Let me fill you in.
Late summer of 2010, when I was still working out how to be at my healthiest without my thyroid, my daughter was diagnosed with ADHD. The standard medical treatment offered by her doctors was making her sick and I had been prescribed my third antidepressant.
Things weren’t going well. What in my life was I missing that was causing all of this? Instinctually I felt determined to figure it out. What was at the root of our dis-ease?
At the suggestion of a friend I bought a book by Dr. Mark Hyman and everything changed. His book introduced me to the concepts of Functional Medicine and the many modifiable lifestyle factors that contribute to disease.
Functional Medicine focuses on the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. Time is spent gathering and listening to patient histories and exploring the interactions among environmental, genetic and lifestyle factors. It turns out Functional Medicine is practiced this way because it’s those factors that can influence long-term health and the eventual resolution of complex, chronic disease.
What are some of the modifiable lifestyle factors that can contribute to disease?
- Sleep and Relaxation
- Exercise and Movement
- Nutrition and Hydration
- Stress and Resilience
- Relationships and Networks
I was fascinated. For example, food, the thing that I had battled as an overweight child and adult, changed everything.
For three weeks, which morphed into six, my husband agreed to try Dr. Hyman’s elimination diet with me. We experimented by taking common foods out of our diet to see how our bodies would react. We ate whole, unprocessed foods and focused on nutrient density and not calories.
After two weeks both of us felt our brains had turned back on.
After three weeks the 10 pounds that I couldn’t shake were gone. My husband experienced the same changes in his body. He stopped snoring. We both were sleeping and waking up refreshed; not needing to sleep in on weekend mornings. I started tapering off my antidepressants. We agreed to keep going for a few more weeks until our 20th wedding anniversary. At dinner that night we toasted to ourselves and the new vibrancy we had discovered.
Meanwhile having learned about Functional Medicine I took my daughter to see a new doctor. The doctor discovered she had a sensitivity to gluten and several other foods. She actually had antibodies to gluten which put her on the path to developing Celiac disease, an autoimmune disease with destroys the villi in the small intestine.
Having already removed gluten from my diet, I was able to do the same for my daughter. Her health improved. She noticed the difference. She no longer wanted to eat gluten. She weaned off her ADHD meds.
I felt compelled to share what I had discovered with others. As a personal chef I thought of all the people I could help by sharing my new understanding of food as medicine. I enrolled as a student at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become a Certified Health Coach. From there I enrolled in Andrea Nakayama’s Holistic Nutrition Lab to learn about Functional Nutrition. Currently I’m a Functional Medicine Certified Health Coach Candidate through the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy. I’m training to work with Functional Medicine doctors to support their patients as well as support patients that find me on their own.
All this leads back to my instinct to find the root cause of what was going on. In the years since reading Dr. Hyman’s book I’ve read many other books and listened to countless hours of research on the cause of disease. I’ve worked with clients to share the magic that can come from awareness of all that goes into manifestation of illness. I’ve moved away from the idea of minimizing a symptom with medication or surgery to allowing the symptom to point to the root cause.
The health of my family has changed.
The people I’ve worked with have gotten better. All due to modifiable lifestyle tweaks.
I’m writing this blog to share some of what I’ve learned. I find Functional Medicine fascinating. Hopefully you will to!