Chris Kresser: Functional Health

Consumer Reports states that, person for person, health care in the US costs twice as much as it does in the rest of the developed world. And the kicker of their analysis: We don’t get much for our money. In a 2013 Commonwealth Fund study of 11 developed countries’ health care systems, the U.S. ranked fifth in quality and worst for infant mortality. America also did the worst job of preventing deaths from treatable conditions, such as strokes, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain treatable cancers.

Today we welcome Chris Kresser to the program. Chris writes one of the most popular natural medicine blogs on the Web and has been named by as one of the 50 most influential voices in health and fitness.

In today's discussion, we explore the world of "functional medicine" and other approaches to health and wellness that offer potential to complement, or in cases, replace conventional western medical treatment. Some of these practices have been used by eastern cultures for millennia, others are just coming to light now. But the common thread in each is to focus on the biological uniqueness of each patient and use an evidence-based approach to identify and resolve the underlying condition -- rather than merely treating the symptoms, which modern health care (sometimes referred to instead as "sick care") is often guilty of.
Through his website and books, Chris provides a wealth of guidance and resources for how each of us can -- and should, if we care about living better and longer -- take an active role in improving our health and well-being. He places special focus on what he calls the "big four" practices: diet, physical activity, stress management, and sleep. 

Click the play button below to listen to Chris' interview with Chris Kresser (46m:23s):

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

On computers I recommend you load F.lux.  On iOS you must jailbreak to use it.  You set your latitude and longitude then set light type and program will remove blue light as the night descends.  I use orange safety glasses too; very important to block the blue light from the side too.

Kugs -
I downloaded F.lux on my laptop a month ago and am very glad I did. Really helps those of us who spend time on the computer after the sun goes down not jeopardize our sleep quality.

For those that don't have it or know what it is, you can learn more here.

On Cartesian Dualism.

According to his philosophy, which is specifically called Cartesian dualism, the mental does not have extension in space, and the material cannot think.

We have to catch up with Physics and what the empirical evidence is showing us. (Warning: Turbulence ahead, Please fasten your seatbelt).

However the mental roughing up is worth it as it puts everything in perspective. Once you have the Ah Ha, then when bad things happen to you or your loved ones you can remind yourself. It is all an illusion. The purpose of the illusion is to grow Me. I am a child in kindergarten, this is My lesson for today.What matters is not so much what happens to me but my reaction to it. It is all about Me.

For instance my mother is about to be taken from me- from a materialist point of view, this is a bald inescapable fact. But is it? Is this "fact" not just another social belief? 

For answers to this question I turn to nut-and-bolts Physics. Once you have the Quantum Erasure experiment under your skull (virtual skull, of cause) then you can see it all for what it is. Data. The Subjective is more important than the Objective as there is nothing "out there".

The erasure experiment is showing us that once all memory of anything is extinguished they exist as potentials on the timeline.

I don't know how Christ, the Buddha and other Teachers did it, but they had this thing pegged. We are the Great Prize. Here is a quote of Christ from Thomas.

Bring forth that which is within you. If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not have that which is within you, what you do not have will destroy you.
No maybes or caveats.

On Paleo Diets

What is airbrushed out of the story is that our ancestors were not guaranteed three square meals a day. Frequent fasting was normal and we are adapted to it. Because Cancers require sugars and because we burn ketones when fasting, one of the reasons for the uptick of cancer is the lack of fasting. Dr Seyfreid says that we should all fast for 7 (edit: consecutive) days each year as a cancer preventative measure. (Fasting means nil by mouth, except water. And water has some secrets too.)

Amber glasses.

So many points hit home that it's hard to pick one.  I get more than enough exercise, but probably sit too much.  I have insomnia, but read books on an iPad right before I shut the light off.
My wife, however, has issues that may or may not get addressed.  She takes incredibly expensive drugs to control lifelong gird issues.  None of the generic alternatives work for her.  She also has to limit what she eats, but it's based on personal experience, without any meaningful outside input.  This podcast has me wondering if there isn't an alternative to the approach she is taking.  Unfortunately, she can be stubborn about non-traditional health providers.  

Sounds like paleo-nutrition deserves another look.  I started reading about it a while back, but gave up due to what seemed to be a lack of scientific method grounding.

Thanks for this podcast.

Has she tried Lifeway Kefir and high quality high potency probiotic like Theralac?  I know someone who was in the same boat but was helped tremendously by Kefir.

It's so great to hear from Chris again!
I have missed his thoughtful input and I'm very happy to see that his career choice was so successful. I just downloaded about 80 of his podcast episodes and can't wait to devour them.

Many thanks to Dr. M and Adam for the enjoyable podcast with an old friend.



I want to give a very favorable recommendation to a husband and wife functional medicine team in Charlottesville, VA.  Virginia Integrative Medicine
Marty Albert is a family practice physician and his wife, Peggy Wright is a Ph.D. dietician. My family is very happy with their work.

Hey Jeff,Great to hear from you! Glad to see you're still around. Hope you enjoy the podcasts and thanks for the kind words. 
Warmest regards,

Regarding paradigm shifts in medicine, as a physician, I highly recommend two excellent books:
Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes

The Creative Destruction of Medicine by Eric Topol

I second Jeff's comments, Chris. Good to have your voice back on the site. And congrats on your book too. My family has benefited greatly from your site and podcasts over the past couple of years. 

Yes, my wife uses a probiotic as well as incredibly expensive drugs to try to control her gerd.  She is also selective regarding her diet.  She can largely control it but the cost and restrictions are significant.  Without health insurance, her meds for gerd alone would be upwards of $6,000 per year.  I can't help but wonder what the pills cost to manufacture?

I've had a chance to sample some of Kresser's eBooks.  
I guess I'm not educated enough on the Paleo diet topic to notice any major difference between Kresser's approach and the other books I've sampled on the topic.  Also, the whole Paleo paradigm incorporates many "good" eating habits that have been recommended for years prior to Paleo.

One of the issues I take with recommendations similar to Kresser's is that the diet can only be practiced by the "fortunate few."  It is not a formula that would be feasible for 7 billion people, or even 4 billion people.  

For example, diet's that call for eating lots of wild fish are questionable.  I'm a lifelong SCUBA diver.  As such, I've followed studies of the health of Earth's oceans for years.  Most studies indicate that we have caught and consumed 90 to 95 percent of the fish that were once wild in our oceans.  How is a diet that recommends eating lots of the few wild fish left any different than a recommendation for everyone to commute in an SUV?

Organic vegetables and "organic" meat is another example, though not destructive.  Most of the world population can't afford organic food right now.  Perhaps, if the industry evolved this could change.  Yes, many people could find a plot to garden some of their own organic food and choose to watch reruns of Giligan's Island instead.  But as it stands right now, organic food is for the fortunate few.

I'm actually not offended or alarmed by the recommendation regarding organic food.  The wild fish recommendation, on the other hand, rubs me the wrong way.  I'd dearly love to see us navigate the population decline without doing massive incremental damage to the Earth and it's Oceans.

I realize that is not going to happen.  However, people who choose to recommend things like "eat wild fish" need to recognize that the recommendation is neither sustainable or green.


 Thanks for the interesting interview with good information for a healthy lifestyle. I would like to add additional information that was not covered that I think is helpful.  I am referring to telomere length and activities that promote it.  I'm not sure if you will allow this link but the presentation is very informative and I believe will be helpful to the many members of peak prosperity.






Does anyone know if the ALCOT test is the appropriate way to determine individual food sensitivity? This website ( promotes it and would be wonderful if in fact it does what they say it does. Chris, Adam, how did you determine your food sensitivities? I am new to this whole area (food sensitivities) but my wife (only 29 and otherwise healthy weight, lifestyle, etc) has been developing all kinds of weird intermitant symptoms – joint pain, fatigue, bloating, diminished libido, dry lips/skin/eyes. 
She's been to a couple of doctors, without any good answers. We're thinking of having the ALCOT test done but I wanted to check the PP community to see if anyone recommends it or other approaches to learning about our own unique food intolerances and such. Thanks so much for any thoughts!


The test I had done was the blood antigen (IgG) test that the ALCAN test claims to be superior to…I cannot evaluate that claim.
The test was simple enough…prick a finger (at home, I performed the testing), soak five circles on blotter paper, dry the whole thing out, mail it with $129 and wait for the results.

I had my Naturopath go over the results with me, but honestly a reasonable person could just decide to eliminate the high-sensitivity foods and see how that feels.

The list of symptoms you described are classic 'leaky gut' symptoms that point to food related inflammation processes.  All very treatable in my personal experience.

Best of luck!

According to the annual National Diabetes Statistics Report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.3% of Americans suffer from type 1 or type 2 diabetes—that’s more than 29 million people! foods that reverse diabetes

Apparently we have been lied to.
Surprise, suprise.

Did the same here (IgG) two weeks ago based on a comment I heard at Rowe.  Turned out to be pretty much all dairy and chicken eggs for me crying.

Going on week two here without. It's amazing how many things have eggs and dairy (whey) in them.

Looking for a good local source for goose eggs…

But not in the Materialist West. 

Alex was an 18-year-old American who had suffered a psychotic break when he was 14. He had hallucinations, was suicidal, and went through cycles of dangerously severe depression. He was in a mental hospital and had been given a lot of drugs, but nothing was helping. “The parents had done everything–unsuccessfully,” says Dr. Somé. “They didn’t know what else to do.”
With their permission, Dr. Somé took their son to Africa. “After eight months there, Alex had become quite normal, Dr. Somé reports. He was even able to participate with healers in the business of healing; sitting with them all day long and helping them, assisting them in what they were doing with their clients . . . . He spent about four years in my village.” Alex stayed by choice, not because he needed more healing. He felt, “much safer in the village than in America.”
Note: Scientific Matrialism is a philosophical view.