A Better Approach to Healthcare

We have a true healthcare crisis in the United States. Rates of chronic disease, autoimmune disease, infertility, and more continue to increase even though we are spending more money than ever on drugs, surgery, and medical innovation. 

Most conventional doctors practice a prescriptive, siloed approach: 1. Identify the symptoms, 2. Diagnose the condition, 3. Prescribe medications to manage the symptoms. But we need to be asking: Why is all of this happening? How are all of these symptoms connected? And how is nutrition related? 

Drugs and surgery don’t fix the problem. You can’t medicate a society’s way out of an inflammatory food supply, yet that’s exactly what the healthcare and processed food industry attempts to do. But you deserve better! 

That’s exactly why I’ve dedicated my life to practicing functional nutrition and have helped thousands of people transform their health, reverse conditions, and improve their relationship with health using functional nutrition. Most symptoms and conditions are driven by blood sugar imbalances, chronic inflammation, poor gut health, hormonal imbalances and mitochondrial dysfunction—all of these are directly impacted by your nutrition and lifestyle. 

Today, I’m breaking down exactly what functional nutrition is, why this approach is critical for everyone, and how to implement the principles of functional nutrition on your own. So, let’s dig in.

What is Functional Nutrition?

Functional nutrition puts food and lifestyle at the center of your healthcare. It’s about focusing on food principles that help your body create health on a cellular level so that you can feel good, prevent disease, and live life more fully. It’s about nourishing this one body that you’ve been given as an expression of self-respect and appreciation. 

Here are four key principles: 

1. Functional Nutrition Uses Food as Medicine

“The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore said it best. Whole, real food contains thousands of micronutrients, vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants, and more that all work harmoniously to keep each cell, tissue, organ, and pathway functioning optimally. Foods that contain more of these nutrients fuel more of your body’s energetic demands. And foods that are void of these components that are highly processed, fuel inflammatory pathways. How well your body functions depends on the health of your cells. Your cells receive the information they need to function from the nutrients you eat. Food is therefore essential for health. 

2. Functional Nutrition is Individualized, Patient-Centered, and Rigorously Rooted in Emergent Research

Just as no two fingerprints are alike, no two peoples’ health is the same, either. Two people may experience the same issue, like chronic headaches, but have many different causes (dehydration, magnesium deficiency, stress, blood sugar spikes, etc.) . Your entire health history, including your diet, environmental exposures, lifestyle practices, and more is incredibly unique to you. When you view the approach to healthcare through this lens, standardized interventions make zero sense. Health is not one-size-fits-all. Nutrition is not one-size-fits-all. Therefore, your interventions should never be one-size-fits-all.

3. Functional Nutrition is a Systems-Based Approach to Medicine that Seeks to Understand How and Why Illness Occurs

Functional nutrition does not focus on treating symptoms. Instead, it addresses the root of the problem, which will often lead to eliminating or improving symptoms. Instead of asking “what” the problem is, functional nutrition asks, “why?” It takes the individual as a whole, asks ‘how’ and ‘why’ the symptoms appear, uncovers the root cause of disease, and addresses the root cause to create health. The difference is fundamental.

4. Functional Nutrition Views the Body and the World Around Us as Intimately Interconnected 

People do not live in silos. Organs do not function in a siloed fashion. Everything in our lives affects our health. Functional nutrition reminds us that the body systems are all connected and that we are in a dynamic interaction with the world around us through the food we eat, our genetics, individual biochemistry, and the environments in which we live. And, importantly, our community, connection, exposure to nature, and relationships are part of the crucial ecosystem that directs (or destroys) health. Having a strong social network, close relationships, and others around you who are similarly proactive about their health are all keys to achieving optimal health. You can eat all the kale in the world, but if you don’t have meaningful personal connections, it’s difficult to achieve optimal health. 

Putting it all Together

An illustration that I have used for years demonstrates a sick fish living in two different environments. There are two fundamental approaches to treating the sick fish. The conventional medical system would prescribe this fish a drug to combat any negative side effects from living in a dirty tank. The functional nutrition system focuses on cleaning fish’s environment (the tank). 

How To Apply Functional Nutrition Principles Today

1. Accept that your Symptoms Aren’t Happening Randomly

Congestion, bloating, joint pain, irregular cycles, mood swings, fatigue–they are rarely happening randomly. It’s your body’s way of communicating that something is off. Think about the underlying root cause and learn your patterns. 

2. Use Food for Health

Start by incorporating whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Try to cook meals at home and start reading ingredient labels.

3. Clean up your Environment

Reduce the amount of plastic and synthetic materials you use daily. Reach for glass, stainless steel, silicon, and ceramic for cooking and food storage. Buy organic when you can, and if you can’t, shop for produce following the Clean Fifteen (okay if not organic) and DirtyDozen (buy organic if possible). Consider investing in air and water filters—my favorites are AirDoctor and AquaTru.

4. Remind Yourself that You Are More Powerful than you Know

So much of what you are capable of achieving comes down to what you believe about yourself. We have the ability to rewire our thoughts and beliefs to be more aligned with becoming a higher version of ourselves. You don’t have to stay stuck. 

5. Work with a Board-Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner

Most conventional doctors are not trained to identify the root cause of symptoms or diseases and receive less than 20 hours of nutrition education in medical school. It can be helpful to work with a functional nutrition practitioner to suggest the correct lab tests, supplement protocol, and dietary interventions to help you uncover the cause, improve your relationship with food, and support you on your health journey. (If you’d like to learn more, I offer different programs specifically aimed at this. Check them out here.) 

I’ve made it my mission to use the principles of functional nutrition to help as many people as I can. Over the past decade, I’ve dedicated myself to learning as much as I can about what it takes to create optimal health. I’ve worked with thousands of clients using these principles and have witnessed transformations that feel like miracles. But they’re not. They are what happens when you treat the body like a garden—when you cultivate rich, abundant soil, keep weeds and pests at bay, and give plenty of sun, water, and fertilizer, you create an environment where life can thrive.

In Health,