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Functional Medicine: A More Effective Approach to Healthcare

Recently, a new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists titled “The $11 Trillion Dollar Reward: How Simple Dietary Changes Can Save Lives and Money, and How We Get There” revealed that if Americans ate one more serving of fruit or vegetables each day, more than 30,000 deaths from cardiovascular disease could be prevented and more than $5 billion in annual medical costs could be saved.

The report also predicts that healthcare costs from the treatment of cardiovascular disease alone—most of which are preventable—will soar to $818 billion by 2030.

I’ll give you a second to climb back onto your chair.

Obviously, a change in our country’s healthcare culture is not only necessary but also urgent. With that in mind, I would like to explain what I believe is the future of healthcare—functional medicine, an integrative approach to healthcare focused on disease prevention rather than treating symptoms after someone is already sick.

The functional medicine movement is gaining steam, thanks in large part to the educational efforts of the Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM).

I’m a proud member of this organization, employing its methods here at Natural Healthcare Center. I’m happy to provide the following information, which is based on the IFM’s educational efforts, with their permission.

What Is Functional Medicine?

Functional medicine is personalized medicine that deals with primary prevention and identifying underlying causes instead of managing symptoms for serious chronic disease. This science-based field of healthcare is grounded in the following principles:

  • Biochemical individuality. This states that variations in metabolic function can result from genetic and environmental differences among individuals.
  • Patient-centered medicine. This emphasizes patient care, not disease care. As Sir William Osler said: “It is more important to know what patient has the disease than to know what disease the patient has.”
  • Dynamic balance of internal and external factors. This involves how our bodies are affected—physically, nutritionally and psychologically—by the environment in which we live.
  • Web-like interconnections of physiological factors. Research now supports the view that the human body functions as an orchestrated network of interconnected systems, not individual systems that function independently without affecting each other. For example, we know that immunological dysfunctions can promote cardiovascular disease, and dietary imbalances can cause hormonal disturbances.
  • Health as positive vitality. In other words, health is not just the absence of a disease.
  • Promotion of organ reserve as the means to enhance the health span. More than a longer life span that simply involves a period of time, an enhanced health span focuses on living as many quality years as possible.

The goal of functional medicine is to correct imbalances that are at the root of various diseases. These imbalances can develop in response to how the body, mind, and spirit process such things as diet, nutrients, exercise, and trauma.

Improving balance helps us restore our functionality and health.

The best way we as a country can take back our health is to embrace functional medicine and focus on the prevention of disease instead of waiting until we’re sick and treating the symptoms.

We need to adopt this approach to healthcare so our children and grandchildren have a reliable, functioning healthcare system to take care of them.

If you have any questions about functional medicine, please call us at (732) 222-2219 and come see me for a complimentary consultation.