Why do we need functional medecine?
- Our society is experiencing a sharp rise in the prevalence of complex chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and autoimmune disorders.
- The type of medicine practiced by most doctors in the conventional system is geared towards acute care, diagnosing, and treating short-term trauma or illness requiring urgent care. Unfortunately, the acute care approach to medicine lacks the appropriate methodology and tools to prevent and treat complex chronic diseases.
The Institute of Functional Medicine teaches practitioners how to assess the patient’s condition in terms of modifiable lifestyle risk factors and fundamental clinical imbalances through a careful history, physical examination and laboratory tests. The functional medicine practitioner will consider several factors, including:
- Environmental exposure: The air we breathe and the water we drink, the diet we eat, the quality of food available to us, our level of physical activity and the toxic exposures or traumas we have suffered all affect our health.
- Mind-body connections: Psychological, spiritual, and social factors can all have a profound influence on your health. Considering these areas helps functional medicine practitioners to understand the context of around your person, not just your physical symptoms.
- Genetic make-up: Although individual genes may make you more susceptible to certain diseases, your DNA is not an immutable blueprint for your life. Emerging research shows that your genes can be influenced by the environment, as well as by your experiences, attitudes, and beliefs. This means it is possible to change the way your genes are activated and expressed.
By assessing these underlying causes and triggers of dysfunction, the functional medicine practitioner can understand how major processes in the body that keep you alive are affected. Some occur at the cellular level and influence the cells’ ability to function, repair and maintain themselves. These processes are linked to broader functions, such as:
- How your body gets rid of toxins
- Regulation of hormones and neurotransmitters
- Immune system function
- Digestion and absorption of nutrients and health of the digestive tract
- Structural integrity
- Psychological and spiritual balance
- Energy production
- Inflammatory responses
All these processes are influenced by environmental factors and genetic make-up. When disrupted or imbalanced, they result in symptoms that can lead to disease if effective interventions are not applied.
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