Let me paint a scene here. You’re walking down the supplement aisle in the grocery store and looking for a specific vitamin, that you read about on Facebook, to help you sleep. You scan the shelves until you find the particular brand mentioned, but then you see thirty other similar products.
Which one should you buy? The one that was recommended? Maybe this other one with a nice label? What about this one with a purple bottle? You love everything purple!
Let’s face it: you have no clue what you’re doing, and you don’t know if the supplement is going to work.
Now, you start to look at prices and realize that paying $45 for something that might not work is a bit steep!
What should you do? Just buy it and hope for the best? Nope!
Use caution when taking supplements. They can be incredibly helpful or a waste of time and money, and they are usually the latter. There are countless products filling up the store shelves; they may be beneficial, but potentially not for you.
In the end, the supplement industry is confusing. It’s hard to understand who is telling the truth and who is just trying to make a buck.
Here’s one crucial piece of information: your body has a hard time absorbing supplements. Most of it gets secreted through your urine. Do you enjoy peeing $45.00 down the toilet? I didn’t think so.
Introduction to Functional Medicine
Let me give you another option and introduce you to the world of medical foods and nutraceuticals. Yes, these are “supplements,” but there is a big difference.
First, you have to purchase these products through a functional medicine practitioner and, second, most of the top companies use medical grade standards to produce clean, safe, and useful items.
Let’s focus on the practitioner part for a moment.
As you read above, the supplement business is too confusing for most individuals. That’s where these amazing people come into the fold. Functional medicine practitioners can help prescribe you specific products to aid your quest for health.
They can guide you in the right direction according to your condition or symptoms. They can create a supplementation plan that is catered to your issues and also tweak the program as needed during your recovery.
Keep in mind that different conditions require different types of support. For example, when considering Crohn’s disease (my issue), your practitioner may have you take a digestive enzyme.
It is possible that someone with chronic arthritis won’t need the product. It’s the practitioner’s job to make these decisions and take out the guesswork.
As your body starts to recover, you may need to tweak the protocol. There are slight trial and error aspects, but these are very limited due to the practitioner’s knowledge. They most likely have seen your condition before and have an understanding of the proper treatment plan.
For example, before I got help, I would continuously self-prescribe and self-diagnose. If I didn’t see a beneficial change in 24 hours, I would immediately stop taking something because it “clearly wasn’t the right thing” or “the product just wasn’t good enough.”
As you can see, this type of thought process isn’t conducive to achieving success.
When you and your practitioner work together, you will slowly but surely make the necessary changes to raise the game of your lifestyle health plan.
It is imperative to have a close relationship with your practitioner to make this a reality. Always be truthful. The more information you provide, the better your chance of recovery.
I found that openness was the tipping point in my personal story of overcoming Crohn’s disease. I know it’s not easy for everyone to expose his or her problems, but here is the deal: Your practitioner is there for YOU.
They will stop at nothing to lead you to the promise land, but remember that it’s a two-way street. If you withhold information, the protocol won’t be as effective.
On another note, the circle of communication should never end. Here is a four-step process:
1) Have the initial meeting with a practitioner to discuss health issues. The patient will list all complaints and concerns and provide any relevant information, such as blood work, diagnoses, and more. The practitioner may order additional tests to learn more about your health status.
2) The practitioner will formulate a protocol that includes supplementation, diet, and lifestyle changes to help get you back on track. This protocol is the foundation of your recovery.
3) Your job is to implement this protocol to a T, never deviating. Your willingness to give in to the program will be imperative. If you don’t, then that’s on you.
4) Finally, communicate. As a patient, you will need to let the practitioner know how things are going and schedule follow-up appointments as needed. These are where minor tweaks and changes will happen to upgrade the protocol.
Then, the cycle repeats itself. It is essential to establish clear communication options with your practitioner to stay in touch, whether that’s email, text, phone calls, or even Facebook.
Finding a Functional Medicine Practitioner
If you’re an athlete, like me, you may realize trying to get the maximum out of yourself takes added assistance. Functional medicine practitioners helped me obtain my best self on and off the track.
You can find a functional medicine practitioner through websites such as www.ifm.org or directly through nutraceutical company sites such as Metagenics (www.metagenics.com). My personal practitioner is Dr. Robert Silverman (www.drrobertsilverman.com).
Make sure you read reviews and go to a reputable practitioner. Focus on individuals that follow a holistic thought process. They are more likely to try to find the root cause of the problem instead of only treating the symptoms.
Supplements can provide an added boost to your lifestyle health plan. They create an opportunity for you to take your health to another level.
Whether you’re the weekend warrior or a professional athlete or a stay at home mom, achieving optimal health will provide you with the energy to live life to the fullest.
Take the guesswork out of health and don’t go at this alone. Find a functional medicine practitioner and see what you’ve been missing! Implement a protocol that will help restore a vibrant, happy life!