In the book The Disease Delusion, by Dr. Jeffrey Bland, he summarizes decades of research while drawing from his own clinical experience, to illustrate that a “symptom management strategy” in healthcare does not work.
The cost of managing chronic diseases such as osteoarthritis, diabetes, and heart disease now consumes more than three quarters of total healthcare costs in the United States.
Masking the symptoms of chronic disease and illness with pills and temporary treatments, rather than addressing the underlying causes, will only take you down a path to further illness, disease, and functional decline as you age. To me this is a depressing thought, to know that that is what the future holds for so many stuck in “the business of healthcare”.
In my specialty of medicine, Functional Medicine and Integrative Orthopedics, I seek to treat the underlying cause of the illness or disease rather than follow the pill for every ill symptom management strategy. Taking this pathway, the one less traveled, will take patience and persistence, but the view from the top as you realize a better state of health and wellness will sure be worth the journey.
The book I mentioned above is certainly worth the read to understand where medicine must go if the goal is to restore a true healthcare system in our country.
If you don’t have time to plow through the book, here is what you need to know.
Your body has 7 Core Physiological Processes:
- Assimilation (of balanced nutrition) and elimination (of waste products)
- Detoxification – removal of foreign substances such as chemicals
- Defense – to protect from invasion by bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other harmful substances in the environment
- Cellular communications – cells relay information from one system to another.
- Cellular transport – balanced nutrition in, waste products out
- Energy – starts with the health of the cells, not with a can of Red Bull.
- Structure – the posture, strength, and movement of your body matters.
If you have sub-optimal function in any of these processes, it will impact some component of other processes as well. The reason for this is that your body is a finely-tuned orchestra of cell and system interactions. The fancy word for this is system interdependence.
A process failure leads to symptoms.
Persistent symptoms left unaddressed lead to a tissue, organ, or system failure.
Tissue, organ, or system failure leads to chronic illness and disease.
The formula for preventing chronic illness or disease is therefore quite simple. If, AND THIS IS A BIG IF, you recognize the symptoms and seek to immediately correct them (rather than ignore them) your chances of preventing chronic illness and disease is tremendous.
Specializing in Integrative Orthopedics and Functional Medicine here in Tucson over the past several years I have treated hundreds of cases of degenerative joint disease and osteoarthritis. I can tell you that the optimal function of the above processes will dramatically and positively impact this condition.
It is not aging. It is not simply “wear and tear”. It is not entirely your genetics.
It is the internal and external environment of your body that will have the greatest impact on your joint health as you age. That may sound very general, and at the same time very daunting, as to how you would ever figure out what is helping or hurting you.
You are correct. Without the correct trail-map and guide, most patients I see have been wandering the wilderness for quite some time, never able to find the pathway to the summit of better health.
Here is your map.
There are four essential elements that must be addressed to optimize all seven of the core physiological processes within your body. They also just so happen to be the four most common reasons your body cannot heal.
What you put in your mouth matters. What you eat will either support the demands put on your joints, or it will stoke the chronic inflammation and pain. Eat whole, real food from clean, local sources as much as possible and enjoy the level of variety that makes you feel best.
Vitamin and mineral deficiencies
If your body doesn’t have the fundamental nutritional building blocks, including the proper balance of vitamins and minerals, it will not function at its best nor be able to heal. A simple blood test can look at your body’s individual needs, rather than guessing with “hopeful supplementation.
This is no longer a gut feeling. Science has proven that the root of several chronic diseases begins in the gut, or what we call the gut biome. Absence of healthy bacteria, due to chronic overgrowth or infections with bad bacteria, yeast, mold, fungi, or parasites, will make it impossible for your body to assimilate nutrition, detoxify and defend your body.
Environmental and chemical exposures
Our environment and food supply has changed dramatically over the past 50 years. In that time we have seen a surge of chronic disease in our country. Your body must be healthy to be resilient to this constant exposure in order to detoxify, eliminate, and defend against these exposures. If not cellular communication, transport, and energy production fails.
Again, another simple, but not commonly utilized test can help you discover what substances may be undermining your health.
Pinning the problems in your core physiological processes, and building a plan for optimization, is rather straight forward if you have the right information from a handful of tests to identify the system (rather than symptom) problems.
Without a physician skilled in this approach, you will could continue to wander through the wilderness of the current flawed healthcare system for years.
Take a different path – today.