What is Functional Nutrition?

Functional Nutrition is an alternative, effective approach or complement to caring for your health. The body’s innate ability to heal itself is at the core of functional health care’s philosophy. Using diet, lifestyle changes, lab work, and proper supplementation, functional nutrition is built to help you create optimal health.

The training to become a functional nutritionist is rigorous and research-based. Understanding western science to describe pathologies is coupled with the understanding of intertwined complexities the whole body presents. All of our body systems are connected. So like an ecosystem, there is no single entity that creates balance.

Pillars of functional nutrition:

  • Nutrient-dense diet

  • Proper supplementation

  • Attention to mind-body connection

  • Understanding bioindividuality

pc:  Amy Hulst

Functional nutritionists look at the whole history of an individual as part of their health story. Emotional events, stress, and trauma are all examples of factors that can influence your health. Environmental toxicity from conventional self-care and home products can cause a slew of health degradation. Functional nutritionists look at every aspect of your life before creating a process to achieve optimal health. Forming optimal diet and lifestyle habits now is called preventive health care. It’s easier (and more cost effective) to be proactive than reactive in your health.

While conventional doctors hand out prescriptions for symptoms, functional health care specialists look to heal the root cause of your symptoms.

pc:  Amy Hulst

Functional nutritionists analyze lab work from both conventional and functional ranges to grasp a full perspective of where pathologies and dysfunctions stem from. Conventional ranges tend to indicate extremes, yet don’t account for the nuances of where a patient feels in these values. Take the thyroid for example, many people with hypothyroidism go undiagnosed by a conventional practitioner because they don’t test a full thyroid panel or look at values in relation to one another. Again, conventional health care looks at symptoms as separate issues to be treated individually. On the other hand, a functional nutritionist can gather from your symptoms that a potential thyroid dysfunction is occurring and recommend what lab values your doctor should order for you through insurance.

Functional nutritionists do the job that doctors don’t have time for.

The average primary care physician visit is less than 8 minutes long. And many of the complaints people go to doctors for can be addressed with diet and lifestyle recommendations along with supplementation. The average American is on multiple medications, battles chronic pathologies, and thinks their problems are genetic and/or there is no quantifiable cause. Functional nutrition looks heavily at epigenetics, the well-researched fact that our diet and lifestyle influence the expression of our genes.

I see people doing their best but making choices that negatively impact their health, simply because they don’t know any better. I’m in the business, as a functional nutritionist, to change how my community understands and treats their health. Doctors don’t have time to explain the connections of diet and lifestyle to health. It’s easy and more cost-effective through insurance to hand out a pill for a symptom and look no further. Functional nutritionists don’t exist to put down the work of conventional medicine. They exist to complement it.

pc:  Amy Hulst

I believe with conviction that to save the rapidly declining health of our nation requires a switch from treating symptoms to healing the root cause of illness. This means listening, validating, recommending attainable changes, and following through with the individuals seeking optimal health.

Who seeks out a functional nutritionist?

  • Someone who has been to multiple doctors for symptoms but hasn't gotten answers or symptom relief.  

  • Someone who needs to be heard and have their whole health history looked at.

  • Someone looking for science-backed clinical knowledge

    of how the body works.

  • Someone who believes with conviction that food is medicine.

  • Someone looking to prevent future health conditions.

A functional nutritionist meets you where you’re at in your health journey. I’m an advocate for your optimal health and I encourage you to make change without judgement. I found functional nutrition for myself after conventional doctors had failed to help me. They didn’t have the time or knowledge to look for what was causing my pathologies. I had to become my own health care advocate or I would have never felt better.

What has functional nutrition been proven to help with?

  • Address food allergies, intolerances, and sensitivities

  • Achieve and maintain weight loss

  • Strengthen the immune system

  • Manage chronic conditions and disease

  • Prevent conditions and disease

  • Improve sleep

  • Manage anxiety and stress

  • Heal the gut and improve digestion

The above list is by no means complete, just a snapshot at the many scenarios functional nutritionists are trained to work with. As a Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner (CNTP), I have taken extensive coursework in biochemistry, anatomy and physiology, pathophysiology, endocrinology, and digestion and detoxification to name a few. I regularly attend continuing education seminars based on the latest research in the Western world. Some of these have included epigenetics, mitochondrial function, environmental toxicity, and hormone balance. In the spring of 2019, I will be move up another step in education as a Master Nutrition Therapist (MNT) and becoming Board-Certified Holistic Nutritionist (BCHN) with the National Association of Nutrition Professionals (NANP).