What is Functional or Lifestyle Medicine?

Today, our main health challenges are chronic diseases, like diabetes, or auto-immune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. Even if we haven’t been diagnosed with these conditions, we may suffer from common symptoms like feeling tired most of the time.

Although we may not know why we are feeling that way, the one thing we do know is that it affects quality of life, slowly but surely, over a period of years.

What you see and/or feel are external symptoms – digestive issues, weight gain, brain fog, fatigue, or aching joints. Or maybe it shows up for you as menopausal symptoms. Many of these symptoms are invisible, and many people suffer in silence. Other people can’t see it, and may think that “it’s all in your head.”

Regardless of what the condition may be called, in Functional or Lifestyle Medicine, we work on a personalised basis and we work “upstream.” This means that, instead of working on the symptoms, we look at the body as an integrated whole and as a system, to identify what may be contributing to the condition in the first place – the underlying root cause. It’s called “functional” because we look at what is not functioning optimally in your body and address that, and it’s called “lifestyle” because how you live your life from movement or exercise, to sleep, stress, mindset or community, all play a role in your physical health.

As an example, if someone has a chronic inflammatory condition, such as arthritis, a conventional doctor may treat that by suppressing the inflammation with a drug. On the other hand, in Functional Medicine, the target is to identify the root cause of that inflammation. If, for example, that inflammation is being contributed to by sensitivity to certain foods and a high level of stress, then that person’s programme might be to identify and avoid the foods that are causing the inflammation, and to reduce levels of stress.

In other words, the solution includes changes in diet and/or lifestyle – factors that are under your influence.

Here’s a diagram from the Institute of Functional Medicine that nicely illustrates this.

It’s important to know that Functional Medicine is not a replacement for conventional medicine. As a registered Nutritional Therapist, I work alongside your medical doctor, to help you make the changes that can help your body to heal. In short, I am your partner.

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