Questions to ask your naturopathic doctor

Dr. Paré answers frequently asked questions

When you go to a naturopathic doctor, they’re going to ask you a lot of questions — at your initial visit and beyond. But what if you have questions? Here, Dr. Paré turns the tables and shares some questions patients have asked him over the years…

Q: Why do most (if not all) doctors and health care providers weigh patients at each visit?

A: Carrying extra weight, especially visceral fat abdominal weight (weight that is concentrated around your belly), may lead to lethargy, unhealthy fat deposits in/on vital organs, and numerous endocrine imbalances which may be a factor in  chronic diseases like diabetes, CVD, cancers, etc. So we track patients’ weight carefully to make sure we are looking out for these potential issues.

Tracking weight over time also allows us to get to know your lifestyle and general physical health. We look for sudden changes in weight, which may indicate stress or sickness. We look for patterns that can help us make recommendations and provide advice. All in all, weight (like all vital signs) is an important indicator of your health, and as your doctors, we need information that will enable us to help you maintain good health.

Q: Why do health care providers tell us to eat right and get more movement? Does it really make a difference?

A: Food provides specialized information to our cells, not just calories! If you read Dr. Z’s recent article on nutrition, you’ll know that proper nutrition assists growth, supports immune function, spurs healing, and aids disease prevention. Your naturopathic doctor can help you develop a customized nutrition plan that works for your specific health concerns.

As for movement, our bodies are designed and supposed to move frequently. Exercise helps us keep our muscles dense and actively contracting, which improves cell to cell communication as well as joint lubrication. Just as an engine gets rusty after long disuse, so do our bodies! So be sure to incorporate movement into your health plan.

Q: Why am I still hungry several times each day if I am carrying extra weight? Isn’t extra weight supposed to be used for stored energy?

A: Simply put, when hormones, hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenals (HPA) are imbalanced, organ systems don’t communicate with one another the way they’re supposed to. So your brain or stomach tells you that you feel hungry when you aren’t. The good news is, we can re-set or re-balance your system through food and behavior choices tailored to your needs.

If you really want to dig deep into this subject, here’s a great book: Always Hungry by Dr. David Ludwig.

Q: What is “leaky gut” and how do I know if I have it?

A: Leaky gut, also known as intestinal permeability, is when “tight junctions” between intestinal cells are loosened. Inflammation causes leaky gut, and it leads to immune dysfunction that often appears as symptoms such as gas, bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, etc. For more information on leaky gut, read our article on the subject.   

Q: Wow, my first appointment with my naturopathic doctor is scheduled for over an hour! Why does it take so much time?

A: Naturopathic and functional medicine do take more time, because we dig deep into your history, listen to all of your concerns, and seek out the root causes of illness and inflammation. That’s why we ask patients to allow up to 60-90 minutes for initial evaluation, and 30-60 minutes for follow-up treatment. It’s a big change from typical doctor’s appointment, which may only last about 15-20 minutes on average. However, most of our patients welcome it after years of rushing through traditional doctor’s appointments, because they have time to get into more detail.

Q:   What is the difference between functional medicine, naturopathic medicine, and traditional medicine? Why should I go to a naturopathic doctor if I already have a primary care physician?

A: Functional medicine (which includes naturopathic medicine) focuses on finding the root causes of illness. Recent research has shown us that many chronic diseases are influenced by multiple factors, including a complex interplay of genetics, epi-genetics, lifestyle choices, (food choices, consistent movement), stress, and psycho-social influences. We look at all these factors and find the original cause of your symptoms, and find ways to help you prevent, improve, or eliminate them entirely. This usually takes good detective work, which is why we ask you so many questions!  

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Dr. Paré

Dr. Kevin Paré is a licensed naturopathic doctor and educator, having attended the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and received an M.A. in Education (Health Science) from Bridgewater University. With patience and empathy, he guides his patients in the lifestyle changes necessary for better health.

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