Functional medicine takes a holistic approach to treating health conditions. Rather than simply treating a condition through traditional medical techniques like lab tests and pharmaceuticals, functional medicine practitioners also seek to improve wellness through natural therapies.
The ultimate goal of the functional approach is to optimize a patient’s health through an approach that incorporates nutrition, physical activity, meditation, and other methods.
The use of functional medicine can play a big role in optimizing patient health. Receiving adequate nutrition and balancing stress in everyday life through physical activity and other techniques results in an overall healthier mind and body.
When combined with pharmaceuticals and other conventional treatment methods, patients are in the best position to fight their medical condition and obtain relief from their symptoms.
In this article, we’ll examine the facets of functional medicine and how they can positively impact health.
Functional Medicine from a Nutritional Perspective
The CDC has long recommended adopting a healthy diet to fend off medical conditions and support the body’s various functions. Staying away from processed foods and focusing on fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and legumes may stave off illness and boost your immunity. It also helps to keep you at a healthy weight.
What is optimal nutrition? In truth, this varies by individual. Many factors, such as age, activity levels, and medical conditions, all impact the nutrients that each person requires in their daily diet.
The CDC has identified several nutrients as essential for optimal bodily functions, but the amount that the body requires of each one differs from person to person. The six essential micronutrients recommended by the CDC are:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
Each of these micronutrients allows the body to perform certain processes. These include cognitive functions, immune protection, the building of strong bones, the formation of new blood cells, and resistance to infectious diseases.
Outside of the basic micronutrients, functional medicine also recommends the intake of other vitamins and minerals, essential fatty acids, amino acids, probiotics, and complex carbohydrates.
Some medical conditions may result in the depletion of certain vitamins and minerals in the body. This can worsen the impact of symptoms associated with the condition. The functional approach to nutrition seeks to replenish these vitamins and minerals in an effort to reduce medical symptoms.
Functional Medicine from a Physical Perspective
The holistic approach to treating the body encourages regular physical activity to combat fatigue, reduce stress, and support a healthy weight. Recognizing that not everyone may be able to perform high-intensity exercise, it recommends a variety of activities that can positively impact the mind and body at the same time.
A few of these activities include:
Most people can engage in a regular walk outdoors or on a treadmill. Walking outdoors provides mental health benefits alongside physical health ones. It allows you to focus on your thoughts and the scenery around you while also giving you the opportunity to burn calories.
Another potential stress buster and highly recommended activity is yoga. Yoga involves different sets of poses that are held for various periods of time to promote flexibility, strength, and relaxation.
While yoga doesn’t always burn a large number of calories, the benefits that it provides to overall wellness are many. It has the potential to ease a number of conditions, including arthritis, back pain, and heart health.
Yoga poses can be difficult for older people or those who suffer from certain injuries to hold. However, tai chi is an alternative that also has stress-busting and calorie-burning benefits.
A type of meditation in motion, tai chi is low-impact and requires participants to focus on bodily sensations while holding a particular pose. It can be practiced by anyone — from those confined to wheelchairs to those in peak physical condition.
Functional Medicine from a Mental Perspective
Finally, functional medicine seeks to encourage mental health through a variety of activities. A few options that can encourage mental health benefits include:
Journaling is an excellent option for expressing your deepest thoughts and emotions through writing. No one ever has to view the journal except you; you are your own listening ear.
Keeping a journal is a great outlet for emotions that you might not feel comfortable sharing with others. It can have significant positive impacts on behavioral health.
Even the most introverted person requires some social interaction each day. Whether that is in the form of volunteering, joining a club, or spending time with close friends, regular social activity is an important component of the functional approach.
Those who take a holistic approach to mental health should seek to expand their personal network by meeting new people and participating in group activities.
Breaking Bad Habits
No one is perfect, and everyone succumbs to one bad habit or another. Sometimes these bad habits are relatively minor, such as procrastination. Others can have significant impacts on physical and mental health, such as an addiction to drugs or alcohol.
Overcoming bad habits can help individuals gain confidence in their ability to beat adversity.
Finally, regular therapy is an important component of any functional health program. The use of therapy can allow people to realize when they are behaving in a way that negatively impacts their well-being. It also provides another outlet for expressing thoughts and emotions that they are uncomfortable sharing with friends or relatives.
Are You Seeking to Benefit from Functional Medical Treatment?
Many people remain stuck in traditional approaches to treating medical conditions that typically involve doctor’s visits and pharmaceuticals. However, treating the symptoms and causes of a medical condition through methods that concentrate on overall wellness can significantly improve a patient’s outcome.
If you’d like to see how functional medicine can benefit you, contact the Medical Transformation Center in Louisville, KY, to find out more.