In April I had the pleasure of attending a [re]FIND health event in the UK called Functional Medicine 360: Addressing the Root Cause of Disease with dr. Mark Hyman. Dr. Hyman was accompanied by Dr Rangan Chatterjee (NHS, Functional Medicine GP and presenter of the BBC’s acclaimed programme ‘Doctor in the House’) and Amelia Freer (Nutritional Therapist and Author ‘Eat, Nourish, Glow’).
Who is dr. Mark Hyman?
Dr. Hyman is a 10 time #1 New York Times bestselling author, family physician, director of the Cleveland Clinic Centre for Functional Medicine, chairman of the board of the Institute of Functional Medicine and overall international leader in the field of Functional Medicine.
What’s Functional Medicine?
Functional Medicine is an integrative science-based healthcare approach that seeks to identify and address the root causes of disease, and views the body as one integrated system, not a collection of independent organs divided up by medical specialties (e.g. your rash, gut issues & joint pain might be connected). It treats the whole system, not just the symptoms, and has a patient-centered approach rather than disease-centered, meaning it recognizes that everyone’s different and that every human being is unique.
Functional medicine is also called the medicine of why. It asks questions such as:
- Why is this problem present in the first place? e.g. “Why is your immune system so aggravated in the first place?
- What is causing the symptoms? eg. “What’s the cause of the inflammation?”
- What can be done to restore function?
Therefore, instead of merely prescribing NSAIDs (anti-inflammatory), a functional medicine practitioner would identify and remove inflammatory triggers as well as adress other underlying causes that may contribute to the disease.
Here’s a great comparison by nutritional therapist Amelia Freer describing the difference between conventional medicine & functional medicine.
My Key Takeaways From the Event
- Food as medicine — kale, turmeric, broccoli, beets; these types of nutrient-dense foods contain vitamins, minerals and powerful phytonutrients which have inflammation-fighting, health-protecting qualities. As Dr Hyman said: “Think of your grocery store as your pharmacy!” ((Click to tweet))
- Take away the bad, Add the good — there are two aspects (among others) to consider if an individual is chronically ill:
– “Does this person need to be rid of something (toxins, allergens, microbes, poor diet, stress)?”
– “Does this person have some unmet individual need required for optimal function?”
- Food as information — food affects your biology on a fundamental level; from your microbiome to your gene expression.
- Not all calories are created equal — they have to go through metabolism, gut flora, hormones etc that controls your biology and have different effects on your body; some good, some bad.
Dr. Mark Hyman’s Definition of Wellness
I asked Dr Hyman about his definition of wellness and his answer was: “Being able to wake up every morning doing whatever you want and feel good”