Functional Medicine – The foundations of a wellness-based approach to health
The Five Foundations of Functional Medicine
There are five foundations that Functional Medicine doctors call “Modifiable Lifestyle Factors.” These are five areas in your life where the things you do can greatly impact your health both towards the positive and the negative. In other words, these are areas where you have control over your wellness.
#1 Nutrition: The first, and probably most important factor is nutrition because health does begin with what’s on your fork. The Standard American Diet (also known as the S.A.D. diet), which is full of refined carbohydrates such as bread, sugar, sugar substitutes, highly refined oils and factory farmed meats have created a chronic disease epidemic. Food is more than calories, it is information. Give your body the information it needs to function, and you live a full, rich, vibrant life. Give the body poor fuel like the SAD diet, and survive while experiencing the health issues that plague our population such as digestive distress, skin problems, GERD, joint pain and brain fog.
#2 Movement: The second factor is movement, which is almost equally important as food. Movement keeps you moving! It’s great for brain health and helping the body deal with stress. I want you to notice that I chose the term movement and not exercise, because healthy movement includes things like gardening, playing with your kids and dancing which you might not put in the “exercising” category.
#3 Stress Reduction: Stress is a serious underlying contributor of chronic illness in our modern society. Of course a little good, productive stress is great – it keeps us engaged with life and moving forward, but I’m talking about the “I just feel like I’m going to explode stress” that comes from endless emails, texts, demands, obligations, trauma (both past and present), overexposure to news and social media, lack of connection with people and very significantly the physical stress from exposure to toxins.
#4 Sleep: Cutting-edge research on sleep confirms that this is fundamental to good health. Sleep allows the cells in the brain and body to clear out or repair after a busy day. Without the cleaning process, functions of the body will diminish over time. Getting 7-9 hours of restorative sleep is crucial to keeping your body energized and online. If you wake up every day feeling tired, even after being in bed 8 hours, you got the right quantity of sleep but not the right quality. Establishing a relationship with a functional medical doctor and health coach can help you dive deeply into finding the root causes of poor sleep. Sometimes natural supplements, mind-body techniques, or a conventional approach such as a formal sleep study may be appropriate.
#5 Relationships: Social isolation, either physically or perceived has been found to be the number one predictor of mortality. In other words, the more lonely and disconnected you feel, the higher your risk is of dying. Wow, that’s profound! This is an area in life where we can’t just prescribe a supplement! Moreover, you might have a lot of relationships in your life, but are they supportive and positive, or a trigger for stress? Do these people leave you feeling energized or empty? I know that making friends can be challenging for many of us, especially when you are out of practice; however, not making the effort could be more detrimental to your health than not eating vegetables! We call this “Primary Food” – food that feeds the soul, and it’s equally important as everything else on this list.
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