Functional Medicine’s Role In Brain Function

Functional medicine is a form of alternative medicine that emphasizes food and nutrition as an essential part of healing. It focuses on the “root causes” of diseases, looking at interactions between the environment and the gastrointestinal, endocrine, and immune systems.

Your Brain Is Like The President

As a neurologist, my top priority will always be the brain. The brain has the hardest job; running everything in our bodies. It is responsible for the quality of our thinking, our mood, and coordinating how we interact with our environment. It’s also accountable for how our digestion, hormones, and metabolism work. The brain requires serious help to take care of all its responsibilities. That is where functional medicine comes in.

Functional Medicine Is Like Your Brain’s Health Coach

Our brain needs two critical things to be happy and healthy: fuel and exercise.
Functional medicine is the fuel component. It’s like your brain’s health coach. Its’ sole job is to make sure the mind is healthy and has all the energy it needs to do its job. Functional medicine focuses on how well your guts, immune system, and hormones work. All of these pieces create necessary building blocks for a healthy brain.

Just like your body, the food you put into your brain dictates how you function and how well you’re able to exercise. For example, if you eat pizza and drink a soda and then go to the gym, you will feel weighed down and probably sick to your stomach. Pizza and soda are not proper FUEL for your body to perform. The same concept applies to your brain. You have to make sure you are getting the right fuel for your body to have optimal brain function.

Exercise Is Like Your Brain’s Personal Trainer

The exercise component of this is very similar to the exercise you get at the gym. Just like a muscle, your brain needs to be regularly worked to become stronger. For example if you workout your arms 30 minutes a day for a couple weeks you will start to see changes in your arm muscles. The same concept applies to the brain. If you exercise the area of your brain that coordinates digestion after a couple weeks you may notice better bowel movements or less stomach pain. I use specific exercises called “brain-based therapies” to strengthen areas of your brain that are weak.

The key is: exercise without proper fuel equals no results.

One of the techniques I use in my office is called “brain-based therapy,” which is an exercise for your brain. I determine brain-based therapies based on the comprehensive neurological exam I give each of my patients. I customize various brain-based exercises just for you, to strengthen the areas of your brain that are weak. The remarkable part about brain-based exercises is that, if done regularly, patients see drastic changes in their lives. To stress this point one more time: You can change your life and your health with the right brain exercises because YOUR BRAIN CONTROLS EVERYTHING.

What If I Already Eat Healthily?

Many of my patients who come in have already done a significant amount of work on their diet. It’s also common for them to be working with a functional medicine doctor or naturopath. They end up coming to my office because they don’t see the results they want. They are missing the most vital piece of the puzzle: the brain.

If you have the functional medicine part well taken care of and you’re still not getting the results you want, your next step is to look at how well your brain is coordinating these areas. Once you have both pieces — your mind and the functional medicine component — working correctly, with a little bit of regular exercise, you can transform your life!

Here’s to a better life,

Dr. Steve Puckette