Andrea Nakayama's Field Guide to Functional Nutrition

Functional Nutrition

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Recently I posted about the defining elements of a Functional Medicine practice.

But what is Functional Nutrition?

I help inquiring minds to understand that while we rely on some of the same principles of Functional Medicine (1. valuing the therapeutic relationship; 2. working with systems and frameworks; and 3. always aiming to address the root causes as opposed to just chasing signs and symptoms or “treating” a diagnosis), Functional Nutrition is different than Functional Medicine.

As a Functional Nutrition and Lifestyle Practitioner I work within my scope of practice. That scope is not to diagnose, prescribe or treat. Instead, my role is to:

  • understand the whole person
  • address the terrain within which those signs, symptoms or diagnosis manifested
  • educate the patient on why their health challenges arose and on how to take back control of their own health
  • and to use my specific skillset to fill the GAP that exists between the physician and the patient

The GAP I’m referring to is an education GAP and a communication GAP. The doctor knows and speaks in medical terms. The patient knows how she feels, what she’s going through, and where she’d rather be (her goals.) That’s her language.

The GAP creates misunderstandings, lack of empathy, and decreased compliance.

In short, it halts the healing process.

In order to fill that GAP we need to speak the language of both parties in the therapeutic relationship…

The language of the doctor is one of physiology and biochemistry and the interrelationships between the body’s systems. The language of the patient is one of managing their symptoms, getting through every day and navigating lifestyle changes as they create new habits.

When we speak both languages, each faction has more success.

(In turn, I have more success in practice too!)

This ability to speak both languages has, honestly, been my ‘special sauce’—and one of the core propositions of the Functional Nutrition Lab curriculum. I’ve been able to break down the science of the body so that the patient can understand themselves and their need to change more comprehensively. (This, by the way, is the best way to initiate client compliance.) And I’ve been able to work with clinical empathy to translate the needs of the patient into actionable steps that move not just toward their goals, but also work in tandem with any therapeutic plan prescribed by their physician.


The techniques in Functional Nutrition go beyond coaching. They’re not about dietary theory. Instead it’s a nuanced way of thinking, rooted in a comprehension of what it means to be human—to have a history and a culture and a body. All of it!

Functional Nutrition truly makes your practice functional. It’s the most practical way to work because, simply, it works. I’ve not only seen this in my own practice, but in the practices of hundreds of other practitioners around the globe that have embraced the teachings in the Functional Nutrition Lab curriculum.

Functional nutrition is the future of healthcare not because it’s new or fancy, but because it meets the needs of the patient population. It fills a GAP that we’re experiencing in Functional Medicine. And because it makes sense.

#FunctionalNutrition is the future of healthcare because it meets the needs of the patient. Click To Tweet

Functional Nutrition is the answer to some of the problems in health and healthcare today. It’s a modality that works to not just support, but educate the patient in what’s going on in their body and how making uniquely targeted diet and lifestyle modification will shift the terrain and help them to meet their goals.


Related posts

Part 1: What’s functional, what’s not
Part 2: What’s functional, what’s not
Part 3: What’s functional, what’s not
Allied Functional Medicine Practitioner 
The Power of Story

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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Amgie Ubosi Recent comment authors
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Amgie Ubosi
Amgie Ubosi

Very realistic