Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy?
Holistic Health/ Functional Medicine
The functional medical model, is at the core of my training (Naturopathic Nutritional Therapy) and holistic health, which unlike conventional medicine, is patient centred and not disease centred. By shifting the focus from pathology to physiology, we are able to get to the root cause of the problem or “imbalance” - deep within the human body. Unlike conventional medicine we appreciate each human body and being as unique and therefore we use personalised tools, methods and practices on an individual case to case basis.
This is known as the 4P approach:
Personalised: we appreciate each patient as an individual with unique genetic and environmental variations.
Predictive: we create personalised protocols (wellness plans) based on individual antecedents (predisposing factors), disease triggers and disease mediators.
Preventive: our approach shifts the focus from illness to wellness and from disease treatment to functional enhancement.
Participatory: we appreciate just how exceptionally powerful the mind is and its influence as a mediator of disease processes and therefore it is of utmost importance to empower, engage and motivate patients. We need not only for our patients to believe in us but to also believe in their own innate abilities to heal.
Human physiology is the science of the mechanical, physical, and biochemical function of humans. How all the levels of organisation (cells, tissues, organs and organ systems) function together to maintain homeostasis (balance) within the body. Within functional medicine there are 6 fundamental physiological processes which may determine health or disease, which includes:
Communication: both inside and outside of each individual cell.
Bioenergetics: the transformation of food into energy (ATP).
Replication, repair and maintenance of structural integrity: at a cellular and whole-body level.
Elimination of wastes: excretory organs involved in “detox processes” include; the skin, kidneys, bowel and lungs.
Protection and defence: the ability of the immune system to fight infections and to self-regulate.
Transport and circulation: the ability of the blood to circulate and transport oxygen and nutrients to feed and nourish every cell of the human body.
Homeostasis in biology is defined as a dynamic state of equilibrium between our internal environment and the outside world and it is when we are in this state of balance that we function optimally as an organism. In functional medicine we refer to disease states as human “imbalances” and there are 7 fundamental human “imbalances” which may determine health or disease, which includes:
Immune imbalance: auto-immunity/ chronic inflammation.
Redox imbalance: cellular oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction (ATP production)
Digestive/absorptive and microorganism: dysbiosis - an imbalance between the “good” and “bad” bacteria living within the gut.
Detox/biotransformation: the alteration of a toxic substance (from fat-soluble to water-soluble) necessary to facilitate its safe excretion out of the body. An imbalance in any of the excretory organs (liver, kidneys, bowel, skin, lungs) may result in toxins accumulating within the body.
Structural, boundary and membrane integrity.
Hormonal and neurotransmitter imbalances.
In the functional medical model, we appreciate the influence of adverse food reactions which may trigger or mediate disease states, these include;
1) Food intolerances (IgG mediated) = enzyme defects; lactose intolerance, histamine intolerance, salicylates intolerance, caffeine, saponins in beans.
2) Food allergies (IgE mediated) = airway closure, throat and tongue oedema, urticaria (hives) = anaphylaxis.
Adverse food reactions cause the immune system to synthesise and release reactive chemical agents = inflammation (pain, swelling, redness, heat).
Chronic activation of the immune system due to adverse food reactions is significant to us as inflammation is at the root cause of all disease states within the human body. There are 3 significant factors which has resulted in an increase in human intolerances and allergies, which includes;
Agricultural revolution: chemical pollution within our air, water, and food.
Processed foods: increased exposure to preservatives, stabilisers, artificial colourings, flavourings and other chemicals.
Early introduction of solid foods to infants as well as an overall reduction in breastfeeding.
Other vital factors we need to consider is; chemical exposure, recreational drug use and frequently prescribed pharmaceuticals.
The routes of exposure with regards to chemicals include; through our food, air, water, consumer health and body care products, supplements, via breast milk and in utero. Lead and mercury toxicity are most common to humans, other chemical exposure/ toxicity includes; Arsenic, Asbestos, Bisphenol A (BPA), Fluoride, Nitrate, Xenoestrogens, Perchlorate, Phthalates, PCBs, Parabens, Flame retardants (PBDEs), PFCs/Teflon. (Bones of modern humans contain lead 1000x greater than the bones of pre-industrial humans).
The most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals include; OCP (oral contraceptive pill), antibiotics, NSAIDs (painkillers – ibuprofen/ paracetamol etc.) and statins. Medications are designed to artificially change the physiological function of the human body and as a result, they come with side effects. Medication masks the problem (imbalance) and by doing so it drives the disease (imbalance) deeper into the body. Medication treats the symptoms expressed by the disease (imbalance) but it does not deal with the root cause of the problem (imbalance).