Functional Nutrition Therapy
Modern commercial food production and processing methods create cheap, poor quality food. This food has a longer shelf-life and so is more desirable to large stores whilst providing fewer nutrients. The evidence is stacking up that our lifestyle choices, particularly our daily food choices are causing most chronic health problems. The truth is that regularly consuming poor quality processed foods is making people ill. Making key changes, especially eating better quality food has huge potential for supporting the return of optimal health.
The impact of nutrition on chronic disease
We live in an era where people can eat too much food, but still be under-nourished. Not only is the food lacking in nutrients, but diets generally lack variety. As food quality and diversity declines, we are seeing a decline in human health. We are also seeing higher levels of chronic conditions around the world. This means that more people are struggling with inflammation, heart disease, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune disease, food sensitivity, brain fog and a lack of energy. Many of these problems have links to diet and nutrition.
What is functional nutrition therapy?
Functional nutrition therapy is a form of natural medicine. Functional nutrition makes healthy nutrition the foundation for good health not to mention peak performance. But there is no one perfect diet or food plan that is right for everyone. We are all unique with unique needs. For instance, we have different genetics, health histories, food preferences and different schedules. Each of these will have an influence on what is right for us. Finding the right food plan for you can maximise your health potential and even reverse chronic disease.
Functional nutritional therapy offers the means and strategies to find the right diet or food plan for you. With an emphasis on a functional medicine approach to health assessment. This includes diet, lifestyle factors, stress management, quality of sleep and more.
How is functional medicine different to conventional medicine?
Functional medicine is different to conventional medicine. While a conventional doctor might discover that your blood sugar or cholesterol is a little on the high side. Or maybe your vitamin status is a little on the low side. But, rather than try to understand why they may simply wait for your test results to get slowly worse. Once your results are out of normal range, they might suggest prescription medication to offset any symptoms.
You might feel fine and look fine but your results are slowly getting worse. You might not have any symptoms yet but as the condition progresses it can become a slippery slope.
With a deep understanding of the underlying factors of disease, it is possible to reverse this situation. Functional medicine looks at the inter-connected underlying factors using a tool called the functional medicine matrix. We can look at clinical imbalances and recommend nutrition interventions as part of a wider treatment protocol.
For instance, if the food you eat does not provide adequate nutrients. Or you don't digest your food very well. You may have a functional deficiency of micronutrients. For instance, low levels of magnesium, chromium, vitamin D or omega-3 fatty acids. You wouldn't necessarily have overt deficiency symptoms but your body may not function at its best.
How can you benefit from a functional medicine approach?
Practitioners with training in functional health, focus on the individual. They are not just looking at symptom management, but getting to the root cause, addressing it and promoting healing.
For example, if someone has a diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome, a western medicine doctor might suggest a low fodmap diet. There is nothing wrong with the low fodmap diet. It can help a lot with IBS symptoms. But, the real need, is to find the underlying cause, as we do with functional nutrition. Most IBS occurs after a gut infection, but symptoms may not show up for months after the infection is over. So the doctor may not realise the connection. What you need here is a functional approach. For instance, we might want to rule out SIBO, gut dysbiosis, parasites, food sensitivities or food intolerance. The root cause should always guide the clinical protocol. For example, there is not much point in suggesting dietary supplements such as probiotics for IBS symptoms, if the person has an obstruction in the bowel caused by endometriosis.
A functional approach would involve identifying underlying causes with functional lab testing if appropriate. And it always involves a comprehensive assessment. This would include an evaluation of biochemical imbalances and nutrition status.
The patient is included in the discovery process, and the practitioner tailors the treatment to meet their needs. This is what is called a patient-centred approach. The ultimate goal is to promote health that goes beyond the absence of disease.
Who offers a functional medicine approach?
At the Holistic Health Centre, your therapist is trained in functional nutrition and functional medicine. As well as being an experienced medical herbalist.
She is also a registered GAPS practitioner. The GAPS diet was developed to help people with both digestive and psychological health problems, as is often found for example in autism.
Nikki also specialises in the utilisation of other elimination diets such as the low FODMAPs diet. Elimination diets can be personalised to improve general health or for specific conditions. In particular people with autoimmune conditions and other chronic health issues can benefit from elimination diets. These can be explained and provided during a consultation process.
As a nutrition professional, she considers a person’s current health concerns, how this affects their overall health and how different foods will influence overall health, then create a personalised nutrition plan. Since functional nutrition looks at how food affects the entire body and affects different people, this holistic approach has many benefits.
Personalised nutrition programs are available as a stand-alone therapy or alongside other therapies.
What is a personalised nutrition program?
Good nutrition is not as simple as avoiding processed foods or eating a plant-based diet. Ideally, the diet should contain adequate nutrients, from nutrient-dense foods and be without contaminants. The nutrient content of many foods is often low due to improper handling, such as storage or cooking methods.
Basic recommendations might include eating organic produce where possible. Avoiding processed foods and emphasising whole foods, vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes. Including nuts and seeds, fish and free-range, preferably grass-fed and organic meats and poultry.
Eating a wide variety of whole foods is really important. And, it is an excellent idea to include a rainbow of foods in your diet every day. The different colours in foods are due to different compounds in the food. So, by avoiding all green vegetables, for instance, you are depriving your body of all the goodness that goes with those beneficial compounds.
All this is part of the bespoke approach. For instance, someone who is looking to reverse a chronic health problem may need to be more strict with their dietary choices than someone who simply wants to maintain health.
To find out more book a free, no-obligation discovery call with Nikki.