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In today’s podcast, Dr. Alex Jimenez and Dr. Mario Ruja discuss the reasons why functional medicine is important and how it can safely and effectively improve overall health and wellness in a person.
What is Functional Medicine?
[00:00:06] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: Mario, how are you doing, bud? We’re talking about functional medicine today, and I want to get your point of view today in terms of functional medicine and discuss what functional medicine is for their population. We’ve been discussing the topics over the last couple of months, and we’ve been pointing out fibromyalgia, wellness care, metabolic syndrome, weight loss, basal metabolic rates. You and I have been discussing the issues affecting our communities, and these issues are such that they impact people’s lives. I know you had a passion for functional medicine as well as myself. What does functional medicine mean to your patients in your particular type of practice, Mario?
[00:00:54] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: Alex, this is a great question, and this is a very in-depth answer, so I want to create simplicity as always do for as many topics that we will deal with for months to come. Functional medicine creates synergy and clarity in symptom care and prevention of the diagnosed problem, plus management and efficiency in recovery. So what we’re dealing with is not only one cause, but we’re dealing with the circle of influence; as you all know, for example, let’s take depression or inflammation in functional medicine. One of the significant foundational conversations that we will talk about and address with all of our listeners and viewers is inflammation. OK? Another topic that that is very much in media is depression. If we look at inflammation and discuss that inflammation in itself is not treated unless you have a sports injury and then, you know, like a swollen ankle or swollen knee. Usually, the conversation goes something like this, you know, put some ice and take some anti-inflammatories, and we’re done. But really, inflammation is a very, very massive problem within our health system and health condition to all of us. Because if we look at the congruence of what inflammation is, inflammation now more than ever is the cause of many problems that we are dealing with right now, such as diabetes, fibromyalgia, such as, you know, we talked about metabolic syndrome such as, you know, another topic that we looked at is obesity. So, let’s look at these important topics. They all have a root, and this is functional medicine is about finding the root cause and addressing it compellingly, Alex, to not only wait until the diagnosed condition appears. This is why many of our viewers go every year to doctors, and they come out of their yearly evaluation or health evaluation, you know how you go in, and you go, Oh, I got my annual exam, and I did great. Well, did you? Did you do great? So what I’d like to ask you, Alex is how is it in our conversation, in your practice, how many patients come in and they go, well for the past two or three years, I’ve been gone to two, you know, my physician, and he told me I was OK. What does that mean, Alex?
What Are The Signs of Inflammation?
[00:04:18] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: What we’re finding out, Mario, is that the signs of inflammation are inflamology, if you can kind of call it that. Inflamology or inflamologist, whether you have an inflamed back, an insulin issue where you have reactive inflammation, rheumatoid, or some degenerative issues that you have, the inflammation affects us. All blood sugar issues are at the root of many inflammatory disorders. We’re finding out in the NCBI studies that the most important component of inflammation is sugar. At the root of inflammation, we’re finding more often than not, not just immunoglobulins, immunological agents in our body that are responsible, but, you know, eliciting catalyst of sugar as being one of the most significant causes of it. In our practice, because we are physical medicine doctors, we look for the cause. Now, sometimes it could be as simple as I fell off a tree. It could be that way. It could also be I could have an individual who’s saying, You know what? I have had nothing but pain over the last few years or someone who was actually at the threshold of pain and wonders why they launched an inflammatory episode such as sciatica or some rheumatoid episode, some brain fog. You could even say that’s associated with inflammation. Right? A study after study that you can know every day shows the connection between sugars, inflammation, insulin, diabetes, and a sedentary lifestyle. So when we look at a functional medicine approach, we have to include all the aspects that are included in medicine encompassing inflammation, endocrinology, neurology, and orthopedics, and this is what we do. You and I and what we have to do is bring this new awareness to the people of our communities because the word is functional medicine and in our world, what we look for is a doctor who’s going to look at us treat us individually. If I could be bold, I could say that if a doctor is going to not talk about nutrition and understand how a lifestyle spiritual mind-body has anything to do with your body or doesn’t have the time to go over your medical findings or explain to you line by line the presentations of a metabolic panel. Those are the panels that assess, you know, deep insights into the blood. Get a new doctor. It’s that simple. Get a new doctor. Find a new one that can sit down and teach you what’s going on. So functional medicine is a new beginning. It’s a new beginning. It’s been around for the last decade or so. It’s becoming really popular among the communities around the United States, understanding that there’s a connection between many different body components, from the metabolic issues to the neurological to the endocrinology, to the joint, the structure, the musculoskeletal system, the mind, and body. In terms of our practice, Mario, I’d say that the world is changing fast. People are becoming aware that we are not looking for a care process that fixes or starts to fix us when we become clinical because there are different stages, there’s subclinical and a lot of these people, you’ll hear of a pre-diabetes, and they start with metformin. How about trying to avoid getting there? And most of us can start with a good night and good exercise and good understanding, and good dynamics. I’d say it’s a huge impact, and it changes every type of practice. Gastroenterologists see this every day. Sadly, this process begins in the gut, but they are so rampant when they become clinical because of the disorders. Many gastroenterologists become surgeons, and they’re just removing guts and removing the intestine.
[00:08:24] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: You know, this, Alex, you know, I want to compliment and acknowledge the benefits of all of our colleagues. As physicians, we all start with the passion for healing the world, doing good, impacting, and doing our very best in our own specialty. Whether it’s orthopedics, physical medicine, chiropractic, or cardiology, we start with that. Unfortunately, due to the population and the data overload, I would say this is the excess in disease care, and there are different levels of disease care. You can see the amount of, you know, dialysis centers that are opening up everywhere. That’s a direct sign that we’re failing. You see all of the issues of type two diabetes, all of the secondary problems. So what’s happening is the overload in the supply and demand. It’s so high that our fellow physicians are can manage the disease. They manage the disease. I mean, they do not have half an hour to an hour to sit with one patient and to say strategically, you know, as we do, you know, strategically say, OK, where are you at? What is the lifestyle that you’re living? Here’s your metabolic panel. You know, a lot of times when we’re dealing with metabolic issues and inflammation, and especially in physical medicine, that’s what we’re we’re focusing on and impacting our community. We are looking at subclinical issues, right, Alex. And this is where we’re looking at, for example, vitamin D deficiencies in omega 3s, low thyroid are components that, again, because of the overload of the system, overload of the patient care. Most of our colleagues don’t have the time to do the background and the strategic planning. So again, they go to let’s take care of the disease. And you know what? You don’t have it yet. You’re fine. Here’s a handout. Eat better, and I’ll see you next year. Well, guess what happens? There’s a tremendous failure rate. This is where there’s an economic impact, right, Alex? Economic. And there’s a health impact because what’s happening is that most people can’t afford sickness care. They cannot afford failure. Because once you are in that triage, once you are in that world of I am diabetic, I have cancer, I have bowel dysfunction, and I have all of these things, you know, what’s happening? I have fatty liver. Once you get into that label, you know it isn’t easy to manage it and come out of it. So this is what I would say. Functional medicine, in my opinion, is the solution not only to preventing major health issues but also to maintaining your optimum health naturally. That means we’re minimizing heavy medication and heavy pharmaceutical use, which I think everyone wants. I mean, I believe that. I mean, I would not ask any one of my colleagues, you know, that practice cardiology or endocrinology or, you know, private practice or family practice and say, Well, what is your mission today? Do you want to prescribe more meds? No, none of them.
[00:12:41] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: To that point, I’d say that most doctors, when they start practicing, are a little bit more open to the options of medicine as choices and medications that are appropriate. As they get older, I’ve seen that they become much more conservative with their approaches surgically and with medications. Because we do understand that the number one component that heals our body is our body itself. Absolutely. We look at our structures and dynamics as we go through the process. We can lean heavily on the body by making it healthy, you know, by doing things that prevent disease and disorders before they arise. I constantly hear the world that they sense that they had a problem way in the past? They just pushed it off to this functional medicine to assess situations, immune responses, and inflammatory disorders before they become clinical.
[00:13:49] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: Yeah. Before they hit that threshold, you know, Alex, it’s all about hitting that threshold. You see, I read that analogy because people understand this. It’s like your car. Do you want to wait until the red light comes that says engine and then do something about it? No, that doesn’t make sense. So again, why do you do maintenance and diagnostics? Why? Because you want to prevent that wear and tear and that damage, because once they got that damage for us as the human, functional, biomechanical, bioenergetic, biochemical, and spiritual system that we have, which encompasses all of those platforms and verticals, we cannot go back and say, You know what, I think I’m going to get a rebuilt liver. I want to get a rebuilt spine. You know what, Alex? I have this problem with my low back L5, S1 disk extrusion. We’re just going to get a rebuilt lumbar region. We can’t do that.
Dr. Ruja Asks How To Take Care Of Our Bodies?
[00:14:59] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: You know, to your point there that you know, what’s impressive about the body. It’s its innate ability to recover. It has an incredible ability to get the body before it enters into a clinical state, even after it begins a clinical stage. Yes, even after it’s deep into a clinical condition, the body has an unbelievable ability at its own resources when you feed it the right stuff, when you do the right things, when you change your lifestyle, when you change your dynamics, maybe your environment, your lifestyle, your spirituality, dynamics that you’re going through. Stress levels and sleep patterns it has an ability that it recovers.
[00:15:42] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: I say, Alex, I call it. We are miracles. When I speak to my patients and do seminars and motivational talks to different companies and industries, I ask each person to look at the person next to them and realize that they’re looking at a miracle of 50 trillion cells, Alex. Fifty trillion cells work together to create a thought, start a movement, create a smile, and cry. And also to be resilient. And in that remarkable, miraculous God-given OK, because we’re just going, to be honest, today, OK? And on point. That is a miracle. I mean, it’s there are so many moving parts. There are so many variables that even the highest computer right now, even A.I., could not replicate a human being. It can come close. It could look like and act like, but it’s not there. Therefore, it is so important what you said. The most powerful thing that we can do for ourselves is taking care of our bodies before it becomes clinical. Even when it becomes clinical, Alex, we are so dynamic. We are so powerful that with the proper nutrition with the right panel receiving the data, see we deal with data. Alex, we’re not guessing. No, we’re not. Well, let’s see what happens. I’m not too fond of those conversations. Well, you know, we don’t talk to our patients say, Well, let’s see what happens. No, this is the plan. We need to take action, and these are things that you need to do. One hundred percent of what we do is empower the body to let it manifest that power of healing and recovery through specific nutritional supplements; there are very specific, very high-efficiency recommendations that are panels. We test them monthly or every three months or sometimes every six months because we want to be on point. We want to be the tip of the spear. We’re not into the conversation. You’re fine. I don’t want to be that. I cannot afford to talk to someone and say, Well, I hope you’re doing well, and I think you know you will. Or, you know, let’s see what happens. I’m not too fond of those conversations. I want to be on point, just like an athlete. You don’t have Bolt going to his trainer, and his manager says, Well, you know, let’s see what happens. Maybe you’ll qualify in four years for the Olympics. That conversation does not exist, Alex.
How To Ask Questions About Functional Medicine.
[00:18:53] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: You know, the conversation that we have with our patients nowadays is that we can first do deep clinical questionnaires and figure out what’s going on. I mean, these are not questions that are just simply hello. Would you mind telling me how you’re feeling, though? These are profound questions that come in.
[00:19:10] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: How many?
[00:19:11] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: There’s only about a good four to five hundred basic questions and deep questions. When I say deep questions, when we look at an individual, we look at them as if they were a domino. But behind that domino, there are hundreds of dominoes. There’s a story; there’s a history; there’s a dynamics; there’s a beginning. There’s a life pattern, episodes, events in lives that have changed their outcomes. Emotions that have changed. That may not be visible to that individual, that one present individual we have. But in their past, one has traumas past, and once we assess that story and analyze it. Then from there, we do some blood work, and we can go all the way down. Mario, you and I go down to the genomics of it. We see the genes because these genes are the actual things that produce the enzymes that make our pancreas function at a certain rate. I guess you could call it the oomph of the body’s ability to react. The blueprint, the expression yes. Yeah. So the way expresses. So today, what we didn’t have 30 years ago when we started practicing 20, 25 years ago was the world of genomics. We can understand if a person has a certain gene pattern genome, we can see what kind of phenotype expressions they have as a result of it. Taking it from there, we can see the story, and we can assess what type of dietary changes and what kind of foods we have to figure out what to put inside of their lifestyle. So there’s a lot of stuff that we’re going to be discussing, you and I Mario, and what we’re going to be going through it, and we’re going to go down from the genes to the kitchen. I mean, it seems like it’s a good book called From the Genes to the Kitchen, but it starts there. The food, the design, the predispositions, the type of feeding patterns. We realize that the nutritional standards of the 70s are catastrophic. The diet plan that was designed for our children and what we grew up with was the same diet plan that they give a pig, and it expands, and we wonder why that level of dietary recommendation went south. Now we have new standards and applying them, the new standards and the new changes depending on an individual and their issues are what we’re talking about. So functional medicine assesses each dynamic and develops a plan to give individuals tools, ideas, and dynamics. As we work the individual processes for that person, we can find out what’s wrong with them and tweak it to the point where the person finally gets control. We have to be, you know, there’s no question we’re not a very large fitness facility right now, the PUSH Fitness Center. We can see that exercise is always a part of recovery in some capacity, even if it’s just, you know, simple, sedentary exercises. We got to get the body moving. That’s one component that we discuss. So as we put all these things together, you and I will come up with some dynamic changes for our public and our patients so that we can give them, I guess, nuggets of information quality takeaways, as you call it to change our lives. And as we do that, we’re going to make an impact, and the world has changed. The world has changed, and today’s doctors need to be mindful of the nutritional dynamics related to whether you’re a cardiologist, an endocrinologist, or an orthopedist. It matters. And if not, then in today’s world, you can see doctors running with P.A., health coaches, health nutritionists to be able to take up those deep, complex questions and help individuals get better. I look forward to going over all this with you, Mario, and I know you’ve been excited about this process. You particularly like it in the sense of working with athletes, with the young athletes and the dynamics of getting our youth than before they get their bad habits, right? Because when we teach our children how to eat, you know, this goes on forever. They don’t always pay attention to what we say, but they pay attention to how we teach them to eat.How much water to drink. They may fight you. But eventually, it kicks, and they realize the aspects of nutritional dynamics in their lives. And that matters. So from the youth to the elderly, it matters. We can change people’s lives. So I know you got some thoughts to say before we part here. But yeah, I wanted to let El Paso people know that we’re going to be here. We’re going to be here often. We can’t tell you the exact times, but it’s usually when we pop up on your feeds, and we hope that it’s the information you guys need. It’s changing the world, and we look forward to being a positive impact, or, as they say, the change we want to see in the future in the world, right?
[00:24:27] Dr. Mario Ruja DC*: Absolutely. And in closing, what I want to share is it’s Sunday today, Alex, and it’s the first day of March. I’m telling you, this year is just exploding. And I feel the energy 2020 March 1st, and the message is, you know, we are here to impact the next generation. We are here to leave a legacy. Our children are our legacy to leave them better than ourselves, allow them to be magnificent, healthier, happier, and more prosperous than we were. And we are here to empower not only them but also to empower the healing community, all of the physicians, compliment them, and assist them in the highest order of ultimate functional medicine. Thank you.
[00:25:30] Dr. Alex Jimenez DC*: We’ll leave it there, guys, and God bless and have a great Sunday evening and enjoy yourselves.
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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, RN* CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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