By Dr. Lydia Thurton
September 10th Edition
Imagine if instead of treating a disease, doctors treated the person. You received an individual assessment based on your unique set of symptoms, medical history and lifestyle. This would best be done by a team of health care providers, a medical doctor, naturopathic doctor, chiropractor, nutritionist or osteopath all working in unison. Just because two patients have the same disease, does that mean that they have to be treated in the same way? Individualized medicine is the wave of the future. No longer will patients be put into categories of disease and treated in a uniform fashion. While we wait for the medical system to catch up to this thinking, you can do these four things to ensure that you are receiving functional, individual medicine designed to optimize your health.
Get blood work when you feel well. When your doctor receives your blood work there is always a reference range of normal values that he or she compares your results to. That reference range is based on a large population of people that may or may not be similar to you. When you are feeling well it is valuable to get your self checked to set a baseline based on your own healthy body. That way when you age, get sick, reach menopause or andropause, you can get retested and determine what your deficiencies are based on your own baseline
Check your gut. Your digestive health is fundamental to your overall wellbeing. Your body depends on a functioning gut to absorb nutrients and dispose of waste. Being constipated, bloated, and having heart burn are all indications that your digestion is struggling. Many people ignore digestive disturbances for years and wonder why they are feeling unwell or low energy. Correcting your digestion is easy for any naturopath or holistic nutritionist. Having regular bowel movements and eating the foods that are right for your individual body can make a world of difference in your overall health.
Fight inflammation. Inflammation is really at the root of the majority of health concerns we face as we age. Alzheimer’s, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease and cancer all have their roots in chronic inflammation. There are blood tests your naturopath or medical doctor can check to determine if this is a problem for you. Feeling pain throughout your body, feeling tired all the time, and bleeding gums can be signs of body wide inflammation. Smoking, excess eating, poor sleep and poorly managed stress can all ravage your precious body with inflammatory chemicals.
Tell your story. Find a doctor you feel comfortable talking to. Determining your health is complex and the only way to really understand a patient is to allow them the time it takes for them to tell their personal health story. Your doctor needs to know you as a person, not just a disease, in order to give you the assessment you deserve. You should not feel shy, ashamed or guilty about what you have experienced in life. We are all human and we all have a story to tell. It feels good to be authentic and express yourself. It is healthy and you are important.
Functional medicine is a shift in the way doctors approach health. Even if you do not have a health care provider that practices in this way, there are things you can do to advocate for your amazing, unique body.