The Future of Functional Fitness and Functional Medicine

functional medicine

Recently CrossFit Inc. celebrated their second annual CrossFit Health Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Top names in medicine and metabolic science highlighted the roster of guest speakers, including Dr. Jason Fung, Dr. Thomas Seyfried and Dr. Michael Eades. Fung, Seyfried and Eades are all very well known for their advocacy educating about high protein low carb methodologies of nutrition. Dr. Seyfried is best known for his work entitled “Tripping Over The Truth,” a book emphasizing the argument that cancer is a metabolic disease. But what if it isn’t just metabolic. What if cancer is from a virus or bacteria?

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CrossFit Inc. founder and CEO Greg Glassman has made a very progressive leap including such revolutionary thinkers to his CrossFit Health platform. It would seem the world leader in functional fitness is slowly beginning to embrace the roots of functional medicine. Functional medicine practitioners are medical doctors and doctors of osteopathic medicine (DO) that challenge conventional allopathic medicine as dogma and doctrine. They are trained in allopathic medicine, yet they embrace the understanding the human machine is functional in design and in need of functional, holistic healing.

Functional Fitness an Intervention to Change

There is a growing body of science and data that supports functional fitness as an intervention to change the microbiome of the gut. Intense exercise can alter the bacteria found in our digestive tract. CrossFit can alter gut bacteria.

Functional medicine focuses on the gut as our primary source of health and disease reversal; much like Fung, Seyfried and Eades, but they take it a step further, beyond just what we should accept as fuel. They look at how our lifestyle choices and fuel sources affect the organisms inside of us. Functional medicine practitioners first look at the history of an individual from birth to determine what bacteria they have been exposed to throughout their lives. Understanding this helps to diagnose potential microbiome imbalances in the gut. Their advocacy lies in the healing of the human digestive tract to reverse many if not most metabolic diseases. And they now have data to backup their practice.

Consuming the Correct Bacteria

We know high fat, high protein, low carb affects our cells metabolically in a manner that creates some of the fittest humans the planet has ever seen, but what if it’s more than just our cellular metabolism at work? What if we don’t know as much as we thought we knew? The great hubris in all of medicine and science is we are omnipotent. Dr. Elizabeth Nabel spoke at a TEDMED convention about the hubris of knowing. She very humbly and eloquently states what we know now is not all that is to be known. What if what is happening here is so big, we can’t actually see it?

Australia’s Dr. Gary Fettke presented at the CrossFit Health Conference in 2017. Improper farming practices have lead to our soil microbiome being destroyed, said Fettke. Our gut bacteria is now altered because we are not consuming the correct bacteria that was once in our soil. Fung, Eades and Seyfried are speaking about a nearly identical situation in metabolic disease. Their advocacy however is strictly metabolic. What if we now have a body of evidence that exists in the Affiliate community that can prove functional fitness is functional medicine? Could it be that intense exercise paired with eating practices of the low carb variety are actually promoting the correct microbiome in our guts and that is what is reversing our metabolic disease?

What’s Waiting to Attack?

The most dangerous army on this planet is not the U.S. Navy SEALs. It isn’t a terrorist organization and it isn’t the rise of the machines. It is an army of bacteriophages waiting to attack. Bacteriophages are viruses that attack weak and opportunistic bacteria. Our choices of medication, food, drink and lifestyle may be the difference between our species surviving, or becoming extinct. Is it possible CrossFit/functional fitness and functional medicine may one day combine, leading to the eradication of the metabolic diseases that were created by the generations before us? Before you answer think about this: How are you training? What are you eating? Better yet, what is eating you?

Jason Cooper
Jason Cooper is the co-owner of CrossFit Enoch in Conroe, Texas. Jason was a critical care nurse for 16 years before becoming a full-time professional clinical liaison. He educates the masses about the inner workings of the medical system. Jason has written for the CrossFit Journal and has been featured by CrossFit HQ for his advocacy as The Nurse Advocate. He spends his time training in his Box with his family and friends, ultra running, mountain biking, and advocating for the advancement of nurses and for transparency in health care. Contact him on Facebook (@crossfitenoch), Instagram (@thenurseadvocate) or email him at