A functional medicine practitioner can easily explain to you what the foundational principles of functional medicine are. Some of these include: lifestyle, the nervous system, structural integrity, and mental health. Functional medicine incorporates the principles of systems biology If patients work to optimize their modifiable lifestyle factors, the functional medicine approach can prevent many diseases.
This article discusses some of the biological functions operating within a patient’s body and the role of these biological systems. Knowing how your body functions is a great way to gauge your risk factors that could increase over time. Mental health is also an important consideration. If your health issues feel overwhelming, it’s a good idea to educate yourself regarding them and work with your healthcare team to treat their root cause. This is important, so you can know how to best incorporate functional and conventional medicine into your life.
What is a Chronic Disease?
Chronic disease is a condition that persists over time. Functional medicine is a system of healthcare that focuses on treating the root cause of chronic diseases. The immune system protects your body against infection and disease.
Complex chronic diseases typically occur in older adults and require a multimodal approach to their treatment. Functional medicine aims to identify the root cause of these diseases and eliminate them. Here are the most common types of chronic disease:
- Cancer – Many forms of cancer can develop in the human body. Cancer is an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells that grow in the body. These cells can migrate to different regions within the body, making some types of cancer more severe with time. Some common types of cancer are breast cancer, colon cancer, thyroid cancer, and prostate cancer.
- Heart Disease – Cardiovascular and lymphatic systems are typically affected when one is affected by heart disease. The vessels in the heart can become diseased, causing structural problems. Blood clots can occur, most often in the legs, arms, or groin. Some common examples of heart conditions include heart attacks, hypertensive heart disease, and congestive heart failure.
- A Stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or reduced. The symptoms of a stroke include: drooping of the face and trouble walking/speaking.
- Diabetes – This disease is caused by too much sugar in your blood. A few different types of diabetes can occur depending on your condition’s severity. Diabetes can be managed and even prevented with functional medicine strategies.
- Arthritis- Also known as joint inflammation, arthritis causes joint pain. Stiffness is another symptom of this condition but can be relieved by proper diet and exercise.
What is the Functional Medicine Matrix?
There are seven systems of functional medicine that comprise the functional medicine matrix, an organizational framework that shows how diverse symptoms may be linked and helps to determine which systems need the most support first: assimilation, biotransformation & elimination, defense & repair, , structural integrity, communication,, energy, and transport, and. Each system plays a role in chronic disease prevention and management.
So, what does assimilation do for the body? Well, it’s responsible for a lot! This system helps the body to take in nutrients from food and convert them into energy. It is also connected to the health, diversity, and balance of the microbes that inhabit the digestive tract. All of these functions are essential for keeping the body healthy and functioning properly.
Biotransformation & Elimination
Biotransformation and elimination refers to the way the body handles toxic substances, products of metabolism, drugs, and other chemicals, and eliminates waste through urine, stool, and sweat.
Defense & Repair
Defense and repair refers to how different parts of the body influence the immune system as well as factors such as inflammation and the factors that lead to a breakdown in the normal functioning of the immune system.
Structural integrity refers to the membranes within and surrounding the individual cells, as well as the bones, muscles, joints, and connective tissue that make up the body’s musculoskeletal structure. When these structures are healthy and functioning properly, they provide support and stability for the body.
Communication refers to hormones, neurotransmitters, and inflammatory mediators called cytokines. The hormonal system regulates mood, energy levels, metabolism, and reproduction. If this system is not functioning properly, it can lead to problems such as fatigue, weight gain, or infertility.
The energy system refers to how every cell in your body creates the fuel that it needs to carry out normal biological functions. It helps us understand how energy is produced and how we can optimize that process to improve our health. By understanding how energy is produced in the body, we can develop better treatments for conditions like chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia.
The transport system includes the circulatory system (heart and blood vessels) and the lymphatic system (lymph nodes and lymph vessels).
The transport system plays a vital role in the body by transporting oxygen, nutrients, hormones, and cells. This ensures that all tissues and organs receive the proper oxygen and nutrients. In addition, the transport system helps to remove waste products from the body.
Key Takeaways to Functional Medicine
Now that we know more about functional medicine and how the body operates, it’s important to consider what lifestyle choices may need to change for you. Patients may not know the root causes of their triggering events, which means they need guidance. A physical exam is needed to avoid things like kidney and liver disease and nutritional supplements should be a part of their daily life. This is how functional medicine improves health outcomes. Preventing harm to major organs by watching for symptoms and hopefully preventing them before they occur is a chance for better health. Another potential benefit that functional medicine provides is treatment that will improve your health and quality of life. Talk with your healthcare provider today to see how functional medicine can help you!
Bio: Index Health is a healthcare team specialized in personalization & the root cause. Our multi-disciplinary care team is made up of physicians and nutritionists that are trained and certified in (functional) root cause medicine.