A Note From Andy: We’re calling in our Connections this morning. Several weeks ago, Dr. Phil Roberts emailed me and asked me to call him. He was convinced he had information our readers would find invaluable. Knowing there’s nothing gained if there’s nothing ventured, I gave him a call. It led to the essay below. I’m convinced Phil was right. What he outlines below is indeed invaluable Know-How.
“Fill ‘er up and please check the oil and tires.”
Many of us heard this phrase from the back of our parents’ car as we rolled into the local gas station. While the tank was being filled, the eager attendant would check the oil and tire pressure. Often, they’d even clean the windshield. Indy pit crews came to mind as I watched them work to ensure our vehicle performed at its highest capacity.
Fast-forward half a century. Self-service pumps are now the standard. There’s no one but us to make sure our vehicle is maintained at peak levels. And if you missed Car Maintenance 101, you could find yourself on the side of the road trying to remember if your insurance policy covers roadside service. (Sadly, most folks these days are unable to properly identify a lug wrench.)
Maintaining our health is similar to the above example.
For most folks, the first few decades go by smoothly. There are no major maintenance issues… no dashboard lights to warn us of problems down the road. Then we get older. Here comes the widening girth… the onset of regular insomnia and anxiety… the increase of blood pressure and glucose levels…
These are all just expected parts of the aging process. And it’s up to you to recognize when there’s a problem and take yourself in for a “repair.” Things snowball from there. One prescription quickly follows another.
But does it have to be this way? Can’t you do something about it?
Yes, you can. Allow me to pull the curtain back…
Your Treatment Options: Conventional vs. Functional
Manward is all about three things; Know-How, Liberty and Connections.
Knowledge of basic medical conditions is critical if you expect to beat the odds stacked against you.
Spending the last decade of your life in a nursing home bed… well, that’s the opposite of Liberty, isn’t it?
And Connections are certainly difficult to make if you cannot talk, comprehend or ambulate.
Many bad things can happen to our bodies over time. I can offer no guarantees or claims to diagnose, treat or cure any disease or condition of any kind. But I can share some basics.
When it comes to healthcare, the United States spends more per individual than any other country. We write the most prescriptions. And yet, in terms of healthiest nations, we’re ranked 37th from the top.
Roughly half of U.S. adults are either prediabetic or have type 2 diabetes. 74% have a weight problem. 50% of males will get cancer sometime in their lifetime (and 40% of females). And 50% of adults have at least one chronic medical problem.
Last year, for the first time in decades, our life expectancy went backwards (your children are not expected to live as long as you).
[Disclaimer: The U.S. is still one of the top countries worldwide for acute and trauma care. If you get severely injured, pray that you are in the U.S. or near a trauma unit with U.S.-trained physicians. Also note that this is not intended to offend any of my distinguished, hardworking colleagues in medicine. But it breaks my heart to see where we stand in the world ranking. My desire is to see us get back into the top 10 by 2025. I know many others are seeking that. Join us.]
There are two systems of medical treatment in the U.S.: the conventional path and the functional path.
As a conventional medicine physician, I was trained to treat symptoms with prescription medications (“a pill for an ill”). One prescription per decade is the norm. Your symptoms can be managed by the latest commercialized medicine that you are encouraged to request. It will be refilled at the next visit in 3 months.
Seeking to reverse your condition is NOT the norm. Most conventional physicians have very little – if any – training in nutraceuticals or supplements. Thus this common comment from skeptics: “Supplements provide little or no value… but they will give you expensive urine.” Yet I encourage you to go to PubMed.com and look at the number of articles on Vitamin D. It’s well over 75,000. Many well-trained individuals think vitamin D is critically important to our bodies.
In functional medicine we seek the root cause of the illness – the etiology. Our goal is to reverse it, if possible, through the right kind of dietary foods and the correct liquids. But the most important component is understanding the need for proper individualized vitamin, mineral and herbal supplementation. Managing stress is key, too. And so are prescription medications, if deemed essential. (I make no bones about it; prescription medications have their place and can save lives. They have saved millions of lives and will continue to be great tools.)
Bio-identical hormone replacement is also considered if your body is not producing what it did during your younger years. Avoiding environmental toxins is wise, as is seeking to remove the heavy metal exposure. This can dramatically reduce deadly diseases. Preventing an illness is the norm – better to prevent illness than have to cure it. (Obviously both are a win.)
But rather than choose between conventional and functional medicine, the thing you should be asking is… why not take the best of both?
A Better Option
An all-encompassing approach is what I and a growing number of physicians are advocating for.
Let’s not have conflict. Rather, let’s share the knowledge and science of both paths. Pride has no place here – only what is best for the patient. (That’s the essence of the Hippocratic Oath, after all.) The stakes are too high. We must work together.
I believe a mix of conventional and functional treatment options are essential to maintaining optimal health as we age. There are four critical area to address:
- Understanding what foods and liquids to ingest and avoid.
- Taking in a customized mix of supplements based on lifestyle, genetics and familial diseases – a mix that adds back in nutrients depleted by prescription medications.
- Personalized bio-identical hormonal testing and replacement as needed.
- A plan for avoiding and removing environmental and accumulated toxins.
I can only scratch the surface here. But if you would like me to share what I’ve learned about these areas over the past decades or if you have specific questions about supplements or functional medicine please email Andy at firstname.lastname@example.org and let him know. Feedback is welcomed and appreciated. And if the response warrants it, I’ll follow up soon.
My goal is to help folks be like that vintage, pristine, polished 1963 red Corvette convertible you see at car shows. Despite its age, all gauges are to the “F-level,” tire pressure remains optimized.
You can just picture it roaring off into the sunset.
We are designed for excellence. But to remain in tip-top shape… that takes work.