By Sarah A LoBisco, ND

image photo : Simple icon: Kid(s) running

I will admit, sometimes the biochemistry of dis-ease can be complex with patients and I enjoy the challenge of digging into their individualized SNPs and genetic predispositions.

image photo : Barber

Yet, even the most versed functional medical doctor whizzes will agree that to make these complex biochemical pathways optimally function, basic building blocks of wellness need to be in place. Therefore, first priority in wellness is to evaluate that the following basic necessities are met. These basics are simple; and due to this, they tend to be overlooked. They include:

  • Proper nutritional support with an individualized diet and supplement plan that suites specific biochemical needs (due to disease process or genetics)
  • Rest
  • Nurturing relationships
  • A sense of spiritual connection and purpose
  • Emotional well-being

If one can balance all the factors above successfully and address the weak links, the base foundation for any complex issue is firmly in place. From this groundwork, additional support can be added as necessary.

image photo : Balance

The exciting news is that after billions of dollars spent on wonder drugs and nutraceuticals, medicine seems to be in a consensus this is not enough for true health care and foundation is important! It is now being brought to light that the sole aim of suppressing symptoms vs. treating the individual is only as effective as modulating the lifestyle and predisposing factors that set the stage for these imbalances to begin with.

In a recent report, the Institute of Medicine reiterated the aim in medicine for better efficacy in health care delivery using a united front:

WASHINGTON — America’s health care system has become too complex and costly to continue business as usual, says a new report from the Institute of Medicine.  Inefficiencies, an overwhelming amount of data, and other economic and quality barriers hinder progress in improving health and threaten the nation’s economic stability and global competitiveness, the report says.  However, the knowledge and tools exist to put the health system on the right course to achieve continuous improvement and better quality care at lower cost, added the committee that wrote the report.

Incremental upgrades and changes by individual hospitals or providers will not suffice, the committee said.  Achieving higher quality care at lower cost will require an across-the-board commitment to transform the U.S. health system into a “learning” system that continuously improves by systematically capturing and broadly disseminating lessons from every care experience and new research discovery.  It will necessitate embracing new technologies to collect and tap clinical data at the point of care, engaging patients and their families as partners, and establishing greater teamwork and transparency within health care organizations.  Also, incentives and payment systems should emphasize the value and outcomes of care.

What is the best way to achieve value and outcome in health care?

image photo : Healthy lifestyle

Below are examples of how to proper lifestyle choices and providing support systems can be a key ingredient in this complex problem. According to the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) World Cancer Congress 2012:

More than 50% of cancer could be prevented if people simply implemented what is already known about cancer prevention, according to a researcher here at the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) World Cancer Congress 2012.

Graham Colditz, PD, DrPH, from the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, reported that a number of interventions, largely involving lifestyle behaviors, but also involving higher-cost interventions in high-income countries, could prevent a large proportion of cancers in 15 to 20 years if widely applied.

Among the “biggest buys” from lifestyle intervention is smoking cessation.

“One third of cancer in high-income countries is caused by smoking,” Dr. Colditz said. If smoking rates could be reduced to the current levels in Utah [about 11%], the United States could see a 75% reduction in smoking-related cancers in 10 to 20 years — a target that Dr. Colditz feels is feasible in countries where smoking rates have already declined considerably.

Similarly, it is estimated that being overweight or obese causes approximately 20% of cancer today. If people could maintain a healthy body mass index (BMI), the incidence of cancer could be reduced by approximately 50% in 2 to 20 years. (A healthy BMI for cancer prevention is from 21 to 23 kg/m², as other speakers pointed out.)

Dr. Colditz, among others, estimates that poor diet and lack of exercise are each associated with about 5% of all cancers. Improvement in diet could reduce cancer incidence by 50% and increases in physical activity could reduce cancer incidence by as much as 85% in 5 to 20 years.

Another well-written article in ModernHealthCare Practitioner also stressed the importance of lifestyle:

Cancer is responsible for 25% of US deaths and is the second leading cause of mortality.2 Research suggests that about one-third of all cancer deaths are attributable to poor nutrition, physical inactivity, and overweight or obesity;2 and these risk factors may account for up to 80% of large bowel, breast, and prostate cancers.3,4

Therefore, implementing lifestyle changes can provide the little bit of love to your body for a recipe to lasting wellness. The tools of functional and naturopathic medicine can work with these changes and add further support in a personalized health program!

Now, a common question is, “what about if I want to make these changes, but my brain won’t stop my hand from reaching into my sugar bowl or liquor cabinet?

Read about the biochemical sabotages that can be supported in my past blogs on cravings and how what you crave could be the trigger and perpetuate one’s health and mood issues on my blog.

Next week, I’m going to discuss some more easy health tips and the most shocking contributor to health. (Hint: it has nothing to do with sugar, gluten, or even diet!)


The National Academies. Transformation of Health System Needed to Improve Care and Reduce Costs. (Press Release September 6, 2012). Online at:

John Neustadt, ND. Western Diet and Inflammation. Integrative Medicine. 5(4):Aug/Sept 2006. Modern Healthcare Practitioner. July 12, 2012.

Pam Harrison. Lifestyle Changes Could Prevent 50% of Common Cancers. Medscape Medical News from the: Union for International Cancer Control (UICC) World Cancer Congress 2012. 9/5/12.