Root Cause Resolution
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
“Back it up” is my mantra.
And when it comes to your health, it could be your mantra too.
“Backing it up” means that we honor the principles of root cause resolution. And it ensures that we’re focusing on the roots of our health concerns, and that we’re not leaving any stone unturned in our journey towards optimal health.
But what does it mean to “back it up”?
In the mind it likely conjures the beeping noises that come when you put your car in reverse. Or the idea of retreating from a situation.
But that’s not what I mean.
Instead, “back it up” essentially refers to sweeping the floor before mopping it. Or putting on your pants before your shoes. (We’ve all likely helped a toddler undo that logical error!)
“Backing it up” ensures that we’ve taken the right steps, in the right order to ensure the sustainable results we’re aiming to achieve. It also helps make sure we’ve taken all the necessary “basic” steps, allowing our dietary and lifestyle changes to stay within our ability to follow through, so we can actually get better and feel our best!
Remembering to “back it up” helps me solve my own health concerns as well as those of the clients we see in our Functional Nutrition Alliance Clinic. And it often surprises folks that we take this approach. By now, most people have heard of “root cause resolution”, but that doesn’t mean they know how to deliver it!
Instead of our methodical systematic ways (truly in keeping with the scientific method of inquiry and problem solving), people often expect us to come at them with one overarching protocol or quick-fix (like every other practitioner likely has!)
But in my experience, that rarely works.
It doesn’t work for the body. It doesn’t work for the mind. And it hardly works for the spirit in the healing process.
We need to “back it up!”
Let me take a moment to further explain what it really means to “back it up,” and how using this mantra can help you like it’s helped me. Understanding this one phrase will enable you to better see what root cause resolution really is, what sets Functional Nutrition apart from other modalities, and how these principles can be your ally.
When we have a physical complaint (new or chronic) our first impulse is to figure out how to feel better as quickly as possible. It’s tempting to look at the diagnosis, or the most pressing sign or symptom, and try to head it off at the pass with some miracle nutrient or protocol. Dr. Google can be seductive here—just type in “best remedies for hair loss” or “most common causes of bloating” or “natural remedies for SIBO” and you’ll get 76,400,000 results in 0.83 seconds for whatever ails you.
Yet I can tell you from years in practice (and save you time, money and lots of stress), that this approach rarely works.
People are very complex, and the root cause of our suffering is unique.
Let that digest for a moment.
What led us each to the same sign, symptom or diagnosis—whether it be weight gain, fatigue, Hashimoto’s, PCOS or breast cancer—will be different. We each have a different set of histories and life circumstances that culminate in something that has a similar name. This is the principle of bioindividuality, and there are myriad factors that apply here.
Think of it this way: How many recipes can you find for chocolate cake?
Patients and their complex of symptoms are as varied as those recipes! Each is different and unique. (And remember, we’re all patients!)
Everyone has a different set of “ingredients” that led to a result with the same name… whether that be chocolate cake or Crohn’s Disease.
And when we go for the sexy solution—the quick fix or the super specific and targeted nutrient that some high-profile spokesperson says works wonders, we aren’t getting to the root cause of the problem.
What we need to do in order to find root cause resolutiony (or what I like to call root causes resolution — because there is never just one root!), and to ultimately find sustainable support, is to start from the beginning. To “back it up.”
How to Back It Up
In order to “back it up,” you have to zoom out and look at what is upstream of the current issue. Was there an illness that caused an imbalance? Is there a compromised organ that predisposed the issue?
Of course, these aren’t questions you need to answer for yourself, but you are a critical player in finding the answers!
When you work with a Functional Nutrition Counselor, they’ll ask you the questions that will lead to these answers. But only you can bring forth the information from your life. Only you know your story. And it’s your story that lays the foundation for your health.
I liken this entire process to building a house.
Although you might know what color you want to paint your bedroom, you don’t paint before you build the bedroom itself. You don’t decorate with an organic wool rug before the floors are installed. You don’t put the second story on before the first.
And you don’t do anything before you lay the foundation.
The foundation isn’t the most fun, or the prettiest. It’s not what gets your house featured in Dwell Magazine or House Beautiful, but without it, your house cannot stand.
Health is the same.
And so is healthcare.
If you are to truly thrive, there are things we must do first, before any of the fun, complicated, cutting edge work can be done (at least with any success.)
We have to look at things like your nutrition and hydration, your sleep and relaxation, Your exercise and movement. And all these modifications are not based on a protocol in a book or an idealized set of standards, but instead on your unique needs and resources.
That’s how we get to root cause resolution, and how you ultimately step into your healing potential.
Pick one of these areas. Just one:
- sleep and relaxation
- exercise and movement
- nutrition and hydration
- stress and resilience
- relationships and networks
Now determine one thing you can do in the area you chose (just one!) that will support your health outcomes—like the beams of that bedroom wall. It could be to increase your water intake, or get to bed 20 minutes earlier, or to meditate for 5 minutes each morning, or to take a 10 minute walk or stretch after lunch, or to schedule a phone call with a friend you miss and who truly sees you, or to add a spoonful of kraut to your nightly meal. You name it. Every little step matters and supports your outcomes.
Make that upgrade that you’ve chosen—one that you know you’ve been wanting to make—and stick with it for a week. Then check in. How does that feel?
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