Rethinking Disease: Our Functional Medicine Approach

by | Jun 13, 2018 | Lupus Blog | 2 comments

Hi. Dr. Connie here.

According to the Nature Reviews Immunology, medical scientists today are confounded by the increasing incidence of multiple diseases across the world.

There’s a significant rise in obesity, asthma, hay fever, food allergies, inflammatory bowel disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, autism and many others.

As an autoimmune patient, I know that my condition affects multiple systems, and as a clinician I also know that the mentioned symptoms are present in most autoimmune conditions.

Due to inflammation, obesity is common among those with autoimmune, and due to its effect on the immune system, food allergies and digestive issues are also common.

More evidence today reveals why such diseases are on the rise, and this evidence points to the human microbiome.

We know that chronic inflammation drives cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, arthritis, and autoimmune diseases.

And so much money is spent on healthcare to address such diseases, totaling 47 trillion dollars and the GDP of US is 15 million dollars according to the world economic forum.

Diabetes is now considered a global emergency and is now termed diabesity.

So at the core, food is being used as a weapon of mass destruction because we know that lifestyle factors, such as our diet, are responsible for such health conditions, especially Diabetes.

We now understand that our environment and lifestyle influences our genes.

So it’s time that we take more responsibility for our own health.

Getting to the Root Cause of the Issue

Many common medical practices are not effective, yet they are practiced.  For example, as a physical therapist, I see lots of patients with knee pain.

There’s a surge of research validating that arthroscopic surgery does not help with knee pain, but it’s a common practice today.

Also for diabetes, according to research by the New England Journal of Medicine, (1) the use of intensive glucose lowering therapy increased 5 year mortality as compared to the standard therapy.

81% of Americans take at least one medication a day.

We know that lifestyle changes can completely reverse diabetes and insulin resistance. But as the first line of therapy, doctors prescribe patients glucose lowering medications, and if that doesn’t work, they pump them with insulin.

Diabetes is a systemic disorder with many layers of dysfunction, yet treatment focuses on one thing.  Conventional medicine focuses on lowering the blood sugar levels, but that’s not the only goal.

The goal should also be to the normalize the body’s ability to be receptive to insulin again by healing the cellular wall and allowing the system to balance itself again.

Another common medication is statins and their effect on diabetes.

In a research study, 26,000 healthy people were given statins to prevent heart disease, and it resulted in 87% increase in Type II diabetes.  (2)

Another study by the Women’s Health Initiative resulted in statins increasing diabetes risk by 48%.

According to Mayo Clinic Report, almost half of the common medical practices are found to be no better than a much less expensive, simpler, or easier therapy or approach. (3)

Rethink the Way You View Disease

Studies suggest that it takes an average of 17 years of research evidence to reach clinical practice, which means most medical practices are out dated!

As an autoimmune patient who’s wanting the most cutting edge evidence based therapies for my own health, I believe that we as patients should be proactive in our own healthcare.

Our disease processes are highly individualistic and highly complex.  The solution is not always linear because there’s so many layers to our symptoms.

Chronic diseases are COMPLEX and require a different way of thinking.

I believe diseases don’t exist.

Rather, I believe we have an imbalance in our system.

So what do we do?

We need to remove what’s causing the imbalance and provide what creates balance.

Lifestyle and Environment: The Trigger of Disease

We’ve been hearing lots about the Human Genome Project.

The Human Genome Project was the international, collaborative research program whose goal was the complete mapping and understanding of all the genes of human beings.

We learned that the genome has far fewer genes than anticipated, yet the variation of the genes was far greater than anticipated.

And our phenotype, which is the observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of our genes with the environment, works through epigenome.

To further explain, we now know that the environment (which we define as exposome) drives 90% of chronic disease.  (4)

Chronic disease results from the emergence of a disturbed metabolism.  Lifestyle and our environment are the two most important factors responsible for altering gene expression that leads to metabolic compromise.

So how does food influence our biology?  Food serves as information and it’s much more than just calories, it’s composition matters.

Diabetes is not Metformin Deficiency, Depression is not Prozac Deficiency, and Erectile Dysfunction is not Viagra Deficiency.

The pharmaceutical industry creates problems to introduce a new “drug” to the market with its long list of side effects.

That’s not responsible healthcare.

As a Lupus patient, doctors typically give us corticosteroids, anti-inflammatory drugs, and chemo agents to control our symptoms.

We know that long term use of such drugs puts us at risk for a host of other diseases.

Take Health Into Your Own Hands

Recently I’ve met three distinct women who all have Lupus and lost their identity to the disease.

One was a successful oncologist who had to give up her medical career to take care of her health.

Another was a massage therapist who had a Lupus flare and is on a host of different meds, but she is determined to get her life back.  What was so inspiring about her was she sought me out after having thoughts of suicide and decided to take action to reverse her condition.

Lastly, a human resource manager who has four kids and is having neurological issues to a point where she can’t function at her job and is so scared of losing her ability to function.

The three cases are all different, the oncologist could not keep weight on, while others, due to corticosteroids, ended up gaining weight, which now affects their metabolism as a result.

With any patient we like to start with the gut.

We use nutritional intervention to remove the bad and replenish the good. This restores  gut function to enhance nutrient absorption and heal gut permeability, as well as balance the microbiome which guarantees improvement.

Once the body shifts into an Alkaline state of balance, then it does what it does best, heals.

Our Functional Medicine Approach

Remove the bad

  • Processed foods
  • Food allergies (through an elimination diet)
  • Toxic chemicals
  • Stress

Replenish the good

  • Eat REAL whole, organic foods
  • Nutrients:  B6, magnesium vitamin D3, omega 3 fats, zinc, curcumin, CoQ10
  • Gut bacteria: probiotics, prebiotics, and enzymes
  • Sleep
  • Support
  • Water, light, air
  • Meaning and hope

Restore the gut

  • Immunoglobulins
  • Glutamine

Unlike the medical system’s “Name it, Blame it, Tame it” system, I’d like to hypothesize that diseases don’t exist.

With that, we get busy alkalizing the body through Nutrition, Movement, and Mindfulness which collectively helps to balance our system in profound ways.

I hope you enjoyed this message. Please subscribe to our Youtube channel and podcast. Like and follow us on our social media, Lupus Rebel and Alkaline Wellness.

Thanks so much for joining me, see you next week!


The ACCORD Study Group.  Long-Term Effects of Intensive Glucose Lowering on Cardiovascular Outcomes.  The New England Journal of Medicine. 2011;364(9):818-828

Arch Intern Med. 2012 Jan 23;172(2):144-52

Ioannidis JP, How many contemporary medical practices are worse than doing nothing or doing less?  Mayo Clin Proc. 2013 Aug:88(8):779-81

Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology (2011) 21,5-9

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