Functional medicine and lifestyle medicine are two very common holistic methods of treating illnesses, diseases, and common health issues. At PEAK Integrative Medicine, we employ both types of methods in different ways depending on our patient’s needs. One approach is not better than the other; we recognize both approaches to your health help empower you to reach PEAK wellness.

Understanding the differences and similarities between functional and lifestyle medicine may help your health journey and your options in being proactive with your health by treating the root cause rather than the symptoms. Learn more about functional medicine and lifestyle medicine with us.

The Difference Between Lifestyle Medicine & Functional Medicine

These two holistic methods have become well-known in the rapidly changing healthcare industry because of their patient-centered focus on treating the underlying causes of health problems as opposed to only treating their symptoms. Despite having different approaches, functional medicine and lifestyle medicine have the same objective of enabling people to take charge of their own health. We’ll examine the variations and parallels between these two strategies and how they might complement one another to attain overall health and well-being.

Functional Medicine’s Approach To Your Health

According to The Institute for Functional Medicine, Functional medicine is defined as:

“Functional medicine is a systems biology–based approach that focuses on identifying and addressing the root cause of disease. Each symptom or differential diagnosis may be one of many contributing to an individual’s illness.”

This essentially means that professionals in functional medicine utilize an approach that determines what is causing your symptoms or health issues. It is a hands-on and investigative approach to your health.

Functional medicine focuses more on the root cause and diagnosis than lifestyle medicine medicine does. In seeking out the root cause of your symptoms, the next steps that are taken are guided by diagnosing and testing.

  • Diagnostics and Personalized Care: The patient-centered approach of Functional Medicine is well-known. Advanced diagnostic testing is used by medical practices to identify the root causes of health problems. Evaluations of hormones, microbiome, nutrition, and genetics are frequently part of functional medicine examinations. Family medical practices that specialize in functional medicine create individualized treatment programs based on these tests’ results which may indicate specific imbalances.
  • Root Cause Approach: Treating the underlying causes of diseases is a fundamental component of functional medicine. This entails exploring a patient’s lifestyle, medical history, and surrounding circumstances in great detail to determine the cause of health issues. The goals of treatment are to realign imbalances and bring about PEAK performance.
  • Nutrition-Centered: A key component of functional medicine is nutrition. Experts stress the need for a whole-food, anti-inflammatory diet and frequently use specialized diets, such as an elimination diet, to find dietary sensitivities. This is especially common when trying to determine the root cause of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), metabolic issues, or hypothyroidism.

Lifestyle Medicine’s Approach To Your Health

According to the American College Of Lifestyle Medicine, Lifestyle Medicine is defined by:

“Lifestyle medicine is a medical specialty that uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions including, but not limited to, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. Lifestyle medicine certified clinicians are trained to apply evidence-based, whole-person, prescriptive lifestyle change to treat and, when used intensively, often reverse such conditions. Applying the six pillars of lifestyle medicine—a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances and positive social connections—also provides effective prevention for these conditions.”

What does all of that mean? Lifestyle Medicine is a professional approach to a person’s health by changing the way they live their daily lives through a six-pillar method. These six pillars include your diet (specifically whole-food and plant-based diet), physical activity, sleep practices, personal stress management, social activity, and avoiding substances like drugs and alcohol.

Lifestyle medicine focuses more on your lifestyle than functional medicine. There is no doubt that eating healthy and exercising correctly will improve your health. But not everybody is the same. Not every diet plan is correct for you. That is where a health coach who specializes in a personalized lifestyle medicine plan.

  • Behavioral Interventions: The goal of lifestyle medicine is to enhance health through behavioral interventions. Changes in nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, sleep patterns, and drug usage are a few of these. Practitioners collaborate closely with patients to create lifestyle programs that promote health.
  • An Emphasis on Prevention: Although prevention is the goal of both strategies, Lifestyle Medicine gives it even more attention. The emphasis is on preventing disease by adopting healthier lifestyle choices. This might entail controlling weight, giving up smoking, and managing stress in order to lower the chance of developing chronic illnesses.
  • Multidisciplinary Teams: To treat many facets of a person’s life, lifestyle medicine requires a team of medical specialists, such as doctors, nutritionists, physical therapists, and mental health specialists, working together. A medical practice with a variety of specializations working as a unified front fighting for your healthy lifestyle will change a person’s life through changing their lifestyle.

The Similarities Between Functional Medicine And Lifestyle Medicine

Both functional medicine and lifestyle medicine utilize a holistic approach to your health. What is holistic medicine? According to the National Institutes of Health, holistic medicine is:

“Holistic medicine is an attitudinal approach to health care rather than a particular set of techniques. It addresses the psychological, familial, societal, ethical and spiritual as well as biological dimensions of health and illness.”

  • The Patients Are People: Through the holistic approach of lifestyle medicine and functional medicine, patients are treated as people and cared for. Patients are given the ability to take back control of their own health. Both lifestyle and functional medicine provide people with information on the consequences of their health decisions and how to make wise choices to reach PEAK health.
  • Individualized Health Care: This is the main focus of both strategies. Patients are seen as distinct individuals with unique health conditions rather than as a group or statistic. When you are treated as an individual, your health plan is more detailed and strategic.
  • Approaches Health Problems Through Prevention: Although Lifestyle Medicine emphasizes prevention more than Functional Medicine does, both approaches are dedicated to treating the underlying causes of health problems and delaying the onset of chronic illnesses.

Why You Need Functional Medicine In Your Life

Functional medicine comes into play when you are experiencing symptoms. If there are symptoms, then there is a root cause. Determining the root cause is vital to stopping the symptoms of your chronic disease.

Why You Need Lifestyle Medicine In Your Life

A healthier lifestyle starts here. Many lifestyle medicine approaches align with functional medicine, the only difference is changing your lifestyle is preventative and proactive. Functional medicine is focused on solving a problem. If you utilize lifestyle medicine to the fullest extent, you will not require as much functional medicine.

Contact PEAK For A Holistic Approach To Your Health

The fields of lifestyle medicine and functional medicine go hand in hand. Patients can benefit from a comprehensive approach to well-being by combining the behavioral therapies and preventative techniques of lifestyle medicine with individualized diagnostics and root cause analysis of functional medicine. When these strategies are combined, they can effectively address current health concerns while simultaneously providing protection against new ones.

We provide both functional medicine and lifestyle medicine at PEAK Integrative Medicine. Our focus is mainly on functional medicine since many of our patients come to us with chronic health issues like back pain, or headaches that have been ineffectively treated for many years.

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