Functional nutrition is a personalized and integrative approach to healthcare that involves understanding the prevention, management, and root causes of complex chronic diseases. Functional nutrition has taken from integrative, holistic, conventional, and naturopathic models to offer the most comprehensive and effective approach to healthcare in the 21st century.
The term Functional Nutrition is a relatively new term. Current research is showing us that a number of modifiable factors are contributing to our health risks daily. The health community is learning that when biological systems are out of balance and lack essential fats, minerals, nutrients, or chemicals, the body will fall out of function resulting in disease issues.
The allopathic approach of using pharmaceutical drugs to treat or suppress symptoms in every patient is failing. This is why the patient trend is moving towards more alternative approaches to health. The added dimensions of functional nutrition allow Dr. Mark to go deeper into the body’s multiple complexities within our natural world.
It is necessary to take into account the mind, body, and spirit connection to fully assess a patient’s health no matter what form of care you are utilizing. Functional nutrition is often confused with terms like holistic, integrative, and natural medicine. Many use these terms interchangeably, but they are quite different.
What Is Functional Nutrition?
Functional nutrition focuses on the most current scientific research regarding how your genetics, environment and lifestyle interact as a whole system to diagnose and treat conditions. It is an evolution of medicine that better addresses the healthcare needs of the 21st century.
The goal is a shift in thinking where we go from treating the disease (disease-centered) to treating the person who has the disease (patient-centered). Functional nutrition addresses the whole person not just an isolated set of symptoms. Symptom suppression is only used as a temporary fix while seeking the root cause ensures optimal health for the patient.
Functional nutrition practitioners spend time with their patients, listen to their health history and look at interactions among genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors. These contribute to long-term health issues and complex, chronic diseases. In this way, functional nutrition supports the unique expression of health and vitality for each individual.
Why Do We Need Functional Nutrition?
Our society is experiencing higher rates in the number of people who suffer from complex, chronic diseases; such as, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, mental health issues, and autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis.
The acute care most physicians provide is short in duration and does not address the underlying problem. Physicians apply specific, prescribed treatments like drugs or surgery which target the immediate problem.
Unfortunately, this approach to care lacks the proper methodology and tools for preventing and treating disease. In most cases, they do not take into account the unique genetic makeup of each individual or lifestyle factors.
There is a lot of research to be done to show the effectiveness of this approach to care. Most physicians are not adequately trained to assess the underlying causes of chronic disease nor strategies to address nutrition, diet and exercise support to prevent illnesses in their patients.
How Is Functional Nutrition Different?
Functional nutrition involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of chronic diseases. The hallmark of functional nutrition is to be patient-centered. The focus of functional nutrition is on patient-centered care and promoting health beyond just the absence of disease.
Functional nutrition practitioners look for ways to think “outside the box” by considering the patient’s history, physiology, lifestyle, and genetic makeup while also considering internal (mind, body, and spirit) and external (physical and social environment) factors that affect optimal health.
Functional nutrition is a medical approach that addresses the underlying cause of disease. It helps answer the “why” question. This often involves deeper investigation and treatments that focus on the optimal functioning of the body and its organs.
Functional Nutrition Principles:
1. Every person is genetically and biochemically unique. Personalized health care and functional nutrition treat the individual, not the disease.
2. Everything is connected. There are complex and unique interactions between the gastrointestinal system, endocrine system, and immune system within the environment. A medical condition affecting one system may be stemming from somewhere else unnoticed.
3. Functional nutrition is science-based. It involves staying current on the most cutting-edge research to ensure that you are receiving the best care.
4. Your body has the capacity to heal and self-regulate. Disease is an imbalance of this process and treatment is aimed to restore your own ability to heal.
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