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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — Flu may be seasonal in the American and European continents but not so in countries like Malaysia.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre infectious disease unit head Dr Petrick Periyasamy said even though there were spikes during the monsoon season in the northern and southern areas of Malaysia, it was best to stay vigilant all year round.

“It is technically all year round because of the weather,” he said in advising people to remain vigilant for the illness.

“I think a lot of people do not realise the impact of the flu actually. Most of them might confuse the flu with the common cold where you only get a stuffy nose, sneezing and sore throat and they would usually wait it out.”

“But the flu or Influenza is more serious because aside from getting fever, cough and experiencing fatigue, those in the high risk group can actually develop complications.”

He said this included being prone to seizures or getting meningitis, lung pneumonia, severe muscle pain and heart failure.

High risk groups were usually children less than five years old and patients above the age of 65.

Apart from that, people with medical conditions such as heart, liver or lungs problems as well as people who take steroids and pregnant ladies are also categorised as high risk.

Those in this group have a higher chance of developing other serious symptoms if they were to be infected by the flu.

A report by the World Health Organisation states that the Influenza virus or commonly known as the flu has a whopping five million severe cases and results in 650,000 deaths yearly. Dr Petrick also highlighted that the flu was constantly misinterpreted with the common cold and it was important to recognise the symptoms.

“Once recognised, it is best for them to see a doctor immediately because the Influenza virus is best treated in the first 48 hours.”

“That is the best time to take the medication because the medication will work very well in the next two or three days,” he said.

In Malaysia, the amount of seasonal flu injections given is around 1.5 per cent of the general population, which is very low.

Dr Petrick and his team conducted a surveillance study on Influenza rate around the Klang Valley and Selangor and found that the Influenza rate for outpatients was 25 percent.

It is 15 per cent for hospitalised patients but this was based on surveillance with the actual numbers might be higher.

“The reason we’re not very sure is probably because the test itself is not thoroughly done.”

“Because it’s just like a Covid test where you have to go through swab test and not many people want to do it

“Plus it cost a bit of money to pay for the test, so people would rather just treat you with something rather than to test you, so we really don’t have any accurate numbers of our Influenza rate,” Dr Petrick told Malay Mail.

Most of the people who took flu shots were usually avid travellers or those who worked overseas and high risk groups.

Another recurring problem about the flu in the country was that most Malaysians did not want to bear the cost of vaccination while there were also the anti-vaxxers.

Dr Petrick also said the current Influenza antiviral being used in hospitals are only 40 to 60 per cent effective compared to medication like the Roche Malaysia Sdn Bhd’s newly-launched Xofluza (baloxavir marboxil).

The medication can reduce virus detection up to 50 per cent of the time whereas the normal antiviral can still detect the virus 90 per cent of the time after one day of being taken.

Xofluza, which needs to be taken only once, is also designed to attack the source of the virus which reduces the production of the virus within 24 hours.

“In a way what it means for us doctors is that we can probably reduce the chance of transmission of the virus to other people much faster.

“Because if you get influenza, you can pass the virus for seven days or even one day before the symptoms.”

“So, I can be well today, but I can still transmit the virus and only get the symptoms the next day.”


How to build a better, healthier breakfast bowl

October 9, 2020 | News | No Comments

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — It’s the weekend. Finally we have time for ourselves. To do what we haven’t the chance to even attempt during the work week. It’s a blessing if we don’t waste it.

Finally we have time to head to the gym. No longer will we neglect our barbell squats and our bench presses. So how do we reward ourselves?

With a gargantuan platter of greasy breakfast foods, perhaps? Sunny-side-up eggs, crispy bacon and grilled sausages, hot buttered toast, all drenched with copious amounts of syrup.

Why not? Surely we deserve the calories after such a hard workout.

But the weekend also means more time to spend on breakfast. Why not use the opportunity to build a better breakfast bowl, one designed to provide your hungry body with the nutrition it needs?

And no, we don’t have to drop by a smoothie bowl kiosk. Times like these, let us save where we can. We may investigate the contents of our fridge and our pantry; our larder isn’t as bare as we imagine it to be.

Begin with something creamy as the foundation. Greek yoghurt offers more protein than normal yoghurt as it has been strained. For those who exercise frequently, a scoop or two of whey protein powder here makes for an interesting change from the usual post-workout shake.

Rather than instant oats (too starchy) or rolled oats (cooking required), why not try some overnight steel cut oats? Made at home, these are nutty, chewy and toothsome. Full of fibre, particularly beta glucan, it’s a heart healthy choice.

Some fresh fruits wouldn’t go amiss. Use whatever you enjoy best. My usual go-to are blueberries, a veritable superfruit.

I’ve run out of these, however. But bananas (high in potassium, which may help lower blood pressure) and kiwi fruit (full of vitamin C, which boosts the immune system) are nutrition powerhouses in their own right and delicious to boot.

Those of us who spend too much time staring at the screens of our various devices will surely benefit from a sprinkling of goji berries, rich in antioxidants such as zeaxanthin that protect our eyes.

Everyone knows that matcha is good for us but most of us would balk at the intricate ceremony required to whisk this vibrant powdered green tea into a bowl of frothy brew. Why not just include a dusting of it over your breakfast bowl, now a veritable nutritional dynamo?

One final thing: Let’s not forget the almost requisite addition of honey or maple syrup, if only for that gooey, oozing factor?

Why not drizzle some extra virgin olive oil to complete your breakfast bowl instead? Yes, you’ve heard it right — some spicy, sometimes grassy flavoured extra virgin olive oil. We have enough sugars from the fruits; it’s time for some healthy fats.

The weekend is a blessing, as is our first meal of the day. Let’s not waste it.


Perhaps the only tip we’d require to build a breakfast bowl — more preparation and assembly than anything else since no cooking is required – is to take it slow. Build every layer, every constituent part, one at a time.

Note also that whey protein powder tends to be flavoured — whether vanilla, strawberry, chocolate, espresso or even cookies & cream. So there could be a danger of it clashing with the other ingredients.

Safest, then, to choose a flavour you’d enjoy drinking as a protein shake. If all else fails, go with vanilla or even the dreaded unflavoured whey protein powder – horrible mixed with water alone in a post-workout shake but the sweetness of the fruits will prevent that same fate here.

Speaking of fruits, I have used golden kiwi as it is higher in vitamin C and folate, though admittedly the deep green of the classic kiwi is utterly appealing especially when contrasted with the other colours in the breakfast bowl.

Given the plethora of other ingredients, the ripeness of your bananas aren’t really an issue: if overripe, your breakfast bowl will lean towards the sweeter end of the spectrum; if unripe, well, that’s lots of resistant starch to aid your digestion.

It’s win/win either way. As a matter of fact, a breakfast bowl like this ought to win-win-win all the way!


Unlike my other recipes, here I will only list the ingredients. The quantities used are entirely up to your personal preference. I use rather generous glugs of extra virgin olive oil, for instance, that might scare away a newbie to adding something rarely associated with fresh, sweet fruits. Use as much or as little as you like.

• Greek yoghurt

• Whey protein powder

• Overnight steel cut oats (for the recipe, click here)

• Bananas, sliced into coins

• Kiwi fruit, sliced into coins

• Goji berries

• Matcha powder

• Extra virgin olive oil


Begin with a bowl large enough for all your ingredients or, quite honestly, your appetite. Spoon Greek yoghurt into the bowl to form the foundation. Add a scoop or two of your favourite whey protein powder. Stir until the protein powder is well incorporated into the yoghurt.

Next add a few spoonfuls of your overnight steel cut oats. If you’ve forgotten to prepare them the night before, don’t worry. You may skip this step; you’d certainly be getting plenty of fibre from the fruits.

Add a layer of sliced bananas, followed by your sliced kiwi fruit. Sprinkle goji berries over everything, followed by a generous dusting of matcha powder and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve immediately.


Front-line healthcare workers, children and older adults should receive priority if or when a COVID-19 vaccine is available, according to the result of a survey of U.S. adults published Tuesday by JAMA Network Open.

Ninety-two percent of respondents indicated that front-line clinicians treating patients infected with the new coronavirus should be vaccinated first, while 81% said younger people and seniors need to be at or near the top of the list, the data showed.

Since the start of the pandemic, health workers and older adults have been at increased risk for infection compared to other demographic groups.

Although children generally have lower risk, youngsters who are infected face the possibility serious complications, including Kawasaki-like disease.

“Our findings demonstrate that Americans do perceive that high risk of death is an important criterion for vaccine allocation,” study co-author Sarah Gollust, an associate professor of health policy and management at the University of Minnesota, told UPI.

Several potential vaccines against COVID-19 are in clinical trials in the United States and around the world. Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, predicted that a viable vaccine would be available to “all Americans” by April.

For their research, Gollust and her colleagues surveyed 1,007 American adults between April 23 and 27, when the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States still was in its early stages.

Other groups identified by respondents as warranting priority for available vaccines included “middle-aged” adults at high risk, for 75% of respondents, and non-medical “essential” workers, for 72% of respondents. Sixty-four percent of respondents also said pregnant women should be considered a priority for the vaccine.

“Unfortunately, it’s hard to judge the public’s understanding of vaccine limitations from this study,” Gollust said.

“In the survey, we told all respondents that ‘at least at first, there may not be enough to go around,’ so all respondents who answered the survey would have read this, but we can’t assess from this study whether they were already aware of this idea, though.


Eighth cluster detected in Sabah – Health DG

September 24, 2020 | News | No Comments

The Health Ministry (MOH) has reported another new Covid-19 cluster in Sabah, the eighth in the state, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pix) said.

The new cluster, named the Udin cluster was detected in Tawau, with its index case (case 9894) involving a 72-year-old local woman, this after she underwent screening at the Merotai Health Clinic in Tawau on Sept 12.

Following this, close contact tracing was done and two more positive cases were detected yesterday, both involving Filipinos who were asymptomatic and who are now being treated at the Tawau hospital.

“To date, 128 people have been screened, with three testing positive, 71 negative while 54 more are awaiting results. The source of infection is being investigated,” he said in a statement.

On active clusters, he said four more clusters in Sabah recorded an increase in new cases, namely the Benteng LD, Bangau-Bangau, Laut and Pulau clusters while in Kedah, the Sungai cluster also saw an increase in new cases.

The Benteng LD cluster reported another 105 cases, taking its total to 729 cases so far; while eight new cases were recorded for Bangau Bangau (total 13 cases) and Laut (total 12 cases), two for Pulau (total 37 cases) and four more for Sungai (total 87 cases).

Following the surge in Covid-19 cases in Sabah, Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry will strengthen preparedness efforts through 23 hospital laboratories and 22 MOH health clinic laboratories that carry out Rapid Test Kit-Antigen (RTK-Ag) testing.

It will also increase real-time Reverse-Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) laboratory capacity in the state to 2,500 tests a day.

“If the number (Covid-19 testing) surpasses 2,500 a day, the surplus samples will be sent to the Institute of Medical Research (IMR) via Royal Malaysian Air Force flights and courier services.

He said the MOH was now working on developing a molecular laboratory at the Tawau Hospital, in addition to waiting for the delivery of GeneXpert Covid-19 cassettes from the World Health Organisation (WHO) for use at the Tawau, Sandakan Hospital and Lahad Datu hospitals.


MASIH ramai individu beranggapan untuk mempercepatkan proses menurunkan berat badan perkara utama perlu dilakukan adalah menghabiskan masa berjam-jam di gimnasium.

Jika tidak berkesempatan ke gimnasium, maka berjoging atau berzumba menjadi pilihan.

Pun begitu, tanpa disedari untuk mendapatkan berat badan ideal senaman memerlukan 20 peratus sahaja, manakala baki 80 peratus pula bergantung pada pemakanan.

Tiada gunanya, korang bersenam sehingga sakit badan, walhal mengamalkan corak pemakanan tidak sepatutnya dan makan pula secara berlebihan.

Justeru, bagaimana cara untuk mengelakkan diri daripada overeat?

Jangan gusar, segmen Sihat Cantik kali ini berkongsi 3 cara terbaik. Jika ia diamalkan secara sistematik kita dapat menurunkan berat badan dengan mudah dan sihat.

1- Makan secara perlahan
Ketika menikmati apa sahaja hidangan, cuba belajar mengunyah perlahan-lahan sebanyak 30 kali atau 12 minit sehingga lumat.

Cara tersebut membolehkan otak menerima isyarat kenyang yang mana kita akan berhenti sebelum kekenyangan.

2- Bijirin penuh
Elak menu bergoreng, berminyak dan makanan ringan sebaliknya, pilih makanan bijirin penuh seperti roti mil penuh dan bijirin serta buah epal, avokado atau strawberi.

Kategori makanan berkenaan bukan sahaja baik untuk sistem pelawasan, bahkan membantu membuatkan perut kenyang dalam tempoh lama.

3- Senaman
Selain pemakanan, bersenam juga solusi terbaik untuk mengelakkan kita makan secara berlebihan. Ini disebabkan menerusi aktiviti sedemikian ia akan mengeluarkan hormon yang meningkatkan mood gembira, sekali gus mengurangkan rasa lapar.


During the Ministry of Health’s press conference today (12 May), Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah addressed concerns about a second wave that could hit Malaysia during the conditional movement control order (CMCO).

“Indeed many countries are worried about the second wave and we are equally worried,” he said.

“But more importantly we have implemented the movement control order (MCO) one, two, three and four, and today we have seen the success of the MCO.”

“Which means that we managed to flatten the curve and managed to bring down the figures from three digits to two digits.”

Dr Noor Hisham then acknowledged the recent update of 16 new cases which is the lowest increase since the MCO started. Of that number, three are imported cases, which means that only 13 cases are locally transmitted – nine foreign workers and four locals.

“We hope we can continue to have a low figure and hopefully we are able to bring down local transmission as fast as possible,” he said.

He then reiterated that the CMCO is not an exit strategy but an ease of movement order, and went on to explain the six criteria for an exit strategy.

“The utilisation of the ICU is becoming less and our Covid-19 wards are almost empty now,” he said.

“This is because of the success and implementation of the policies we have from the public health aspect.”

This is certainly good news for all of us. Let’s cooperate with the SOP so that there will not be second wave in our country. 


As we are trying to make our days count during the Movement Control Order (MCO) period, the Malaysian government has recently developed a mobile application — MySejahtera — to assist the citizens in monitoring the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. According to MySejahtera’s website, this application also provides necessary information for the Ministry of Health to plan for early and effective countermeasures.

Apparently, this app allows users to perform self-assessments on themselves and their family members. Users are also allowed to monitor their health progress throughout the Covid-19 outbreak. If needed, the app will also be able to locate the nearest hospitals and clinics for Covid-19 screening and treatment.

This app was developed through strategic cooperation between the National Security Council (NSC), the Ministry of Health (MOH), the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC).

How do we use the app? Here are six steps provided by MySejahtera on its website.

Step 1: Scan the QR Code or click “Daftar” on the https://mysejahtera.malaysia.gov.my

Step 2: Enter your mobile phone number or email address

Step 3: Click the ‘Submit’ button. You will receive a One Time Pin (OTP) via SMS from MySMS 63839 (if you registered using phone number) or email (if you registered using email)

Step 4: Enter the OTP and click ‘Send’

Step 5: Fill in your registration details and click ‘Send’. You will receive a ‘Successful Registration’ message

Step 6: Download the MySejahtera application

The app is available on Apple App Store, Google Play Store as well as Huawei AppGallery. It is supported by all Android smartphone users running version 4.4 and above, as well as iPhone users running iOS 11 and above.

Admin tried registering and installing the app, it is absolutely easy to get through. I have also done the health self-assessment by answering the questions given, the app then classified me under the “Low Risk” group. There is also a total of six classifications, namely Low Risk, Casual Contact, Close Contact, Person Under Surveillance (PUS), Person Under Investigation (PUI), and Confirmed Case.

Here’s a list of description for the classifications:

  1. Low Risk: Individuals with low risk of Covid-19 infection.
  2. Casual Contact: Individuals who were likely exposed to another person infected with Covid-19.
  3. Close Contact: Individuals who have been exposed to individuals infected with Covid-19. This covers:
    • Healthcare-associated exposure, including providing direct care for Covid-19 patients without using appropriate PPE, working with health care workers infected with Covid-19, visiting patients or staying in the same close environment of a Covid-19 patient.
    • Working together in close proximity or sharing the same classroom environment with a with Covid-19 patient
    • Travelling together with Covid-19 patient in any kind of conveyance
    • Living in the same household as a Covid-19 patient
  4. Person Under Surveillance (PUS): Individuals who are at risk of being infected with Covid-19, for example, individuals with a history of travelling abroad within 14 days.
  5. Person Under Investigation (PUI): Individuals who are at risk of being infected with Covid-19, for example, individuals with a history of travelling abroad within 14 days before the onset of symptoms or who have attended mass gatherings.
  6. Confirmed Case: Individuals tested positive for Covid-19.

Other than the classification on the app, it also provides the latest information on Covid-19. If you switch over to the Dashboard, you can choose to look at local or international Covid-19 data. You can even see how many recorded cases there are according to each state in Malaysia.


Any amount of regular running is associated with a lower risk of dying prematurely, particularly from cancer or heart disease, compared to not running at all, a research review suggests.

Researchers examined data from 14 previous studies with a total of 232,149 adults who were followed for 5.5 to 35 years. During that time, 25,951 of them died.

Compared to individuals who didn’t run at all, those who did were 27 per cent less likely to die for any reason during the study, 30 per cent less likely to die of cardiovascular disease and 23 per cent less likely to die of cancer.

The frequency, duration, pace and total weekly running time didn’t appear to impact the lowered mortality risk associated with running, the analysis found.

“Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity,” Zeljko Pedisic of the Institute for Health and Sport at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia, and colleagues write in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

“Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than no running, but higher doses of running may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits,” Pedisic and colleagues write.

The World Health Organisation recommends that adults aged 18 to 64 get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise or at least 75 minutes of intense activity every week.

Ideally, each exercise session should last at least 10 minutes.

Moderate-intensity activities can include things like brisk walking, gardening, ballroom dancing, water aerobics or a leisurely bike ride.

Vigorous exercise includes things like jogging, lap swimming and cycling at a minimum of 10 miles per hour, according to the American Heart Association.

The current analysis, however, suggests that running much less than these guidelines recommend could still make a big difference, the researchers conclude.

For example, running no more than once a week for less than 50 minutes at a speed below 6 mph (or below 8 kph) still seemed to be associated with longevity benefits.

This means running for 25 minutes less than the recommended weekly duration of vigorous physical activity could boost longevity, the researchers note.

This makes running a potentially good option for those whose main obstacle to exercise is lack of time, they say.

But upping the “dose” by running longer than the guidelines suggest wasn’t associated with a further lowering of the risk of death from any cause, the analysis showed.

The analysis wasn’t designed to prove whether or how running might impact death rates.

And the studies included in the analysis did not account completely for other factors that might influence the results, such as illnesses besides cancer or heart disease that could prevent some people from running and contribute to their earlier death, the authors note.

In addition, the analysis doesn’t show how much running is ideal, how fast people should go, or how long or far each workout should be for optimal longevity benefits.


The hallmark of modern living can be summed up quite nicely with these words: So much to do, so little time. Work, play, family, friends, interests – these all call for our attention and we wholeheartedly embrace the challenges of juggling these many elements of our lives.

Between balancing our needs and finding the time to do so, other areas of our lives may end up short-changed, especially those that we deem not as important, especially meals.

Eating too fast or missing meals because we need to balance the demands on our time places unnecessary stress on our digestive system, and this can badly impact our health.

Heartburn, metabolic problems, heart disease, weight gain, indigestion, feeling bloated, stomach cramps – these are just some of the problems that could crop up if you do not take your time when you eat.

Tips for a better digestive health

To help prevent digestive problems, here’s what you can do:

Chew properly: Thoroughly chew and swallow each bite before taking another bite. Taking smaller bites also helps you chew better.

♦ Drink enough water between meals: As a rule of thumb, you should consume two to three liters of fluids daily, from food and beverages (plain water is the best). This also depends on your age, gender, lifestyle, weather and condition (i.e. pregnant or breastfeeding).

♦ Increase fibre intake: Dietary fibre increases stool bulk and softens it, making it easier to pass. Other health benefits include controlling blood sugar and lowering cholesterol levels. Get your fibre from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans and other legumes.

♦ More probiotics: Another main component of the digestive system is the gut microbiota, microorganisms serving various roles in the gut. For the gut to be at its optimum level, the gut microbiota needs to be a balance of good and bad bacteria. Consuming probiotics may help maintain the balance.

According to a study conducted by Pusat Perubatan Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in 2018, regular consumption of live cultured milk drinks containing L. acidophilus and L. paracasei showed positive effects on the research subjects’ digestive health whereby their food digestion time from 20 to 45 hours was reduced by five to 15 hours, and they also showed improvements in constipation symptoms.

More clinical trials are ongoing worldwide to clarify the role and explore the potentials of probiotics.

♦ Beware of food sensitivities: Many people aren’t aware that they suffer from food sensitivities, thinking that their recurrent stomach-ache or bloating symptoms are just coincidental. These can affect digestion and nutrient absorption. Dairy products and grains are among the common causes. Consult an expert to detect possible offending foods and improve your digestion. Food sensitivity is different from food allergy.

♦ Practise mindful eating: This means paying attention to the way food is prepared and consumed. It makes you more aware of how your body is affected by your eating habit. It starts from buying your ingredients, so choose more natural produces and less processed foods. Appreciate the food on your table and try to savour the meal. Another way is to use small tableware to limit your portions. These habits help you to eat slower, which aids digestion.

Eating is not only to savour the taste of food and satisfy our hunger, but also to sustain ourselves with nutrients. However, we tend to forget that digestion is also part of the eating process after food disappears into our stomach.

This process is as important as choosing the food we eat. Having good digestion also ensures our body is properly nourished and stays healthy.


The status quo of medical practice is so deeply rooted in society that most people would not think of treatment options other than drugs, in treating chronic conditions or preventing them altogether.

Healthcare as it is currently practised, is reactionary, i.e. you only seek medical attention when you experience symptoms and sickness.

The focus is on diagnosing the immediate problem and curing the symptoms with drugs or supplements.

Additionally, health screenings that are ordered in this current system only go as far as catching a disease already in the body, not in anticipating and preventing it.

Managing the symptoms of an illness alone brings a high risk of allowing the real problem to worsen, and this happens more often than we think.

By administering medication that comes with its own side effects, you are only applying a plaster to a gaping wound that will become worse if you don’t properly identify the root cause of the issue.

The body is denied the opportunity to heal itself while it still has a chance, and by the time you discover the root cause, you may require advanced care and more medications.

A reactionary style of administering healthcare does have its merits, specifically for urgent and life-threatening situations.

A heart attack, an allergic reaction or an infection are certainly not cases where functional healthcare would be practical, and you would need a health provider’s immediate intervention for such problems.

However, when it comes to chronic conditions that are influenced by everyday choices in daily life, such as the food you eat, the intensity of physical activities, travel plans and more, drugs and other quick response treatments may provide short-term fixes, but falter in the long run.

Consider an iceberg, where what you see is less than a third of the entire thing as the remainder is hidden below sea level.

Chronic illnesses like cancer, arthritis, fibromyalgia and diabetes are “visible” above sea level, but what causes these illnesses remain submerged, because we aren’t diving deeper for further examination.

On the contrary, functional medicine is a whole-body approach that focuses on customised and personalised care for each person.

This isn’t a new concept either.

As far back as 1889, when the father of modern medicine Sir Dr William Osler was appointed one of the four founding professors at Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States, he was quoted as saying, ”The good physician treats the disease; the great physician treats the patient who has the disease.”

What is functional medicine?

The concept of functional medicine revolves around the idea that the cause of most chronic illnesses is due to an underlying dysfunction and imbalance in our internal system.

When building a diagnosis, a health provider doesn’t stop at “what is the problem?”. They also go on to ask: “Why did this happen?”

And the follow-up includes diagnostic testing, counselling and other treatments backed by research and science.

The goal is to correct any imbalances, while ensuring that the patient is equipped to maintain a lifestyle that prevents potential conditions from escalating.

These two questions are the foundation of functional medicine, which also includes understanding a patient’s medical history, symptoms, activities and lifestyle.

From there, it is possible to find out what’s lacking in a patient’s physical system and set a course to help correct the imbalance.

Your health provider will also identify the roadblocks and any potential issues that may hinder your progress towards optimal health and function.

Treatment in functional medicine can involve any of the following:

• Making nutritional and lifestyle changes, such as getting better quality sleep and exercising effectively.

• Eating whole foods instead of unhealthy processed foods.

• Taking natural agents like supplements, herbs, nutraceuticals and homeopathics.

• Taking bioidentical hormones.

• Going for emotional counselling.

• Assessing family medical history and using nutrigenomics as a means of prevention.

• Strengthening the body’s normal healing abilities.

• Precribing drugs if necessary, or surgery.

Additionally, teaching patients about what’s going on in their own body enables them to be more proactive about their own health on a daily basis, leading to better results in overall treatment.

Illustration photo shows various medicine pills in their original packaging in Brussels, Belgium August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Illustration

Diving into the cause

Currently, conventional healthcare leans towards the practice of prescribing medication to help stop symptoms.

For example, if you have pain, you are prescribed painkillers, or if you have sleep problems, you will be prescribed sleeping pills.

But if it is a chronic problem with deeper underlying issues, the symptoms will come back or you may become addicted to the medications.

Functional medicine doesn’t smooth over the problem with drugs alone.

If drugs are indeed prescribed, the main goal is to shift an individual’s physical wellbeing down a path that will eventually not require the use of drugs, and instead, focus on the underlying causes that trigger the symptoms and improving the body’s natural functions.

For instance, the conventional treatment for heartburn is to take medicines that will alleviate the symptoms temporarily.

In functional medicine, the doctor sets a course of discovery to determine the root cause of the heartburn.

If it turns out that what’s causing it is Helicobacter pylori bacteria, your doctor would then take steps to help to put an end to the bacteria, and along with it, your heartburn woes.

Functional medicine also does not assume that a set of symptoms will always point towards the same common ailments.

Patients may display similar symptoms, but the individual diagnosis may turn out to be vastly different, due to individual medical history, physiological makeup and more.

Functional medicine makes going to the doctor a worthwhile endeavour, because when you are receiving treatment based on the root cause of your symptoms, you lessen the stress of taking short-term medication and increase your chances of getting better.

Although contemporary conventional medicine is very advanced, especially when treating acute diseases, emergency trauma or infections, and will continue to serve society, it is time to start using functional medicine in our treatment rooms more frequently.