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What is Integrative and Functional Nutrition?

Do you ever wonder why you aren’t getting any better? The answer may be right underneath your nose.

Hippocrates, the father of Western medicine stated, “Let medicine be thy food and let food be thy medicine.”

It was his belief that eating wholesome food is the basis of good health. Hippocrates also said almost 2500 years ago, “Leave your drugs in the chemist’s pot if you can heal the patient with food.”

What is integrative and functional nutrition?

Integrative and functional nutrition utilizes a systems-based approach to test the many factors that can block health and wellness. It searches for the root causes of conditions.

These may include

  • stress
  • toxins
  • adverse food reactions
  • infections
  • the nutrition plan you have been on. 

As an integrative and functional nutritionist, I strive for a holistic approach. It incorporates lifestyle, foods, labs, and supplements to create a nutrition care plan. My comprehensive assessment helps me design a personalized treatment plan, tailored to each patient’s unique needs and lifestyle. Our goal is to support the fullest expression of health and healing. 

This integrated approach can dramatically improve patient outcomes and their quality of life.

What is health?

You deserve to be healthy, right? But what does health mean to you? 

To me, being healthy is priceless. Who wants to spend more time in the doctor’s office due to being sick or having to pop more pills? I encourage you to assess how you really feel and ask yourself, “Could I be feeling better?” 

We as humans adapt how we feel to our environment. I have heard from many people that their illness or condition has been a part of their life for years. It becomes normal for them to feel sick or have aches or pain.

My philosophy with each patient I meet is, this is unacceptable. You only live once. And you don’t want to look back and wish you would have done something to have better health. 

So, I encourage you to see how you can make a change in your life to feel better, have more energy, and be pain-free.

Who’s the expert?

When I went to school, I studied nutrition and dietetics. I learned about treating disease. I also learned about the food guide pyramid (FGP) and it seemed appropriate at the time. 

The FGP recommended

  • 6-11 servings of grains
  • 3-5 servings of vegetables
  • 2-4 servings of fruits
  • 2-3 servings of dairy
  • 2-3 servings of protein
  • and fats, oils, and sweets sparingly.

The FGP was a balanced approach–or so we thought.

Now, I’m not saying that any one of the food groups on the FGP is bad. In fact, I’m not even saying a food or food group is bad or good, for the most part. But some people may need restrictions on certain foods, or simply to de-emphasize a food group.

Currently, the path to health is a patient-centered approach. I take lifestyle and genetics into consideration. 

Nutrigenomics is the scientific study of the interaction of nutrition and genes. Especially with regard to the prevention or treatment of disease.

There has been a big emphasis on learning more about how genetics plays a part in health. You may have certain genetics, but that doesn’t mean you will get a particular illness or disease. Your lifestyle and environment can determine if illness or disease is expressed.

This is epigenetics. Leading a mindful life that has some quietude, limits exotoxins, and moderates exercise enable the human body to function as it was intended to. This evolution of integrative and functional nutrition goes to the root causes and gets people feeling better.

As a registered dietitian, I deal with many different nutrition-related conditions. Sometimes, I put patients on food restrictions but usually only for a short period of time. That is unless long-term restrictions make sense. 

Take, for example, if someone has celiac disease. They should avoid gluten. Or if someone has lactose intolerance, they should avoid lactose in dairy products. Public awareness of these conditions is becoming high. 

But, what if someone is sensitive to beef, broccoli, strawberries, oats, soybeans, corn, or sodium metabisulfite (SM)? Most people have never heard of someone being sensitive to these foods. 

And what is SM, and what is a food sensitivity? You can read more about these sensitivities in this post. 

For now, it’s enough to note that you have a good chance of having sensitivities to foods. And those sensitivities are not the same as a food allergy. 

By the way, you are consuming SM and a bunch of other ingredients you can’t pronounce. 

SM is a preservative in a wide range of prepared food products. It can cause problems for people that are asthmatic such as wheezing, congestion, anaphylaxis, and shortness of breath. For a normal person, excess SM can cause nausea, diarrhea, gas, and headaches. 

Do you feel like you may have food sensitivities or excess inflammation in your body? An integrative and functional nutritionist can help decrease your symptoms. Together you can calm your immune system, heal your gut, and decrease inflammation.