There are a few key figures you should be familiar with to understand the full scope of today’s best wellness philosophies. Dr. Mark Hyman is one of those figures and we’re thrilled to have him here with us this month as our March guest editor.
As founder of the UltraWellness Center and chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine, Dr. Hyman is a champion for “functional medicine,” a way of dealing with patients mind, body soul and head-to-toe without compartmentalization. This sensible, effective way of looking at medical care is one we’re 100% for and think our readers will love to learn more about. We’ve got a ton of resources for you this month!
Dr. Hyman is the author of twelve NYT best-selling books, and his latest title, Eat Fat, Get Thin, hits bookshelves just this month. Eat Fat, Get Thin aims to chip away at the low-fat health myths that have stuck around with our culture since the mid-80’s. With just the kind of accessible, reliable health information we’ve come to love him for, Dr. Hyman’s new book promises to debunk the myths of healthful fats that keep some of us from reaching out vibrant and best health potential. We’ll be tackling the topic a bunch this month, but, for now, get acquainted with the basics of functional medicine below. Dr. Hyman is breaking down the gist of things and giving us practical tips to start the month off right…
Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis. In fact, one in two Americans have a chronic illness and these problems account for 84% of our $3.8 trillion health care bill.
The system of medicine practiced by most physicians is oriented toward acute care, the diagnosis and treatment of trauma or illness that is of short duration and in need of urgent care, such as appendicitis or a broken leg. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments such as drugs or surgery that aim to treat the immediate problem or symptom.
That’s why we need Functional Medicine. Functional Medicine is the future of conventional medicine. It seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties. It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms. It asks: How is depression related to what’s going on in the gut? How is the skin affected by nutrient deficiency? How is dementia related to insulin resistance? How is this all related and why is it happening in the first place?
Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention and treatment of complex, chronic disease. These are the hallmarks of a Functional Medicine approach:
The focus of Functional Medicine is on patient-centered care, promoting health as a positive vitality, beyond just the absence of disease. By listening to the patient and learning his or her story, the practitioner brings the patient into the discovery process and tailors treatments that address the individual’s unique needs.
Integrated, science-based healthcare
Functional medicine practitioners look “upstream” to consider the complex web of interactions in the patient’s history, physiology and lifestyle that can lead to illness. The unique genetic makeup of each patient is considered, along with both internal (mind, body and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect total functioning.
Integrating best medical practices
Functional Medicine is agnostic when it comes to therapy – it uses multiple modalities to address root causes and create balance in the whole body system. It treats the body as a whole system, and does not simply treat symptoms. The focus is on prevention and reversal of dysfunction through nutrition, diet and exercise; the use of the latest laboratory testing and other diagnostic techniques; and prescribed combinations of drugs and/or botanical medicines, supplements, therapeutic diets, detoxification programs, or stress-management techniques.
In an ideal world, everyone would have access to a Functional Medicine practitioner. That is my hope for the future. If you want to find one if your area, click here. But there are ways to work with your primary care physician to get what you need. I’ve created this guide that goes along with my book, The Blood Sugar Solution, to work with your doctor and get the right tests done to start on the path toward better health. Also, remember that Functional Medicine doctors can’t cure everything in their offices. It starts in your homes, in your workplaces, in your kitchens, in schools and in your communities.
There are a few steps you can take toward better health, starting today. If you follow the steps below, you’re headed in the right direction!
One: Eat real food
Two: Eat plenty of healthy fat
Three: Manage stress levels
Four: Be active
Even 30 minutes of vigorous walking can help. If you want something more intense, try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or weight resistance. Here are seven reasons exercise becomes so important for weight loss and overall health.
Five: Get great sleep
Lack of sleep or poor sleep damages your metabolism, causes cravings for sugar and carbs, makes you eat more, and drives up your risk of heart disease, diabetes and early death. Learn to unplug from your smart phones and tablets, because artificial light can disrupt sleep. Research shows optimal sleep helps your body repair, recover and even detoxify.