Your Guide to Functional Medicine and Gut Health

Dr. CJ Pabla talks about a functional medicine approach to improving your gut health
I'm Jordan!
I'm a mama by birth and adoption after years of recurrent pregnancy loss with a passion for helping other women support their health and well-being on their motherhood journeys.
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Have ya ever found yourself bouncing from doctor to doctor, prescription to prescription, diagnosis to diagnosis, only to feel like no one is actually taking the time to listen to you and resolve the root issue?

Finding a medical professional that is truly invested in you and your health can feel like the most frustrating search of all time. 

And don’t even get me started on trying to sort through the fads, advice, and articles that all seem to contradict each other when it comes to your health and how to care for your body.

Maybe you’ve had a similar experience, or maybe there’s something else going on in your body that isn’t ideal, but you’ve just kinda accepted it as your normal.

If that sounds like you, then get ready, because in this episode of the SHE podcast, I talk with the functional doctor I’ve been working with over the past year, Dr. CJ Pabla, M.D.

Dr. Pabla is an Indiana board-certified ER Physician and the owner and founder of Integrative Medicine.

If there’s anyone who can shed some light on your body and how your gut health affects everything else, it’s this guy. 

So let’s dive in and talk about all things functional medicine and gut health.

And let me tell ya you, this is some good stuff!

Traditional vs. Functional Medicine

Sometimes I think we hear “functional doctor” and automatically picture a whole other world apart from traditional medicine, with barefoot hippies who prescribe essential oils (lavender is great, but tell that to my reflux issue!).

But since working with Dr. Pabla, I’ve realized that traditional medicine is not contrary to, but rather, the building blocks of, functional medicine. 

As someone with a background in traditional medicine, Dr. Pabla defines functional medicine as not being against all modern treatment, but also not settling for it as the ultimate solution.

Functional doctors work with you to manage your symptoms so that you’re functional and safe, but then try to find the underlying causes of your symptoms and find a solution.

As Dr. Pabla said, functional medicine is practicing on the “microscopic level” of cellular function, rather than looking at a sub-set of symptoms on a “macroscopic level” where you’re just prescribed a medication to mask the issue.

Your Gut Health Is Important

If there’s one thing I’ve learned since working with Dr. Pabla, it’s the importance of having a healthy gut.

Your gut affects every system of your body, and if it’s not functioning right, then you’re not functioning right.

Maybe you’re thinking, My gut? Um, okay, well, my stomach feels fine so I guess I’m good! Well, hold up, because an unhealthy gut can cause a lot of other issues besides abdominal pain – fatigue, joint pain, hair loss, acne – you get the idea. It’s a big deal.

And what’s the culprit? Dr. Pabla shared that the most common causes of gut problems are antibiotics, stress, and toxins/inflammatory foods.

For me, learning how I can actively care for and repair my gut has been huge in my journey of healing. 

I’ve learned that when my gut is in survival mode, it can’t thrive, so it’s vital that I care for it well.

How to Improve Your Gut Health

A couple things that have made a big difference for me in working towards a healthy gut are changing the foods I eat and lowering my toxic burden.

As Dr. Pabla shared, the way someone eats has the single largest impact on someone’s physiology, health, and how they feel. 

And this doesn’t mean having to eat perfectly healthy, start a plant-based vegan diet, and say goodbye to ice cream forever (thank goodness).

Dr. Pabla helped me to create a plan (not a diet) that is sustainable and maintainable for me, and fuels my gut with the micronutrients I need to function at my best.

Begin by making small changes based on where you are currently and how you eat. Then do what’s realistic for you. Increasing the amount of whole foods you eat, eating more greens, consuming less sugar, or switching to grass-fed beef and free-range chicken, are all great places to start.

Oh, and while working with Dr. Pabla, I also learned I have a gluten sensitivity. (Who knew? Definitely not me!) So consider getting tested for food allergies and intolerances – you may have one without even realizing it.

I’ve also worked to limit my exposure to toxins in order to help balance my hormones.

A few easy ways to do this are to try to eat organic produce, not drink from plastic water bottles (or use one that is BPA-free), and switch the cleaning and household products you use.

If all of that info has you feeling overwhelmed, just pause for a sec and breathe.

Look, you’re not expected to make all of these changes overnight and there’s no “quick fix” to having good health.

Being healthy doesn’t require perfection from you, but it does require your consistent effort.

The turning point for me was when I finally shifted from focusing on what I wasn’t supposed to do to be healthy, to what I could do and making sustainable shifts in my lifestyle that fueled and filled me to be at my best.

So rather than eating gluten-free cookies and crackers (because that was technically fine, right?) I started giving my gut foods that actually nourished it.

And hear me on this: by no means am I doing this perfectly. 

I still have an acne breakout every now and then and your girl still loves her sweets. But after months of consistently working with Dr. Pabla and implementing what I’ve learned in my day-to-day life, I feel so much better than I did before and have seen real improvement in my blood work.

Shifting your lifestyle for the sake of your health may not be convenient, but it is an investment in your future and family that is so worth making.

Learn More About Functional Medicine and Gut Health

If you’re wanting to work with a functional doctor, but don’t even know where to look or how to begin that process, check out the Institute of Functional Medicine by visiting ifm.org

It’s a great resource to find knowledgeable physicians in your area, as well as to check out the patient resources and blog posts that go deeper into all of these topics.

And to hear the full, in-depth conversation, with ALL the knowledge, tune in to this episode and learn:

    • The difference between traditional and functional medicine
    • What causes gut problems to develop
    • Practical diet and lifestyle changes you can make to regulate your hormones
    • How to find a good functional doctor in your area

And if you’re in the Indianapolis area and are interested in working with Dr. Pabla personally, or want access to some of his additional resources, go to integrativemla.com.

We love to hear how you’re being challenged and encouraged in your everyday living, so let us know in the comments: what is the biggest takeaway you have from this episode? 

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  1. Jessica says:

    Thanks for sharing! How long have you been working with a FM doctor?

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JESUS FOLLOWER, bestselling author, realistic wellness mentor, clean beauty advocate, wife and mama 

Hi, I'm Jordan.
& I'm glad you're here.

I have a huge heart for helping other mamas (and future mamas to-be) naturally support their body, embrace their femininity, and make healthy swaps for their families in a way that works for them and glorifies God (zero perfection required)

My days are spent writing books, hosting the SHE podcast, sharing product recommendations, and creating resources rooted in biblical values to help you do just that.

Learn more

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A top-rated, workshop-style podcast on all things womanhood. Jam packed with inspiring stories, expert insight, and practical tips on all things from women's health to motherhood, we cover it all from a faith-based foundation. 


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