What is Functional Nutrition?

Functional Nutrition is a new and growing field intertwining clinical nutrition with Functional Medicine. Functional nutrition represents the core of Functional Medicine

Most people do not have optimal nutrition.[1] As a result, we are seeing record levels of chronic disease.[2] Many of these people with chronic disease are treated by practitioners who prescribe pharmaceuticals.[3,4] Other highly effective alternatives exist – nutritionists recognize the availability of these less-invasive yet highly effective options.

 When high-quality nutrition is used effectively and consistently, it can (to name a few examples): 

  • Prevent future chronic disease in adolescents[5]
  • Enhance cognition in people with dementia[6]
  • Improve outcomes in patients receiving colorectal and GI oncological surgeries[7]

Furthermore, in patients who are confined to the hospital for any reason, nutrition support is associated with fewer infectious complications and shorter lengths of stays. Research shows disease prevention and surgical recovery improve when supported by proper nutrition.[8,9]

Chronic diseases account for the majority of health concerns in middle-aged and older populations. Many of these conditions respond well to nutritional interventions. Obesity, diabetes, hypertension, and cardiovascular disease are strongly linked to lifestyle choices, primarily dietary choices.[10,11] By utilizing functional nutrition, one can overcome these and build health while restoring proper function of the body.

Functional nutrition looks at your whole picture — diet, symptoms, illness history, medications, lifestyle, toxic exposure, history of antibiotic use, stress, lab work, etc., — and puts together an individualized plan. This plan serves as a road-map for the nutrition your body needs to build health and prevent illness.

Functional nutrition recognizes that each person has their own unique genetic makeup and biochemistry. It focuses on the whole person wellness and how nutrition, environment, and lifestyle affect an individual’s health on a cellular level. It asks “Why?” and looks to uncover the root cause of a condition to promote true healing.

As always, if you have any questions or would like to discuss this further, please don’t hesitate to contact me to answer those questions and/or put together a plan just for you!  

For more information visit The Institute for Functional Medicine at www.ifm.org.


  1. Wannairachige D. Malnourished patients often unacknowledged. CMAJ. 2015;187(4):242. doi:10.1503/cmaj.109-4991.
  2. Ward BW, Schiller JS, Goodman RA. Multiple chronic conditions among US adults: a 2012 update. Prev Chronic Dis. 2014;11:E62. doi:10.5888/pcd11.130389.
  3. Robbins R. Big pharma’s big push to get patients to take their meds. STAT News. https://www.statnews.com/2016/02/04/big-pharma-medication-adherence. Published February 4, 2016. Accessed August 18, 2017.
  4. Cochran A. Does your doctor have ties to big pharma? How you’ll be able to find out. CBS News. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/does-your-doc-have-ties-to-big-pharma-how-youll-be-able-to-find-out. Published March 4, 2014. Accessed August 18, 2017.
  5. Ozdemir A. Macronutrients in adolescence. Int J Caring Sci. 2016;9(2):1162-66.
  6. Anderson JG, Lopez RP, Rose KM, Specht JK. Nonpharmacological strategies for patients with early-stage dementia or mild cognitive impairment: a 10-year update. Res Gerontol Nurs. 2017;10(1):5-11. doi:10.3928/19404921-20161209-05.
  7. Williams JD, Wischmeyer PE. Assessment of perioperative nutrition practices and attitudes—a national survey of colorectal and GI surgical oncology programs. Am J Surg. 2017;213(6):1010-1018. doi:10.1016/j.amjsurg.2016.10.008.
  8. Zhang H, Wang Y, Jiang ZM, et al. Impact of nutrition support on clinical outcome and cost-effectiveness analysis in patients at nutritional risk: a prospective cohort study with propensity score matching. Nutrition. 2017;37:53-59. doi:10.1016/j.nut.2016.12.004.
  9. Centers for Disease Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Physical activity and good nutrition: essential elements to prevent chronic diseases and obesity 2003. Nutr Clin Care. 2003;6(3):135-138.
  10. Tuso PJ, Ismail MH, Ha BP, Bartolotto C. Nutritional update for physicians: plant-based diets. Perm J. 2013;17(2):61-66. doi:10.7812/TPP/12-085.

  11. Silveira B, Oliveira T, Andrade P, Hermsdorff H, Rosa C, Franceschini S. Dietary pattern and macronutrients profile on the variation of inflammatory biomarkers: scientific update. Cardiol Res Pract. 2018;2018:4762575. doi:10.1155/2018/4762575.

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Doctor of Clinical Nutrition | Certified Nutrition Specialist