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What is Functional Nutrition and How Might it Work For You

functionallifestyle functionalmedicine functionalnutrition womenshealth Dec 05, 2022
Beans, cheese, apple, avocados, broccoli in bowls on top of a table.

As a functional nutrition counselor, it is just one of the modalities I use in my practice, but it may very well be the approach that changes everything for my patients and clients. You have heard of functional medicine, but what about functional nutrition? Well, let’s take a look at both.

What is Functional Medicine?

To summarize, “functional” refers to being useful or whole. This is really how medicine should be. The goal of a functional practice is to address the underlying cause, or root, of a symptom or illness. This is getting to the root of what is not functional in the body. This is looking at one’s physiology. A system is then designed with the individual’s bio-individuality in mind. It becomes a therapeutic partnership between the practitioner and the client. Not only always keeping this partnership strong but also communicating with other members of the healthcare team of that individual, if needed.

What is Functional Nutrition?

Functional nutrition is taking the basis and theory of a functional medicine approach, specifically using food and nutrition as medicine. The practice is based on one’s bio-individuality, the biological makeup unique to them. No one Body is the same. By discovering what foods are not serving a person’s body well or what deficiencies may be present, individuals can start moving the needle toward their highest potential in health and wellness. Functional nutrition is about food and how it meets one’s physiology. In other words, physiology is the lock, and the food consumed is the key to deeper healing. For more information, you can read Are You Really What You Eat?

What is a Functional Lifestyle?

I title myself a functional lifestyle specialist, taking my nursing background, health, and life coaching experience and adding functional nutrition into the magical mix; we have a holistic approach to health and wellness. When we talk about holistic health and wellness, it is indeed similar to the functional modality. With both, we are referring to the whole person approach to treating and supporting someone’s wellness. The holistic approach considers all areas of one’s physical, emotional, mental, social, and environmental factors. Being functional examines what lifestyle modifications need to be made to propel someone toward their wellness goals. This is an individual approach and requires a deep dive into where a person is and then building a bridge to get them where they desire to be. It’s important to start where they are.

How Can it Help You?

By taking this approach to begin your healing journey, you can uncover the why underneath the why. In other words, root cause resolution, as opposed to symptom management. Conventional modalities may help for a period, but it is not sustainable by placing a band-aid on symptoms and never addressing the root cause. This is like having a pot of water on the stove that is boiling over and placing a top on it. The water will continue to boil unless you turn off the heat. When you can get in tune with your body and investigate further, you can make lifestyle modifications. You do this by looking at what is working and what isn’t. Then your body can be brought back to balance. This is what a functional lifestyle essentially creates; balance or homeostasis.

The 3 Main Roots to Healing

Here’s the thing. Chronic conditions will likely have more than one root cause. For example, a clinical researcher, Dr. Dale Bredeson, spoke about the cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease. He shared that there can be up to 36 roots when addressing the cause of Alzheimer’s and discusses the mistake our medical community makes in tackling this disease; by targeting it with one single approach. Keeping this in mind, it can be concluded that a disease like Alzheimer’s, and I will go out on a limb and say most of our chronic illnesses, need to be targeted by taking a personalized approach. Not everybody will fit into a protocol. Frankly, health and wellness do not belong in a box.

What we need to do is “back it up.” Start where a person is and back it up to these three primary roots. These three main roots have many branches. By addressing these three roots, we can start to address the many branches. Just as a plant cannot adequately survive without strong roots, the body is not much different. Likewise, the roots are only as healthy and strong as the soil they grow in. Do you see the connection? It is all connected, and there are many pieces to a puzzle to make it whole. What three roots am I referring to?


We all come with a genetic blueprint, but we now know that there are factors that influence our genetic disposition. These factors may be more important than the genes themselves, known as epigenetics. The definition of epigenetics is the study of changes in organisms caused by gene expression modification rather than altering the genetic code itself. It suggests that genes are not “fixed,” and their expressions can be changed over time. Our epigenome can turn genes on or off with the food we eat, environmental factors, stress levels, movement, thoughts, past traumas, etc.


If there is any dysfunction within the digestive system, no matter the food, even if it is the most nutrient-dense superfood, those nutrients may not even be absorbed and utilized in the body as it was meant to. Remember the soil I mentioned above? The soil in building that strong, functional root must be nourished. We can control this factor, but it’s up to the individual.


We can root back to inflammation when talking about things like autoimmune conditions, allergies, eczema, and even cancer. Inflammation and our immune system go hand in hand. The key to calming the inflammatory response is to remove triggers. An external trigger can be environmental factors, chemicals, or an allergy. The internal factors include food sensitivity, chronic stress, and toxic overload. The immune system is complex, and the key is to calm inflammation to bring our immune systems back to balance. We must clear the triggers!

Next, let’s take a look at some of the branches of these roots.

  • Fatigue
  • Insomnia
  • Migraines
  • Acne
  • Hashimoto’s
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Hormone Imbalances
  • Diabetes Type 2
  • Restless Leg Syndrome
  • Candida
  • Allergies
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Joint Pain
  • Eczema

And the list goes on. In other words, if it is a sign or symptom, it is not the root of your problem. It is a branch.

Start Today!

In conclusion, if you have been through all the “cookie cutter” solutions and still feel like it has become impossible to crack the code in shifting the way you feel or addressing the mysteries, I can help. Are you ready to reclaim your body and stop feeling like it’s a burden? Are you ready to understand “what’s going on in there” and start connecting the dots that our conventional healthcare is not equipped to take the time to do? Let’s talk if you are ready to be honored as a whole person and not just a diagnosis or symptom! You can start with a free 20-minute strategy call by booking here.


Blendon, Robert J., Benson, John M., Hero, Joachim O. “Public Trust in Physicians – U.S. Medicine in International Perspective,” New England Journal of Medicine Oct 23, 2014.