Conventional Healthcare vs. Functional Healthcare

Gepubliceerd op: 23-04-2018

Four years ago I  underwent a career change. I decided it was time to do something else with my life, so I dove into the world of massage therapy, and additionally, I became ‘intrigued’ or as I say, ‘healthily obsessed’ with functional medicine and integrative health care. I felt like I needed to increase my knowledge about the entire preventive healthcare spectrum. I became sort of an (amateur) expert on this subject. Just by doing extensive research and self-education over the past four years I have empowered myself to a level of understanding that gave me great insight into the fascinating and wondrous world of preventative health care. I am -by all means- not a professionally trained functional therapist, nor would I ever pretend to be one. As a matter of fact, I have only scratched the surface of the complex science of integrative health care.  

Every post that I write, and the articles that I share, are solely for educational purposes and to broaden people's views on the numerous exciting ways to maintain a healthy and vibrant life. It is NEVER my intent to lecture people or tell anyone how they should live their lives or take care of themselves. Instead, I like to encourage people to stay open-minded and to search for the best possible lifestyle or treatment (in case you are sick) that YOU feel comfortable with, no matter if you choose a conventional or functional approach or a combination of both. It is okay to be critical- and it is your privilege to ask questions where you see fit and share your views with others to promote intelligent discussions. This will only result in more transparency to the current, sometimes corrupt, healthcare system. Which does not mean you should blindly believe everything the functional side has to offer. On the contrary! Being critical should go in both directions. It’s important to make a clear distinction between proven science and quackery. The problem is that we hear a lot of contradictory stories these days. This, no doubt will lead to an increasing frustration among the population. As a result,  people start to take any new valuable information for granted. 

“Alles met mate!” Everything in moderation is the ‘mantra’ here in Holland. That is really not a silly thought per se. Maybe a century ago this thought process might have worked fine without any negative consequences. If it weren't for the overwhelming changes in our lifestyle in the last century and the introduction of thousands of chemicals. The immense overload on toxicity has been a heavy burden on the physiological body. So, the "everything in moderation" approach doesn't cut it anymore. Despite what you might have heard, genetically we have barely changed at all to fend off these foreign intruders. Additionally, when you go by "everything in moderation", it creates a lot of room for free interpretation. Especially when a majority of people don’t know which (4)nutrition can promote brain health, and which could possibly cause a harmful chain reaction over a long time. (7)The relation between sugar and cancer has been debunked here in the Netherlands. Very respectable professors and physicians are given a huge platform, convincing the public that there is NO such thing as bad choices when it comes to nutrition. Processed foods loaded with all sorts of unnatural additives have "no negative effect on the body", because so they say, our modern bodies are perfectly equipped to handle those foreign substances. It is not rare to learn that these so-called respectable professors are linked to the food or pharmaceutical industry in one way or another. It’s true that we might not get sick from these particular substances in the short run, but medical science is already warning us to look at their long-term effects. We already see a bone-chilling rise in various diseases such as cancer, all sorts of autoimmune-related diseases and cognitive degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. More and more people struggle with depression and suicide among adolescents is on the rise. You would think that it's time to act accordingly. Instead, we keep pumping outrageous amounts of money into the healthcare system and the costs are still rising each year. If we want to tackle the problem, physicians should focus more on prevention rather than only handing out the first best medication that matches the specific ailment. The human body is very complex and unique in its own way.  Physicians should, therefore, view the body as a whole and start to dig deeper into the underlying causes. A one-dimensional treatment might work for some, but an increasing amount of people feel like they get stranded. Medications such as statins and antidepressants are classified as ineffective, even dangerous! Yet, they remain one of the most prescribed drugs worldwide.  

"According to researchers, we could cut our yearly health costs in half, just by handling a different approach".

Don’t get me wrong, I do NOT suggest that conventional treatment is flawed across the board. Amazing things happen in the medical industry for sure, especially in the surgery department, but we have a healthcare system in the west that is partially broken. Patients, in most cases, are treated for their symptoms, while the underlying cause is still being ignored. It’s like putting a band-aid on the wound but never addressing the issue. Focusing on the gut microbiome and mitochondria should play a pivotal role in the treatment of ANY degenerative disease. Extensive research has been pointing out for quite some time now that most diseases start in the gut. Cancer should (with some exceptions) be seen as a symptom and NOT as the disease itself. Most cancer patients have a compromised or weakened immune system that leads to healthy cell damage that then paves the way for new cancer cells to flourish. To this day, this notion has not been taken into serious consideration in most care facilities. It is worth mentioning that many cancer patients have a relapse within the first two years. Why? Because when you target cancer cells with  (6)chemo or radiation, your immune system that is already compromised to begin with, will weaken even further. It is not rare that patients die of the side effects of chemo and not from cancer itself. It is mind-boggling that chemotherapy still does not automatically include an immune strengthening complementary treatment to decrease the mortality rate and to reduce a recurrence in the future. However, there is a remaining risk factor that is determined by our genetics. So it is fair to say that no one is 100% immune despite all the effort one might take. But, don't be fooled! The current protocol for cancer treatment is a very lucrative business run by the pharmaceutical companies. So, a change in the near future is not going to happen that easily.

"80% is determined by lifestyle and 20% is determined by genetics. Your oncologist will most likely tell you otherwise"

Doctors undergo a long and extensive training but have no notion of how to support and repair a compromised immune system by eating certain foods in abundance and weed out toxic food such as refined foods. Well, how could they? The average time spent on nutrition in relation to health is approximately a couple of hours during their entire medical training.  

"Most autoimmune diseases are self-inflicted by a poor lifestyle".

Highly renowned physicians and well established medical researchers that I have followed closely like Dr. David Perlmutter, Dr. Mark Hyman, and Dr. Max Gerson to name a few, all have done substantiated research that has led to groundbreaking discoveries that the Medical Establishment is only recently beginning to embrace. (1)The root cause of various degenerative diseases lies in the gut! This notion is on the brink of becoming common knowledge. You might wonder why we don’t hear more about these discoveries? Shouldn’t it be a topic in any doctors office and widely spread in the media? Well, of course, it should! But the world is not yet fully ready to except these unconventional claims. You might remember the history of smoking! It took nearly half a century for the world to realize and accept that smoking causes numerous health problems. Despite all the warnings from physicians decades ago,  lobbyists made sure that it didn't reach the public. Most of the medical trials today are conclusively conducted and funded by the pharmaceutical industry. I don't think you have to be a rocket scientist to know that that can lead to a conflict of interest. They monopolize the health industry for the most part and dictate what gets published in the medical literature and what does not. Many physicians worldwide have come forward and shed some light on the malpractice of the pharmaceutical companies. (9)Bribery is not uncommon in healthcare. Top doctors have received bonuses to promote certain medications. Patients have been rushed into chemotherapy on numerous occasions when there was no cancer. And that at the expense of sick people. Did you know that in the U.S. the leading cause of death is caused by the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs? I bet you didn’t! Whereas, if a holistic doctor loses or misdiagnoses a patient, it becomes front-page news. You decide if you think that that does justice to the current system. It is a relief to see though that more and more physicians are coming to terms with other approaches and decide to undergo an additional training to become a certified functional doctor.  

I believe we are just at the beginning of a new era of healthcare. I think (hope) there will be a future where healthcare will consist of a close collaboration between conventional and functional healthcare to provide patients with the best care possible. None of this: “Either you are with us,  or you’re on your own!". A good holistic doctor will leave room for you to explore ALL options. A conventional doctor should be obligated to do the same.

Unfortunately, we are witnessing a rather rising aversion to holistic healthcare in the Netherlands. Maybe it is because of the negative image that is often portrayed over here. Too quickly holistic-related care is categorized as “quackery” with no scientific evidence to back it up. We are kept from serious medical data collected from all over the world that confirms the functional approach as an incredibly powerful tool to keep degenerative diseases at bay. Fact is, people don’t like to be told what to do when it comes to lifestyle changes and start to reject everything related to this topic. Arguments such as: “We have always done it this way, why should we have to change everything now?” almost become a standard saying. Frankly, it's quite arrogant to think that our modern lifestyle is normal, when in fact, it's anything but!

Our planet has existed for billions of years. In the last 100 years, we've undergone enormous changes in the way we live, think and perceive the world. The assumption that we have always done it this way is an absolutely preposterous thought. Our rapid unnatural changes happened in a blink of an eye so to speak. Now we have gotten accustomed to seeing ourselves above nature and not part of it. We think that we can outsmart nature and it makes us drift away further and further from our natural habitat. It’s making us physically and mentally sicker than ever before. Our society has become entirely derailed and the only thing that remains to do is damage control. 

We keep focusing on the fact that the human species now lives longer, and for that, we pet ourselves on the back. Where in fact, we've just created some techniques to prolong life. But what about the quality of life? Has that improved as well? Quite the opposite! When we become of a certain age, most likely we will be checked in to a care facility to spend our remaining years in isolation. Some researchers say that we don't live longer, but we die longer. The fear of becoming dement, bedridden and incontinent grows among the public. And rightly so. Researchers warn that a rise in early-onset dementia is a silent epidemic. Another recent study has spotted an increase in the number of people diagnosed with dementia in their 40's. (5)The beneficial role of vitamin D in Alzheimer's disease

Our advanced technology has become another culprit that has a huge impact on our physical activity. Think of the introduction of cars, motorcycles, scooters, elevators, escalators, e-bikes, cell phones, remote controls, washing machines, dishwashing machines, computers, laptops, etc. The industry has got it down to perfection because they know we have developed an unstoppable urge for comfort. You don't even have to leave your home anymore, because everything you desire can be delivered to your doorstep. The lack of (2)exercise has a huge impact on our declining health. 

We live in an imaginary world where business, the economy, and increased sales seem to outweigh everything else. But now we are beginning to feel the negative side effects of our twisted actions. We witness a depletion of our soil, bee colonies are dying in staggering amounts, (3)pesticides and herbicides are used in the production of our crops, oceans contain more plastic than fish, ice caps are melting at an increased rate, deforestation for the production of palm oil, increased contamination of air/water/soil, the approval of thousands of chemicals by our governments, food additives that get approved as being fit for human consumption, we can cheaply fly around the world for pleasure! 

Everything that makes life possible on this planet we put at risk. All that for money, profit and comfort. We are completely derailed and oblivious to the most valuable things in life! Scientists predict that people will get a lot sicker by 2030 and so will the planet that we live on. Our health and the health of the earth are intrinsically connected. If we don't act accordingly, soon life as we know it today won't be possible anymore. 

"Living proof it can be done" 

If you get confused and frustrated about all the contradictive information that we are bombarded with these days, you might like to familiarize yourself with the (10)Blue Zone lifestyle. These people live in certain parts of the world that live a longer, happier and healthier life in compared to people in western countries. If we would make a blueprint of their lives we would see remarkable similarities between them: 1. They move naturally throughout the day, 2. They eat locally grown food without any growth enhancers or pesticides, 3. They eat mostly vegetables and fruit, 4. They eat until they're only 80% full (hara hachi bu), 5. They experience little to no stress, 6. They live in harmony with each other, 7. They are not pension-driven, 8. They take breaks to relax, meditate or pray several times a day, and 9. They enjoy and celebrate life despite not having much. The funny thing is: they don't need a handbook or manual to achieve this. It is just part of their culture and family tradition. Our best move would be to adopt some of their ways and values. Only then can we steer our future in a different and more positive direction.

 

Sources:   

(1)All disease begins in the gut (2)Exercise Alters Gut Microbiota Composition and Function in Lean and Obese Humans (3)Pollinators and pesticides (4)Your brain on food/Environmental toxins and your health (5)The Beneficial Role of Vitamin D in Alzheimer’s Disease (6)Chemotherapy may spread cancer and trigger more aggressive tumors (7)The relation between sugar and cancer (8)Sugar and cancer: A surprise connection? Or 50-year cover-up? (9)Bribery and corruption in the pharmaceutical sector  (10)Blue Zone Lifestyle   

 

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