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Inflammation Functional Medicine

Inflammation is a natural response by your body to protect you from harm. When you get a cut or an infection, inflammation helps fight off harmful invaders and kick-starts the healing process. However, chronic inflammation can be harmful and is linked to various diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune conditions, and even cancer. Functional medicine offers a holistic approach to reducing inflammation by targeting its root cause. Let's explore how this approach works.

Understanding Functional Medicine

Functional medicine is a branch of medicine that focuses on identifying and addressing the root causes of diseases rather than just treating the symptoms. It involves a personalized and holistic approach, taking into account your lifestyle, genetics, environmental factors, gut health and the microbiome. Functional medicine practitioners aim to understand the complex interactions in your body and how they contribute to health and disease.

Symptoms of Chronic Inflammation

Chronic inflammation can present with a variety of symptoms, including:
  • Joint pain or stiffness
  • Digestive issues
  • Skin problems, like acne or eczema
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Mood disorders
  • Frequent infections
And many more!

Testing for Inflammation

Our functional medicine doctors at Root have extensive training and experience in identifying and treating inflammation within the body. 

Blood Labs 

We may use several blood lab tests to test for inflammation such as:

  • High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (HS-CRP): the most common and sensitive marker for widespread inflammation
  • Lipid panel: elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels are linked to inflammation
  • Ferritin: also known at the iron storage marker, high levels of this lab may indicate inflammation or oxidative stress
  • Omega-3 Index: low levels of omega-3s often correlate with higher inflammation
  • Insulin: elevated levels of this hormone can be a sign of insulin resistance, which is associated with increased inflammation and weight gain or difficulty losing weight
  • Vitamin D: this vitamin plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system, and deficiencies are often associated with increased inflammation
These labs are all part of the Root Wellness panel we order for almost all new members

Gut Testing

We often order a comprehensive stool analysis for members when digging for root causes of inflammation. Stool tests such as the GI Map® can measure levels of "good" or "bad" bacteria and evaluate for parasites, yeast overgrowth, and signs of inflammation. This allows our team to craft personalized gut healing & anti-inflammatory protocols for our members.

Root Causes of Inflammation

Several factors contribute to chronic inflammation, and a functional medicine approach targets these root causes:

  • Diet and Nutrition
  • Gut Health
  • Stress and Emotional Well-being
  • Toxins and Environmental Exposures
  • Physical Activity

Let's dive into each of these factors and see how functional medicine addresses them.

1. Diet and Nutrition

What you eat plays a crucial role in either promoting or reducing inflammation. A diet high in processed foods, sugar, and unhealthy fats can lead to inflammation. On the other hand, a diet rich in whole foods, antioxidants, and healthy fats can help reduce it.

Anti-inflammatory Diet

A functional medicine approach often recommends an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, these help combat oxidative stress and reduce inflammation.
  • Healthy Fats: Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts are known for their anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Whole Grains: Foods like brown rice, quinoa, and oats provide fiber that supports gut health.
  • Spices and Herbs: Turmeric, ginger, and garlic have natural anti-inflammatory effects.
By incorporating these foods into your diet, you can help reduce inflammation naturally. Our team also helps people pinpoint food sensitivities, which can drive inflammation.

2. Gut Health

Your gut plays a significant role in your overall health and inflammation levels. An imbalance in gut bacteria, known as dysbiosis, can lead to inflammation and various health issues.

Supporting Gut Health

Functional medicine practitioners focus on improving gut health through:

  • Probiotics and Prebiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria found in foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, while prebiotics are fibers that feed these bacteria. Both help maintain a healthy gut microbiome.
  • Reducing Gut Irritants: Identifying and eliminating foods that irritate the gut, such as gluten or dairy, can help reduce inflammation.
  • Supporting Digestion: Ensuring adequate stomach acid and digestive enzymes can improve nutrient absorption and gut health.
  • Rebalancing the Microbiome: May include removal of harmful bacteria, parasites, etc and encouraging the growth of more beneficial strains.

3. Stress and Emotional Well-being

Chronic stress can significantly contribute to inflammation. When you're stressed, your body releases cortisol, a hormone that can lead to increased inflammation over time.

Managing Stress

A functional medicine approach includes stress management techniques like:

  • Mindfulness and Meditation: Practices that help you stay present and reduce stress.
  • Limbic System Retraining: Root members have access to online courses to help calm the brain's response.
  • Exercise: Regular physical activity can help lower stress levels and inflammation.
  • Adequate Sleep: Ensuring you get enough quality sleep is crucial for reducing stress and inflammation.

4. Toxins and Environmental Exposures

Exposure to toxins and pollutants can also trigger inflammation. These toxins can come from various sources such as air pollution, pesticides in food, and chemicals in household products.

Reducing Toxin Exposure

Functional medicine practitioners recommend steps to minimize toxin exposure:

  • Reducing processed food consumption: Following the Root plate method will naturally lower processed foods and thus the added chemicals they contain.
  • Using Natural Products: Opting for natural cleaning and personal care products can reduce the load of harmful chemicals.
  • Filtered Water: Drinking filtered water helps eliminate contaminants that can cause inflammation.

5. Physical Activity

Regular physical activity is essential for maintaining overall health and reducing inflammation. However, both too little and too much exercise can affect inflammation levels.

Balanced Exercise

A functional medicine approach promotes balanced exercise, which includes:

  • Moderate Intensity: Activities like walking, swimming, or cycling are great for reducing inflammation without causing excessive stress on the body.
  • Strength Training: Building muscle through strength training helps improve metabolism and reduce inflammation.
  • Rest and Recovery: Ensuring adequate rest and recovery between workouts prevents overtraining and inflammation.

Personalized Approach

One of the key aspects of functional medicine is its personalized approach. Each person's body is unique, and what works for one person might not work for another. Functional medicine practitioners take the time to understand your specific needs, health history, and lifestyle to create a customized plan for reducing inflammation. 

Below are some examples of case studies we have seen at Root.

Case Study: Metabolism and Weight Loss

Mike, a 52-year-old man, struggled with weight loss despite maintaining a healthy diet and regular exercise. He experienced fatigue and joint pain. His Root doctor ordered comprehensive lab tests, which revealed a high HS-CRP, a low omega-3 index, and elevated insulin levels. Mike worked with the Root team to implement an anti-inflammatory diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids and phytonutrient dense foods. He began supplementing with vitamin D and collaborated with a Root dietitian to develop a realistic and achievable plan to reduce insulin levels using The Root Plate™ method. 

He also implemented daily stress reduction techniques. Mike began to experience signs of reduced inflammation like more energy, improved sleep quality, and gradual weight loss without restrictive dieting.  

Case Study: Acne and IBS

Sarah, a 35-year-old woman, dealt with chronic bloating, acne, and irregular bowel movements. Her Root doctor discovered elevated HS-CRP and imbalanced gut bacteria on a comprehensive stool test. By introducing an anti-inflammatory diet, personalized gut healing protocol, and omega-3 supplementation, Sarah's symptoms gradually subsided. Her digestion improved, she was less bloated, and her skin began to clear up with less acne breakouts.

Learn more about our functional medicine approach to acne and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Key Takeaways: Inflammation Functional Medicine

Inflammation, when unchecked, can be a silent driver of numerous health issues. The process we use at Root to treat inflammation can help almost any condition due to the widespread nature of this underlying cause. 

Get to the Root at Home 

Curious about where you should start your functional medicine journey? 

Take our Get to the Root Quiz so you can start working towards reversing disease and optimizing your health at the Root cause.
Take the Get to the Root Quiz

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