What’s Nutrition Got to do with Functional Medicine?

December 3rd, 2023

Functional medicine is a broad medical approach that treats health problems as a part of the whole interconnected body system. Nutrition, a crucial cornerstone in the practice of functional medicine, takes this perspective one step further by highlighting the ways that food and nutrients are a fundamental component of health.

At the Integrative and Functional Nutrition Academy, we focus on Functional Nutrition as an approach to nutrition based on the principles of addressing the root causes of illness, looking at the organ systems as a whole, and the gut as a dynamic ecosystem. Sometimes the ecosystem inside us is disrupted, which is a common root cause of further health decline if not attended to. However, bringing it back into balance can have a major impact on future disease risk and healing from current conditions. It is one foundational component of Functional Medicine used by physicians, registered dietitian nutritionists and health coaches.

Functional nutrition considers cultural, genetic, and lifestyle factors related to personalizing nutrition for the individual. This can include assessing medical history, diet and nutritional status, lifestyle habits (activity levels, stress burden, sleep patterns) and in some cases, genetic testing to get more specific with tailoring nutritional needs.

A Functional Systems Approach

Functional nutrition aims to apply the most recent understanding of systems approaches in nutrition and eating to support healing and maintenance of well-being. As such, recommendations will always center around high-quality whole foods and phytonutrient diversity, optimizing lifestyle for well-being, and when appropriate, targeted dietary supplementation to address clinical imbalances and move individuals toward the highest expression of health.

Nutrition therapy/counseling with patients is an effective way to manage numerous comorbid chronic illnesses. Having a dedicated IFNCP certified health care professional as part of your care team can help patients reach their personal health goals and those set forth by their primary provider. Patients report increased adherence to dietary interventions, citing more involvement in their own treatment plans and a sense of control over their health outcomes, when they work closely with dietitians or other nutrition professionals.

Let your food be your medicine. Learn from nations’ top functional medicine experts. Get your IFNCP functional nutrition certification today!

Written by Sheila Dean, DSc, RDN, IFNCP and Kathie Swift, MS, RDN, IFNCP

Sources:

Vasiloglou MF, Fletcher J, Poulia KA. Challenges and perspectives in nutritional counselling and nursing: a narrative review. J Clin Med. 2019;8(9):1489. doi:3390/jcm8091489

Sladdin I, Ball L, Bull C, Chaboyer W. Patient-centred care to improve dietetic practice: an integrative review. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2017;30(4):453-470. doi:1111/jhn.12444

Sladdin I, Chaboyer W, Ball L. Patients’ perceptions and experiences of patient-centred care in dietetic consultations. J Hum Nutr Diet. 2018;31(2):188-196. doi:1111/jhn.12507