The Functional Medicine Approach to Diabesity

In the last 20 years an emerging body of scientific knowledge points to a number of factors that are the true drivers of diabesity and most chronic disease. While genetic predisposition may play a role in diabesity, what we now know is that it is the ways in which your diet, lifestyle and environment interact with your genes to create changes in your moment to moment biological functioning that leads to health or disease.

These changes in gene expression or function are what result in the symptoms we see in diabetes. But your symptoms — your high blood sugar, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and the rest — are not the cause of diabesity. They are simply clues to help us find the real underlying causes.

The fundamental causes of diabesity are imbalances in key systems of the body that result in insulin resistance, problems with blood sugar control, and all the other complications and associated problems.  Understanding these basic systems, how they get out of balance, and how to get them back in balance, allows us to create a personalized medicine program for each person. This is what is known as Functional Medicine.

If we want to effectively treat this epidemic of diabesity, we must start focusing on the underlying causes that are driving these problems in the first place. The main driving factor of our diabesity epidemic is our nutrient-poor, calorie-rich diet which has led to a nation of overfed but undernourished people.  In fact, there are so few nutrients in our diet that we now have an epidemic of nutritional deficiencies that promote the development of diabetes in including vitamin D, magnesium, chromium, zinc, and antioxidant deficiencies.(1),(2).

The Solution: Therapeutic Lifestyle Change

The solution is simple.  Spend time shopping and cooking whole, real, fresh food.  Don’t eat fast food or junk food.  Don’t eat food from a bag, box or package.  Don’t drink sodas or sweetened beverages.  Eat lots of fruit and vegetables (organic whenever possible) and whole grain (but stay away from gluten in wheat).  Don’t eat fried foods (especially deep-fried foods).  Eat lots of fish and fresh, healthy oil, such as olive oil, avocado and plant-based sources of protein such as raw nuts, seeds and beans.

“All patients diagnosed with metabolic syndrome should be encouraged to change their diet and exercise habits as primary therapy.”(3)

“National clinical guidelines recommend therapeutic lifestyle changes as a standard of care in the management of conventional risk factors (for coronary heart disease).”

 “…the findings clearly show that many patients who have conventional risk factors for coronary heart disease can achieve goal levels without medications within 12 weeks of initiating therapeutic lifestyle changes…”

 “Moreover, therapeutic lifestyle changes can generally be implemented less expensively than most medications and, unlike single drug therapy, favorably impacts multiple cardiovascular disease risk factors.”(4)

Introducing FirstLine Therapy®—Reversing Diabesity With Lifestyle Medicine

FirstLine Therapy® is a therapeutic lifestyle change, or lifestyle modification, program. Designed by health care professionals, FirstLine Therapy® has been shown to be remarkably successful in helping individuals like you return to a path of extended health.

This is not a weight reduction program—it’s a disease reduction program. While weight loss often occurs, it’s only secondary to the primary goal of addressing insulin resistance at its root and helping you achieve and maintain a healthy body composition (lean-muscle-to-fat ratio) to improve health, manage disease, feel better, and reduce your risk to more serious conditions.

For more information on this unique 12-week program, visit our FirstLine Therapy® page.


(1) Kligler B, Lynch D. An integrative approach to the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Altern Ther Health Med. 2003 Nov-Dec;9(6):24-32; quiz 33. Review.

(2) Kelly GS. Insulin resistance: lifestyle and nutritional interventions. Altern Med Rev. 2000 Apr;5(2):109-32. Review.

(3) Metabolic Syndrome: Time for Action. Am Fam Physician 2004;69:2875-82, 2887-8

(4) Effectiveness of Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes in Patients With Hypertension, Hyperlipidemia, and/or Hyperglycemia. American Journal of Cardiology 2004;94: 1558-1561