becoming gluten free _ Jasmine Blake _ N

Conventional and Functional


A common problem in the healthcare field is… people don't know what actually is functional nutrition? Many people want to know, what is functional nutrition, and they also aren’t too sure about what their nutritional fingerprint is. So, today I’ll explain exactly what is functional nutrition, and how does it support preventative care and healing? I will also explain what a nutritional fingerprint is, and how does it relate to our personal lives as individuals.

Before we can dive into what functional nutrition is, it's probably best if I first explain the difference between conventional medicine and functional medicine. 


Conventional medicine aims to diagnose and give medication to people who do not fit into a certain window of diagnostic criteria. If you are out of this window then it is said your body’s functioning is off. Doctors will find this information out by using labs to assess certain levels of biochemical processes in your blood. When a person's biochemical processes are malfunctioning, doctors will aim to reduce the signs and symptoms, and they manage these symptoms until a person will get better. 


Some doctors called surgeons may need to remove certain organ systems of a body to give a person more time to live. Each doctor has a different specialty area that they'll look at, and if you are out of their scope of practice, they will have to send you to an appropriate specialist to care for your issue or disease condition. For example, an endocrinologist will look at people with diabetes or thyroid. An immunologist will look at people with viral infections or bacterial infections, and immune problems. A cardiologist will look at people with heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol.


Conventional practitioners look at a 98% population model. Basically, if this can work for 98% of the population, then most likely it'll work for you. They prescribe you medication and manage you from there on out.


Functional Medicine determines how and why illness or disease occurs. These types of practitioners aim to restore a person's health by looking into the root causes of their disease. They look at a person individually instead of based off the 98% model.


This model is patient-centered and personalized. The practitioner will actually look at your genetic history, lifestyle history, personality and psychological history, along with diet history, family history, and many other areas. They leverage this data to come up with an individualized plan for better patient outcomes. They look at the whole body instead of one organ system and work around the individual's life. They aim to treat signs and symptoms naturally or holistically to reduce medications and ultimately reverse disease. 

What is functional nutrition?

So what is functional nutrition? Functional Nutrition is a lot like functional medicine, except as nutritionists we do not focus on diagnosing diseases. Functional Nutrition emphasizes on eating healthily and tailoring to your dietary needs. It's personalized to your genetics, lifestyle, environment, and health concerns. Functional Nutrition offers effective strategies and tools to improve your health, and sometimes as nutritionists, we do that by including weekly food and shopping schedules, recipes, and recommendations about cooking and food storage methods, as well as steps to achieve mindful eating.


Clinical nutritionists use a method called medical nutrition therapy to help prevent diseases and conditions from forming and reduce the risk of disease. Sometimes we use MNT to treat diseases alongside your physician.  We start with a standard of care and then add new tools and strategies from evidence-based research to help identify and address the root cause of your disease through nutritional imbalances. The treatment we give is through diet and lifestyle protocol by changes for each person individually. This type of therapy is about finding the right way to eat for each person on an individual basis. We use food to maximize the potential for health to ultimately reduce inflammation, repair the body’s way of functioning, and reverse disease. There is no perfect diet. There is no right way for every person to eat. 


See, we all have our own bio-individual fingerprint, and this is even case for twins. You may want to eat like your friend or brother or sister, but the fact is your body will take that way of eating completely different from the other person. One condition may have different causes or one cause may result in many different conditions. Our job is to help each person figure out what pattern of eating will benefit them. Finding out your nutritional fingerprint is not a diet. It is a lifestyle change. We have different genetic backgrounds, different preferences, and different lives. Once we figure it out, it is our job to play by our body's rules, our body’s law of nature, and we should continue to do so. We all want to be healthy, but most of us haven’t figured out just how to make food and dietary patterns serve that goal.  


When you work with a Functional Practitioner, a nutrition practitioner they help you understand and implement your personalized Core Food plan, you will have access to a wealth of information, and additional information to educate and support you in adopting a new approach to food and nutrition. Your lifestyle will be different and your provider will also determine whether other interventions are needed.

Old Sayings

An old saying is, “what is done cannot be undone.” Although that is true in a sense, it is not all the way true. About 85% of diseases can actually be reversed if the measures begin before the point of no return. That is, if a certain organ system is only working at 25% capacity, then you may be at the point of no return, but this number can vary depending on the person. Remember we're all different. 


There is also another saying, “what I have is genetic. My mother had it, my father has it, so does my brother and sister.” Wrong. Only 5-10% of diseases are genetic and you would know if you have a genetic disease because these diseases come from birth. In most cases what physicians mean when they say it could be genetic, is that you are actually genetically susceptible. That means you have an increased likelihood of developing a particular disease. This also is called a genetic predisposition. Meaning if you treat your body poorly and do not properly maintain the functionality of it, you most likely will end up with that disease also.


As well, in many cases, many families eat very similarly. People say, “well my parents ate this way and so did my grandparents” and both of them both had diabetes." This is an example of course. But the common saying is, "similar diseases run in families." So, a good example is, if s father had Alzheimer's, and his father had dementia, his father's wife had depression, the brother or son may end up, maybe mentally disabled, or have some kind of mental condition because all these disorders and diseases are of the brain. That's just an example. But what I'm trying to say is that it would only make sense if you say you ate the same way as your family or live similarly, then you may end up with similar complications. And that's genetic susceptibility.


There is a saying, “Well I tried this diet and it doesn’t work.” Well have you ever heard the saying, “what goes up, must come down?” The fact of the matter is, it takes a long time for a disease to develop and you don’t get heart disease overnight. It takes years and decades for the plaque arteries to build -up. Therefore it would only make sense to understand that it may take some time for it to resolve. Remember there are lots of sayings, but know the facts and try to learn about how things happen first. anyone can make a change, but let’s stick to facts and learn about how first. When learning Functional Nutrition you learn the concepts, strategies, and your given the tools to make things happen! 





AADP: Certification #39163904, EXP: 05/21



Sarah Bingham, MS, LDN, CNS, License #ND7406

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