Functional Medicine (FM) – a new term to me and perhaps to you! It was highlighted in a recent article in Florida Weekly (July 8, 2015). It turns out that I, admittedly unwittingly, have been practicing the elements of FM for years. This approach seeks to combine the best of integrative medicine with the best of traditional approaches. In my book Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor I described my approach to “pushing the pencil” of my stroke recovery by utilizing integrative techniques as one thing to beat the many plateau’s I endured.
Additionally, I took several additional steps beyond as do many others. These steps include getting “real” about a healthful diet and physical fitness. Many adherents of this approach subscribe to the idea that diet and fitness are a natural extension of this approach. I got my weight down to what I had weighed when I graduated from Ft. Polk, LA basic training many moons ago. I have to say that when I tell people that fact they find it quite remarkable. To me, it was common sense – if you are disabled isn’t it easier to move around if you have less to move?
Similarly with lifestyle considerations, being more fit is better than less fit. Again to my way of thinking it makes you more mobile. I try to work out daily, even when traveling, but usually go to the gym five or six times a week as life sometimes gets in the way.
With all of this good old fashioned common sense, what prevents people from adapting this lifestyle? First money – most integrative medicine is done on a self-pay basis since most insurances including Medicare are quite stingy in their coverage’s of integrative techniques. While slowly changing as some well-known hospitals like Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic get behind the FM movement, change is slow. Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, believes that FM will be “more mainstream in another ten years” according to the Florida Weekly article.
Then there is personal disciple – changing our eating and fitness habits do take some effort and sacrifice. Most of us enjoy rich food which is tasty but which put the pounds on and fast food which, likewise, tends to be highly caloric and full of fat. So there is sacrifice! And truthfully, how many people truly like to work out? Some like my wife, Debbie do, but not many!
Still doesn’t it make long term sense to treat our bodies with more respect and love? For those of us who are disabled after stroke, for example – we each know that we have taken a big hit –is it prudent to risk any more hits?