It’s a different kind of health care!
Perhaps the better way to describe it is investigative health care, powered by an ancestral and evolutionary approach.
You see, our genetics are programmed for a more primitive hunter/ gatherer type of lifestyle; not the sedentary, chemically-rich, environmentally toxic society we live in today. Our ancestors thrived on daily activity and the consumption of nutrient-rich whole food. While we certainly can’t return to living in caves, we can make meaningful tweaks to our lifestyle that restore harmonious balance.
Functional health doesn’t simply treat your symptoms, such as high blood pressure, acid reflux, or fatigue, with medications. A functional health approach investigates potential root causes for your symptoms. Then, based upon your goals, lifestyle, and test results, this approach helps realign your biology with the most gentle, natural means possible. Treatment possibilities include lifestyle modifications, herbal and botanical protocols, and prescription medications, if indicated. If a serious disease state such as a blood dyscrasia, Addison’s disease, or inflammatory bowel disease is uncovered, you may be referred to a specialist who will partner with you in managing your disease.
While the overall goal of functional health is to prevent and/ or reverse chronic illness, this may not always be possible, as in the case of genetic conditions. However, in these situations, the overall goal is to meaningfully manage the condition so you can enjoy life to the greatest extent possible.
But I’ve been tested, and everything was “normal.”
Unfortunately, “normal” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s normal for you.
“Normal” values are based on an average of healthy individuals; there are many healthy individuals that fall outside the normal range. Likewise, some ill individuals fall within the normal range.
Normal is relative and situational. Lab values are established on a bell curve of 95% of the population and don’t necessarily account for differences in age, gender, or ethnicity.
Laboratories even vary on their definition of normal, with varying reference ranges and measurement units. Ultimately, having “normal” values doesn’t mean you are healthy.
Functional health modifies the testing approach.
Chances are, if you’re using health insurance to pay for your routine care, you have not had testing to determine the underlying causes of your symptoms.
Why? Well, there are several potential reasons. Most of the time insurance requires a reason, such as a disease, before testing is indicated. If you don’t have a suspected or established diagnosis, chances are you won’t get tested. Second, many tests are considered “investigational or “experimental,” despite solid science that supports the results. You may have encountered this situation if you tried to obtain testing to establish your risk for a genetic-related disease, such as breast cancer or Alzheimer’s. Third, in the short time that you get to spend with your doctor, it is unlikely much investigating is done at all; the work and time constraints of the modern medical practice do not allow for deep dives into your health concerns. Fourth, your doctor is likely not familiar with these types of tests, since insurance doesn’t cover them.
What types of testing will be used to investigate my concerns?
Generally speaking, a functional health approach looks at:
- An expanded lab panel consisting of blood counts, blood chemistry, hormones, thyroid status, trace elements, and certain vitamin levels
- Stool testing to evaluate overall gut health by delineating small intestine bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) or intestinal pathogens
- Food and chemical sensitivity testing to help determine if you are reacting to food or chemicals within your environment
- HPA axis testing, which measures the rise and fall of certain chemicals and hormones, such as cortisol, throughout the day. Daily hormonal fluctuations and your stress response may influence how you feel.
Reference ranges and what they mean. (2019, January 3). Lab Tests Online: Your Trusted Guide. Retrieved November 21, 2020 from https://labtestsonline.org/articles/laboratory-test-reference-ranges
Whyte, M.B. & Kelly, P. (2018). The normal range: It is not normal and it is not a range. Postgraduate Medical Journal, (94)1117, 613-616. Retrieved November 21, 2020 from https://pmj.bmj.com/content/94/1117/613