I also got better in tuning in to my body's needs when recovering from a bug. Instinctively my body would crave and avoid certain foods.
We all accept that what we eat influences our health. Yet there is still the general notion that the more serious a sickness the less important nutrition becomes and pills become more prominent.
A niche of Western medicine, Functional Medicine, is trying to depart from the black and white view of health vs. sickness and nutrition vs medicine by not only treating the symptoms but also targeting the cause. That requires to see the bigger picture and move beyond mere maintenance of patients towards true recovery and healing.
We have all encountered pill-trigger-happy doctors in Hong Kong. For minor ailments we get a barrage of pills and in some cases prematurely antibiotics. I'm trying to find more health practitioners in the territory who aside from being Paleo-friendly also focus on getting their patients healthy and have them stay healthy, not merely getting them back to the office again. One of those practitioners is Miles Price a Clinical Nutritionist at Life Clinic. As a supporter of ancestral health he invited me to his practice and I shamelessly used the opportunity to bombard him with questions.
Functional medicine is a new paradigm in healthcare. With the ever burdening costs of healthcare management, some well-intentioned and forward thinking doctors realised that the existing drug-based, symptom managed system doesn't work.
Functional medicine firstly evaluates the whole person and not just specific symptoms, this evaluation looks at the mental, emotional, biochemical, and physiological imbalances and / or toxicities occurring in the body.
These are the triggers, the causes of whatever is presented in the patient. Once the triggers and causes have been identified, then functional medicine aims to remove to cause, or correct the imbalance using nutritional therapy or dietary modification, supplementation or detoxification.
How does the right mix of nutritional therapy, supplementation and detoxification affect the body?
The body has an innate ability to correct itself and maintain homoeostasis, if given the tools to do so. Functional medicine aims to provide those tools. Feeling sub-optimal with symptoms of continued tiredness, aches, itchiness, pains, etc. are signs that things aren’t right. By identifying and correcting the causes of dysfunction at this stage preventing the symptoms developing into full blown diseases or conditions. Chart 1 shows how diseases are connected to dysfunctions in the body.
How are functional medicine and nutrition linked?
Functional medicine uses Nutritional therapy as its main tool for correction of dysfunction or imbalance in the body. The Biochemistry of the body's metabolism can be tweaked and managed by nutrients the body recognizes namely, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, fatty acids and phyto-chemicals.
And how did you get into nutrition and functional medicine?
I moved into clinical Nutrition and functional medicine, because I previously saw many of my friends and client suffering continuously whilst taking drugs to control their symptoms or conditions. I believed there was a better approach, and functional medicine applies a logical framework from which to evaluate health more holistically and effectively.
Nutritionists of the past had a limited application of support, namely just using dietary intervention. This sometimes doesn’t go far enough in correcting imbalances or dysfunction. With the advancement of modern laboratory practices which can identify key biomarkers of imbalance in the body, Nutritionists can be more targeted and customized in the support for patients by specific correcting any imbalances found. For example endogenous toxins lodged in the body eg. Heavy metals, pollutants, can be removed by specific detoxification regimes.
Using Functional medicine principles, everyone should be operating at near to 100% function, that being optimal energy, having good sleep, good mental / emotional balance, no physical impediment. When one experiences fatigue, gut problems, reflux, skin issues, foggy heads, any pain whatsoever, then it's advisable to consult a functional medicine practitioner at that stage. These signs are body’s signals to tell you, ‘something is not right, please fix me’
How can nutrition be used in severe chronic diseases? I have friends whose parents were diagnosed with cancer. You once mentioned that you are working with cancer patients using Dr. Kelley's enzyme protocol?
Dr. Kelley pioneered the treatment of cancer with enzyme therapy on himself when he developed pancreatic cancer in 1964. After falling severely ill with the disease Dr. Kelley started to consume a variety of pancreatic enzymes and in time managed to cure himself of cancer. He fine tuned the enzyme therapy to include specific dietary and detoxification protocols. Over a period spanning 30 years into the late 1990’s Dr. Kelley treated over 30,000 patients with cancer with over 70%+ having a five year survival rate. Dr Kelley passed away in 2005 but before he died he published two books, “Cancer: Curing the incurable without Surgery, Chemotherapy, or Radiation” and “One Answer to Cancer”. Dr. Kelley taught two medical practitioners his protocol, Dr. Nick Gonzalez and Dr. Pamela McDougle ND. I am a past pupil of Dr Pamela McDougle.
Dr. Hector Solorzano, Professor of pharmacology at University of Guadalajara, Mexico, stated proteolytic enzymes expose antigens on the cancer cells surface, so they can be recognised as foreign and destroyed by the immune system. Up-regulating the immune system response our nutrition programme helps support this immune system response.
The enzyme protocol can be used on all types of cancers, however customisation is key, and this is where functional medicine becomes important as cancer can have many causes, hormonal imbalance, toxicity, oxidative stress, poor liver detoxification. Understanding these areas more closely provides a more personalised supplement and detoxification approach to beating this disease.
I know we cannot generalize but let's move on to a common client type many can identify with: Office job from 9 am to 8pm. Weekend warrior, eats out a lot, tries to follow the typical high-carb athlete diet, sleeps 4-6 hours on weekdays, suffers from diarrhoea once in a while. If that "fairly" healthy person could only do one nutrition test with you which one should it be?
ALCAT food sensitivities Test – This one test can alleviate many of the symptoms people experience today, and at the same customizes ones diet according to your metabolism. It also helps to moderate the immune system response when one eliminates the offending foods so a person is less ‘inflamed’.
And if someone wanted to slowly improve their diet to improve their health, what are the 3 tweaks they should concentrate on first?
1. Make sure they are getting the correct balance of protein fats and carbs in EVERY meal. All too often one of the macro-nutrient groups suffers. For each and everyone of us, this can be different based upon food sensitivities, and ancestral heritage.
2. Make sure that the quality of the foods is very high, for example always use organic quality protein, (meats, eggs) and good quality fats extracted properly, (cold pressed with no heat involved). This is because toxins from food production and extraction techniques can contaminate the foods and contribute to dysfunction.
3. Always include some form of fermented foods daily to get a good balance of gut bacteria. This can include normal fat organic yogurts, sauerkraut (homemade), kimchi, Natto, unpasteurized cheese, crème fraiche, pickled vegetable.
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