No matter where our summer adventures take place, we don’t want to be slowed down by disease. A lack of energy, brain fog, weakness, low moods, anxiety and a myriad of other symptoms can leave us feeling … well, simply bad.

This is where functional medicine can help. It is what is known as lifestyle medicine, since the focus is not only about addressing the symptoms but finding the reason for those symptoms and then restoring functions that are out of balance.

As an example, hypothyroidism is not an all-inclusive explanation for people who suffer with low-thyroid symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, depression, hair loss or constipation. It is assumed that the reason for the symptoms is simply low-thyroid hormone levels. There are many more factors at play. Low-thyroid symptoms are the result of the active form of thyroid hormone not being able to adequately do its job at the cellular levels.

It’s like trying to paint a large room with a small paintbrush. The paintbrush is just too inadequate to efficiently do the job. Inadequate thyroid hormones will take the body a lot of time and effort to get the cells to turn up all the processes needed to ramp up the metabolism.

In functional medicine, we look at imbalances within multiple body systems that keep us alive and healthy. For our systems to work properly, they need to produce energy, which is one of the main jobs of our cells mitochondria. These systems don’t work in isolation. They have a direct influence on one another.

If we look again at a person who exhibits low thyroid symptoms, they could have a problem with their mitochondria, detoxification capacity, hormones, or the immune system. All the above systems are affected to some extent. Many adults in the U.S. with low thyroid symptoms have an autoimmune disorder called Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. A substantial proportion of those with Hashimoto’s have gluten sensitivity which is considered a stressor. Our stress hormone cortisol tries to keep things running the best it can. Elevated levels of cortisol slow down the thyroid gland and can dysregulate blood sugar. Over time, systems are affected leading to the diverse symptoms a person with low thyroid experiences.

To restore health, it is necessary to address the whole person. The systems need to be addressed through lifestyle interventions including dietary changes, targeted supplementation, exercise, and stress management. Reaching the goal of having boundless energy allows you to live life to the fullest and go on adventures that will build fabulous memories for yourself and your loved ones.

If you have any chronic conditions limiting your life try functional medicine. It could very well get you on track to obtaining true optimal health.

Angela Love Storkan is office manager of Infinity Wellness LLC in Los Alamos.