Defining Functional Medicine and its Benefits

Functional medicine is a fairly new approach to healing and helping people feel their best through customized integral and whole body treatment plans that are based on patients’ health history, genetics and their current health issues. Functional medicine aims to help people understand that they are not defined by genetic predispositions and that they can indeed redirect their path to health and improve their quality of life. This is achieved through a personalized treatment program that combines the core elements of functional medicine — sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement, nutrition, stress, and relationships. 

As research in the field of genetics has come to the forefront in the last few years, people are beginning to recognize that life expectancy and quality of life are not necessarily tied to genetics but rather a result of long-term lifestyle choices. In fact, recent results of a Danish Twin study actually show that more than 90 percent of people’s longevity can be attributed to lifestyle factors. Other studies point to the interaction between one’s genes and his environment that determines health including factors such as nutrition, stress levels, sleep activity and constant toxin exposure. Functional medicine is about tapping into one’s genes — in essence getting them to “turn off” or “on” — to achieve optimal health through those factors and others. 

As mainstream healthcare continues to boom, prescription medication has become a common treatment. The World Health Organization reports the global pharmaceuticals industry is worth a whopping $300 billion and is expected to grow to $400 billion in just a few short years. More than 80 percent of people in the U.S. take at least one prescribed medication daily. However, more than 100,000 people die each year at the hand of prescription medications — not by way of overdose but simply from proper use. 

Rather than prescribing medication to treat an illness or chronic condition, functional medicine aims to develop a very in-depth and customized treatment plan that incorporates the core elements to help people heal naturally and to empower patients to hold the outcome of their health in their own hands. At the root of functional medicine is self-responsibility, and those that seek a different path to health beyond prescription medication have the power to achieve amazing results with dedication to proper lifestyle choices.  

Functional medicine seeks an alternative to mainstream healthcare, which has become a trillion-dollar industry. Yet the amount Americans spend on healthcare is not equally balanced with the state of the country’s health. In fact, while Americans spend more on healthcare than the following 10 top-spending countries combined, this country is still ranked last among infant mortality rates and also among adult life loss.  

Rather than avoid prescription medication, as in many cases it can be an effective part of a health treatment plan, functional medicine looks at the whole picture with the goal to manage health issues from as natural a standpoint as possible with the core elements of sleep and relaxation, exercise and movement, nutrition, stress, and relationships. For those that have sought other treatments yet remain riddled with health issues, functional medicine could be the answer. This approach can work in tandem with many mainstream medical treatment plans and fill in the areas where conventional medication isn’t solving the problem.  

Learning more about functional medicine and finding out if it’s a right fit to reroute one’s own genetic predispositions begins with a consultation with Dr. Lisa Ballehr. Her concierge-style practice offers detailed in-home visitand even online consultation, making it easy for patients to exponentially improve their health through simple improvements in everyday lifestyle patterns and behaviors.   

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