted to sugar and unhealthy fats. This is not entirely our fault it’s because these foods are made to be highly addictive.
The odds are stacked against you by major industries that promote bad foods and even spread misinformation about products. Making you confused which can lead to you giving up altogether which is exactly what these big companies are aiming at. It’s not because they are evil but it’s because they are in that business and a business wants to survive and grow so it will do what it can in order to do just that.
- The Blood Sugar solution by Dr Mark Hyman MD.
- The Doctors Pharmacy