Functional Medicine: Why What You Eat, Breathe, and Do Matters More Than You Think

Amancay Tapia
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Functional medicine is a growing field that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of chronic illnesses. Rather than treating symptoms with drugs, functional medicine takes a personalized, patient-centered approach to healthcare that emphasizes the interconnectedness of the body's systems.

One of the key principles of functional medicine is the importance of understanding each patient's unique genetic and environmental makeup. By taking a holistic view of the patient's health, functional medicine practitioners are able to identify underlying imbalances and deficiencies that may be contributing to their symptoms.

According to M.D, Functional Medicine Doctor and nutritionist Dr Amel Seghouani, “it is a personalised, patient-centered and science-based approach to healthcare which involves understanding the root causes of chronic disease. The ultimate goal is to heal disease and promote a healthy life."

The trained Medical Doctor is a member of the renowned Institute for Functional Medicine and Certified IFM Practitioners but she moved from conventional medicine into functional medicine as she believes that they are not mutually exclusive and because of her passion to constantly learn about new natural ways to help improve her clients health.

“Conventional medicine has taught me many things but unfortunately, it did not teach me to see the bigger picture, which is the holistic approach. Medical doctors are not experts on nutrition, many do not know more than the general public does as our training includes very little information on nutrition and it is often not linked to the illnesses and how to treat them unless it is with drugs”.

The Institute for Functional Medicine says it is "a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness."

Doctor Seghouani tells NewsBreak "at medical school we are not taught to look for the root cause of the disease which is the only way we can eradicate it. Despite many years of studying physiology, pathophysiology and biochemistry, I was never taught to take a holistic look at the patient."

Western medicine, she says, has divided the body into organs and many specialities and subspecialties that will often not connect with each other,“but I am not aware of any organ that functions in isolation to the rest of the body.”

Whereas she acknowledges conventional medicine may be effective in treating acute illnesses and injuries, it often fails to address the underlying imbalances that contribute to chronic conditions, “there is something not working in a model solely designed to treat symptoms as symptoms are not the cause of the body’s imbalance, particularly when it comes to chronic illnesses.”

The M.D argues that they are a manifestation of it and can vary from one individual to another depending on their genetic and environmental make up. This is the reason why “one size fits all of drugs companies, doesn’t always work.” She quotes the famous Hippocrates line about letting food be your medicine and medicine your food.

“It is our intake of vitamins and minerals that allows every cell to work and every organ to do its job so that we can breath and live to enjoy ourselves.The body is able to heal itself if the right ingredients are there, such as essential vitamins and minerals".

She concludes that people think of food like fuel, just calories needed to go through the day. ”The ill-pill model has been created to suit consumers who are looking for a quick fix and will unfortunately continue as long as the demand is still there”.

Ever since she started practising functional medicine, she has learned how to look for the root cause and take a holistic understanding of the body rather than segmented. A patient-centered care where she listens to the patient. ”Symptoms are great because they are a sign of a dysfunction in our body but when not well understood they can be very misleading as they can overlap in many cases, so the only driver is the patient story.”

After years of practice, she is still amazed at how small dietary and lifestyle changes can improve a person’s life. Something she would have never considered with her initial medical training.

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