Functional nutrition utilizes the clarity of scientific research with the uniqueness of the individual. Moving beyond a set plate or protocol, a functional nutritionist assesses how your genetics, health history, personality and lifestyle impact your health and nutrient needs. Because we are all unique, we each require a customized strategy to achieve and sustain optimal health.
Functional nutrition is the foundation of functional medicine, an approach to medical care which addresses the root cause of illness. Rather than treating symptoms, finding this root cause of dysfunction can, in some cases, restore function. Traditionally, modern medicine treats chronic disease by addressing symptoms through medication and surgery. Functional medicine seeks to understand why the disease process began and address the issue there, leading to resolution of symptoms and prevention of additional disease. In nearly all instances, nutrition is part of the prescription.
Here’s an example:
Lucy comes in with digestive troubles. She experiences painful bloating, constipation, and a sensation of heaviness after meals, as well as fatigue and intermittent heartburn. She practically falls asleep at her desk at 2:30pm each afternoon and brain fog makes it difficult to push through those final work hours.
A doctor may prescribe antacids and a laxative, but will be unable to address many of her other complaints. Her fatigue and brain issues may be dismissed as stress or aging.
A functional nutritionist will spend time inquiring about how these changes came about. If they began postpartum, post surgery, post-travel, or began in childhood indicates different potential root causes and therefore different considerations, such as probiotics, a referral to test thyroid function, testing for parasites and pathogenic bacteria, among others.
An elimination diet can determine which specific foods are problematic as well as what symptoms they evoke – something no lab can discern. In some cases, existing food intolerances may be temporary and reversible when the digestive system is given the opportunity to heal – and this is where functional nutrition deviates from traditional nutrition.
Lucy will be questioned about supplement use and any medications she is on will be assessed for potential resulting nutrient deficiencies. Her work/life balance and home life will factor into her treatment plan so that her efforts can be successful. Stress, sleep, and exercise are all topics of conversation that can happen pertaining to her digestive trouble as these non-food aspects impact the digestive process. Appropriate guidance and referrals can be made in these areas based upon her needs. Often addressing digestive issues resolve in cessation of other complaints, such as low energy, brain fog, or skin issues.
Functional Nutrition is dynamic and changing as the needs of the clients change. I do not recommend a meal plan and send you on your way; we work together to assess and refine dietary and lifestyle suggestions to ensure they are appropriate and successful. It is a discovery and translation of the body’s messages and responding appropriately.
Modern medicine has lost the conversation between practitioner and patient. In the traditional model, if nutrition services are even covered by insurance, they are typically for a very limited number of visits that does not allow the root cause to be addressed. Follow up becomes a challenge and it is easy for all but the sickest of patients to lose contact with their provider along the path to health. In functional nutrition, the relationship between the client and practitioner is a highly valued partnership with a common goal in mind; restored health and vibrant quality of life into elder years.
A mutual commitment between client and nutritionist is needed for results to be realized. It’s my job, as a functional nutritionist, to be your dedicated ally, pull resources together and create a plan to increase health that is sustainable for the long haul. When the client is willing to walk with me in discovery, share the messages her body sends through symptoms, and tweak the plan as indicated by the dynamic needs of her body and life, fantastic results ensue.
This is the power of functional nutrition.
If you are interested in empowering yourself to get the results you are seeking, contact us for a 15 minute Discovery Call to see if we would make a great partnership.