The life expectancy of Americans has doubled since the 1900’s. According to these trends, the majority of Americans born today will likely live to 100 years old or more. But what good is longevity without quality of life? According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 80% of American adults have one chronic condition and 50% have at least two. These chronic conditions can be crippling as they cause years of pain and decrease optimal functioning.
The good news is that research has shown that poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging. We have all heard through lifestyle changes we can increase our quality of life but how do we do this? You can do this by partnering with a physician who practices functional medicine. Functional medicine is an evolution in the practice of medicine that better addresses the health-care needs of the 21st century. Functional medicine focuses on the individual as a whole and not as isolated parts / specialties. It combines traditional medicine with what is sometimes referred to as “alternative” or “integrative” medicine. Functional medicine differs from traditional medicine in the following ways:
▸ It treats the root cause of the illness and not just the symptoms. For example, let’s look at Migraines. Traditional doctors would prescribe medications and rest, but what is the underlying cause of this migraine? Functional medicine would investigate the source of the migraine, such as a possible food sensitivity or hormonal imbalance.
▸ The focus is on prevention through nutrition, diet, exercise and elimination of toxins. Through a compilation of your history and laboratory testing, the doctor may prescribe supplements or a detoxification program tailored to your needs and goals.
▸ It is client centered. The practitioner listens to the client by learning his or her individual story and tailors treatments that address the individual’s needs.
▸ The practitioner will consider multiple factors on assessing the client’s clinical imbalances such as environmental inputs, mind-body elements and genetic make-up.
As you can see from the list above, functional medicine practitioners are interested in the person as a whole. We are interested in you – your health, what you eat, your home and work environment, how you communicate with others, how you relax, which medications and supplements your taking, what chemicals you have been exposed to and how your digestive system is functioning. These items paint a picture of who you are and can give a great wealth of information to tailor a plan to make the changes you need to feel better and ultimately optimize your health and consequently possibly your longevity!