WHAT IS FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE
Functional medicine is all about personalisation and strengthening the body as a whole to optimise health.
When your body isn’t functioning as it should you start to experience symptoms. This is a sign of imbalance or dysfunction within the body, and its clever way of telling you that something isn’t right.
Sometimes it may just be a short-term health hitch, a one-off that can be easily remedied. But more often than not in our modern-day world, the roots or triggers of compromised health and wellbeing stem from chronic conditions that are long-lasting in their effects whether they fluctuate, or are persistent in nature.
And when symptoms or signs of body malfunction are masked or left to their own devices, our health struggle(s) can start to resemble a snowball - gradually gaining in size and pace as it progresses downhill.
But it doesn't have to be this way.
Challenges can be overcome and health can be optimised when we seek to treat the body as one entity, rather than in bite-size pieces.
Functional medicine recognises that every system, affects every other system, irrespective of whether the roots of symptoms and malfunction lie in the digestive, immune, structural, hormone or cardiovascular system and so on...
Because the body works as an integrated web-like network of systems that rely on each other for total body function, it’s important to identify the underlying triggers of inflammation, infection, imbalance and insufficiency. And where possible restore function naturally, effectively and with minimal side-effects.
Your unique biochemical makeup – both nutritional and chemical that’s based upon your genetic structure (your genes are most certainly not your fate though), nutrient levels and life environment are also factors in the healing process, as these too play a part in overall health.
If you’re currently feeling frustrated and confused about how you can improve your health and get to the bottom of what's causing those distressing symptoms that are affecting your quality of life, or you just simply want to optimise your health, then I recommend working with a Functional Medicine Practitioner.
With functional medicine’s roots grounded in creating sustainable wellness and vitality, it’s supportive, systems and evidence-based style approach will give you answers and positive outcomes to help you enjoy your most vibrant health.
Here’s a list of the 10 more common triggers that I typically see contributing to a person’s health puzzle and where functional medicine excels in restoring them:
1. Gut microbiome – Parasitic infections, fungi and bacterial imbalances in the gut have been linked to everything from hormonal issues to weight-loss resistance as well as digestive problems like IBS and leaky gut syndrome.
2. Inflammation – a core natural defense mechanism, but chronic inflammation is a driving factor behind almost every health issue, for example - arthritis, fibromyalgia, asthma, skin problems.
3. Stress – irrelevant of the source of psychological stress, what starts in the mind ends in the body. The gut-brain axis is directly affected during times of increased stress, which inevitably puts pressure on your mental, emotional and physical health.
4. Toxin overload and food intolerances – harmful chemicals in your food and immediate environment can place a huge burden on your body’s ability to function properly. Just because you're eating what's deemed to be "healthy" foods, it doesn’t mean you're eating foods that make your personal body thrive. And finding ways to reduce the amount of environmental toxins you’re exposed to isn’t easy these days.
5. Blood sugar imbalance - insulin resistance underpins a plethora of health issues, not just diabetes and heart disease.
6. Viral infections - Viruses are often a huge missing piece of the health puzzle. They can lay dormant in the body for years before triggering a cascade of health issues and uncomfortable symptoms. Anything from microbiome imbalances to stress can awaken the sleeping virus, and once active it can take hold of your body in a destructive way.
7. Hormonal imbalance - When your female sex hormones (oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone) are out of whack, it can upset your body in many ways. Depending on what stage in life you're at, hormone imbalance can show up as infertility, PMT, PCOS, menopausal symptoms, weight gain, weight-loss resistance, libido and so on...
8. Fatigue – psychological and physiological stress from things like infections, metabolic malfunctioning, hormone imbalances and auto-immune disorders can deplete your adrenal glands causing symptoms like brain fog, low energy, depressive mood, food cravings and lightheadedness. Often we forget about biochemical stress, but it too alongside psychological stress places a burden on the body.
9. Thyroid dysfunction - Thyroid hormones are the queen of all hormones, and all the cells in your body need them to function properly. Unhealthy thyroid function can lead to autoimmune conditions, hormonal imbalances, and even unrelated issues like depression.
10. Autoimmune conditions - Your immune system is designed to defend your body from foreign bacteria and viruses in order to fight off disease. Autoimmune dysfunction occurs when your immune system decides to attack your own healthy cells. It’s like a case of mistaken identity. The list of autoimmune disorders is wide-reaching and long, including conditions like, endometriosis, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and colitis.