Functional Nutrition is a powerful cornerstone of functional medicine. A functional-medicine practitioner looks at the big picture and evaluates the body as a whole to determine the root cause of an issue rather than just treating symptoms being reported. Functional nutritionists work in much the same way. There is no old-school pyramid or food plate. There is no outdated advice on low-fat or calories in versus calories out.
Instead, nutrition is individualized for each person based on a myriad of factors that include genetics, lab values, lifestyle, and more. No two people or bodies are the same. Therefore, every person needs different foods to feel their best and thrive. One person’s panacea is another’s poison.
And, while each person’s journey towards optimal health looks different, in functional nutrition there are a few main principles that apply to everyone: no deprivation or cookie-cutter yo-yo diet culture, no calorie counting, or number crunching, and no perfectionist eating strategy.
Plainly, we use whole, unprocessed foods as a natural medicine to help reduce inflammation, heal the gut, rebuild nutrient deficiencies, and eventually restore balance in the body and reduce symptoms. There are no generic meal plans or handouts. But, we do believe that good health is established in your kitchen. To put it simply, food is medicine (thank you, Hippocrates).
FUNCTIONAL NUTRITION IN ACTION
As a quick example, let’s look at a case study. Mrs. G came in to see the nutritionist for counseling for Meniere’s disease and acid reflux. She suffers from vertigo, frequent migraines, bloating, and indigestion. In a conventional nutrition setting, Mrs. G might receive a standard GERD diet plan and be referred to a physician for a prescription for vertigo and another for reflux. A typical anti-reflux diet eliminates foods that may worsen symptoms in GERD patients. However, there is no standardized diet for Meniere’s disease and not all patients have the same reactions to all foods.
If we treat Mrs. G from a functional nutrition perspective (keeping in mind that each treatment is different), we might recommend personalized lab testing to learn how her immune system reacts to specific foods. We would also assess labs for underlying vitamin or mineral deficiencies. And, we would develop a personalized elimination diet based on Mrs. G’s lab results. Some patients require more targeted interventions with specific foods to treat the underlying cause of their health issues.
BUT, WAIT, THERE IS MORE
While functional nutrition obviously pays special attention to the power of whole, nourishing foods, it also understands that there is more to optimal health than purely what you eat. Similar to functional medicine, a functional nutritionist will inquire about your lifestyle: your stress levels, your sleep patterns, even your relationships, and overall environment all factor in.
All of these elements work synergistically and also have a bidirectional effect on your nutrition. For example, stress can worsen GERD and vertigo symptoms, as in Mrs. G’s case. Additionally, your sleep habits and stress levels affect your digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body. A functional medicine nutritionist can help you establish a stress management routine to further reduce symptoms; this may include food recommendations or supplements to aid your body in coping.
Through our testing, review, and in-depth evaluation, you will learn more about yourself and transform your lifestyle to feel well for the long term.
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“Dr. Michelle Iona listens to what you’re saying and tailors treatment accordingly. She has helped me improve my diet, which has helped with a long standing medical condition as well as lose weight. I highly recommend Dr. Iona.”Nancy M.
“So impressed with Michelle’s knowledge and level of care. After seeing several regular doctors and feeling like I was crazy, Michelle reviewed my bloodwork and had a clear plan of action to treat the root cause of my symptoms rather than a traditional band-aid approach. I’ve never felt better!”Kendra B.
“My doctor, Dr. Murphy, recommended Healing Points for my arthritis and diet issues. Since my many surgeries in the past I was having difficulty maintaining a healthy weight. Dr. Iona immediately started me on an elimination diet and acupuncture program which has been so successful. She is such a positive and intelligent guide as I navigate this new way of living and eating. My arthritis has subdued substantially. I have begun to lose weight after 15 years of trying. The calmness I have been experiencing in my busy life is such a gift. Managing stress finally feels doable. I highly recommend trying this program if others have failed you. The office is welcoming and Judy , her assistant, also is quite helpful in explaining billing and products. Mostly, Dr. Iona really cares for her patients and encourages everyone in their successes. This is a win win for me. I highly recommend her.”Peggy G.