The Triangle of Health | Part 1:

Getting “Unstuck”

3 Obstacles (and 3 Solutions) to Unleash Your Body’s Ability to Heal.

Dr. Aaron Hartman

September 5, 2023

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    Your body was designed to heal itself.

    That is amazing and it is beautiful. But perhaps that doesn’t feel like your reality.

    “I’ve tried all the things … why isn’t my body healing?”
    “I’ve tried so many diets, supplements, and programs.”
    “I eat well and exercise.”
    “Why am I still stuck?”

    First of all: you are not alone. That is so important to hear. I’ve heard these questions over and over in the last 10 years in my practice. It’s common to get stuck. It’s also common to get unstuck. I have the privilege of witnessing that truth every day. Others have gotten unstuck, and you can too.

    The Bad News: We can sabotage our body’s amazing ability to heal itself.
    The Good News: The diagnosis isn’t overwhelming and neither is the prescription.

    In my experience with over 100,000 patients in five countries on four continents, this is what I've learned: There are three major places where people get stuck in their health. When I see patients who have been to other clinics and seen other practitioners, I have noticed that these are the main things that are keeping them from making progress. These are the humps they can't seem to get over.

    Gut Stress Sleep

    That’s it. Focus on the three corners of the Triangle of Health, and you can too can “unstuck” your body’s ability to heal itself.

    You may be asking yourself, “Why those three?”

    Perhaps you’ve seen lists from other doctors. We often refer to the 5 Foundations of Functional Medicine here. So, why do I focus on these three? Why do gut, stress, and sleep make the difference? What is the magic in this formula?

    To answer that question, I first need to walk you through two other “lists.” I arrived at the Triangle of Health after working with two important systems:

    • Blue Zones
    • The Foundations of Functional Medicine

    Let’s look at these ideas in turn:


    The Blue Zones

    In his book The Blue Zones, Dan Buettner surveys areas of the world containing the most long-lived individuals. He uncovers seven underlying factors, “blue zones,” common to those living in these areas.

    For those familiar with Functional Medicine, these seven principles of health and resilience may sound familiar. The “Blue Zones” underpin the Foundations of Functional Medicine.

    Which is our next list.


    The Foundations of Functional Medicine

    The Institute for Functional Medicine developed its foundation model for the delivery of health care, and it closely mirrors Dan Buettner’s research and what ancient cultures have already taught us. But unlike Buettner’s seven-point model, the Foundations of Functional Medicine focuses on five essential leverage points in people's health.

    Too Much...

    Both the Blue Zones and the Foundations of Functional Medicine illustrate the interconnected nature of our health and lifestyle. I call this Connected Health. Both can be helpful resources. But…

    Let’s be honest with one another: managing seven blue zones in your life is too much. Managing five foundations is better, but that’s still too much. If you are starting from a place of health, you might be able to manage five foundations. But as I have walked alongside people fatigued and in pain, I realized managing seven blue zones or five foundations is too much of an added burden.

    But there is a simpler way.

    If you focus your attention on your gut, stress, and sleep, you will experience dramatic progress in your health. Gut, Stress, and Sleep are the primary obstacles preventing your body from healing itself. And if you focus on these three things, the rest of the interconnected nature of your health will come along for the ride.


    The Triangle of Health


    Over the next three articles, I’ll dive deeper into each of these individual areas. In this article, I will provide a high-level overview of the Triangle.



    Gut health and diet are so foundationally important to health. I often start working with patients on their diet. How, when, and what are they eating? Are they fasting or not? Do they snack throughout the day? Are they eating processed foods? Do they have gut dysbiosis or digestive issues? All of these topics revolve around gut health. But gut health is just one of the three legs upon which the triangle of healing stands.



    While this may seem to be a simplistic term, there is a lot to unpack when we talk about stress. It's not just the daily grind. It's the daily drip, drip, drip of social media, screens, societal issues, political unrest, and also trauma. It's the sum total of all physical, emotional, and spiritual stressors that have been building up in an individual over their lifespan. The stresses may have started in childhood with some form of abuse. They may have occurred in adolescence or adulthood due to bullying or a health crisis. Or it may just be the slow accumulation over years and years of unresolved stressors that finally flip a switch in the central nervous system and set them on a fight or flight trajectory.



    Sleep is not simply closing your eyes for eight hours at night. It's all aspects of the quality and quantity of sleep. Do you get enough of the different kinds of sleep? Is REM sleep adequate? How about deep sleep? Do you wake up feeling refreshed in the morning? This could involve sleep apnea, meal timing, nutritional deficiencies, diet, and more.

    Once this switch is flipped, it sets off a cascade of health consequences which disrupts your physiology, circadian rhythms, digestion, hormones, sleep, cognitive function, and more.

    Connected Health: Gut

    A Six-Week Guided Journey to a Restored Gut

    Our Journey Begins: Sept. 24

    28-Day Nutritional Plan Begins: Oct. 1

    Now Enrolling
    Our First Cohort


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