One of the things that has always set me apart (and allowed me, back in the day, to create a 6-figure nutrition practice in less than 3 years without any marketing) is that I see my clients and their issues through a unique lens.
Yes, I’m familiar with many of the ailments that the clients in my clinic are suffering from. But I’m no walking encyclopedia of pathology.
Yes, I know the role and remedy that many nutritional supplements can provide. Magnesium is often great in helping to mitigate constipation (but not always.) Fermented food are often helpful in boosting immunity (but again, not always.)
BUT, practicing Functionally is NOT about matching a symptom to its remedy.
In fact, if you’re on that path, you’re likely trying to hold way too much information in your head. And, if that’s you, you’re not leveraging either the information or your intellect.
There is a better way.
The term symbiosis is often used to refer to a mutually beneficial interaction between two organisms that live in close proximity.
For example, yellow tang fish clean sea turtles in the warm waters of the Pacific. The fish gain nourishment, while the turtle is kept clean and free of debris that might hinder movement or even create infection.
Humans have symbiotic relationships with certain bacteria in the gut—the microbes that help us digest certain foods, produce nutrients like vitamin K, and keep our immunity strong.
But there’s another symbiotic relationship that we as nutrition practitioners need to understand if we’re to help our clients move towards resolution—the relationship between food and physiology. Or more specifically, the relationship between the specific foods your client is eating and the reaction of her unique physiology.
In order to practice Functionally, and to find the true roots of your client’s suffering, you must understand not only that she has eczema, but why she has eczema.
Is her body rejecting the supposedly innocuous (and healing) avocado she’s been eating?
Is her recent divorce causing a spike in cortisol that’s wreaking havoc on her hormones and showing up on her skin? (And if so, is there a way to use food as medicine to guide her back to balance?)
Is the probiotic you’ve recommended causing a detox reaction in her particular system?
In order to answer those questions, and to be able to do what we all want—to help more people feel better—we need to understand the relationship between food and physiology.
We need to understand not just what nutrients do, but how they do it, and where and why they behave unusually in any one individual.
How does magnesium help with constipation? By what mechanism is it interacting with the body? And if it doesn’t do what we expect it to do, what might that tell us about the unique body of the person who’s taking it?
Or what about the woman who comes to you with a report from her doctor that she’s anemic but she eats an ancestral diet high in animal protein and lots of leafy greens? These should provide the iron that her body needs, but they don’t. Why not?
Why is the relationship between the food she’s eating and her unique body not creating the benefits it’s supposed to?
These questions are actually easier to answer than you might think. It doesn’t take an encyclopedic amount of information. It doesn’t take 5 years of post-baccalaureate study, or knowledge of every single biochemical reaction in the body.
It does take a deep understanding of the digestive system, and an entirely new way of looking at the body.
You can learn it all in the Functional Nutrition Lab.
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.