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America, Time to Take Care of Yourself

America, Time to Take Care of Yourself

shutterstock_130558319It’s no secret. America is one of the most unhealthy countries. On average, Americans die sooner and experience higher rates of disease and injury than the populations of 16 other high-income countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. This applies to Americans of nearly all ages, from birth to 75, and includes those with college educations, medical insurance and even those who follow healthy behaviors, and is in spite of the fact that the U.S. spends more on healthcare than the next 10 biggest spenders combined: Japan, Germany, France, China, the U.K. Italy, Canada, Brazil, Spain, and Australia.

The biggest problem areas are in cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity, all of which could and should be prevented rather than having to be treated.

Our society is experiencing a sharp increase in the number of people who suffer from diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental illness, and autoimmune disorders, and the acute-care approach taken by most physicians is ill-equipped to address such complex and chronic diseases. Conventional medicine does not necessarily help us understand why we get sick and how we can get better, and current medical education does not effectively train doctors in nutrition or in lifestyle related chronic diseases. Functional Medicine is a different approach, with methodology and tools that are specifically designed to prevent and treat chronic diseases. Functional Medicine addresses the underlying causes of disease, using a systems-oriented approach and engaging both patient and practitioner in a therapeutic partnership. By shifting the disease-centered focus of medical practice to a more patient-centered approach, Functional Medicine addresses the whole person, not just an isolated set of symptoms. It takes into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual and explores the aspects of today’s lifestyle that have a direct influence on the rise in chronic disease in modern Western society, critical environmental factors such as stress, diet and exposure to toxins. It encourages applying strategies such as nutrition, diet and exercise to both treat and prevent these illnesses.

Functional medicine shifts the way we see disease by viewing health conditions not based on symptoms but on root causes. It’s a view that understands the body as a complex ecosystem influenced by environment, lifestyle, diet, mindset, and more. It tells us health is a state of balance, and when our system is out of balance that’s when disease occurs. By focusing on the imbalances such as the immune and digestive systems, as we treat the underlying issues, the things we call diseases get better as a side-effect of creating health.

Functional Medicine enables physicians and other health professionals to practice proactive, predictive, personalized medicine and empowers patients to take an active role in their own health.


  • Researchers analyzed the results of four randomized trials comparing flexible sigmoidoscopy with no screening in nearly 460,000 patients aged 50 to 74. For every 1,000 patients who were screened, 0.3 colorectal cancer deaths were prevented at 5 years and 1.2 deaths at 10 years. The researchers calculated that to avoid one death from colorectal cancer, 1,000 people would need to be screened over 9.4 years. (
  • 70% of people who use computers and mobile devices experience problems, including eye strain and headaches. (VisionWatch special report: Digital Eye Fatigue.)
  • A 2013 study estimated that 180,000 deaths worldwide may be attributed to sweetened beverage consumption. The United States alone accounted for 25,000 deaths in 2010. (
  • 11% of Americans over age 12 take antidepressant medication. Less than a third of Americans who take a single antidepressant (as opposed to two or more) have seen a mental health professional in the past year. (
  • 68% of specialists receive no information from the primary care provider prior to the referral visit; 60 to 70% of referrals go unscheduled; and 25% of appointments are missed. (

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