FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE IN Huntsville
Would you benefit from functional medicine in Huntsville? While functional medicine has recently gained increased attention, it is actually a system of healing that has been in the making for hundreds of years.
Functional Medicine in Huntsville AL
Functional medicine has its roots in traditional Chinese medicine, western health care, and the latest in health care research, taking the best of each and combining them into an independent healing approach. This new approach is one that focuses on the cause of disease rather than focusing on symptoms. Through the concentration on symptoms, our health care system has gradually been converted to a disease care system, and functional medicine offers a viable approach to reverse this trend. To accomplish this, functional medicine practitioners view the body as a whole, taking into account nutritional, environmental, and genetic factors. Through active doctor-patient communication, functional medicine practitioners embrace the word doctor, which literally means teacher in Latin, allowing you to take control of your health.
Unfortunately, as the state of health has changed throughout our nation, our health care system has remained fairly stagnant in its approach to healing. While our country's traditional approach to treatment was successful for the types of diseases present in 1920, it has grown less effective at treating the current epidemics of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, and diabetes. While the diseases of days gone by were typically of short duration and responded well to quick fixes such as surgery and medication, it has become increasingly evident that today's chronic conditions require a different approach.
The complexity of diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis far outweigh that of conditions previously treated by our health care system. Increased complexity of diseases requires an equally comprehensive approach to treatment. Where traditional medicine has focused on the condition, functional medicine is aimed at treating the individual. Through this approach, functional medicine practitioners consider the unique genetic, environmental, and occupational factors that may be contributing to a person's sickness. By doing so, these health care providers can focus on individualizing nutritional, supplementation, and exercise plans as a means to address a person's health status.
What makes functional medicine unique?
With chronic diseases currently spiraling out of control, it has become increasingly obvious that a different health care approach is both needed and warranted. Instead of treating the disease once it is already present, doesn't it make more sense to concentrate on preventing the condition in the first place? Functional medicine is unique in that it often focuses on variations in metabolism to both identify a predisposition to developing a condition and to discover the underlying cause if already present. As mentioned previously, functional medicine practitioners concentrate on being your health care teacher. Can you remember a time your doctor truly educating you about your health care condition? Through this avenue, functional medicine practitioners will allow you to take back control of your health. After all, you are the one suffering from the condition, shouldn't your treatment be focused on you and not the other people who have had similar problems?
Functional medicine is also one of the few health care choices that view the body as a whole. This is important considering that every single system in your body is dependent on the next to function properly. To take this holistic approach, these practitioners consider all variables including; your personal history, genetic makeup, occupational, nutritional, and social factors. All of these factors play a role in the expression of health and disease.
Finally, once the cause of your condition has been discovered, functional medicine practitioners use the best from multiple health care disciplines to properly treat the cause. For example, after a careful diagnosis following the use of various imaging and laboratory testing, many practitioners utilize a combination of dietary changes, supplements, and exercise programs.
At Answers to Wellness, we know there are thousands of nutrition and diet plans out there. We approach things a little differently and tailor our care and recommendations specifically to your needs.
Nutrition plans and dietary programs are all over the internet including Keto, Paleo, Carnivore, Atkins. All offer a solution to everyone’s problems. Although none of these plans are necessarily bad, it doesn’t mean that every nutrition plan is right for every person. As a general rule, we recommend an anti-inflammatory diet as these guidelines are important for everyone. However, more detailed recommendations may be made based on your specific needs.
At Answers to Wellness, we test, look at your labs, and base our recommendations on what your body is telling us regarding your needs and what is right for you.
Basic recommendations include:
QUALITY OVER QUANTITY
Quality over quantity is more important when it comes to the best-personalized nutrition and dietary programs to fight inflammation. We want you eating a lot of food, but it needs to be good quality food. One of the first changes we recommend people make is the quality of their meat. All red meats should be grass-fed, grass finished because animals fed on grains, especially grains treated with chemicals, result in meats becoming toxic in their own right. Good options for red meat are lamb, venison, and bison because these animals naturally graze.
All poultry and eggs are best when free-range or organic. Connecting with a local farmer is a great resource for higher quality eggs. Fish are super healthy and full of healthful Omega 3’s when they are wild caught. If they are farmed, they come packed full of antibiotics and other chemicals. It’s very important to eat a better-quality animal products across the board.
All it takes is a lateral shift when it comes to your foods. We know there might be budget constraints, but smart decisions will pay dividends in your level of health.
Quinoa, sweet potatoes, wild rice, lentils, and beans are healthier carbohydrates. We recommend that you avoid white rice and oats a much as you can. Sweet potatoes are always a better option than a white potato. An organic white potato may be okay, if from a local farmer, but for some we will recommend you not eat any white potatoes at all due to the effects on
your blood sugar and insulin. Everyone should remove all processed sugar, grains, and gluten and stick with healthier carb options.
Fiber is utmost important. Soluble and Insoluble fiber are both needed for proper gut function and microbiome balance. Soluble fiber lowers cholesterol, regulates blood sugar, helps maintain a healthy weight, and supports gut flora Psyllium husks, citrus fruits, strawberries, apple pulp, beans, vegetables, and peas are good sources of soluble fiber.
Insoluble fiber helps increase the movement of the intestinal tract to remove waste and promotes intestinal health. Flax seeds, nuts, beans, and vegetables are excellent sources of insoluble fiber.
SUGARS AND SWEETENERS
We all know too much sugar is bad for you. Too much sugar leads to inflammation and will can feed yeast inside the body, as well as cause pain. There isn’t a diet on the planet that doesn’t say too much processed sugar has detrimental effects. For most, a little healthy sugar, like local honey, organic maple syrup, and fruits, is acceptable.
When it comes to sugar in fruits, we don’t recommend that you cut these out altogether. Simply limit yourself to two servings per day. We recommend that one serving be a lower glycemic fruit, such as berries, and the second can be a regular fruit, like an orange or a banana. Because we individualize your recommendations based on testing, we can let you know what the best options are for sugar intake.
In drinks, we recommend using Stevia or Xylitol. If you are a big baker, you can use either cocoa sugar or date sugar. Neither of these has the same impact as regular refined sugar. Gluten containing grains are another thing that leads to inflammation and can spike your blood sugar and insulin, as well as cause leaky gut syndrome. These grains can be replaced with quinoa, wild rice, sweet potatoes, lentils, and beans for a healthier choice.
We never recommend artificial sweeteners such as Splenda, NutraSweet, or Aspartame. Avoid these like the plague!
OILS AND FATS CAN BE GOOD
Fats can either build health in regard to cellular regeneration or they can lead to disease by causing inflammation. We need enough healthy fats to make good cholesterol. Cholesterol is the building block for every hormone in your body. Good oils and fats are essential for fighting inflammation, and they make up the membrane of all of the cells in your body. Any nutrition
and dietary program will emphasize the need for introducing good fats for these reasons.
To avoid ruining the benefits of the fat you consume, follow these rules: If you are going to heat your fats, use a coconut oil, avocado oil, or grass-fed butter (avoiding browning) – for frying or cooking. At room temperature use olive oil. Olive oil is best used on salads rather than high heat cooking.
Okay, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if you drink soda or juice, you just need to stop. Both will cause you to consume too many calories, as well as chemicals, especially if they are “sugar free” (which is even worse!) A little coffee is OK, unless you are ruining your coffee by what you put in it. Are you adding sugar, milk, or creamer in your coffee? Is it organic? What’s the source? What is in the sweetener you use? Try not to ruin the benefits of coffee.
If you are going to drink coffee or tea, it is best from an organic source, mold free, with no added junk. You can add almond milk or other milk alternatives, MCT oil, or grass-fed butter. For sweeteners you can use stevia, xylitol, or local honey, but keep consumption low. Both coffee and tea are diuretics and pull water from the body, so for every cup, drink two cups of water.
As for water, a good rule is to drink daily is half of your body weight in ounces, or one quart for every fifty pounds of body weight. Staying hydrated is a must, for every function of the body. If you are having issues drinking enough, for example during pregnancy, you will absorb water through your skin. With that said, it is so important to be certain your water is filtered and not straight from the tap.
If you need a bit of flavor to get your water daily, you can get naturally flavored waters. Coconut water is a great option. Other hydrating options are organically flavored water, naturally fruit infused water, watermelon juice, kombucha or Kiefer. Often times, we mistaken dehydration with hunger, so we eat, and eat, and never get full… because it isn’t food you need, it’s water. Drinking adequate water will help in so many ways and help with issues you don’t even realize are related. Golden nugget: if reflux gets better or worse with water intake, it’s telling you something! Make sure you let your practitioner know.
We have worked with many patients at Answers to Wellness that will tell us that their “labs are normal” but they still have symptoms. The reason we see this is because most recommendations for thyroid are based on one lab, TSH. Thyroid Stimulating Hormone isn’t actually produced in the thyroid, but rather in the brain, and it tells your thyroid what to do. The problem with looking at only one lab is that you can’t possibly learn what is actually occurring with thyroid function with only one lab. It does tell you something may be off, but it doesn’t tell you WHAT is off. This is why the fatigue, weight gain, temperature intolerance, hair, and nail issues, continue to persist even on medication.
To truly know what is going on, we must look at every single step, from stimulation to production to conversion to binding and uptake. We also must look at how inflammation may be interfering with these steps, how the gut is being affected, and how nutrients needed for each step are playing a role. This is why we test. We cannot guess what is going on with your body. Often, the issue isn’t really the thyroid, it’s something else. The thyroid is simply
responding to the environment.
Autoimmune conditions are often an underlying cause of thyroid issues. If you don’t ask, your doctor won’t test your antibody levels. I even had a cardiologist tell me that TSH couldn’t be normal if antibodies were high. I wish I could show him all the complete thyroid panels we have run in our office for him to see that yes, you can have very high antibodies with a normal TSH.
Symptomatically treating your thyroid or TSH lab won’t address the immune system issue in this case. We must get to the cause of inflammation and break down of communication of the hormones to help restore proper function.
If you doctor hasn’t tested your adrenals, that’s another issue and a main contraindication to Synthroid.
Sometimes thyroid medication may be needed, but usually for only a short amount of time as underlying issues contributing to malfunction are addressed.
When patients continue to suffer from thyroid issues while on medication and symptoms don’t improve- they don’t feel any better- then doctors start to chase the symptoms. Often that results in prescribing more medications without getting to the underlying cause. We can run a complete thyroid panel to see what is going on. There may also be other underlying issues that need testing as well or instead of your thyroid labs. There is a reason you are suffering with thyroid symptoms. At Answers to Wellness, we don’t believe that genetics, aging, or bad luck are the reasons. You are responding to something going on inside your environment. As with all health conditions, ‘We don’t guess, we test, assess, and address.”
7:30am - 11:30am
2:00pm - 5:30pm
Functional Medicine Only
7:30am - 11:30am
2:00pm - 5:30pm
2:00pm - 5:30pm
7:30am - 11:30am
Saturday & Sunday
FUNCTIONAL MEDICINE HOURS
9:00am - 12:00pm
9:00am - 12:00pm
Saturday & Sunday