Sick care vs Health care by Functional Nutritionist Andrea Nicholson

Sick care vs Health care

Let me first preface this episode by saying I think we have a tremendous medical system in America.  We have the BEST doctors, the best technology, and the best medical facilities in the world.  This system keeps countless people alive through and after trauma and advanced diseases.  

However, as advanced and amazing as this system is for injuries, accidents, and late-stage disease management, it is NOT great at disease prevention or handling chronic diseases (most of which are lifestyle diseases).  

In reality, our conventional medical model is sick care.  If you have a disease, injury, or ailment – you go see your doctor for treatment.  They’re caring for your sickness.  

If you go to your doctor in an effort to AVOID disease or looking for advice to improve your overall lifestyle, the vast majority will tell you there is nothing you can do.  

I recently encountered this exact issue with a client of mine who gave me a copy of her basic bloodwork done by her doctor.  This client is in her 70s and has a long-standing autoimmune condition that is well-managed.  This blood panel is pretty minimal – including a Complete Blood Count (CBC), comprehensive metabolic panel (CMP), a basic cholesterol panel, and TSH only (see this post to see why this is wholely inadequate for thyroid imbalances).  Her doctor said everything was “normal” on these markers, despite several markers being outside of the lab range.  

When I reviewed this panel through an eye of optimal function, she actually had quite a few markers out of alignment and we definitely needed more information to fully assess her health.  She had possible signs of blood sugar imbalance, dehydration, digestive dysfunction, inflammation/infection, liver imbalance, possible low thyroid function, and B12/folate deficiency.  In order to more fully assess this situation, we needed a full thyroid panel, a full iron panel, inflammatory markers, and vitamin D status. 

Conventional Medical Response

This client went back to her doctor and asked for these additional tests.  Her doctor agreed to run the iron panel and vitamin D, but refused to run the full thyroid panel or inflammatory markers.  Her reasoning – they’re not “medically necessary”. 

Now, I don’t blame this individual doctor for this messaging.  This is coming from the insurance model.  If the outcome of the test doesn’t change the treatment plan, they won’t run it.  And, I guess I can see that logic – however, in my view there would be a lot we could do (and should do) if her thyroid is in fact low functioning and if her inflammatory markers are elevated.  This wouldn’t necessarily require pharmaceuticals or surgery, but there are actions she could take depending on these results. 

Unfortunately, under the sick care model – they can only prescribe medications and procedures and they’re only looking to treat overt disease.  This client didn’t present with any overt disease or major illness. She just wants to live her best life for as long as possible.   

In a true healthcare model, we would put the patient or client first.  We would do anything we needed to do to get the person what they wanted and needed to feel their absolute best.  This might include additional testing.  This might include non-pharmaceutical options.  This absolutely would include overall lifestyle recommendations.  Sadly, that just doesn’t happen in the medical model we have today.  

Truly caring for health

This is where practitioners like myself come in.  We aren’t under the thumb of insurance companies.  We aren’t even looking to prescribe a medication or diagnose a disease.  We are looking at nutrition, exercise, sleep, stress, toxins, nutritional supplements, and many other ways we can help the body return to optimal function. Helping the client in front of us achieve their goals and feel their best.  It’s about the CLIENT.  It’s about being her advocate.  Helping her advocate for her own health.  

Thankfully, even when doctors are restricted from helping or choose not to – we can still help.  This client can still get this testing done.  We can still work to improve her overall body function.  

There are tons of options available to people today, that don’t go through insurance or conventional medical doctors.  Don’t expect your conventional medical doctor or insurance to be much help in lifestyle-related illnesses. Look to lifestyle-focused, optimal-health-minded professionals if you are seeing true functional health.  We can work WITH you and your doctor to get to your goals.  

Stand up for your health. 

Fight for what you want. 

YOU matter. 

You don’t have to settle for sick care. 

You can have true health care. 


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