FUNCTIONAL METABOLIC MEDICINE: Tomorrow’s Medicine
A 2003 editorial published in the “British Medical Journal” contained the following comment: “It is by now common for a general practitioner to deal with patients whose symptoms are not related to a specific organic cause or to a well-defined disease, but they seem rather to depend on chronic inflammation of unknown origin”.
One of the tasks of XXI century medicine will be to understand the mechanisms at the base of the symptoms of diseases, rather than to list them within the name of a disease. We must realize that patients exist, not diseases, and symptoms – even different from one another – can come from common functional metabolic alterations. If it is true that conventional medicine has achieved great success in emergency medicine, it is also true that it has been a big failure as for chronic-degenerative diseases. Obesity, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease are constantly increasing. Overall, the “health business” costs the community about 112 billion Euros a year: this money goes to pharmaceutical companies and health structures. It is an unbelievable turnover gravitating around a system which exploits the patient’s condition and only cares about “stopping” symptoms but not about treating their causes.
It is not possible to treat hunger in the world by selling low quality food at a cheap price; instead, it is necessary to teach starving populations how to put into effect sustainable systems of cultivation and breeding. Functional metabolic medicine is a dynamic and multiple approach aiming at treating, and above all at preventing, chronic degenerative diseases, with the aim of improving the subject’s metabolism and biochemistry as a primary method to improve one’s health.
Chronic degenerative diseases are almost always preceded by a long period characterised by the altered functionality of one or more organ systems. These dysfunctions are the result of a life of interactions between our life-style, the environment and our genetic predispositions. Yet, the most important factor is certainly life-style, which is also the factor on which we can intervene.
Obviously, it is much easier, yet limiting, to stick to “evidence-based medicine” based on clinical trials, since many studies have been financed to develop new drugs and technologies; it is certainly harder to carry out prospective multi-factorial studies focused on life-styles. Therefore, it is necessary to start from “scientific evidence” and from biochemical and metabolic processes. Conventional medicine is more focused on which drug to take rather than on how to change our life-style, for example eat what you want and take statins, or eat as many carbohydrates as you want and adjust insulin dose. Yet, this means to betray the origin of our medicine. As Hippocrates said, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, we would have found the way to health”. Hippocrates did not talk about the right drug.
Today, stress is another aspect concerning life-styles, which have changed with the industrial and technological civilization. In the past, hunters and gatherers, as well as farmers and breeders, followed the rhythms imposed by nature: they followed circadian rhythms induced by light and darkness. They had quite a peaceful lifestyle, only occasionally altered by emergency situations faced through a perfectly appropriate system based on adrenal-cortical hormones: the Fight or Flight response system.
Today, constant stressful super-stimulation, both psychic, environmental and nutritional – even insidious stimuli which would not actually require an answer – create a condition of hyper production of these hormones, which become harmful for our body.
Functional Metabolic Medicine is based on this triad: Nutrition, Physical Exercise, Stress Management. The clinical approach on which Functional Metabolic Medicine must be based is the study of the imbalance which imply the expression of the dysfunction. Such imbalance basically includes:
- imbalance of the digestive system, the absorbing system and the microbiota.
- Imbalance of detoxification and biotransformation processes.
- Imbalance in the immune and inflammatory system
- Imbalance in glycaemic and glycation control
- Imbalance in body composition
- Structural imbalance of the muscular-skeletal system
- Resistance, power and elasticity imbalance
- Psycho-spiritual imbalance
- Hormonal and neuro-transmitter imbalance
- Imbalance of redox and mitochondrial metabolism
- Imbalance of fatty acids
- Imbalance of acid-base balance
- Imbalance of methylation pathway
- Vitamin – mineral – amino acid imbalance
- Electromagnetic imbalance
Thus, it is clear that such approach, which can be defined “holistic”, requires the combination of several skills and experts.
If it is true that there was a time when organ medicine gave priority to “experts”, giving the term “know-all” a negative meaning, today in the field of medicine this concept must be rediscovered. Doctors must have much wider knowledge than their specific field of competence, without the presumption to be able to manage everything by themselves. They should avail themselves of other professionals such as Dietitians, Biologists, Psychologists, Personal Trainers, Motor Science Graduates, Chemists. All these professionals have in turn knowledge which allows them to have a global vision and to speak the “same language”, which is not “medi c(h)inese” (with all due respect for Chinese traditional medicine).
This is why the AMFPC Course (Functional Metabolic Approach in Clinical Practice) has been created. The course is addressed to all the professionals involved in the health sector who share a mission: promote right life-styles and give importance to individuals, rather than to diseases.
L’Accademia del Fitness-Wellness-Antiaging / october 2015