Functional Medicine: The 7 Keys to Optimum Health

Key One – Nutrition

Food is not just about calories – it is information. Nutrition is the provision to cells and organisms of the materials necessary to support life. The cells of the body respond to the type of nutrients you put into it. The fork, therefore, is the most important tool you can use in your journey to optimum health.

The quality of the food you put onto your fork determines the quality of the basic building blocks of your health. There is no debate that whole, unprocessed food is preferable to convenience meals with all their chemical additives. What you put into your body sets up a series of changes that determine what happens next. A healthy body requires real food and your visit to Dr Haffejie will include an exploration on the quality of your nutrition.

“Let your food be your medicine, your medicine be your food” – Hippocrates

Key Two – Digestive System

Have you noticed a connection between your stomach and your emotions? Many people experience acid reflux, constipation, gas or even irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and may have wondered if it is related to stress levels. Well it’s true: the gut is known as our ‘second brain’ because it contains a complex system of neurotransmitters that does much more than simply handle digestion. The gut plays a key role in preventing or creating certain diseased states throughout our body. A healthy inner tube is central to overall health. Dr Haffejie likens the gut to a sewer where our food is processed and this sewer is contained within a barrier that is only one cell thick. The health of this barrier determines what nutrients are absorbed and what toxins, allergens and microbes are kept out. A leak in this barrier may result in toxins affecting the entire immune system.

An Optimum Health analysis will help you to recognize the common symptoms of digestive problems, their role in your overall health and how to prevent them.

Key Three – Detoxification Pathways

The next logical step after your digestive system is learning how to optimize your detoxification system. Have you experienced symptoms like fatigue, muscle and joint pain, sinus congestion, food cravings, water retention, skin problems, bad breathe or pms? These are all common indications of waste build up. The aim is to figure out how to enhance our capacity to get rid of waste while minimizing our exposure to toxins. The importance of environmental detoxification cannot be underestimated. Evidence points towards many environmental toxins such as chemicals in plastics playing a role in disease. Although short-term exposure may be harmless, over time this exposure may become a toxin to the body. New evidence suggests that environmental as well as internal toxins play a role in obesity, one of the common symptoms of modern lifestyles that need not exist.

Removing toxins from your body’s environment is an important step in the process that Dr Haffejie will help you to manage.

Key Four – Energy Production

Do you feel tired and worn out? It may be that your metabolic engine is burnt out and in need of a tune up. Energy is the fundamental basic principle of all life. The key is in the mitochondria which are responsible for converting food and oxygen into energy – this is your metabolism. Think of the mitochondria as tiny factories, converting food and oxygen into energy. These factories are managed like a business, says Dr Haffejie. The aim is to maximize efficiency, minimize overheads and increase profit (energy). Many factors may contribute to bad management, including the effects of free radicals which cause damage to the mitochondria powerhouses. In this case, a management team of anti-oxidants may be brought in to help. Another way of looking at is, says Dr Haffejie, is to remember that when you are cut, the sutures may hold and align the edges but the body itself does the repair work. The mitochondria are like the business centre that deploys the necessary energy to do this.

Understanding your own metabolism is like taking an inventory of your business and Dr Haffejie will tailor a solution to fit your unique needs.

Key Five – Inflammation and Immune balance

Long term inflammation is the common process implicated in modern diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and asthma. Inflammation is part of the complex biological response of vascular tissues to harmful stimuli. Short term inflammation is necessary because without it, wounds would not heal. But prolonged or chronic inflammation acts like a slow burning fire throughout the body. Integrated medicine recognises that an imbalanced immune system is the root of chronic inflammation. There are many things that can be done to cool this inflammation in the body and restore balance.

Dr Haffejie will determine each patient’s precise set of tools necessary (exercise, food, nutraceuticals) to help douse this fire.

Key Six – Hormone Balance

Dr Haffejie will also assess and then help you to manage any symptoms of hormonal imbalance. Balancing the biochemistry of your body is a complex exercise unique to each individual, so standard tests may appear ‘normal’ for the average but may not reflect what is optimal for you. Common problems in hormonal imbalances include too much insulin (sugar), a dangerously high level of cortisol and adrenalin (stress) and too little thyroid hormone. These interconnected hormones in turn also affect other hormones in our body, including the sex hormones. Balancing these hormones for optimum health plays a large role in disease prevention, as well as in decelerating the aging process. Why settle for a ‘normal’ balance for a 70 year old, when in fact it is possible to create the optimal balance of a much younger person?

The Optimum Healthspan Institute uses bio-identical hormone replacement therapies to optimize your progesterone, testosterone, DHEA and thyroid levels.

Key Seven – The Body/Mind Connection

The mind and body are interconnected by a number of biological processes. Stress has a physical impact on your body that may become life-threatening over time. Regular exercise and calming your mind helps your body to sustain optimum health.

In the triad of mental, physical and emotional health, all are important. Restoring balance to your body will not only help to avoid chronic disease, but will also help you to feel revitalised, vibrant and optimistic – just as you did at the peak of your health.

“The doctor of the future will give no medicine, but will interest her or his patients in the care of the human frame, in a proper diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” – Thomas A. Edison (Inventor 1847 – 1931)

This is why Dr Haffejie lives and teaches his mantra: Live Healthier and Younger, Longer.

Share this page