Functional Nutrition (FN) views food as medicine, and aims to personalize a food plan to the individuals’ nutritional needs and cultural identity. Functional Nutrition considers not only what an individual eats, but also how and why it is consumed.
Functional Nutrition is similar to Functional Medicine in that Functional Medicine is patient-centered rather than a disease-centered practice. It focuses on the body as a whole ecosystem, with the main goal is to address the root-cause of symptoms, such as inflammation, energy levels, weight loss, gastrointestinal distress, skin issues, and brain fog. These symptoms can be clues to potential food-related health issues, such as nutritional deficiencies, food sensitivities, or food allergies. Functional Nutrition mirrors the Functional Medicine approach, looking at “food as medicine.”
Some principles of Functional Nutrition include:
- Focusing on eating the rainbow – Optimal health is built on a foundation of getting essential nutrients, which are found in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, quality protein, and healthy fat. “Food as medicine” means eliminating processed foods and eating a balanced diet full of colorful variety.
- Taking care of your microbiome – With over 70% of your immune system living in your gut, it’s imperative that you support the gut environment through your food and lifestyle. A diet full of processed foods can wreak havoc on your gut lining, causing leaky gut and leading to a host of health issues, such as bloating, gas, indigestion, brain fog, and chronic inflammation. Supporting your gut can include eating plenty of fiber and fermented foods, staying hydrated, and being physically active.
- Lifestyle off the plate – Areas of your life, such as the quality of your relationships, your stress levels, and even your sleep routine, all impact the way your body processes and assimilates to the food you eat. If you don’t sleep well, and you experience high stress, you’re not setting your body up for success to utilize the quality nutrients you’re feeding it. A lack of sleep in combination with stress can also cause you to reach for the sugar-laden foods that produce that “feel good” feeling in the brain, but quickly cause a crash in both your mood and energy. By taking a look at your life experiences beyond the plate, Functional Nutrition can support you in making better nutritional choices that fit your needs and goals.
Functional Medicine Certified Health Coaches (FMCHC) know the importances of staying in the health coach’s scope of practice, meaning they do not prescribe or encourage a particular diet or food plan. Instead, Functional Medicine Health Coaches guide clients toward choices that are more appropriate for desired outcomes, and share food plans as educational resources when appropriate.
Our Health Coach Certification Program at the Functional Medicine Coaching Academy (FMCASM) is designed in collaboration with The Institute for Functional Medicine (IFM). This means we teach Functional Nutrition using the IFM Tool Kit, which contains food plans and other valued resources. Additionally, we share many educators with IFM, so you can learn Functional Nutrition from IFM educators such as Monique Class, MS, APRN, BC, and Kristi Hughes, ND, FMCHC.
FMCHC’s are able to facilitate the implementation of food plans by using a tool called the Functional Nutrition Dietary Intervention Map. When looking at the Functional Nutrition Dietary Intervention Map, we are able to educate our clients on the foundation of healthy eating. Then, we are able to identify, “Is there a food plan that meets their unique, specific needs?” From there, we are able to go on and do further personalization to meet the specific goals therapeutically identified through exploring their medical case and their history. For example, educating clients on macronutrients such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, serving sizes, or specific food plan protocols.
At FMCA, we know that food IS medicine! Explore how you can start a transformation through Functional Nutrition: Become a Functional Medicine Health Coach, or find a Functional Medicine Health Coach to work with!
Published: October 22. 2021