Functional Medicine: Your Success Depends on Your Diet

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Functional Medicine in Daily Life

I was at the Farmers Market with a friend the other day. We were having a great time, laughing, talking, hanging out, when she suddenly began to look as though a cloud had come over her face. She looked like she was angry and sad. I thought she might cry at any moment. I asked her what was wrong and she couldn’t tell me. Then I realized that although we’d been there for a while, she hadn’t eaten anything yet. I asked her when she last had any food. Her breakfast was plain toast, 4 hours before.

How often have you felt emotional or upset out of the blue but didn’t know why. It may stem from an emotional issue but wouldn’t you be surprised if it were because you hadn’t had breakfast? This is not an uncommon problem. You may not even know that your ability to focus is related to what you’re eating and when.

According to a study by the International Labour Office (ILO) “Poor diet on the job is costing countries around the world up to 20 per cent in lost productivity, either due to malnutrition… or the excess weight and obesity afflicting an equal number mostly in industrialized economies.”

I’ve been practicing medicine for almost 30 years now. I have consistently seen how our physical body influences our emotions significantly, and in turn affect our success at the job and in life.

Diet Affects Mood & Focus

Rose was at work. Suddenly she realized that she couldn’t focus. She left work feeling weak, almost too tired to grab dinner. She stopped for dinner on her way home. Upon eating her burger she realized that she had allowed her blood sugar to get too low causing her inability to function optimally at work. Mid-way through her meal she was feeling her usual self again.

Nina was out with friends at a vegetarian restaurant one night. She didn’t like the food so she had a little bowl of zucchini soup but nothing else. Two hours later, she was hungry but didn’t want to bother to get real food, so she ordered some french fries and onion rings. Within one hour she was crying and upset, blaming it on stress from work. Later she was able to see that missing dinner coupled with not eating good food, had affected her emotions much more than she thought they would.

Insulin resistance is the step before you become diabetic. When you have your blood sugar going up and down like a seesaw, your body has a hard time responding to the changes causing the cells to stop recognizing insulin when it is coming by. Eventually the constant up and down leads to diabetes.

Eat better to be more successful

What if our success, our ability to focus, and our ability to have successful relationships were dependent on our body functioning at its best. It’s a two way street. If you take good care of your body, you will feel better which will help you function better in your every day life.

If you are feeling weak, ill, or tired, it may be that you need to eat. Protein is my quick and easy solution to regain your strength and start feeling good again. Protein digests more slowly so it allows blood sugar to stay stable longer. Slices of chicken in your salad, or a bowl of rice and beans could be what you need to feel energized and powerful again.

My friend finally had lunch a few minutes after we figured out that there was no emotional reason for her change in behavior. Her mood improved within ten minutes of eating a turkey sandwich and we were able to go on about our day.

Try the experiment yourself. When you’re not feeling well, ask yourself what you ate most recently. Did you eat protein? Try and see if that improves how you feel.

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