Biochemical Individuality in Functional Health
Functional health focuses on global health by emphasizing the personalized and systems-oriented approach found in the functional health matrix. At the heart of this is the consideration of everyone as a “biochemically individual” patient. Just what does this mean?
Definition of “Biochemical Individuality”
This term represents a concept that the human body is a composite of the physiological structure, nutritional and chemical makeup of each individual as influenced by their environment, lifestyle and genes. According to some geneticists we have control over 80 – 97% of our genetic expressions. Genes are turned on and off by nutrition and environment. The term was coined in 1956 by Dr. Roger Williams, so it is not a new concept, just a newly used concept.
Functions of Biochemical Individuality in functional health
This term explains how the body individually reacts to stimuli such as:
- Detoxification rates of drugs and chemicals;
- Whether the harmful chemical homocysteine will cause heart damage or not;
- How cancer genes respond;
- Why some people are drug-addicted or get certain diseases like diabetes;
- Why low-fat diets cause some people to gain weight;
- One person needs a higher level of a nutrient than another person to remain healthy.
Determining the Biochemical Individuality often Require Specific Tests
The most accurate tests to determine the nutritional status of the blood is not always a blood test. To determine individuality, often a “challenge” test or other more specific tests are needed.
For example, a simple blood test of B12 levels may show values in a normal range but testing for antibodies to vitamin B12 may uncover a problem that otherwise would not be seen. Antibodies against B12 mean you may have adequate B12 levels in the blood, but you also have substances causing the B12 not to work. In addition, folate and B12 should be measured at the same time because deficiencies of both can cause similar symptoms. The Schillings test tells the practitioner if you are absorbing that normal level of B12 properly. The methylmalonic test is used to detect early B12 deficiency that would not be picked up by a regular blood test.
Each of us may have a unique “barcode” that separates us as individuals buried in our genes. The mind, emotions, behavior and physiological functioning are all determined to a great extent by the interaction of this “barcode” with nutrition. For example, the progression of metabolic syndrome is largely dependent on gene/nutrition/environment interactions. The importance of nutrition cannot be overstated. Studies have shown that personalized dietary instruction improves insulin sensitivity in those with metabolic syndrome, a disease for which no one treatment is entirely effective.
This brings into question the adequacy of the Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) levels established by the government and based on “normal” people. The RDI levels did not consider biochemical individuality.
These are diseases that result from genetically determined metabolic needs not being met through diet and/or supplements. The genes may have been altered by medications, the environment or other nutritional factors. Nevertheless, if the nutrient in question is not provided, disease will develop.
The consideration of the biochemical individuality of each person is integral to a comprehensive functional health assessment. The implementation of patient-specific treatment plans based on biochemical individuality is essential to success in patient outcomes.
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