The Human Body and My Personal Journey into Functional Medicine
What do you do when you are getting sick or when you are actually sick?
Let's take the example of a tummy bug, the so called "stomach flu" you get a few times a year. One day you wake up and you feel awful and you’re experiencing tummy cramps, vomiting, diarrhoea, you cannot eat and your energy is undeniably very low. So, you end up lying down in bed for a few days with a low grade fever. You might take some paracetamol or ibuprofen, and drink more water – you know the standard recommendation. Or if you know more about healthy bacteria in the gut you might even take a shot of Actimel or Yokult.
However do you really get to the root of the problem? Do you know the ins and the outs of how and why you get the stomach bug in the first place? Do you understand what is happening with your immune system and what is making it so incredibly difficult to manage the problem? And what exactly is in your gut that is supposed to protect you and prevent you from this illness? Did you even think about connecting your gut’s health with how your brain works?
I might be asking you a lot at this point, and perhaps searching for the answers seem overwhelmingly impossible. But these questions can lead you to becoming your own health advocate and educate you on how to "prevent rather than cure" the illness. Actually, these are the same kind of questions that sparked my passion and directed my journey into Functional Medicine. These questions tickled my curiosity towards alternative ways to live your life without feeling unwell every day, or feeling body and joint aches, or headaches, or low energy, or upset tummy. And instead create a healthy body with resources available to you such as optimum nutrition, every day exercise, early night sleep and empowering social circles.
Feeling well and being well through Functional Medicine, is the vision I have for you.
Dr Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Centre for Functional Medicine nicely sums up what functional medicine is all about - "Functional Medicine is a medicine by cause, not by symptom. Functional Medicine practitioners don't in fact treat disease, we treat your body's ecosystem. We get rid of bad stuff, put in the good stuff, and because your body is an intelligent system - it does the rest"
My path to becoming a Functional Medicine Nutritionist
As a kid I always wanted to be a top athlete. I had to choose a sport career for myself at very early stage in my life. I was also very good at school, I loved Biology and anything related to the human body and human beings in general. I remember vividly during my Biology A level exam, I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to play sports and at the same time heard a little voice inside telling me “maybe you should study medicine…”.
But, I shied away from this little voice and I never spoke up about it, nor did I try to get into the medical school. At that time the dream of playing professional sport was so strong and loud that nothing else could change my mind. But that strong desire to work with people and help people remained within me.
Anyway, I chose to study something that had a lot to do with the Human Body. I went to Academy of Sport and Physical Education and studied Public Health & Sports.
To be honest, looking back I would even say that it was an Academy of the Human Body. In the 4 years I was there I studied Human Biology, Physiology, Anatomy, Anthropology, Hygiene and Nutrition, Biochemistry, Sport and Fitness, as well Psychology, Health and Disease Prevention, Philosophy, Contagious Disease, Theory of Physical Education and so much more...
After many years from the day I finished my undergraduate course and the day my sport career that I was hoping for ended early, I came to the realisation that I truly love seeing others be well and live a happy life. Over time I became more curious about my inner voice and started to deepen my knowledge and understanding about the human body on a cellular level, where it all begins.
During the early stages of my career as a Personal Trainer, movement was one of the top lifestyle prescriptions and I still believe without movement, any type of it, body healing processes are going to be impaired. By all means, movement is vital and cannot be missed in the functional medicine prescription.
Then, I began to notice some of my PT clients were not achieving the results they were after. So, with a very open mind I started to study at the College of Naturopathic Medicine in London in 2009, and in 2013 I graduated with the Nutritional Therapy Diploma. I left the college after completing 3 years of education in clinical practice without even realising I opened myself to a new passion, Functional Medicine. Since then I have been educating myself with the Institute Functional Medicine… And now I want to stay on this path for as long as possible! (I will explain to you more about the principles of Functional Medicine in my next blog post.)
I am continuing to work with the Clinical Education team and support the Applying Functional Medicine in Clinical Practice. Even though I already graduated from this 5day postgraduate education in 2015 I have a constant desire to grow which drives me to take the opportunity to do it again and again. It is through these opportunities I have met amazing dedicated practitioners, doctors and leaders.
My next step in this journey is to Fellowship in Functional, Nutrition and Metabolic Medicine with American Anti-aging Academy. It is an advanced fellowship and the first module is Endocrinology in Functional Medicine. I am still learning but I have already gained so much from the first few lectures. So, I encourage you to follow my blogs as I will be sharing more with you on how to prevent chronic diseases, and how to live a healthier and happier longer life.
Today, Functional Medicine is at the heart of my approach to coaching my clients towards improving their lifestyles and well-being, as well as living a longer healthier life even when the "complete cure" may not exist. I am so grateful I have the opportunity to teach my clients that there is hope beyond their health struggles.
Remember, never ever lose hope and ask yourself what else haven't I tried, and keep an open mind…
As always, please share and spread the message of hope and love
P.S I enjoyed writing about my passion and sharing with you this short story. Subscribe to my mailing list to keep yourself in the loop of what is coming and to open your mind to think beyond your old experiences.