Clinical questions that lead you astray | Functional Nutrition Lab

Clinical questions that lead you astray


In Full Body Systems, students and grads know that one of my mantras is “back it up.” I’m always looking upstream for what’s causing the downstream disturbances that manifest as the signs, symptoms and diagnoses that bring clients in our doors.

Pain points like bloating, migraines, body aches…(you name it!), all have their roots in myriad body systems.

Once you understand that the irksome, painful, or even debilitating symptom your client is asking you to fix likely isn’t the root of the problem, you’re on the path to a more sustainable resolution—the resolution that will not only help them to finally feel better, but also help you to feel like you know your stuff!

I realize it’s seductive to go in search of the quick fix—a remedy to “solve” someone’s symptoms or diagnosis. But this rarely (if ever) works in practice.

And in my mission to change the way we do healthcare, and bring remedy to more of the population that’s suffering, I’m concerned that our very language has us looking for solutions in all the wrong places.

We need to ask different questions

By just asking the question, “What’s the best remedy for SIBO?” or “What’s the best protocol for candida overgrowth?” or “What’s the best diet to alleviate severe hot flashes?” we’re already off on the wrong foot.

Because I’m a stand for helping more people get better, I have a call to action for you today:

We need to change our way of looking at health and dis-ease. It all starts by asking different questions.

We need to stop asking questions like:

  • Will a ketogenic diet help an overweight pre-diabetic woman who has insomnia?
  • Which nutrients should I recommend to a man in his 40s who suffers from IBS?
  • Is intermittent fasting good for weight loss?

Instead, we need to start asking one universal question. The question that will get you on the right track from the beginning. That question…What’s going on in there?

  • What’s going on in the body of that overweight pre-diabetic woman that is causing her to toss and turn throughout the night?
  • Is her system flooded with adrenaline because she was just laid off from work and she’s worried about providing for her family?
  • Are her blood sugar swings related to mere dietary choices or cellular dysfunction?
  • Will she have trouble processing a high fat diet because of her history and gallbladder removal 10 years earlier?
  • How do we appropriately tackle her obvious inflammation indicated by both her symptoms and her diagnosis?
  • And, ultimately, how do we do all of the above to ‘do no harm’ and ensure more sustainable results?

There are literally millions of chronically ill patients who need your help. There are more patients in need of Functional Nutrition intervention than practitioners that can serve them. You can be the one to guide them out of suffering, but only if you start asking different questions. Questions that honor their bioindividuality and recognize the truth that root cause resolution is different for each patient.

What is going on in there?

If we know the question we need to be asking—“What is going on in there?” we then need to be able to answer it.

And if we cannot simply research a symptom or diagnosis with the hopes of finding the miracle remedy, what should be our course of action?

The answer lies in the body.

Our solution to finding the unique root causes of our clients’ issues is to understand 2 critical things:

  1. What should be going on in the body
  2. What is actually going on in the body of this particular client

Both of these require a deep understanding of physiology.

It’s physiology that allows us to see the discrepancy between what should be happening and what is actually happening. With this understanding, we’re better able to target our recommendations to the individual’s unique needs for specific nutrition and lifestyle modifications.

Your takeaway?

Recognize that true root cause resolution requires a shift in perspective. The first step is moving away from “Which remedy will fix this symptom?”. Then move towards “What’s going on in there?” The best route to answering that all-important question is to understand, at a deep level, how the body should function.

Physiology, and an understanding of how the body should function in response to good nutrition, is at the heart of our Full Body System’s curriculum. It’s what’s missing from most nutrition education, and it could be the missing piece in your very own practice.

Related blog posts

Back it up
Root cause
Bioindividuality
What’s missing from most nutrition education

Functional nutritionist and educator Andrea Nakayama (FNLP, MSN, CNC, CNE, CHHC) is leading patients and practitioners around the world in a revolution to reclaim ownership over our own health. Her passion for food as personalized medicine was born from the loss of her young husband to a brain tumor in 2002. She’s now regularly consulted as the nutrition expert for the toughest clinical cases in the practices of many world-renowned doctors, and trains a thousand practitioners online each year in her methodologies at Functional Nutrition Lab. Learn more about Andrea here.

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Dr Cory

Excellent post Andrea! I love your reframe/frame of the naturopathic principles of first do no harm and treat the cause and the individualization of medicine. Thank you so much for sharing your wise medical words.