What is Functional Nutrition?


Functional medicine and nutrition are tightly connected.  Functional medicine involves understanding the origins, prevention, and treatment of complex, chronic disease.  The functional medicine approach includes patient-centered care, integrative, science-based approach, and utilizing the best of conventional Western and integrative medical techniques.  For instance, this could involve recommending pharmaceutical treatments along side stress-reducing techniques like meditation. 

Functional medicine is a systems-oriented, science-based approach that involves understanding a patient’s biochemistry, physiology, genetics, and environmental exposures. 

Addressing root causes in the functional medicine paradigm almost always involves addressing and improving the diet.  Therefore, proper nutrition is of vital importance in functional medicine.

Functional Nutrition vs Functional Medicine

While there is a very high degree of overlap between functional nutrition and functional medicine—including addressing sleep, stress, environmental toxin exposure, physical activity, and implementing dietary changes, there are some things that are beyond a functional dietitian’s scope of practice.  Obviously functional MDs can recommend drugs and RDs cannot.  Also, there are some natural supplements that have potent drug-like effects that no self-respecting functional dietitian would recommend without being monitored by a physician.  The ability to order labs is highly variable from state to state, but most functional dietitians can and do recommend testing, but often in collaboration with a physician. 

More info

For more information on Functional Medicine as well as Functional Nutrition, check out the Institute for Functional Medicine, as well as Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine. Or schedule your free consultation!