Dr. Regina Drueding made health her life's work after battling allergies coupled with what she now believes was chronic fatigue syndrome. As a young woman, her illness led her to an interest in health and a desire to become a doctor.
Drueding started medical school in Louisiana where she practiced medicine for seven years. Following a visit to Utah for a medical convention, she was impressed with the caliber of medical professionals here along with the beautiful surroundings. Drueding moved to Utah 13 years ago after a Bountiful physician invited her to visit his practice. She became his partner and joined a managed health care system where she practiced for about seven years. Although she felt the organization she worked for was excellent, she was not happy with the limitations that prevented her from focusing on preventative health and functional medicine.
"I wanted to practice the medicine I felt comfortable with. I had tried to incorporate it into my practice before, but it was difficult to do that within the confines of a managed health care system where your time is constrained," says Drueding. "I became frustrated with 10-minute medicine. There was a constant disharmony between what I wanted to do and what the constraints were."
Drueding decided to retire in 1993, but soon missed medicine. Within a year she decided to come back as an independent physician so she could call the shots in her own practice.
"It was a very hard decision because it takes a big investment and a lot of time to get things set up. For one single person [doctor] the overhead is really unbelievable," says Drueding. "There is not much left for myself but I enjoy it."
Today Drueding practices medicine her way with a functional medicine approach rather than traditional. In traditional medicine, a physician labels the patient's disease then treats it with a particular protocol that is applied to all patients says Drueding.
"By using functional medicine, instead of treating everybody the same, you address the individuality of each patient. You look for the underlying common pathways that actually give rise to disease and then try to attack those."
By attacking those common pathways, a physician can treat several different disease processes in an individual while at the same time helping to prevent disease to which a patient is genetically predisposed. Drueding says that although a patient may be prone to a particular disease, it is lifestyle that determines whether those genes are turned on or off.
She attributes much of the widespread disease in the United States to the stressful American lifestyle. "We are sleep deprived. We don't follow the normal rhythms. We eat fast food that is devoid of nutrients. We probably have a lot of toxic exposure because we are using a lot of plastics. We use many things that can be harmful to us. It is absolutely frightening how many people in their 60s and 70s are incapacitated in our society. In other cultures that is not the case."
Americans, consequently, deal with many diseases that are lifestyle related. The good news is many respond to lifestyle changes, says Drueding. Some of those include heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer's disease, depression and menopause. Because of this, Drueding focuses on lifestyle with her patients. As a certified meditation instructor, she helps them improve their health while reducing stress through meditation as well as teaching them how to eat for optimum health and disease prevention. She also incorporates traditional internal medicine in treatments.
Drueding specializes in cardio vascular disease prevention by using a relatively new ultrasound test (IMT) to detect arteriosclerosis. It also shows the risks for stroke in the early stages. If tests show the patient is at risk, Drueding teaches lifestyle and diet habits to help reduce the risk, prescribing medication when necessary.
"It is important to detect it early because 50 percent of people who have a heart attack have relatively normal cholesterol and blood pressure. It would never be detected otherwise," says Drueding. "Most people aren't aware of that."
Drueding has an extensive family history of heart disease herself. Her high stress job adds to that risk. Knowing that, she had the IMT test herself about five years ago.
"I found that I was a very high candidate for having a heart attack. I was sitting on a powder keg of personal health," says Drueding. " That allowed me to start making changes."
She began implementing more lifestyle recommendations that she gives to her patients including taking phytonutrients and fish oil supplements. Through yoga, meditation, exercising and stretching she has noticed improved cardio vascular health. But Drueding admits that her long hours at work prevent her from fully implementing all of her recommended changes.
Her patients have also seen improvements in their health. "The patients who are compliant feel they are able to get by with fewer medications and have more vitality. They feel better in general," says Drueding. "I do it (practice) because I feel I have a calling to do this and because of the satisfaction of having people get better."
Drueding's General Good Health Tips:
* Antioxidants - Get lots of them by eating plenty of veggies and fruits. Most people eat two or fewer servings a day. That is not enough.
* Cruciferous veggies - Eat plenty of broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower
* Variety - It is critical because we are constantly rebuilding our bodies and variety provides more building blocks.
* Avoid genetically modified foods
* Drink - Get about eight glasses a day. You know you are getting enough if your urine is clear. Lack of water in a diet is associated with asthma and other problems.
* Exercise - Get a balance between aerobic, stretching and strengthening exercise. One of the best indicators of quality of life, general health and ability to remain independent, as you age, is your muscle mass so strengthening exercises are important
* Breathe - Make sure you get plenty of oxygen because problems such as sleep apnea, which restrict oxygen intake, affect the brain, heart and lungs.
* Sleep - Get enough. It is a restorative period every day. It affects mental health and brain function.
* Supplements - If you have a deficiency, you need supplement. If Dr. Drueding could only recommend one supplement, it would be fish oil for its contribution to overall good health. Be sure to use only third party tested oil, certified to be free of heavy metals and other contaminants.
* Meditate - It is an important technique that gives the mind a significant amount of rest if you do it on a regular basis. It decreases illness and keeps the mind active. Studies have shown that it decreases the rate of hospitalizations for people who do it.
* Avoid a toxic lifestyle - Some of the newer degenerative disorders have been linked to toxins. Parkinson's has a clear link to pesticide exposures. Detoxification can be important if you have been exposed.
* Manage stress - Stress has a major effect on us in regard to heart disease, Alzheimer's, and cancer. It has been linked to all the major diseases.