Lifestyle and Nutrition

whole-foods

Of the 10 leading causes of disability in the United States, 4 are mental disorders – one of the highest rates in the world. In fact, approximately 1 in 4 American adults have been diagnosed with a mental disorder. Mental illness rates have seen a stunning rise in the past 50 years: Five- to eightfold for depression and/or anxiety, two- to threefold for ADHD, and a shocking twenty- to thirtyfold for autistic spectrum disorders. From 2000 to 2010 alone, the rate of ASD has doubled.

It is no coincidence that epidemics of obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, cardiovascular disease, and brain disease parallel those seen in the mental health of our children and young adults. Indeed, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 fatty acids are often exceptionally deficient in people suffering from mental disorders, and many studies have shown that daily supplements can alleviate symptoms.

But, this may only be a small part of the story. Deficiencies alone are unlikely to explain the huge rise in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. More and more research suggests that environmental toxins, industrial food-like substances, and other lifestyle exposures have major deleterious effects on the body and brain. As the evidence accrues, physicians must consider the impact of these factors on their patients’ health and treat accordingly.

The doctors of tomorrow will rely not solely on treating symptoms of disease with pharmaceuticals. Rather, they will act as guides and educators for those who decide to take charge of their own health. Physicians trained in functional medicine, integrative medicine, lifestyle and longevity medicine are at the frontier of a new paradigm that embodies a deeper understanding of the inherent wisdom of Mother Nature, and its impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing.