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Functional Medicine Foundation – Soil for the Soul

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Functional medicine continues to gain traction as an evolving science.  Those of us that have been working in this field for numerous years appreciate the transition that some doctors are making to benefit their patients.  It is refreshing to see this upsurge in interest in an approach to patient care that centers on good nutrition and lifestyle habits.  And who wins?  The patient.  This is one of the most rewarding things I routinely get to experience.  The pleasure of seeing a patient succeed and point their life on a different trajectory.

As satisfied as I am with the ground that has been made and the growing movement of functional medicine, I am reminded by thought leaders before me that we have to at times stop and ask questions.  We must re-examine what we are doing.  Folks, we are at a crossroads.  Do we forge ahead with a deeper dive into science.  Absolutely.  Yet, we should not proceed without the awareness of what really brings health.  It is not a diet or supplement, or even the latest scientific discovery.  It is below our feet and we often call it dirt.

God Made Dirt . . . Kinda

According to the Bible, God made everything perfect in his image.  Well that would also mean the soil.  Soil is perfect.  Dirt as we often think about it is barren ground with little to know vegetation.  It is lifeless or minimally lifeless.  This is not what the Lord intended.  He created a place of abundance for us on earth.  That abundance can be found in the soil.  It has life.  Plants grow, animals trample on it, critters crawl on it.  If you are asking what any of this has to do with functional medicine, be patient and learn to think about functional medicine differently.

Here is the connection.  Functional medicine is all about restoring, you guessed it, function.  The more function you have, the more life and energy promoting activities that are occurring within.  The more of a reduction in function you have, the closer you are to death, literally.  If I were to use an analogy, you want to be a rich and lively soil, not a barren and lifeless plot of dirt. And this my friends is the link that you need to latch on to.

Good Health Starts with Soil

What creates optimal function?  The answers to this question are numerous.  In reality though, there is only one true answer.  That answer is soil.  I realize that this is different than others say or think.  Often ideas of hormones, exercise and a good diet are the top answers.  So if these are among the most common answers, why do I proclaim that soil is the functional medicine foundation of good health.

The answer is simple and should not be over-thought.  Nutrient rich food comes from soil.  Again, don’t confuse soil and dirt.  In contrast to what I stated earlier, soil is rich with life.  Soil life equates to flourishing plants that are pulling up nutrients from the ground.  There are microbes (bacteria and fungus) that are building a network to supply nutrition to plants far beyond what any root system alone can do.  This network creates more function.  More function in plants that you eat, and animals eat, provides higher levels of nutrition which promotes optimal function within.  If food is not nutrient dense, all aspects of your life suffer.  Hormones become imbalanced.  Recovery from exercise is poor making it less effective.  The take away is that without good soil you cannot ultimately have good function.

Organic – A Delusion of Good Health

So you are basically talking about organic, right?  There is merit to the term organic.  So we will not throw out all aspects of it.  However, I personally am not satisfied with my food being simply organic.  I am not in a camp by myself.  Most of that are blessed to be involved in food production and animal husbandry hold fast to the notion that we do a better job and place more attention on quality over quantity, including what is labeled as organic.

A food labeled as organic gives no insight into what it was grown in.  Was it dirt or soil?  We don’t know.  Food grown in soil is nutrient rich.  Nutrient rich soil is not part of the mandate for organic food, especially when produced on an industrial scale.

Building the Functional Medicine Foundation at the Farmers Market

Feeling confused about what do to next.  You want good function and you want nutrient rich food grown in soil, not just dirt, right?  You have two options.  Grow it yourself or work with the farmer that builds their soil quality and cares about your nutritional status.  I realize most will choose option two and turn to the farmer.  There is nothing wrong with this option and doing so makes you more proactive that the vast majority of the population who give little attention to food source or quality.

I have talked in the past about questions to ask at the farmers market.  Asking how someone works to build there soil is another vital question you should consider.  Is soil quality being built, leaving us with nutrient rich options at the farmers market, or is soil being depleted creating lifeless dirt over time, and thus lifeless food.  Fortunately, most vendors at the farmers market inherently get the importance of building soils.  If not directly for the health of humans, then for the health of their plants.  Regardless the underlying thought process you benefit from sourcing at the local farmers market and building a functional medicine foundation that promotes optimal bodily function.

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