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Functional Medicine and the Root Cause of Disease

Updated: May 10

Believe it or not, the average American isn’t particularly good at taking care of themselves.

Currently, 2 out of 3 Americans are considered to be overweight or obese.

Only 1 in 3 adults gets the recommended amount of daily exercise.

And every year, 600 000 Americans die of heart disease - responsible for about 1 in 4 deaths.

Part of this problem has to do with our busy lifestyles, less than optimal environments, and a culture opposed to rest and relaxation. Another part is simply lack of education and support.

And while this is not the whole story of why our health is suffering as a country, in my humble opinion these are reasons we have the power to change with functional medicine.

What is Functional Medicine?

According to the Institute of Functional Medicine, functional medicine is a “systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease.”

In functional medicine, the manifestation of disease in any person is the result of - usually - a combination of factors that includes “genes, environment, and lifestyle”. Furthermore, “only treatments that address the right cause will have lasting benefit beyond symptom suppression.”

To me, this makes so much sense.

Because let’s be honest, when you go to the doctor, no one is thinking about WHY something is happening. They are often too busy trying to treat or calm the symptoms of disease. And due to time and monetary constraints, they simply do not have the ability to figure out the underlying cause.

This is the great gift of functional medicine - figuring out the WHY of disease symptoms. That's my job! Putting all the puzzle pieces together to see the bigger picture.

Functional Medicine and the Root Causes of Disease

According to functional medicine specialists, the top root causes of disease are:

  • Poor Food or Diet: aka the non nutritional food substances that we eat. These include processed foods, refined sugars. The average American diet contains way too much processed food which can wreak havoc on any body. Personally, I try to crowd out with healthy options - instead of saying don’t eat, it’s ‘eat this not that’!

  • Toxins: which are unfortunately ubiquitous in our environment and can include medications. We want to help our body have an easier time of secreting them. In functional medicine we often investigate whether your body is able to remove these toxins or are they getting stuck in there?

  • Stress: stress can be physiological or biological (ie: your actual body is stressed), or psycho emotional (ie: you are emotionally and/or mentally stressed). Stress can go on for a long time and cause so much internal damage. For example, oxidative stress breaks down the gut lining and can create conditions for bacteria to overgrow in the gut, which can lead to digestive problems and a host of other autoimmune diseases.

  • Lifestyle factors: our environment can play a huge role in the creation of disease and can also cause physiological stress on the body. A great example of environmental cause of disease is mold, which can remain unnoticed in a home for months or years but slowly attack and degrade our bodily functions.

  • Genetics: the genes you were born with can play a huge role in your predisposition to certain diseases. For functional medicine, however, epigenetics are more important. Epigenetics is how your behaviors and environment can cause changes in the way your genes work. Unlike genetic changes, epigenetic changes can be reversed. For example, your genes may predispose you to an autoimmune disease like celiac. However, if you don’t eat gluten, you will probably never get it!

Dis-ease as a Signal in Functional Medicine

Disease is a problem in your body. It’s a signal that one (or more often multiple) of the above areas needs significant attention. Your body is an intelligent piece of design that is always giving you clues about how to treat it.

It’s a huge part of my job as a functional medicine health coach to listen to those signals to get to the root of the problem.

It can be so confusing that there are so many things we can do to make our own bodies well. And we don’t necessarily know what they are or where to start. That’s where I come in.

In functional medicine we minimize, maximize and prioritize (the core concepts of functional medicine):

  • Minimize: what’s harmful, such as inflammation, parasites, toxins, infections, viruses, allergens, stress (psychological or emotional), trauma, limiting beliefs, fear and negative expectations.

  • Maximize: raw materials your body needs to function and thrive, like nutrient dense foods and raw materials: oxygen, hydration, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, protein, and healthy fats.

  • Prioritize: an environment for healing; laughter, sleep, rest, oxygen, stress reduction, exercise, and meaningful relationships.

A functional medicine health coach is there to help you figure out where the problem is coming from and then also determine the best course of action. Together. It is an empowering journey.

Let’s dive deeper into any symptoms you’ve been having, and discuss your health goals in a Discovery Session. There’s no better time to go from normal to optimal.

I look forward to meeting you!

In good health,


This communication may contain general nutrition and lifestyle advice. I am not a licensed physician. My advice is not intended, and you should not use it, to attempt to diagnose, prevent or treat diseases, ailments, pain or other medical conditions. Please consult your personal licensed physician to seek advice about diagnosing, preventing or treating specific ailments.

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