One of my favorite Functional Medicine practitioners whom I follow is Chris Kresser. Chris teaches and practices functional medicine, a personalized approach to health care that recognizes the biological uniqueness of each patient. In contrast to conventional care, which focuses almost entirely on suppressing symptoms, functional medicine eliminates symptoms by addressing the underlying cause of a problem. It is an evidence-based field of health care that views the body as an interconnected whole, and recognizes the importance of these connections in health and disease.
In his new book, Unconventional Medicine, Join The Revolution To Reinvent Healthcare, Reverse Chronic Disease, and Create a Practice You Love, he writes:
“Chronic disease is a slow-motion plaque that is sabotaging our health, destroying our quality of life, shortening our lifespan, bankrupting our governments, and threatening the health of future generations.”
His book’s message serves as a manifesto and a call to action for healthcare professionals to shift their focus away from the Band-Aide approach of treating disease with medications towards a healthy whole-foods nutrition approach, mind-body practices, exercise and self-care. His private practice includes Functional Medicine practitioners, nurse practitioners trained in Functional Medicine, physician assistants, nutritionists, health coaches, and services such as acupuncture, physical therapists, occupational therapists and more that complement his methods.
This approach works because when you meet with your doctor and he subscribes a certain protocol, and then sends you on your way, you may not meet again until a few months later. This can make it difficult for the patient to implement changes, such as a completely new diet, without ongoing support. In this model, you can work with a nutritionist or health coach to support your protocol. Their purpose is to help you implement your diet recommendations with ongoing support, while holding you accountable, so you can stay on track. A health coach and nutritionist will also look at your lifestyle, everyday stress, and whether or not you’re getting enough sleep and exercise to keep your body healthy. Since diet, lifestyle and behavior are the primary drivers of chronic disease, this makes perfect sense.
If there is one thing I learned on my health journey, it is the importance of taking my health into my own hands. In other words, it’s up to me to seek the right care if I don’t feel well-served with the care that I’m currently getting.
Conventional Medicine Offers A Longer Life, With Poorer Health
You may be saying, “But we are living longer than our grandparents?” Yes, that’s true, but we’re spending our final years, sometimes decades, suffering from not just one, but multiple chronic diseases. As we age, it’s not unusual to be on so many prescriptions, we need a spreadsheet to keep track of them! Conventional medicine is increasing our lifespan, yet we’re living a poorer quality life. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a good quality life.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is contributing to chronic disease. So much so that chronic disease is looked at as normal, it’s inevitable. We’re not addressing the reality of a SAD diet which consists of grain-based desserts, bread, sugary beverages, processed foods, hydrogenated oils, and poor-quality meats, all leading to a pro-inflammatory, low nutrient, high-calorie disaster. Eating this way plants the seed of disease. Just ask the patient that walks into her doctor’s office with her lab work, and it shows that she is pre-diabetic. She’s told to keep an eye on it, and when she comes back with the full-blown disease, her doctor will then treat her symptoms. My question is “Why wait for disease to happen?” With the knowledge that “Food is Medicine,” we can focus on reversing and preventing chronic disease, rather than managing it.
If you’re interested in finding a practitioner in your area, visit The Institute of Functional Medicine’s website https://www.ifm.org.