One component of Functional Medicine focuses on how diet impacts health and function. When Functional Medicine practitioners examine the role of nutrition in chronic disease, they look at multiple systems, such as the digestive system, the immune system, and the detoxification system, because of the interconnections between those systems. For instance, because 80% of the immune system is contained in the gastrointestinal system, a person’s issues with immunity could be related to faulty digestion.
Functional Medicine maintains that chronic disease is almost always preceded by a period of declining health in one or more of the body’s systems. Thus, these practitioners seek to identify early the symptoms that indicate underlying dysfunction, possibly leading to disease.
One of the ways Functional Medicine seeks to address declining health is to provide the foods and nutrients needed to restore function. This is a cost effective, non-invasive intervention that aims to stop the progression into disease.
When taking a nutritional approach to health and disease, it is important to understand that one disease might have multiple causes, and one underlying dysfunction might cause multiple diseases. Cardiovascular disease may be among the clearest examples of this concept.
Researchers have shown that the development of heart disease can be triggered by multiple factors. These factors include insulin resistance, elevated homocysteine, oxidative stress, elevated cholesterol, hypertension, heavy metal toxicity, stress, and inflammation.
The food we eat gives our bodies the “information” and materials they need to function properly. If we don’t get the right information, our metabolic processes suffer and our health declines.
If we get too much food, or food that gives our bodies the wrong instructions, we can become overweight, undernourished, and at risk for the development of diseases and conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.