For some time now I have struggled with food sensitivities, hashimotos (thyroid issues), autoimmune disease and MTHFR. I shared some of my journey with you guys when I became pregnant and really focused on incorporating a healthy clean lifestyle. I let food be my medicine.
Whether that meant eating healthier or avoiding certain foods that didn’t sit well with me (like dairy, coffee, and gluten) and I noticed an INCREDIBLE change in my body, skin, and most importantly, my energy and how I felt. Something was clearly working. It was not only important for me to feel good for myself, but for my family.
As I became more and more passionate about health and wellness, I began to hear the phrase “functional medicine”. I wasn’t sure what it meant, nor did I know of any local functional medicine doctors. But I had read several articles on Goop and mindbodygreen (my favorite places to catch up on wellness topics) by Dr. Will Cole who talked about treating the body as a whole and solving health issues by focusing on underlying issues.
I mean this is what wellness is all about right? We need to learn to treat our bodies as something so powerful and recognize that we have to treat it well to be our best selves. Most importantly, he really touches on how what we put into our body or how we behave can really affect our mental health. I really enjoyed chatting with him in this post and I hope you find value from it as well!
Meet Dr. Cole
Leading functional medicine practitioner, Dr. Cole specializes in clinically investigating underlying factors and customizing health programs for chronic conditions such as thyroid issues, autoimmune, hormonal dysfunctions, and more. He consults locally in the Pittsburgh area as well as webcam and phone consultations for people across the country and around the world. Dr. Cole is a health writer for international publications such as mindbodygreen and lectures nationally. Dr. Cole is the author of Amazon’s #1 New Release Book, Ketotarian, in which he melds the powerful benefits of a ketogenic diet with a plant-based one. (check it out HERE!)
1. What is functional medicine?
“Functional medicine uses the latest in diagnostic testing to discover the underlying cause of a person’s health issue. We aim to re-balance each person’s biochemistry by treating the root issue with natural dietary and lifestyle changes instead of just treating symptoms with medication – which is often the way in mainstream medicine.”
2. What can functional medicine treat?
“Functional medicine can help all types of health problems including autoimmune conditions, gut dysfunctions, brain related problems like anxiety and depression, skin problems, and so much more. Since every part of the body is interconnected, the changes made in functional medicine ignite the body’s inherit ability to heal itself and cover a wide range of health problems.”
3. When should one find a functional medicine doctor?
“A person can see a functional medicine doctor at any point in their health journey – not just when you are feeling too sick to function. The path to disease takes years. You don’t wake up one day sick after being completely healthy the day before. You are either trending toward disease or away from it. There are many factors in our everyday lives such as dietary choices, toxin exposure, and even genetic mutations that can contribute to less than optimal health. A functional medicine practitioner can run labs to determine the status of your health and help you come up with a personalized plan to optimize your health to avoid chronic health problems in the future.”
4. How does gut health play a part in functional medicine?
“As Hippocrates said “All disease begins in the gut”. Science is finally starting to show that almost all modern health problems have roots in the microbiome. Everything from bacterial imbalances to leaky gut syndrome can contribute to chronic inflammation throughout your whole body and put you on what is known as the autoimmune-inflammation spectrum and contributes to everything from cancer, to heart disease, to food intolerances, to anxiety.”
5. How do I know if I have a healthy gut?
“The most definitive way would be to run labs. Microbiome labs can determine if you have any yeast overgrowths, bacterial imbalances, or leaky gut syndrome. Symptoms of gut problems can manifest in many different types of health problems, so even if you aren’t experiencing typical digestive symptoms, labs can show what is going on inside the gut to help determine the best course of action for healing.”
6. What foods can we eat for better gut health?
7. Since we are all different, how do we know what the best supplements / vitamins / probiotics are best for us?
“It is important to work with a functional medicine practitioner who can run labs and determine exactly what supplements are best for you and at what dosage. They can also point you in the direction of good quality supplements that use whole, organic ingredients without any preservatives or fillers that could continue to perpetuate health problems in certain individuals.”
8. What are some basic supplements we should all take?
“In general a probiotic is great for almost everyone since the gut is so essential to our entire health. Vitamin D is also important since every single cell in your body needs vitamin D to function. Your body gets vitamin D from the sun as well as from certain foods. However, most of us don’t spend enough time outside and it’s difficult to get the amount you really need from food alone. These two reasons make vitamin D one of the most common nutrient deficiencies in America. It’s still a good idea to get your levels tested before you start supplementing in order to know the best dosage for you. I often get asked this question so I personally curated The Collection with the earth’s finest ingredients. These 8 supplements are designed to work synergistically to take your health to the next level. (https://drwillcole.com/the-co
9. What are the biggest issues you see with our current lifestyle and simple actionable recommendations of how we can live feeling better.
“Most of it comes down to our food and toxin exposure. Packaged and processed foods make up the most of the standard Western diet. These are often filled with sugar and other inflammatory ingredients that all contribute to disease. We are also exposed to more toxins than ever before and our genetics haven’t changed to keep up with this rapid change in our environment. I believe food is medicine so starting by cutting out processed foods and focusing on whole, organic food sources can make a world of a difference. The next step would be to detox your home as much as possible from chemical filled products and switch to more natural cleaning and beauty products.”