Functional Health: A Deeper Dive
A Wiser Mind’s Lifestyle-based Functional Health program
A Functional Health Approach for Restoring and Maintaining Health and Preventing Disease
Doctors of chiropractic and other healthcare providers practicing in a functional health model view health as a continuum from optimal health to hidden imbalances to disease. Rather than treating disease (e.g., cancer, hypothyroid, or multiple sclerosis), we address underlying metabolic, physiologic, and functional imbalances, intervening at root causes.
The vast majority of chronic health conditions are inflammatory in nature and very often involve immune system dysfunction. Inflammation is a normal human process that serves a very useful purpose. After an acute injury like an ankle sprain or low back muscle strain, inflammation serves to protect and heal the injured tissue. This inflammatory process usually resolves within a matter of days and the injured tissue heals within weeks to months.
Sustained inflammation is a different phenomenon. Normally there is a balance between immune cells that promote inflammation and those that dampen it. Chronic or sustained inflammation is a condition in which the immune system creates an unchecked supply of pro-inflammatory cells that can damage body tissues.
It is now recognized that most if not all chronic ailments including cognitive decline, mood disorders such as anxiety and depression and blood sugar disorders such as insulin resistance and diabetes have an underlying component of chronic systemic inflammation. Conventional or allopathic medicine recognizes that these conditions result from an interaction between genetics and the environment however the trigger for each named disease is mostly elusive. In most cases, since a single underlying cause has not been identified, management of symptoms, usually with drugs, after a diagnosis has been made is the standard of care. There is no focus put on identifying, reducing and eliminating the underlying causes.
A Functional Health model is a personalized, lifestyle-based approach that recognizes that these conditions are multi-factorial and can vary between individuals. In this approach chronic conditions are seen to occur on a spectrum, where an interaction between genetics and the environment along individualized “triggers” are the underlying cause for immune system dysfunction and chronic, sustained inflammation. A Functional Health approach includes recommendations for personalized lifestyle interventions that can support the restoration and maintenance of health and prevent disease.
The Functional Health process starts with the patient completing an extensive health history form. Prior lab test results are obtained and recommendations may be made for further testing which may include any or all of the following:
At the first visit an extensive interview is conducted that includes eliciting the patient’s “story” to identify key factors that predispose to acute or chronic illness, discrete entities or events that initiate or provoke disease or it’s symptom, and intermediaries that contribute to ongoing manifestations of disease.
All of the information obtained is then integrated into a categorization of key areas that are likely dysfunctional and/or dysregulated in relation to the patient’s health challenges. Personalized, lifestyle-based recommendations are made to address the identified “root causes.” Considered in the broadest sense, targets for this therapeutic lifestyle approach include the following major modifiable factors:
- Food intake and nutritional status;
- Digestive system dysfunction, infection and imbalanced gut bacteria;
- Imbalance in immune cells that promote versus dampen inflammation;
- Dysfunctional mitochondria, the “power plants” in every cell responsible for manufacturing ATP (the body’s energy compound);
- Psycho-emotional and physical stressors;
- Hormonal imbalances; and
- Exposure to and accumulation of toxins and dysfunction in the body’s detoxification system.
Follow up visits are scheduled periodically to determine progress and the need for care plan changes. The ultimate goal is to teach the patient lifestyle maintenance that promotes health and wellness with a minimum of therapeutic intervention.
For more information about our program and to explore whether our lifestyle-based approach for supporting health is right for you, please click the link below to schedule a free discovery consultation with Dr. Ward.
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