What is Functional Nutrition? Is it Right for Me?
Perhaps you’ve heard promotions for natural, holistic or alternative approaches to prevent and treat health conditions through diet. Maybe you rolled your eyes. Perhaps you did a quick internet search or asked a friend. One can’t blame you for being suspicious. There is an overabundance of health claims out there and it’s hard to sift out fact from fiction.
Functional nutrition focuses on addressing the root cause of your issues and trying to resolve them with a food is medicine approach. Functional nutrition may also address other lifestyle factors like genetics, emotional health and supplements, just to name a few.
Will I Need to Take a Ton of Supplements?
No! While supplements can be amazing tools in functional nutrition, focusing on food first can be a great start. There are therapeutic foods for a variety of health issues. Knowing what they are and how to incorporate them is what a functional dietitian can help you with.
Do I Have to Do Expensive Genetic and Lab Testing?
While these tests can provide wonderful information, it’s not necessarily a MUST get them done to make some positive changes. Not all lab tests are approved by insurance and could cost thousands of dollars. Some conventional labs provide insight to nutrient deficiencies or areas that need improvement.
Where Do I Find a Functional Nutrition Professional?
Because functional nutrition is so narrowly focused, you will want someone who has been trained in the science of food and nutrition – Registered Dietitians have this experience. Check the credentials and education of your nutrition provider. Ask to schedule a “get to know you call” prior to purchasing your sessions. You can share your goals and assess if working together is a good fit.
Can it Help my Diabetes? Adrenal Fatigue? IBS?
YES! The functional nutrition approach is not a quick fix, the supplements are not magic pills and the therapeutic diet won’t reverse 30 years of type 2 diabetes in a week. It will take full dedication; we’re talking about changing lifelong habits, controlling food cravings, changing schedules and more. However, if you have reached your breaking point, feel terrible and have not responded to traditional nutrition therapies, give it a try!
Interested in learning more about integrative and functional nutrition? Check out our Integrative and functional nutrition program at CHI Health!
Ellen Thomsen, MS, RD, LMNT, CDE is a clinical dietitian at CHI Health, working in Oncology and Functional nutrition. Ellen helps patients improve nutrition habits during cancer treatment and beyond. She is a group fitness instructor at the CHI Health Lakeside Wellness Center and enjoys helping people of all fitness abilities be active. Ellen is passionate about helping patients improve their lives through nutrition, activity and stress management.