Functional medicine focuses on targeting health issues with a more holistic approach, centered on the patient's lifestyle, and it is the newest addition to the services offered at Clinic Sofia, an OBGYN clinic located in Edina and Maple Grove.
The clinic offers a full range of healthcare for women, including gynecology to ensure reproductive health and obstetrics, which guides a woman from preconception all the way through postpartum. It also offers patients access to family planning methods, including fertility treatments and different forms of contraception.
Because staff at Clinic Sofia wants to provide a comprehensive experience for women’s health, functional medicine seemed like the next step in continuing on that path. It strives to identify the root causes of a health condition but also aims to allow a person to live healthier because she is treating her entire body with care. By changing lifestyles, whether through diet, exercise or focusing more on their mental health, people could potentially prevent themselves from developing certain diseases.
“With chronic diseases on the rise, it makes sense to look at the role of the modern environment in which we live to better understand its impact on our health. Processed foods, chronic sleep deprivation, sedentary lifestyles, stress, a disconnect from nature, social isolation—all can play a role in our health,” says Allie Nowak, functional medicine specialist and physician assistant at Clinic Sofia.
The main component of functional medicine is that it strives to treat the body as a whole or what Nowak calls an “interconnected system.” Nowak contends that, contrary to popular belief, only 10 percent of disease is caused by genetic factors, which means that most other issues people face are potentially caused solely by outside factors, such as their environment. She emphasizes the importance of functional medicine for not only helping with issues that have already arisen, but also preventing conditions from even occurring.
“Interestingly, functional medicine combines the best of conventional medicine and alternative treatments. It doesn't exclude drugs or surgery when they're necessary but does tend to focus on lifestyle medicine as the primary intervention,” Nowak says.
The whole process begins with conversations with patients in order to completely understand the conditions with which they are struggling. Some of the most common include polycystic ovary syndrome, mental illness, insomnia and gut issues. Nowak then runs a series of routine blood, urine and fecal tests to determine any other causes. Focusing on the individual patient, including her in the diagnosis and determining a treatment plan tailored to fit her physical and mental needs is crucial for the patient’s body to respond positively.
“Clinic Sofia has always taken a very thorough and personalized approach to women’s healthcare. Adding functional medicine consulting is just one more way to give patients another level of support on their journey to better health,” Nowak says.