Functional Medicine (FM) views health as the perpetuation of creating positive vitality, rather than the focus on compartmentalizing pre-existing signs and symptoms into disease diagnoses, as exemplified with conventional medicine (Kroenke, 2014). This focus of creating “a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”, as defined by the Center for Disease Control (CDC, 2014), is a guiding principle that will in turn reduce healthcare cost for the long-term. This creates an affirmative setting for organ reserve, or the innate mechanism of adaptability and cellular defense to promote longevity (Desler et al., 2012).
The CDC states that 86% of total annual American healthcare costs are allocated to managing chronic disease. However, with the FM approach, we can utilize genetics (SNPs), linked to nutrition-related disease (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, & cancer), by modifying diet rather than providing medication to mask root causes (Virmani et al., 2013). We can also apply proteomics to target specific drug treatments in cancer patients, reducing the use of ineffective and expensive drugs (Zhu et al., 2018).
As the human population is living longer, the focus has moved from years lived (quantity) to how we live in those extended years (quality) (Megari, 2013). In providing quality of life as a modality to health, we in turn provide a “healthier” population. For example, when a person has poor Health Related Quality of Life (HRQoL) – i.e. osteoarthritis — job performance diminishes. This is directly associated with consumption of healthcare resources (medications, treatments, appointments = money) and indirectly increases costs due to the inability to maintain employment (Rabenda et al., 2006).
Health is more than the absence of disease; it is the promotion of vitality. This perspective will reduce healthcare expenditure by promoting quality of life via preserving organ reserve; identifying core clinical imbalances before disease occurs; precision drug usage; and treatment of chronic disease through evaluation of diet, lifestyle, and environment.
Ultimately, Functional Medicine helps redefine health as a positive vitality
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Zhu Y., Orre L.M., Johansson H.J., Huss, M., Boekel,J., Vesterlund, M.,Fernandez-Woodbridge, A., Branca, R.M.M., and Lehitö, J. (2018). Discovery of coding regions in the human genome by integrated proteogenomics analysis workflow. Nature Communications. 9: 903. Retrieved from Link to Full-Text